FACT: For this recipe, you'll need at least a 7 cup food processor or high power blender.
This choco-hazelnut spread is Nutella-like (Nutella-ish?), only the first ingredient is hazelnuts, not sugar. In fact, you don't have to put in any sugar if you don't want to - that's the magic of making your own. (You have, no doubt, already discovered the magic of do-it-yourself, otherwise, you wouldn't be here.)
Okay, so store-bought Nutella (or even knock-off brands, like the one pictured above) are going to be ultra smooth, but just check out what kind of engineering goes into that dreamy-creaminess. Strike one: the first ingredient is sugar. Strike two: look at the amount of fat and sugars in just two tablespoons!? AND last but not least, Strike three: vegan it is definitely not.
Now check out the label for the recipe that follows here - and please note, I don't know if the amount per serving is exactly the same, but give or take a whole tablespoon, you can see it is a LOT better:
There are some slightly picky details in the process. As some of you may detect, Master Craftsperson/Baker I am not. I decided to show my finished product as-is because the most important parts to me are the healthiness and flavor. People make recipes how they want, anyway. Ever read the comments under pretty much any recipe on Allrecipes.com? "I loved these cookies! I just used a different flour, halved the sugar, omitted the egg, added raisins, omitted nuts, and baked it longer, but really, thanks for a great recipe!" Um, which one?
That being said, it is important to roast the hazelnuts adequately. This will allow you to 1) remove as much of the skins as possible, 2) process the nuts more easily while they are warm, and 3) smell the fantastic roasty deliciousness.
One other picky note: when you get to mixing, definitely process for eight minutes, no skimping. Really.
This is the hazelnuts after just three minutes of mixing. You'll want to get past this point to a very smooth, oily consistency. So keep on keepin' on...
Now you can see it's starting to get buttery. Nnngkh. This is after six minutes. I didn't go much past this, which is why mine turned out less smooth once I started adding ingredients. Go for eight minutes. Seriously.
Then you can add your enhancing flavors: maple syrup, vanilla, salt, and cacao or cocoa powder. If you want to boost the creamy dreaminess, consider using a melted vegan chocolate (about 1/4 cup, or to taste).
I already admitted this could be smoother. The taste is phenomenal. I ate mine on a banana-oat-blueberry pancake, and I feel kind of smug just thinking about it. The recipe:
VEGAN HAZELNUT CHOCOLATE SPREAD
1-1/2 c hazelnuts
1-1/2 tbsp cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp - 1 tblsp maple syrup (or sweetener of choice, or nothing)
dash(es) of salt, to taste
1) Roast hazelnuts in one layer on a baking sheet at 350 for at least 16-20 minutes. Let cool.
2) Rub hazelnuts between two paper towels to get the flaky skins off. Remove as much as possible, as this allows for a smoother buttery consistency.
3) Process in food processor or high speed blender for about 8 minutes, scraping down from the sides as needed.
4) Add cacao/chocolate, vanilla, maple syrup or sweetener of choice, and salt. Process till smooth.
Makes about one cup.
There are a lot of ways to make pesto, and if you're vegan or even (like me) avoiding tomato sauce, you should make it. It will be your (and your once-lonely pasta's) best friend.
The great thing about pesto if you're vegan is that you still get to have the best things about it. Missing cheese? Puhlease. Now that I've had pesto without parmesan, I can taste how cheese dulls the bright flavor of the lemon and how the lemon-oil-salt combination alone can move tastebuds to tears. (If you let it.)
Fresh basil is so pretty! And a necessity for pesto (vs. dried, of course). My Trader Joe's nearly always has fairly large basil plants growing in at least a 4 inch pot. For this recipe, all I had to do was pull all the big leaves off, and I had two cups easy of fresh, fragrant leaves. This makes room for more leaves that will undoubtedly be part of my next batch.
Did I mention this recipe is forgiving and easy? For one, you can vary the ingredients and amounts and still come out a winner. And two, I have the tiniest food processor but I could put everything in it at once. Well, everything I needed to start with, anyway. I used walnuts but you're always welcome to use the classic pinenut as your nut of choice. I've heard avocado works well, too - I just didn't try it. (Yet.) To be fair, I did have to use a bit more walnuts than this, when it all came right down to it.
Don't forget the olive oil! I bet a mix of avocado oil and olive oil could be interesting...
And here it is! Mine came out with a nutty texture a la walnut. I might try a little avocado next time to jazz it up and smooth it out, just for a change. Don't get me wrong, this as-is was deelightful!
BASIL WALNUT PESTO - VEGANized
2 cups (fairly scrunched/packed) fresh basil leaves
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2-ish c walnuts - (use pinenuts if you're a classic kinda gal/guy)
Olive oil and salt, to taste (yes, you're gonna need to taste and see for yourself)
1) Put basil leaves in food processor or blender with the garlic, lemon, and a handful of nuts. Pulse.
2) Add olive oil. Be a little sparing at first, as you can save some for later to drizzle on top. Pulse/blend again until you achieve the desired smoothness.
3) Add salt and more olive oil to taste.
That's it! Garnish with more basil leaves, avocado slice and salt/spritz of lemon. Try with pasta, spread on sandwiches, pita, or crackers (using their gluten-free versions, if needed, of course).
I like mine with quinoa pasta and broccoli for a green-goddess dinner that would make mom proud.
If you are dealing with one or more of several auto immune disorders, there’s a lot you can do with food to improve your symptoms. Note: None of this should be or is intended to be a replacement for medical care – seek the care that you can and believe in. Having said that, it could be enlightening to research the role that excess inflammation may have in creating autoimmune symptoms. For example, avoiding nightshades is recommended if you have gout/arthritis and going gluten-free is touted to help Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. As for myself, I have kept some annoying symptoms under control by eating anti-inflammatory foods and by doing an elimination diet to identify food sensitivities. This recipe is gluten-free, vegan, allergen-friendly, and can be made nut-free and low(er) fat.
Confession: I have been avoiding making granola for years. There is one good reason and one not so good. First, there are so many good, local brands for the not-too-frequent times I want a handful of granola or get into a crunching habit. HINT: if you'r avoiding snacks like chips and popcorn at the movies, bringing in a little baggie of granola can help you feel like you're keeping up with the crowd. And yes, I sneak my own food and drinks into movie theaters - every time - but my husband buys himself a giant popcorn every time, so I think we're paying our dues. Anyway, the second reason I never made granola until recently was because I learned what being called “crunchy granola “meant when I was so-called by a roommate's boyfriend who definitely didn't mean it as a compliment. So, as Young Me harrumphed and turned around with my long flowery skirt floating on the air behind me, I decided that, hippyish as I was, I wasn’t going to give anyone who claims that organic farming is a scam the satisfaction of – well, of being right (ONLY about the crunchy granola part, though.)
That part of my life is over in so many ways. Now, Not-as-young Me is free to make granola to my heart's content, and I will never go back to bags or bins. The difference in the toasty fresh taste of homemade simply does not compare with even the best granola that is uber-local, in bulk, store-bought, bland, boring, not-quite-right . . . you get the picture.
I can't speak for all granola, but I can say that THIS granola is so easy. There are some ingredients that, when combined, sing like baby angels. Almond butter is expensive, but you'll probably find the cheapest brand at Trader Joe's, if you have one near you. Almonds are often tolerated better than its compadre, peanut butter, but they do both make the "Big 8" list of common food allergies (wheat, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, fish, shellfish, and soy). Okay, on to coconut: Trader Joe's is also where I found the large flake coconut pictured here. If you haven't been living in a tree stand or lost in a national park for the last 1-2 years, you'll already have heard that coconut and all of its various forms have a lot of nutritious and helpful qualities. But they are also very high in saturated fat, so use sparingly if you're concerned. Finally, to finish the trifecta: tart cherries. While TJ's does have small bags of Montmorency cherries for under $5, if you have the fortune of a Costco membership or know someone who does, you might find a much larger bag there, and for a phenomenal price of $8-9. These cherries and tart cherry juice have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body and specifically to improve symptoms of gout. So, let's just get on with the how-to:
CHERRY NUT GRANOLA
2 c. (generous) old-fashioned rolled oats - make sure they're gluten-free, like Bob's Red Mill
1 c. large flake coconut flakes
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c. almond butter - substitute seed butter or apple sauce for nut-free or less-fat versions
1/4 c. maple syrup
optional 1 tsp - 1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. slivered almonds or chopped walnuts or pecans
1 c. dried Montmorency cherries, or more or less, to your taste
1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees and oil or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2) Combine dry (first three) ingredients in a medium bowl and mix to combine.
3) On stovetop over low-med heat in small saucepan, combine wet (next three) ingredients, including the coconut oil if using, heating and mixing only until smooth and adding the vanilla last.
4) Pour over dry ingredients, mix, and spread on baking sheet into one layer.
5) Bake for 10 minutes, remove, mix/stir/jostle and ADD NUTS. Return and bake 10-15 minutes longer
6) When a toasty golden color, remove, cool for 1-5 minutes, and add cherries.
When completely cool, store in a mason jar and enjoy within about 3 weeks - if it lasts that long.
This page is for some of my original or favorite recipes that I have used to promote health and healing. I assume that most people know that eating vegetables is healthy, so I focus on healthy treats and alternatives to grain, gluten, sugar, and dairy.
Brownie Batter for Moi
2-Ingredient Buckwheat Bread
Gluten-free Pumpkin Bundt, Hempseed Brownies, and Orange-scented Date Bars
Cherry Nut Granola
Blueberry Coffee Cake
Fluffy Pancakes (GF & DF)