Monday, December 26, 2011

Pancakes

Pancakes usually have sugar and oil.  Here I use dates to substitute for both of those ingredients.  I also use almond meal to replace some of the flour to add protein.

You can do so many things with pancakes:  add carob chips, chocolate chips, blueberries or chopped nuts to the batter before cooking.  

You can top pancakes with caramalized banana.  To caramelized bananas, spray small skillet with cooking spray.  Slice ripe banana into skillet and heat over low heat until warm and mushy.

You can top pancakes with Caramel Sauce, Carob Sauce, Raspberry Sauce or Strawberry Sauce.



Pancakes with strawberry sauce


Pancakes

2 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup almond meal
2 Tbs baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

1. Using a small blender, puree dates and almond milk.

2. Combine flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt.

3. Stir date mixture into flour mixture until just combined.

4. Drop 1/4 cup batter at a time onto hot greased skillet over medium high heat.

5. Cook until bubbles appear on top of pancake, about 3 minutes.

6. Flip pancake and cook other side for about 2 minutes.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 pancake.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 65
Calories From Fat 14
Total Fat 2 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 425 mg
Potassium 75 mg
Total Carbohydrates 12 g
Fiber 1 g
Sugar 4 g
Protein 2 g





Monday, November 7, 2011

Carob Almond Balls

These delicious treats are quick and easy to make but have a rich, sophisticated flavor. 




Carob Almond Balls

18 dates, pitted and chopped
1 1/2 cups almond meal
3/4 cup carob powder
1 tsp alcohol-free vanilla

1. Process dates in food processor until finely chopped and dates adhere together.

2. Add almond meal, carob powder and vanilla.  Process until smooth.

3. Roll dough into small balls.  Refrigerate.

Servings: 28
Yield: 28

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 ball. 
Calories: 63.24
Calories From Fat:  8.73
Total Fat: 0.99g
Saturated Fat: 0.06g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 0.16mg
Potassium: 107.53mg
Total Carbohydrates: 14.04g
Fiber: 2.08g
Sugar: 11.18g
Protein:: 0.73g

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Quick and Easy Date Syrup

A lot of my recipes call for 1/2 cup date syrup.  In my cookbook and on my web site, http://bakewithdates.com, I have a recipe for a full 2 cup batch of date syrup.  Date syrup keeps well in an air tight container in the refrigerator for about 2-3 weeks.

Sometimes you just don't want to make a full batch of date syrup to make one of the other recipes in the cookbook.  Here's a quick and easy way to make 1/2 cup portion of date syrup.


Quick and Easy Date Syrup

6 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a 2 cup glass measuring cup.  Microwave for 1 1/3 to 2 minutes until water has come to a boil.  Let cool.  Puree in small nut grinder, small food processor or personal blender until smooth.

Tips:  The trick is to use a small enough container so that the date mixture will actually be pureed.  I have a small nut grinder that works the best for this purpose.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Crispy Rice Treats


This is one of my son's favorite recipes.  He likes the combination of nut butter and date syrup which gives these treats a delicious unique flavor.  The last time we made it we added 1/2 cup carob chips, at my son's suggestion.

These treats makes a quick and easy healthy snack.  Or a nutritious breakfast on-the-go. 






Crispy Rice Treats

2 cups crispy brown rice, sweetened with fruit juice
1/2 cup almond, cashew or peanut butter
1/2 cup date syrup
1/2 cup chopped almonds, cashews or peanuts
6 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  1. Combine crispy brown rice and nuts in a large bowl.   
  2. Drop chopped dates one by one into the crispy rice mixture and stir to coat the date pieces to prevent them from clumping together.
  3. Combine date syrup and nut butter.
  4. Stir date syrup mixture into crispy rice mixture.
  5. Spray 8" square baking pan with cooking spray.
  6. Press mixture into pan and refrigerate for several hours.
  7. Cut into squares.

Makes 12 squares.

Nutrition facts, per square: 174 calories; 9 g fat; 0.65 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 17 mg sodium; 275 mg potassium; 22 g carbohydrates; 3 g fiber; 14 g sugar; 4 g protein.



Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Here in Santa Clarita, California we went from summer (92 degrees and sunny on Sunday) to winter (58 degrees and rainy on Wednesday) in four days.  So now, instead of making ice cream, I'm cooking chili and cornbread.  And I'm thinking of pumpkin and ginger and all those warm, comforting fall spices and flavors. Here is a delicious cookie recipe to herald in Fall.




Ginger Molasses Cookies

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup almond meal
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sour almond milk
12 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses

Procedure
1.   Using a blender, puree dates, sour almond milk, and molasses.
2.   Combine flour, almond meal, baking soda and spices.
3.   Stir date mixture into dry ingredients.
4.   Drop dough on to baking sheets lined with parchment paper; flatten.
5.   Bake at 350ยบ F for 10-12 minutes.
Servings: 36
Oven Temperature: 350°F
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Nutrition Facts

1 cookie:  50 calories; 0 g fat; 0 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 106 mg sodium; 122 mg potassium; 12 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 5 g sugar 1 g protein

Note

Blackstrap molasses is a sweetener that is actually healthy.  It is high in iron and calcium.  Molasses is an excellent source of copper and manganese and also a very good source of potassium and magnesium.  Look for unsulphured blackstrap molasses because it doesn’t contain sulfur, to which some people are sensitive, and it also tastes better.

Source:  “Blackstrap molasses” in The World’s Healthiest Foods website, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=118&tname=foodspice

Happy Vegan Baking!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Strawberry Ice Cream


It has been so hot here where I live in Southern California that I haven't been baking much lately -- I've been making ice cream.  Also, my daughter reminded me I have an ice cream maker I haven't used in years, ever since I've been following a vegan diet.

So I dug out my ice cream maker and did some research on the Internet into vegan ice cream recipes.  I discovered vegan ice creams are usually made with soy creamer and soy milk.  The soy creamer is needed to provide more fat in the recipe to give the mouth feel of a real ice cream.  Since I avoid soy products for health reasons I had to come up with another ingredient in place of soy.

Luckily, I also discovered coconut milk can be used to make delicious ice cream.  A ratio of 2 cups coconut milk with 1 cup almond milk works well to create a standard ice cream base.  Throw in some vanilla extract and some flavorings and you have a great ice cream.  Of course a sweetener is also needed.  All my recipes are sweetened with medjool dates--the healthiest and tastiest sugar substitute.

Things get a little more complicated when adding fresh fruit.  Here is the fresh strawberry ice cream recipe I developed.






Strawberry Ice Cream

9 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Using a blender, puree dates, coconut milk and vanilla. 
Stir in chopped strawberries and pulse blender until strawberry pieces are size desired.


Place blender in freezer for 30 minutes. Turn on ice cream maker; pour mixture into frozen freezer bowl and let mix until thickened, about 25 minutes.   

For a firmer consistence, transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least 2 hours.  Remove ice cream from freezer for about 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving:  201 calories; 3 g fat; 2.5 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 76 mg sodium; 465 mg potassium; 46 g carbohydrates; 5 g fiber; 36 g sugar; 1 g protein.




Thursday, September 22, 2011

Baking Tips

Some tips for baking with dates:
  1. If the dates are dry soak them in the liquid ingredients for 5-10 minutes before pureeing in blender.
  2. Don't use an electric mixer because the ingredients should be mixed as little as possible for tenderness.
  3. Make well in dry ingredients before adding date / sour almond milk mixture.
  4. Stir as little as possible, just until dry ingredients are incorporated into the batter.
  5. All the baked goods taste better cold, so refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dates Are So Good for You


I had the pleasure of speaking with Charlene Rainey of the Date Research Institute a few days ago.  Charlene told me there are only 14 date handlers in California, all family owned farms, making the date industry the smallest micro industry in California.

Charlene also told me about some of the health benefits of dates.  Dates are high in antioxidant polyphenols, which protect against inflammation that cause damage to your body. Antioxidant polyphenols destroy free radicals that can cause heart disease and other chronic diseases.

Dates are also good for heart health.  Laboratory tests show dates reduce the LDL cholesterol.  Clinical trial shows dates reduce triglyceride levels.

For more information about the health benefits of consuming dates, see the Date Research Institute's web site, their protects your heart handout, and their weight management handout.

FYI:  The Date Research Institute is sponsored by the California Date Commission, a private organization of California date growers.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sugar, Honey and Agave Nectar

I avoid refined sugar, honey, or agave nectar, all of which have a high glycemic index.  These sweeteners cause spikes in blood sugar levels and add little nutritional value.   Dates, although high in sugar, have a low glycemic index and do not adversely affect blood sugar levels.

I also find that the high fructose content of honey and agave nectar cause problems for my digestive system.


I've tried baking with Stevia, a natural herb with
up to 300 times the sweetness sugar.  But I didn't like the bitter after taste.

That's why I developed the "bake with dates" technique.  The baked goods in my cookbook Bake With Dates do not taste like dates; the dates are used merely as a sugar substitute.  For example, the Strawberry Pie tastes like strawberries, not dates.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners

"People who use artificial sweeteners are heavier, more likely to have diabetes, and more likely to be insulin-resistant compared with nonusers, according to data presented at ENDO 2009, the 91st annual meeting of The Endocrine Society", (Abstract P2-478. Presented June 11, 2009)   Source:  http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/704432  


To quote Kristofer S. Gravenstein, one of the study's authors:  "we cannot say that artificial sweetener use causes obesity, we can say it is associated with it."

Dr. Joel Fuhrman recommends using dates rather than artificial sweeteners to satisfy your sweet tooth.   

Dates are high in fiber and help promote a healthy digestive system.  Dates are an excellent source of potassium, a nutrient needed to maintain a healthy nervous system.  Dates contain many vitamins like A, B1, B2 and nicotinic acid (niacin) that help maintain a healthy body by metabolizing carbohydrates and maintaining blood glucose levels.  Dates have higher percentages of potassium, phosphorous and iron than other fruits.  Dates also contain a higher percentage of protein than other fruits.  Dates are free of fat and cholesterol and are low in sodium.

For optimum health, I use dates to sweeten baked goods, not artificial sweeteners.  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Problem with Vegan Baking

The problem with vegan baking is the use of chemicals and artificial ingredients to replace butter, eggs and milk in recipes.  For example, a popular egg substitute has sodium carboxymethylcellulose and methylcellulose.  Other vegan products contain maltodextrin, xanthan, carrageenan, polyglycerol esters of fatty acids, sorbitan monostearate and other chemicals.

Although the FDA has approved the use of these food additives, some experts believe they are hazardous to your health.  For example, Dr. Andrew Weil advises avoiding "the thickening agent carageenan, a seaweed derivative, which I believe may be harmful, especially to the intestinal tract." 

If you can't pronounce an ingredient should you really be eating it? 

Another problem with vegan baking is that soy products are often used to replace dairy products like butter, cream and milk.  For example, tofu is a main ingredient in many vegan recipes.  I personally find soy products difficult to digest and avoid them whenever possible.  That's why I developed a method to make baked goods without using these ubiquitous soy products.

The best baked goods are produced from healthy, natural ingredients like fruit, nuts and whole grains--not chemicals masquerading as butter, eggs and dairy products.  All my recipes in Bake With Dates use only healthy ingredients like dates, applesauce, almond meal, almond milk, oats and whole wheat flour.