293. A Very Vegan Thanksgiving (Slow-Cooker Meal)

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving | All-in-one Slow-Cooker Meal | Ann Ning Learning How

This is an all-in-one slow-cooker meal, meaning you cook the whole dinner in one crockpot.  One of the tips people gave me for disabled cooking was that the crockpot is your friend.  But Mommy’s crockpot is big, and I’m often just cooking for me.  So I got an adorable mini slow-cooker on sale at Target last week – $9.99 for a 2-qt cooker.  YEAH.  Plus, I chose the red one, and red makes me happy.

This recipe is based on one by Kathy Hester in Vegan Slow Cooking for Two or Just For You!  She has a section on “Vegan Squares” –  complete meals you cook in one slow-cooker by wrapping up the different dishes in foil or parchment paper and layering them in the pot.  The idea of cooking food in packets (e.g. on the grill, or in the oven) is not new to me, but cooking in a crock pot is.  Good thing I consulted Hester’s book before diving in.  I did, however, make some significant changes to use what I had on hand and to adjust for my preferences.

If you have a bigger slow-cooker I would not hesitate to just double the recipe.  This quantity, however, works for me.  It would also be great for Lt. Cmmdr R – my lovely friend who is also trying a Vegan Experiment of her own.  Her husband, C(Kh), does eat meat presently, so I’d go for some rotisserie chicken or something on the side.  Oh yeah – this is the first time I tried tempeh.  It’s a fermented soy product that hails from Indonesia.  You can find it near the tofu (I got mine from Whole Foods, not sure what other stores carry it).  I like it – it’s meatier than tofu and you can taste the fermentation action.  I will likely try some other variations as I ramp up this vegan learning curve.  But this is a great start – you just open the package, cut the tempeh up, and put it in the crock pot.

Slow-Cooker Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner

Serves 2ish
Based on K. Hester’s recipe in Vegan Slow-Cooking for Two or Just for You

Layer 1: Tempeh and Gravy

  • 8 oz (1 package) tempeh, cut into 6 pieces.
  • 1 c water
  • 2 Tb nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp of Mrs. Dash no-salt
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 Tb arrowroot (sub cornstarch)- reserve for use just before serving.

    Put everything (except arrowroot or cornstarch) in the bottom of your slow-cooker and stir to combine.


Layer 2:  Quinoa Stuffing

  • 1.5 c cooked quinoa (cooked in broth/soup for flavor.  I used leftover red quinoa that had been cooked in a mix of ½ veggie broth and ½ carrot soup – delicious!)
  • 2 ribs of celery, sliced
  • 2 mushrooms, e.g. baby bella, sliced
  • splash of veggie broth
  • handful of craisins
  • handful of walnuts
  • pinch of Mrs. Dash no-salt
  • salt & pepper

Put everything in a bowl and stir to combine.  Tear a piece of foil or parchment paper big enough for your packet.  Put the paper/foil over a bowl to help you form your packet.  Pour the quinoa mixture over the paper/foil/bowl.  Fold the ends up so you have a nice packet.  Place over the tempeh in the slow-cooker.


Layer 3:  Maple Sweet Potatoes

  • · 1 medium sweet potato, scrubbed and sliced (I kept the skin on bc my motor skill did not feel up to peeling, and I figured that my potato was organic so… But it’s up to you – this is preference.)
  • · splash of maple syrup
  • · splash of vanilla extract
  • · dash of cinnamon
  • · tiny pinch of salt


Put everything in a bowl and stir to combine.  Make it into a packet like you did with the quinoa.  Put the potatoes on the top and close the slow cooker lid.  (I had to press mine down a little).  Cook on low for 7 hours or high for 3 hours.


When it’s time to serve dinner, take the lid off of your slow cooker and remove the 2 packets into bowls.  Be careful – it’s hot.  I used tongs.  Remove the tempeh to a bowl.  Add a little hot water to your arrowroot and stir until smooth.  Then stir it into your tempeh gravy.  Cover and let it thicken while you plate up the other food.  Mine thickened a lot – I was surprised.  It was a good gravy.   By the time you get everything out of the packets and onto plates your gravy will be ready.  Pour it over your tempeh and enjoy!

Other Thanksgiving Food ideas:  click here.





287. TVeganE: Persimmon Porridge

Persimmon Porridge | The Vegan Experiment | Ann Ning Learning How

Aren’t you astounded that this recipe does not include a banana?  Don’t get me wrong – I love bananas, especially in porridge.  But there was only one lonely banana in the kitchen and I wanted to save it for a smoothie later (unless Tanpo finds it first – I’d be totally fine with that).  But we have several persimmons – YAY!  And persimmons lend themselves nicely to my new self-imposed fruit-cooking criterion.  In fact, they made such a nice bowl of porridge that I made this two days in a row.  This morning will likely be 3.

Persimmon Porridge (Vegan)

Serves 1

Bring to a slight boil

  • ½ c nondairy milk – I used unsweetened almond
  • splash of vanilla
  • dash of cinnamon


  • 1 persimmon, sliced thinly
  • ¼ c rolled oats or cooked quinoa

Simmer on low, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.  Turn off the heat, cover, and let cool for a few minutes while you do something else.

Optional, if using quinoa:  after it cools a bit, mix a heaping teaspoon of arrowroot with a little of the heated milk.  Add back into the porridge.  Simmer, stir and cool again.  This part is optional of course – I just wanted mine to be a bit thicker.  You could try cornstarch or omit it altogether.  The oatmeal does fine on its own.

This is what it looks like with quinoa:

Persimmon Porridge w Quinoa | Vegan | Ann Ning Learning How

286. The Vegan Experiment

The Vegan Experiment | Ann Ning Learning How

This was a salad (with gorgeous peaches, blueberries and hazelnuts) Ai Ai made this summer.

My Vegan Experiment has hit a speed bump. Last week when I told you I had built my shopping list in Excel and was excited to get started on my new eating plan, I was focused on Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live”. Dr. F is that skinny MD guy on PBS who talks about nutrient density etc. He supports a way of eating that centers on ingesting a truckload of produce, a lot of cooked veggies, at least a cup of beans/legumes a day, some whole grains, and eschews added fat/oil. I was eager to try out a no-meat lifestyle since I’ve known for a while that my digestive strength isn’t fabulous and I wanted to give it a rest.

So after a week of eating this way I was excited to stick out my tongue for CMD’s inspection (this is how she gauges my digestive health). I actually volunteered it, leaning with my head tilted to the window so she could see the tongue in natural light. My tongue still has a thick white coating. I was like, “But I haven’t eaten meat since Sunday!” Apparently, the protein-richness of the beans is still too robust for my delicate digestive state.

So I came home and started searching that amazing source of medical information, the Internet. Eating lots of raw food might be hard on your digestive system. Oops. My bad. That truckload of produce was partly to blame for the stress on my system. It had been difficult for me to eat all that, anyway. I kept on flashing back to stuffing myself silly in the hospital, and then gave myself permission not to eat the volume of leafy greens recommended by Dr. Fuhrman (the high-volume of plant consumption is actually a great way to avoid hunger, FYI). Those I did eat I stuffed into my Vitamix to make a green smoothie – or a chocolate green smoothie (yum!) – so you would think that this would have aided in my digestion since all those greens were already liquefied, but I guess it wasn’t enough.

145.  Illness, Body Image, and Why I Eat the Way I Do.

145. Illness, Body Image, and Why I Eat the Way I Do.

I have a theory: My digestive system has been functioning at a low level since I got sick, but I’ve not known it since I do not exhibit any symptoms of gastric distress. I tolerate everything without a problem. I even soaked and cooked those beans in a way I had heard would make them easier to digest and have been drinking fennel tea and chewing on the seeds. I have not had any symptoms I’ve heard others undergo, e.g. the physical sensation (whether immediate or delayed) that your body simply cannot tolerate meat. If anything, I was concerned after my dairy and grain-free experiment this summer that if I ate a little gluten my GI tract would explode right then and there, but no – I can still eat gluten just fine, thanks.

So what happens to all that food I’m not digesting properly? I have no idea. Perhaps it has something to do with my astonishing change in body mass. (It’s astonishing to me, and this past week when I told CMD just how much it has changed, she was surprised, too.) I then cataloged my food from the day before and she said, Ok, that was breakfast – what about the rest of the day?

And I’m like, That was the rest of the day.

I was verbally unclear about listing my daily food diary, and CMD’s assumption that I had only told her about breakfast stemmed from the way I was speaking, not the quantity of food I mentioned. There is no way I’m starving myself – even if I wanted to do such a thing my parents would not countenance it. Poor Tanpo is disturbed enough that I’m not eating meat right now. (So if you see him, Shhhhh! don’t talk about eating, k? And don’t worry – I’m keeping tabs on my plant-based protein levels.) I’m consuming lots of good whole-food kind of stuff, and one of my favorite parts of Dr. Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live” plan is that you enjoy a high volume of (heavily plant-based) food, but it’s simultaneously low-calorie and nutrient-dense.

Side note: Since I am abstaining from meat I have felt at greater liberty to enjoy some old favorites like oatmeal and quinoa (still only in ¼ c servings, whereas you’re allowed to consume 1 c on Dr. Fuhrman’s plan). My point is that I’ve already eliminated the obvious offenders from my dietary landscape so I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to proceed with my Vegan Experiment.

So for now I’m dialing down the volume on my bean/legume and fresh produce consumption. This is hard bc I love salad and fresh fruit. If I eat a cooked fruit, my philosophy has been in the past, it had better be in a pie. But I guess I’m learning how to experiment with (conservatively, so as not to burn up all the nutrients) cooked salads and even fruit to ease digestion (I have to check with CMD – we didn’t discuss the cooked vs. raw issue).

My fond hope is that if I can eat in a way to improve my digestive strength (as indicated by the look of my tongue – a Traditional Chinese Medicine sort of thing), I’ll feel better in general – this is about overall health and taking a strong offensive stance against the many diseases that are all-too common in our society. I already had a major medical event – I’ll do what I can to bulk up nutritionally and avoid another. My goal is to eat like this at least until Thanksgiving. I’ll let you know how it pans out (but don’t worry – I will not be posting any pics of my tongue).

282. “Cheesy” Veggie Bake [Vegan]

"Cheesy" Veggie Bake |Vegan| Allergy-friendly Thanksgiving Recipe | Ann Ning Learning How

Hi, everyone!  Let me give a special shout out to my vegan readers – thanks for coming here!!  I’ve been pondering the way I eat over the past week or so (pondering heavily, more than I usually do), and I’m going to give a vegan eating plan a try for the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.  When I went grain and dairy free this summer to see if it helped my skin (it didn’t – it turned out to be a contact issue, not food-related) I did feel better.  It was hard to eat out and be grain/dairy free, but Boo Boo helped me request what I needed and monitored my salads to see if they had really excluded the parmesan etc. or had forgotten. The additional exclusion of meat should give my digestive system a rest, I hope.  CMD can tell from looking at my tongue that I don’t do a great job of digesting meat in general, even when I think my body is performing relatively well.  Don’t worry – I will be getting plenty of plant-based protein.  Mommy’s watching (she always is).   Happily since I have been practicing my kitchen mobility a lot I am ready to prepare the food I need the way I need to.

I am so glad to be able to do this.  I am also accessing my spreadsheet and pivot table skills to construct my meal plan and shopping list.  Why do you need a pivot table, you ask?  Bc I like to sort my ingredients by store and section (e.g. produce, frozen, condiment) and I haven’t figured out an easier way to do this.  If you know, please tell me, because the difference in my vision and motor skills makes spreadsheet-construction rather arduous, but the effort will be worth it in terms of minimizing time and energy at the store(s).  FYI I didn’t know any other way to do this before I got sick either.  On the Tuesday/Wednesday before Thanksgiving 2010 I made a similar list so I could breeze in to my stores and get what I needed quickly.  I learned pretty fast that I should have started planning earlier when I showed up at Great Harvest Bread Co. and they told me they had sold out of dinner rolls that morning.  Boo.  I was happy with some pillowy-soft whole wheat rolls from Winco that I packed up for L&E since they came in a HUGE pack and I figured they’d make good sammies with the leftovers I was also packing.

The fact that I can prepare my own food is also good in that it doesn’t make too much additional work for Mommy, although she’s more than willing, and will likely help me chop things for my salads.  I will only cook what I’m going to eat since my method of preparation (goodbye for now, oil) will likely not be to my daddy’s taste.  On Friday we all enjoyed particularly good chunks of baguette that came with our meals at Panera.  They were hot, and Tanpo really enjoys hot bread.  When I saw that he really liked it I said, “I’ll bake you bread, Dad!”  He declined, however.  When I asked why he didn’t want me to bake bread for him he indicated that he was not in the market for what he termed, “Weirdo Bread.”

Ummm…I would have made it out of regular flour for him!!  But I guess we shouldn’t be eating all that bread anyway.  That’s why Mommy hasn’t made it in a while – she knows we’d polish off loaf after loaf as soon as she took them out of the oven!  But I couldn’t help but remember Hannah and Joshie’s reaction to my baked goods this summer.

227.  Thin Mint Brownie Pie [GF, Vegan]

227. Thin Mint Brownie Pie [GF, Vegan]

PS.  I made this because I really wanted mac & cheese, but without the “mac”…and without the “cheese”.


“Cheesy” Veggie Bake [Vegan]

preheat oven to 350 

For the sauce:

  • 1 c raw cashews, soaked and rinsed
  • ½ c water
  • ¼ block of silken tofu
  • ½ c nutritional yeast
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ onion
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • dash of “fun” vinegar
  • salt & pepper

For the Veggies:

  • around ½ head of cauliflower, broken into florets
  • around 2 c frozen veggies – I used carrots and kale

Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in your blender and puree until nice and smooth.  Put your veggies into a greased dish and pour the sauce over them.  Bake at 350 for around 45 minutes.


281. Flourless Maple Pecan Brownies (Gluten Free, Vegan)

Flourless Maple Pecan Brownies | GF, Vegan | Ann Ning Learning How

I got thrown a curve-ball yesterday:  Dr. G (Dad’s ENT)’s office called yesterday to say that she’s moving, but that I could see her yesterday afternoon.  WAH!  My plans for getting treated by her have been foiled.  But happily, I did see her yesterday, got scoped twice, and she explained everything in detail to me and was very thorough.  I also met the speech therapist (Dad has also been her patient, too), since the current verdict is more ST (specifically for voice and swallowing), and then I’ll check in with the ENT in 2-3 months.  Ed snuck in to the office.  (Mommy didn’t notice that I had him (riding on my purse) until we were in the elevator.  So Ed was there for moral support, I got my questions answered and I know what to do next (sign up for ST) – a successful appointment, I’d say!

Moving on, let me share these flourless brownies with you.  I know, you must be like – how many treats can one girl eat?!?!?  Well, I don’t eat ALL of them…Okay, I eat many of them, I admit it – but not all at once.  I put many in the freezer as soon as I can.  I made these this summer at Tim and Ai Ai’s when I was on my maple kick.  I haven’t quite gotten past the maple thing yet, mind you – it’s so good!

Flourless Maple Pecan Brownies [GF, Vegan]
Preheat oven to 350, grease a loaf tin (you’re not making a brownie loaf , this just makes a nice bar in a loaf pan)

▪          3 flax eggs – room temperature.  I just put 3 Tbsp of flax seed in a bowl, added 9 Tbsp of water, mixed it up and let it sit and thicken for about 15-20 minutes.
▪          1 c cocoa
▪          3/4 c maple syrup
▪          3 Tbsp coconut oil
▪          generous splash of vanilla
▪          generous splash of natural maple flavor
▪          a handful of chopped pecans for sprinkling on the top
▪          optional – pecan cream for serving – pretend like you’re making cashew cream, but use pecans.  Sweeten with maple syrup.

Mix everything, pour into loaf pan, bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.


274. Flourless Emergency Cookies [Gluten Free, Vegan, No Sugar Added]

Flourless Emergency Cookies | GF, Vegan, NSA| Ann Ning Learning How

I had an emergency on Monday.  A cookie emergency.

And then I had an emergency on Wednesday.


These flourless cookies saved the day (all three times).  You can make them oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip, depending on your mood.  If you are truly allergic to gluten/dairy, use certified GF oats and DF chocolate chips.  If you’re just pretending like I am, you can play it loosey-goosey.

Emergency Cookies [GF, Vegan, NSA]

Makes 6-7 cookies; these mix up in a flash and bake up in the toaster oven.  Time elapsed from when you start mixing to when you taste one warm from the oven:  15-20 minutes

Preheat toaster oven to 350, grease a small baking sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silpat.

  • Approx. 2/3 c almond butter
  • 1/3 c applesauce
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • splash of vanilla

for oatmeal raisin:

  • 2 Tbsp rolled oats
  • handful of raisins
  • dash of cinnamon

for chocolate chip:

  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut (you could sub oats or do 1 Tbsp coconut and 1 Tbsp arrowroot)
  • handful of chocolate chips


Mix the almond butter and applesauce.  When combined, add everything else in and stir well.  Mine fit in a 2-cup measuring cup with lots of room to spare.  Drop by the spoonful or a mini ice cream scoop onto your baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for 12 minutes.


Me want COOKIE

34.  (Tough) Cookie Monster

34. (Tough) Cookie Monster



269. Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Squares [vegan]

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Squares | Vegan | Ann Ning Learning How

I love oatmeal but I haven’t eaten it in a Very Long Time.  I have found alternative hot cereals like Paleo Porridge, and I have tried bulking up some of my grain free treats with coconut, instead – e.g. I ❤ PT Almond Butter Blondie Pie.  But since I am a true oatmeal devotee, I can’t say that the effect is the same.  I enjoy my grain free alternatives in their own right, but sometimes I just need an oatmeal cookie.

This is one of those times.

And since it’s Autumn, I went all out with the leftover pumpkin puree and baked up a batch of these squares.  I then divided them up individually, wrapped them in wax paper, and froze them so I wouldn’t eat them all at once.  Mommy does this for me and my banana bread.  Since I’m off of toast presently I am always intent on supplying myself with suitable breakfast breads.  And yes, I consider these oatmeal bars to be okay for breakfast – I used  less maple syrup than the amount I’m recommending below so my batch isn’t very sweet.  But who am I kidding?  Even if they were I’d still eat them for breakfast…and throughout the day, actually.

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Squares [Vegan]

Preheat oven to 350, Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper, or grease it

  • ½ c almond butter
  • ½ c pumpkin puree
  • 2 c old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 flax egg ( 1 Tb ground flax + 3 Tb water, let sit for 15 minutes on counter or in fridge)
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • splash of vanilla
  • ¼ c maple syrup
  • 2 dashes of cinnamon
  • 1 dash each of nutmeg and ginger powder

Combine everything and mix well.  Bake at 350 for ~20 minutes.

242.  PT Pie [GF and Vegan]

242. PT Pie [GF and Vegan]

242. Land and Pool PT Pie [Gluten Free and Vegan]

I <3 PT Pie |Flourless Almond Coconut Blondie + Brownie Swirl |GF, Vegan | Ann Ning Learning How

I thought this was going to get easier, but it isn’t.  I’m not going back to Planet Rehab.  I didn’t know I wasn’t returning when I left NRH in June, but it turns out that my health insurance is changing and I’m going to let it take me (for a variety of reasons) somewhere closer to home.  When I came to this realization recently I was sad.  Ed broke out in hives.  The only thing I could think to do was bake something – this is a flourless almond butter coconut blondie with a brownie swirl.  I practiced on the one in the picture, and I’ll bake another and bring it in to the nice peeps at NRH on Friday.  Thanks for everything xoxo.

I’ve always just called my sessions, “PT” and “Pool Therapy,” but I’ve often heard staffers distinguish the two by saying, “Land” vs. “Pool” Therapy.  The contrast between the two is why I wanted to bake something with two distinct entities in it.  The almond coconut blondie is fantastic, even if I do say so myself.  Technically, the brownie swirl is optional, but I highly recommend it.  I could barely wait to snap the picture above before I sampled the pie on the blue plate.  As I was chewing I decided that I really enjoyed the chocolatey edge the brownie swirl gives to the sweet fudgy blondie.  I used almond butter this time, and tried making my own in the Vitamix.  It was 90% successful, I’d say – I think the fact that there’s one ingredient (almonds) and the homemade texture might influence the gooeyness of the pie, but I’m not sure since I’ve never bought almond butter from the store.  The coconut adds a lovely bit of texture, and it’s yummy, too!

My sister made a chocolate chip pie a couple of times this summer and served it with ice cream to some very happy guests.  I looked longingly at that pie, sad that I had decided to go grain free.  Well, this is a delicious compromise.  Ai Ai, I need you to make this and see if my children like it.  I’m sure Timmy will, since he’s so obliging like that.  But if you want to omit the coconut just throw some oatmeal in there.

I ❤ Land & Pool PT Pie [Gluten Free and Vegan]
Flourless Almond Coconut Blondie Pie with a Brownie Swirl
Preheat oven to 350, Grease a pie plate

For the Blondie:

  • 1 c almond butter (I used homemade)
  • ½ c unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 flax egg
  • ¼ c maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • splash of vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Mix everything in a bowl and pour it into your pie plate

For the Brownie Swirl:

  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • ½ Tbsp ground flax
  • ½ Tbsp maple syrup
  • splash of almond milk – or enough to facilitate mixing

Stir everything together.  I used the same mug I had used to make the flax egg for the pie.  Mine was very powdery, but when I let it sit for a minute as I wiped up a spill (oops, my bad), it settled down perfectly.  This quantity will make more than you need, but I needed enough to hold on to while I made the swirl.  It doesn’t have to be a swirl, BTW, you can make the design anything you wish.  Pour the chocolate batter into a Ziploc sandwich or snack size bag, leaving one corner clean (lean the bag to one side).  Snip the corner so you can use the hole to squeeze the batter out on top of the pie in the pattern of your choice.

Bake for around 17 minutes.  (That’s how long it took me – just keep an eye on it.  Ovens are different!)

This is what happened when I got discharged from Therapy last time:

69.  Williamsburg - Taliaferro-Cole Summer Garden by NH

69. Williamsburg –  Taliaferro-Cole Summer Garden
by NH


240. Flourless Dark Chocolate Sun Butter Brownies [Gluten Free and Vegan]

Flourless Sun Butter Brownies |Gluten Free, Vegan | Ann Ning Learning How

Surprise, surprise – I had one of those floppy brain moments again.  I was so busy patting myself on the back last week for pre-loading my posts through Tuesday that I failed to observe that I had counted the days/dates wrong and posted TWO on Monday.  Oops, my bad.  Welcome to my world.   Happily, however, I have no shortage of things to tell you about so after we got home yesterday (we spent a wonderful weekend with my siblings and their progeny at the Labor Day Conference) I opened the fridge, got my snack out, soaked some nuts, made some milk, and snapped a picture.  I have been plotting a “Sun Butter” week out of deference to the nut allergic among us (I’m so sorry you can’t eat PB) – in particular, Sgirl and CEF’s eldest.  You should still totally read about PB bread/PBJ bars, too, so I’m including them on the bottom of this post.  These and the Sun Butter Brownies are both so simple it’s astonishing.  I have to restrain myself from making them daily.

These brownies are heavy on the dark chocolate note, lighter on the sun butter note.  You can taste something nut/seed butter ish, but probably can’t put your finger on it – but I like the delicate sun butter fragrance, plus, using it eliminated the need for any other butter or oil. I didn’t sweeten this batch quite as much, and the chocolate note is richer :).  I used a loaf pan this time, and they turned out great – none of that weird, baking forever business as with the Thin Mint Brownie Pie.   I don’t think these are overly pretty, but I wasn’t planning to serve them to company.  I would have made a fabulous parfait or trifle with them, but I couldn’t bc I ate them all.

Flourless Dark Chocolate Sun Butter Brownies
inspired by Thin Mint Brownie Pie and Our Fifth House’s Paleo Brownie Pie
preheat oven to 350 and grease a loaf pan – but you’re  not making a loaf, you’re making brownies that turn out to be around an inch (or less) thick

  • 3 flax eggs – room temperature.  I just put 3 Tbsp of flax seed in a bowl, added 9 Tbsp of water, mixed it up and let it sit and thicken for about 15-20 minutes.
  • 1 c cocoa
  • 1/2 c maple syrup
  • 1/4 c sun butter (I used homemade)
  • generous splash of vanilla
  • 1/2 c DF chocolate chips

Mix everything and then pour into your loaf pan.  Bake for around 35-40 minutes.

A couple of notes:

(1) I call these “Flourless” even though my computer keeps on telling me that’s not a real word bc although I do not use flour in these I don’t want to call them “Grain Free.”  The tag, “Grain Free” is associated in my mind with Paleo eating, and I’m just going with gluten free + flourless since I’m still on my vegan kick and use flax eggs.  Flax isn’t a grain, it’s a seed – but I’ve read (I’m reading – thank you, VT!) that some Paleos frown upon eating flax.  So I’m playing it safe.

(2) As part of my effort to build better health habits in my life, e.g. my transition to no-sulfate shampoo, and now baking soda/ACV since I found out I’m allergic to that thing, I hereby rescind my recommendation to microwave your almonds etc. before making milk.  Now I’m going with the soak-for-real, method, or my soak in really hot water for an hour shortcut (although some might frown upon this, too).   I tried to research this, but my eyeballs got tired, so I’m just going with an extremely general explanation- there’s something that’s supposed to happen when you soak nuts, something that makes them more digestible and possibly enhances their nutritional value.  I know some people abhor the microwave.  Personally, I love mine.  But I would not want to mess with the process of soaking with my microwave technique.  I guess this is good, though, since it cultivates both forethought and patience in my life.

PS.  I need about another week to make sure I really do love the baking soda/ACV thing, and I’ll tell you about it.

239.  Flourless PB Bread and PBJ Bars [Grain Free, Dairy Free]

Flourless PB Bread | Grain & Dairy Free, NSA |Ann Ning Learning How

130.  Flourless Peanut Butter Muffins

130. Flourless Peanut Butter Muffins

This is actually an update of the popular “Flourless Peanut Butter Muffins” I posted a long time ago.  It was one of the first recipes I shared and it was clear from how I was throwing things in the blender that cooking/baking with me is not an exact science.  I’ve heard that you should be more precise when baking, but I’m sorry, I can’t.  However, I did manage to make the muffins more replicable by simplifying the recipe.   I took out the chestnuts, agave, and Greek yogurt!  Plus, this time you just need a bowl and a spoon, and I’ve updated the old post accordingly.

My compliments to The Detoxinista – I tried baking with just nut butter after looking at her recipe for PBCC blondies.  She used natural/thinner/oily peanut butter for her blondies, but I used “regular” (like Skippy or JIF) for all of my baking.  I think this resulted in a fluffier (not fudgey) result.  So go for the regular PB.

I baked flourless peanut butter things quite a few times this summer.  Here are two instances:

Flourless Peanut Butter Bread
(pictured at the top of this post)
Grain Free, Dairy Free, No Sugar Added | Preheat oven to 350, Grease an 8×8 square

I made these for Mrs. T, who is trying to avoid flour and sugar for health reasons.  After some coffee-break recon one Sunday I learned that she’s partial to peanut butter.  I did a “practice” batch for our family, and those among us who quite enjoy sugar liked these sugarless squares.  Personally, I liked them with some jam smeared on top, like in the picture.  I used a fruit-sweetened strawberry spread.

  • 1 c peanut butter (not natural-style or homemade)
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • splash of vanilla

Combine everything in a bowl.  Pour into your square.  Bake at 350 for around 20 minutes.  I’m sorry, I honestly can’t remember how long I baked them – just start checking at 20, and let them go a few minutes longer if they don’t look done.

Flourless PBJ Bars |Grain Free, Dairy Free | Ann Ning Learning How

Flourless PBJ Bars
Grain Free, Dairy Free | Preheat oven to 350, Grease an 8×8 square

229.  Flourless "Nutella" Bars

229. Flourless “Nutella” Bars

These were the treats I made originally to take to The Gym.  I had a batch in the oven before breakfast that morning.  I found out later, though, that peanuts are on the allergen list, so I switched gears and tried the Flourless “Nutella” Bars.  Thankfully my parents arrived that day so Baker Smurf could advise me when my test batch turned out too soft.  Basically, these are similar to the bread, but this is a thicker, double batch, and the jam is swirled on top so it’s baked into the bar.  Yay!!  Fun times.  My swirl would have been prettier, but Mommy hadn’t arrived yet.  Also, I sweetened these bars so they are more in the “PB Cookie” category than the “bread” category.

  • 1 c smooth peanut butter (not natural-style or homemade)
  • 1 c chunky peanut butter (not natural-style or homemade)
  • 2 eggs…I think I used flax eggs
  • pinch off salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ c honey or agave
  • splash of vanilla
  • 2 Tb jam of choice (for the top)

Combine everything except the jam.  Of course you can use all smooth or all chunky PB if you like.  Pour into your square.  Gently warm the jam (I put mine in a small dish) in the microwave.  Dot the top of your batter with the jam.  I made 9 globs.  Drag a toothpick or butter knife through the jam and batter to achieve a feathered effect.  Bake at 350 for around 25-30 minutes.

229. Flourless “Nutella” Bars [Gluten Free and Vegan]

Flourless "NUtella" Bars|Gluten Free & Vegan|Ann Ning Learning How

The fact that I’m writing this post is an act of faith. Right now the “trial run” FNBs are cooling on the stove and setting up. Hopefully. They came out of the oven smelling great but soft. They taste wonderful in a Nutella molten lava cake sort of way, but I want to make something that can be enjoyed at room temperature since I’m hoping this works so I can bring them to The Gym tomorrow.

Tomorrow is my last day at my new PT place (“The Gym”) and I wanted to make something allergy-friendly. I fell asleep by accident yesterday for most of the afternoon, and had a good rest at night, too, so I was raring to go before 7 this morning. So I practiced making PBJ bars – you’ll see the recipe next week – but then I went to do my duty on the Alter-G and received intel that peanuts are actually on the allergy/intolerance list. Pfewf!! Good thing I asked.

But hazelnuts are free game so I immediately started concocting some “Nutella” bars in my head. I tried to rest my back and take a nap like a good girl but I only lasted 10 minutes before I HAD to get up and start throwing things in the Vitamix. I’m paying the price now so I’m resting before dinner. I’m going to just write this recipe down then I’m going to lie on the bed for a few minutes, promise. This is the quandary of my Recovery – my mind is more than ready to do things, but my body hasn’t caught up yet.

Anyhoo…I’m going to try another batch of bars and pray that they turn out okay. I’m not kidding about praying – that’s how I found The Gym in the first place, so it’s in keeping with my general practice. When I bring the “Nutella” bars in tomorrow I’ll bring a thank you note, too:

Dear [The Gym],

Thank you so much for letting me use the Alter-G this summer. I prayed for the opportunity to use an anti-gravity treadmill while I visited my sister and I found [The Gym] – and it couldn’t be closer or more convenient – we are in this area daily.

My left side did not behave as expected this summer (I found out that being away from my acupuncture doctor is NOT good), so it was especially important that I was able to use the Alter-G in a PT environment where people actually know what they’re doing. If left to my own devices the situation might very well have deteriorated rapidly. (The first place Google directed me to was a running company, not a PT practice.) As it was, I saw regression, especially in my left leg, but I was still able to build some stamina and my gait is better for having been able to exercise with you.

Thank you for everything 🙂 atnt.

Update: I tweaked the recipe and this 2nd batch came out like a moist brownie!

Flourless “Nutella” Bars
Gluten Free & Vegan
Grease an 8×8 pan and preheat the oven to 350

  • 1 c hazelnuts
  • 1 flax egg
  • ¼ c agave
  • splash of vanilla
  • ½ c + ½ c non-dairy milk
  • ½ c cocoa
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ c coconut flour

In a small bowl, combine the cocoa, baking soda and coconut flour. In your blender (I use a high-speed blender [I ❤ Vitamix] – since there’s a full cup of liquid in this I’d try it in the regular blender or food processor, too – feel free, I’m sorry I haven’t done it myself. ) combine the hazelnuts, flax egg, agave, vanilla, ½ cup of the milk, and half of the dry ingredients. Puree. Add the other half of the dry ingredients and pour your second ½ c of milk over the mixture. Puree some more. You’ll probably have to use the tamper and/or stir by hand a little to get everything well combined. Pour into a smallish square dish (greased), e.g. a 8×8 and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Do you just want a dip or a schmear?

Fluffy "Nutella" | Ann Ning Learning How