Puerto Rican Vegan

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

My neighbor and I have a standing Tuesday play date where the kids get together at either her place or mine and we gals can chit chat the afternoon away.  A couple weeks ago I went to her house and she pulled out the big guns - this amazing English tea set that had me feeling like I was truly a grown up.  I thought wow...this chic is the hostess with the mostest!  I have to step up my game!

So today when we decided to meet at her place again I quickly whipped up a batch of these cutie patootie mini muffins and brought them over fresh out of the oven.  They were a huge hit.  She kept saying, "You baked these??"  Yes, dear! You can bake them, too...

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

*Adapted from AllRecipes.com to be free of animal products.

·         3/4 cup white sugar
·         1/4 cup vegetable oil
·         2 tbsp flax meal mixed with warm water
·         3/4 cup canned pumpkin
·         1/4 cup water
·         1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
·         3/4 teaspoon baking powder
·         1/2 teaspoon baking soda
·         1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
·         1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
·         1/4 teaspoon salt
·         1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
·         1/2 cup semisweet vegan chocolate chips
·         1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease and flour mini muffin pan or use paper liners. Mix sugar, oil, and flax meal (add enough warm water to make a liquidy paste.  This is your egg substitute). Add pumpkin and water. In separate bowl mix together the baking flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. Add wet mixture, stir in chocolate chips and optional pecans. Fill mini muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Braised Coconut Spinach and Chickpeas with Lemon

I love that I live in a home where I can experiment with new recipes to my heart's content and my family is along for the ride. This week I was in the mood for some hearty vegetables all by themselves, without the rice, pasta, or bread that usually accompanies them. Growing up in a Puerto Rican household, that would be unheard of. A meal was not complete without rice...and meat.  I had some sweet potatoes laying around that needed to be gobbled up, so I hit the internet!

Searching around on Pinterest for vegetable recipes involving sweet potatoes, I found one that looked like it could fit the bill. New recipes are always hit or miss, but this one hit the ball out of the ballpark!  It was so filling and delicious.  Everyone from my husband down to my 3yo loved it.  This will definitely be making many appearances in my home.

The only difference I made to the original recipe was that I used a bag of the Cruciferous Crunch Collection mix from Trader Joe's instead of the spinach.  It made the whole dish heartier and suitable as a dinner dish all on its own.  

Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas with Lemon

2 teaspoons vegan butter (I use Earth Balance. You can substitute oil of choice)
1 small onion (I used red)
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 large lemon, zested and juiced (about 2 tablespoons juice)
1 dried hot red pepper or dash of red pepper flakes (I used a jalepeno)
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 pound baby spinach (I used a bag of Cruciferous Crunch Collection from Trader Joe's) 1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
1 teaspoon ground ginger

To Serve: Whole roasted sweet potatoes

Heat the butter or oil in a large, deep Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is beginning to brown. Add the garlic, ginger, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest, and hot pepper, if using. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the chickpeas and cook over high heat for a few minutes, or until the chickpeas are beginning to turn golden and they are coated with the onion and garlic mixture. Toss in the greens of choice, one handful at a time. This will take about 5 minutes; stir in a handful or two and wait for it to wilt down and make room in the pot before adding the next handful. When all the greens have been added, pour in the coconut milk, salt, ground ginger, and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer, then turn down the heat and cook for 10 minutes, or until the chickpeas are warmed through. Taste and add more salt and lemon juice, if necessary. Serve hot over roasted sweet potatoes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Daniel Fast Sweet Potato Bars

Happy New Year! Is it obnoxious to say that on the 20th?  Probably.  However in the spirit of all things new, we have embarked on a 21-day Daniel Fast to clear out the old and begin fresh!  As you know we stick very close to a vegan diet in our home, so a Daniel Fast is not foreign.  Removing all sugars and leaven does make it quite difficult to bake, though...and momma loves to bake.  Every Monday night I bake fresh muffins for Tuesday morning's breakfast.  Without the use of baking soda/powder or sugar, it's been a rough road.

I started out looking up Daniel Fast muffins, but every recipe I followed left me feeling like I was eating cardboard.  Then I remembered that I had a similar experience when I used to look up vegan recipes. I soon realized that with a few simple substitutions, any recipe can be vegan.  The same goes for the Daniel Fast.  Once you know what you can and cannot eat, you can alter your favorite vegan recipes to fit the bill.  It takes some trial and error, but it's worth it.

I'm very happy to share this delicious Sweet Potato Bar.  The result is a moist, hearty, Daniel Fast approved, nutritious, and delicious breakfast or snack.  Please enjoy!


1 cup oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup date syrup
2 tbsp milled flax seed + 6 tbsp water
1 large baked sweet potato (or 2 small ones), mashed
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup dried unsweetened cranberries

Mix dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, mash sweet potato. Then stir in date syrup, flax mixture, vanilla, and apple sauce. Stir in dry ingredients until well moistened. Mix in cranberries. Pour into a greased 8×8 pan and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Cut into bars immediately out of the oven.

To join us on our Daniel Fast, please visit our Facebook page for our online community, or click on the Daniel Fast links to sign up for daily emails and fasting resources from my hot hubby!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

South African Smoked Potatoes

We Caribbean folk love to season our food.  Traditionally through the generations we've been trained up in the way we should go about doing this.  Unfortunately a lot of those ways are unhealthy and harmful to these gorgeous temples we've been given.  Instead of passing on a strong heritage of health and healing, we end up unknowingly passing down disease and illness, with bad eating habits and poor food choices. 

But Yadi, healthy food is SO expensive!  Not all healthy options are high in price.  Take Trader Joe's, for instance.  This grocery store has made a commitment to quality and health that others just haven't made.  You will not find a single high fructose corn syrup, artificial color/flavoring, MSG, chemical laden ingredient in anything they sell.  That's huge! It doesn't mean that everything sold is good for you, labels still need to be read, but it's a great start.  On top of that commitment, Trader Joe's prices are unbeatable.  You will not break the bank in this grocery store for quality.  Quantity?  That's another story ;)

So now that you know where to shop, I'll let you in on a little seasoning secret.  Those of you who know about South African Smoke KNOW, it's crack. Oh how I wish this was a scratch and sniff picture.  Take a little whiff and your senses are awakened to a whole new world.  What can I put it on, Yadi?  EVERYTHING.  Seriously.  OK, maybe not like fruit or ice cream, but I wouldn't rule it out.  Anything savory can only be enhanced by the stuff in this amazing little bottle.  I don't know how they do it, the seasoning only has 4 ingredients: paprika flakes, sea salt, garlic, basil.  That's it.  If you think you can imagine what it tastes like from that list, you are wrong.  Drop what you're doing and rush to your nearest Trader Joe's to pick up a bottle.  I told you, it's crack.*

South African Smoked Potatoes

organic white and sweet potatoes, boiled and chopped (ration 3 to 1 white to sweet)
red onion, thinly sliced
grapeseed oil for cooking
south african smoke seasoning

Heat a skillet with grapeseed oil.  You can use any oil, but I've found that grapeseed holds heat the best and doesn't burn your pans like others can.  Toss in your pre-boiled, chopped potatoes and thinly sliced onions.  Now grind that south african smoke until the entire top portion is filled with goodness and sprinkle it over your potatoes as you mix everything around in your pan for even heating.  Once you've done that, grind some more and do it again.  Then repeat. I O.D on this stuff.
I serve these savory, slightly sweet potatoes with homemade vegan pancakes, or I'll eat them on their own. Sometimes I throw in some vegan sausage for some extra added protein.  So good! Enjoy, and let me know what life altering seasonings you've come across! 

*I don't get any kickback from TJs for promoting them or their products.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Skinny on Maple Syrup

I'm always on the lookout for fun educational field trips we can take as a family.  New Jersey Family is one of my absolute favorite sites for local events.  Every week I get an email with family-friendly activities taking place near us.  Their website also features lots of awesome articles, How-Tos, and giveaways.  I actually just won a Cuisinart electric hand mixer last week by commenting on my favorite thing to bake...vegan carrot cake, of course!  I just realized I haven't posted the recipe for that one.  Wow, you've been missing out!

Anyway, on Saturday I found a great little local event called the Annual Maple Sugar Fest which took place at the Great Swamp Nature Center in Chatham.  There were taste tests, crafts, nature walks, and games.  They even had a wigwam the kiddos could enter as an example of how the Native Americans in our area who harvested tree sap used to live.  We learned so much about maple syrup that I wanted to share with all of you some of the interesting tidbits:

  • Maple syrup requires such a specific climate that northeast US and Canada is the only place in the world where it can be harvested.
  • Maple syrup is made from maple tree sap which looks and tastes just like water.  It is cooked down to evaporate the water, leaving the browned syrup behind.  
  • The way they retrieve the sap has stayed just about the same for hundreds of years.  A small hole is drilled into the tree about an inch past the bark.  For small farms, a bucket is placed to catch the sap.  Larger farms connect hoses to bring all the sap into a factory.
  • In super cold winters (like the one we've been having in 2014), the sap freezes inside the tree and very little will be harvested.
  • The different grades and shades of maple syrup have to do with when in the season it was harvested.  
  • Grade A Light Amber (Fancy grade) is harvested early in the season, contains the most sugar content, and is the most expensive.
  • Grade A Medium and Dark Amber are the most common forms of syrup found in grocery stores, harvested mid-season.
  • Grade B is harvested at the end of the season (late March), is darkest in color, has the least amount of sugar content, but most amount of "maple" flavor - which makes it great for cooking.
  • Commercial maple syrup (think Aunt Jemima and the like) have zero actual maple syrup content, made mostly from high fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring, and other artifical flavors/colors.  
  • Pure maple syrup is costly in comparison to commercial syrup because it takes about 5 1/5 days for the average tree to produce about 40 gallons of sap, which is what it takes for one gallon of syrup.
  • Because maple syrup comes from very old trees, there is no need for pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, etc - which makes it inherently organic.  It also has a slew of vitamins and minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, iron, B2 (riboflavin), B5 (pantothenic acid), niacin, and folic acid.
Whew!  Fascinating, no?   We love maple syrup in our home.  I use it as a sugar substitute in some recipes, and of course over homemade vegan pancakes!  What do you use maple syrup for?  What is your favorite grade?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Habichuelas Guisadas (Stewed beans) - the Remake!

Today I have a scrumptious dish for you that is sure to awaken your nostalgic Caribbean taste buds. Earlier I gave you the recipe for Spanish rice and beans, but sometimes you want those beans saucy and drenched over the top of your rice like an accompaniment. I've taken those traditional habichuelas and added some hearty veggies so they can be eaten as a full meal without feeling like you're missing a thing. The slightly embarrassing part of this recipe is that I've used canned beans. I remember my mom cooking those dried beans from the morning until the evening...and no doubt the taste difference is noticeable. One of these days I will try my hand at "all-day beans" for sure.

Maybe in the crockpot.  

Habichuelas Guisadas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup sofrito
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 tbsp Sazon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cups low sodium veggie broth
2 cans pinto or kidney beans (15 oz. cans)
3 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp green pimento olives, chopped
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Note: You can use store bought Sazon and sofrito, but beware they are laden with harmful chemicals like MSG and artificial coloring/flavoring.  With a little prep, you can make it all yourself fresh and it stores for up to 3 months.  Click the links for recipes ;)

In a medium sized sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 4-5 minutes, until it starts to caramelize. Add the sofrito and Sazon seasoning. Saute for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the tomato sauce, oregano, cumin and a pinch of black pepper. Saute for 1 minute. Add the veggie broth and beans, potatoes, carrots, and olives. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once the mixture comes to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer.  Cook for 25-30 minutes, to allow the flavors to meld and the potato/carrots to cook. Check for seasoning, and add sea salt if desired. Serve over white or yellow rice - or the way I like it...steamed brown rice!

This dish is absolutely delish! Feel free to add some extra cilantro, or as we call it in Puerto Rico - recao. This is the base of your sofrito so there is already some in there, but some like it more pronounced. If you'd like your beans less hearty and more traditional, cut down significantly on the amount of veggies.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Breakfast Muffins

This morning I woke up with the urge to bake! These little breakfast muffins are adorable. They're not too sweet, actually a bit savory - which I prefer for breakfast. You can use the base recipe and mix in pretty much anything. We separated the batter into three different bowls of filling - blueberry, raisins, and dark chocolate chunks. The kiddos enjoyed tasting the different varieties, and they each had their fave! Annabelle loved the chocolate (a girl after my own heart), Juliette preferred the blueberry, while Joshua thought the raisin were the best.

These little dainties are perfect for an afternoon snack, or to take on the road when the kiddos get hungry so you don't have to stop for something unhealthy.  They are packed with protein in the form of quinoa, oats, and almond meal.  They are nutritious down to the last bite and fun to make!  I like to make them mini, but you can make them full sized muffin with the same instructions and ingredients.  Enjoy!

Breakfast Muffins 

1 cup vanilla rice milk
1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup agave
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp all-spice
1 cup cooked oatmeal
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup filling of choice

Preheat oven to 350° F and lightly grease a non-stick 24 mini-muffin tin. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the rice milk and ground flaxseed. Allow to sit for 1 minute, then whisk in oil, agave, and vanilla. In a large bowl, sift together flour, almond meal, baking powder, salt and spices. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just incorporated. Gently fold in the cooked oatmeal and quinoa (I cooked them together in 3 cups of water) and filling(s) of choice.  Pour into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Yields about 40 mini muffins or 12 full sized muffins.