Virtual vegan potluck: Sidekick-good[boy/girl]-biscuits

November 16, 2013

Yay, potluck time! Welcome!

The virtual vegan potluck home

Yowsers, Keepin’ it kind… what a tough act to follow!

This is not exactly the kind of side dish that you are probably anticipating. I wanted to take part in the VVP, but struggled to think of a VVP-worthy dish. I decided to create a “side” dish for my trusty four legged sidekicks that help inspire me daily to try make the world a better place for all animals (human and non-human).

You can sneak one over the side of the table while you are enjoying all the other lovely VVP dishes you have made… I know it should not be encouraged, but it is a special occasion – we do not have a potluck like this every day.

“A well-trained dog will make no attempt to share your lunch. He will just make you feel so guilty that you cannot enjoy it.” – Helen Thomson

yummmnummmnumm peanut butter cookie.  I am a good boy, gimme a cookie!

Jake using his Jedi mind tricks to get the biscuits to him

I have included beetroot pulp in this recipe, since I am sure we are going to have many wonderful beetroot juice recipes and you will have lots of pulp left over, and instead of feeding your worm-farm or chucking it on the compost heap, you can use it as an ingredient in this recipe.

It is also a healthy and affordable way of creating some treats for all of your hunny-bunny-fluffy-fur-kids.

(It is scary to see what rubbish ingredients are included in commercial dog biscuits!)

I have made this in many variations, depending on what I have available at home.

The ratios may change, depending on the ingredients, but the 4 ingredients that are always included are:

  • Flour
  • Peanut butter
  • Molasses
  • Apple sauce

The rest of the ingredients depend on what I have available at home, sometimes I may use the pulp left over after juicing, leftover beans, if I was a bit over enthusiastic at soaking and cooking a batch of beans to be used for the week, sometimes I use flour that may be close to the expiry date… hopefully you get the idea – you can really just wing-it.

Basic guidelines

Makes approximately 50 bite sized biscuits

2 – 3 cups flour (for this batch, I used rice flour)

2 – 4 cups pulp (in this case beetroot pulp)

1 cup peanut butter

1 heaped tablespoon of peanut butter (optional)

1 cup apple sauce

2 – 3 tablespoons sweetener (molasses/syrup)

Water – depending on consistency

Ingredients

Beetroot pulp and peanut butter (just peanuts – the way it should be – so delicious!)

Optional ingredients

Replace some/all of the flour with oats, dash of salt, dried herbs or spices (just to make it smell a bit more interesting, I love cinnamon, so it is often added)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C/350 °F
  2. Prepare a couple of baking trays – I use the Silpat sheets so I do not grease the baking surface – you may need to, depending on the baking trays that you are using
  3. In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients (flour/pulp)
  4. The optional heaped tablespoon is for you to snack on, while making the biscuits – this is the point where you may start snacking on the huge lump of fabulous peanut butter
  5. In a blender, add the peanuts/peanut butter, applesauce and sweetener. Blend until it is all combined and a think consistency formed
  6. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl
  7. At this stage, you can add any optional ingredients you want to include
  8. Mix all of it until it forms a stiff cookie dough consistency

    See the lumps of peanut butter… the magic ingredient

  9. Put flour on your work surface (see my tip about how to do this if you are not a pro (like me))
  10. Take some of the dough and roll it out into a square – about 50mm/2in thick
  11. Cut the cookies into the desired shape (see tip) and then spread on the baking trays. You can pack it closely, they do not spread much when baking
  12. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes
  13. Turn off the oven and leave the biscuits there. After about 15 minutes, flip all the biscuits over, so that you make sure they dry out on both sides. I usually leave the biscuits in the oven overnight to dry out properly
  14. Will stay fresh for 2 weeks if stored in an airtight container
Emma can smell peanut butter cookies

I have already sent my brother to start the staring contest…
Soon I will have cookies!

Tips

  • Type of flour: I use any flour that I have available at home. I usually have whole-wheat/brown bread flour available. I always try to buy less processed, more natural type flours that have very few or no preservatives and extra gunk added.
  • Applesauce: We cannot buy applesauce in South Africa. I usually just put a large sweet apple in the blender with 1 – 2 tablespoons of water. When I don’t have apples available, I use pears or bananas.
  • Peanut butter: Depending on what I have available, I either just make my own peanut butter or I use shop bought peanut butter. Check the ingredient list of peanut butter – many of the commercial brands add extra oil (even worse – palm oil), salt and more rubbish. You can use any type of nut/nut butter.
    I once tried to make an oil free batch. I replaced the nut butter with a batch of homemade chickpea “hummus”. It was okay, but my dogs prefer the peanut butter versions.
  • I have a very sweet tooth so I usually make the biscuits slightly sweet. Again, I use what I have available, molasses, agave/maple/barley malt syrup. I don’t usually add sugar (in powder form), it is usually some form of syrup.
  • I love it when you watch all the foodie shows on TV and the baker takes a little bit of flour and very evenly and skilfully ‘dusts’ their work surface with flour. This hardly ever looks that good when I do it. I usually end up with blobs of flour on the counter and when I try to distribute it more evenly, I just make the situation worse….
    I got myself one of those nifty hand-mug sifters (see picture – not sure what it is called). All I do is put a bit of flour in the sifter and then use it to ‘dust’ the counter with flour. I mess less, waste less flour and distribute the flour a lot more evenly on the counter… and I get to use my new kitchen gadget.

    Nifty sifter gadget

    Nifty sifter gadget

  • I do have cookie cutters available to make all kinds of interesting shapes, but I just cut the cookies into blocks. It is much quicker to do and I have not had any complaints about the shape thus far 😀

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Virtual vegan potluck: Ooey gooey chocolate pudding cake

May 11, 2013

I am very excited to be part of the VVP again this year.

The virtual vegan potluck homeIt is great to see the same faces from last time and also a whole lot of new ones.  It is great to be part of this community.

This time, I am thought I’d bring you one of my favourite cake/puddings that I managed to veganise after a number of attempts.  My approach to any food preparation is that it should be easy, use simple ingredients that everyone will recognise and of course, 100% plant based.  Technically, it does not seem to be classified as a cake, because it is very moist, but it looks like a cake, so I do not think it should be called a pudding.  So I call it a pudding cake… or should it be a cake pudding…

I hope you saved some space for a bit more dessert, since there are so many great dishes to try.

Without further ado, here is my very ooey gooey chocolate pudding cake.

Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake

There are 3 parts to this dish:

  • Cake
  • Sauce
  • Topping

Ingredients

Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour *

2 cups sugar *

½ cup cacao powder *

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 tablespoon instant coffee (optional)

1 teaspoon salt

1 ¾ cups of plant based milk *

1 cup apple sauce *

¼ cup apple cider or white vinegar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract *

Sauce

¾ tin coconut milk (or if you want it to be richer, coconut cream)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup of sugar *

Topping

¼ tin coconut milk (or cream that you used for the sauce)

2 x slabs (200g/7oz) of dark chocolate *

Instructions

Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C/350 °F
  2. Lightly grease one 23cm/9” pan
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cacao, coffee and salt.
    In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, apple sauce, vinegar, vanilla and baking soda *.
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined.  Do not overmix.
  5. Fill the prepared cake pan with the batter.

    Gooey chocolate cake batter

    Gooey chocolate cake batter

  6. Bake for 25 – 30 mins, or until a testing pin is inserted and comes out clean.  A few crumbs clinging to it, is not an issue.
  7. Leave the cake out to cool.
Cake baked,cooled and ready for the sauce

Cake baked, cooled and ready for the sauce

Sauce

  1. Cook all the ingredients together at a low heat until it has a caramel colour, stir continuously
  2. When the cake has cooled, pour the sauce over and let it stand so that it is all absorbed into the cake.

    Saucy cake soaking up all the good stuff

    Saucy cake soaking up all the good stuff

  3. Leave the cake out to cool.
Cooled cake, ready for the topping

Cooled cake, ready for the topping

Topping

  1. Melt ingredients together and pour over cooled cake.

    Cake topped with chocolate topping

    Cake topped with dark orange flavoured chocolate topping

  2. Garnish, if you feel like it.  I just added the cute little heart shaped sprinkles because I thought they looked cute.

Finally, help yourself to a large slice of the cake for just being such a fabulous and compassionate person.  Repeat last step multiple times (I sure will do :D).

slice“Cake is happiness! If you know the way of the cake, you know the way of happiness! If you have a cake in front of you, you should not look any further for joy!” – C. JoyBell C.

Enjoy!

*Notes

  • Flour for cake – you can use plain all-purpose flour.  I use whole-wheat flour that I have available at home.
  • Sugar – the amount of sugar to use is a personal preference.  I usually reduce the sugar used in the recipe by about 25%, but Mr SpinachRevolution prefers it sweeter.  The recipe is based on the sweeter version that he has assured me is the better version.  I use raw organic brown sugar.
  • Cacao powder – I use raw organic cacao powder.  You can also use unsweetened cocoa powder.
  • Milk – I use soy milk, but oat, rice or almond milk will work equally well.
  • Apple sauce – we do not have this available in South Africa so I blend a large apple with 2 tablespoons of water in a blender until smooth.  Easy peasy.
  • Vanilla extract – you can also use almond extract.
  • I have read a blog some time ago where the person suggested that the baking soda should be mixed with the wet ingredients instead of the dry, and it will eliminate the potential flavour of baking soda.  I am not sure if it is true, but hey, it is easy enough to do.
  • Dark chocolate – I have used variations with great success.  For this cake, I used an organic orange flavoured chocolate.  It has tiny bits of orange rind in it and also flavoured with orange oil.
  • Whole nut chocolate, e.g. with hazel nuts is always a winner too.

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The fat vegan

March 27, 2011

Not all vegans are healthy.  Some vegans eat very unhealthy, high-fat diets.

  • Article by Dr John McDougall about the first (fat) vegan he met:  Article

It is only beneficial to your health when you follow a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle, not only eliminating animal-based food from your diet.