I love combining chocolate with peppermint! Just a bite of this sweet confection seems to completely satisfy me with its luscious goodness. This is a perfect dessert tidbit for the Holidays!

THE TWIST

The crust of these decadent bites is made from Newman-O’s, a cookie that looks similar to Oreo cookies but the ingredient list is very different. Oreo cookies contain hidden trans fat which is unhealthy while the Newman-O’s contain none and instead are made with organic, more healthy ingredients. The cacao powder is an ingredient packed with antioxidants and is a powerful cancer-fighter. Chocolate contains compounds that produce the feeling of pleasure and boost your mood! The agave inulin is a super fiber that not only works like fiber, but also as a prebiotic to promote complete intestinal health. The stevia is not only a natural sweetener but also helps reduce blood pressure and can help stabilize blood sugar levels. Even the peppermint in the crushed candy canes have healing properties related to its smooth muscle relaxing ability.

PEPPERMINT AND TRIPLE CHOCOLATE “CHEESECAKE” BITES

1 (9 oz.) pkg. Newman-O’s chocolate creme filled chocolate cookies
8 oz. semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips
8 oz. pkg. non-dairy cream cheese (Tofutti)
3 T agave inulin powder
1/4 cup raw cacao powder*
1/4 t stevia (Sweetleaf)
1/2 cup non-dairy sour cream (Tofutti)
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 T egg replacer (Ener G)
1/4 cup water
4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
2 T non-hydrogenated margarine (Earth Balance)
1 T agave nectar
1/4 cup crushed candy canes

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8″x8″ baking pan with foil.  Place all the cookies in a food processor and whirl until finely ground to crumbs. Press crumbs into the lined baking pan. Melt the 8 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate very carefully in a microwave or in a double boiler, stirring as necessary. Place the next 8 ingredients to a food processor and blend well. Add the melted chocolate and process until well blended. Pour the filling over the crust and bake 35 minutes or until the filling puffs slightly around the edges and is wobbly in the center. Cool. Melt the 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate with the non-hydrogenated margarine and agave nectar. Spread evenly over the warm cake and scatter the crushed candy canes over top. Cool completely, then refrigerate overnight. Cut into small squares. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
©Janice Moreland http://thekitchentwist.com

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Just in time for Christmas breakfast, enjoy this easy and nutritious recipe.

THE TWIST

These cinnamon rolls contain whole wheat which several studies indicate that those who consume whole wheat are not as likely to gain weight as those who consume only refined grains. Other benefits from consuming whole wheat are a reduced risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, asthma, colorectal and pancreatic cancers, gum disease and obesity.

WHOLE WHEAT CINNAMON ROLLS

Dough:
1 1/3 cup warmed almond milk
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (Earth Balance)
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t fresh lemon juice
2 T ground flaxseed
1 1/2 T instant yeast
4 to 4 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

Filling:
1/3 cup muscovado sugar*
1 1/2 T cinnamon
1/8 t nutmeg
1/3 cup raisins

Glaze:  (optional)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 T almond milk

Add the first 7 ingredients to a stand mixer and blend well. Add the whole wheat flour and knead with the dough attachment watching for the dough to pull away from the sides and adding more flour if necessary. Expect this dough to be slightly sticky. Knead 5 minutes. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough into a 16″x12″ rectangle.  Coat lightly with cooking spray. Combine the filling ingredients and sprinkle onto the dough within 1/2 inch of the edges making sure the raisins are evenly spread. Roll dough tightly starting from a long edge. Pinch seam to seal. Cut the dough into 16 slices using a piece of thread slid under the dough, then crossed over top and pulled from both ends at the same time.  Arrange cut rolls evenly in an  11″x15″ baking pan lightly coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise at least 1 hour or until doubled in size. Heat oven to 375°. Uncover rolls and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and cool in pan. If you choose to, combine the glaze ingredients adding the almond milk 1 teaspoon at a time and stirring to form a thick glaze made to the desired consistency. Drizzle or spread evenly over rolls.
©Janice Moreland http://thekitchentwist.com

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What’s for dinner? A few days ago I  heard someone declare that it is difficult to make dinner if you’re a vegan.  It’s easy, you just put plants on your plate.  With the typical expectation of a main dish and side dishes on a dinner plate, I created this main dish recipe for my omnivore relatives who are coming over on Saturday. Hopefully dinner will be appealing to everyone.

THE TWIST

Farro has a low gluten content making it easier to digest, and sometimes tolerable for many gluten intolerant individuals. Farro contains a special type of carbohydrate called cyanogenic glucosides that stimulate the immune system, lower choesterol and play a role in blood clotting.

Eggplant skin holds an antioxidant called nasunin, a potent free-radical scavenger. It protects blood cholesterol from becoming a highly reactive toxic form; prevents cellular damage that can promote cancer; and lessens free radical damage in joints, which causes arthritis.  This dish is also rich in protein, iron, several vitamins and is full of fiber.

FARRO AND GARBANZO BEAN CAKES WITH EGGPLANT AND MUSHROOMS

1 cup farro*
1 ½ cups water
1 (15 oz.) can organic garbanzo beans
1 cup vegetable broth
3 T ground flaxseed
1 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 T fresh thyme leaves
1 ½ t chopped fresh rosemary
1 t Himalayan sea salt*
½ t turmeric
¼ t ground sage
¼ t cayenne pepper
2 t baking powder
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
¼ cup parsley
2 T coconut oil*

In a medium saucepan cook the farro in water for 15 minutes until “al dente.”  Add the garbanzo beans, vegetable broth, ground flaxseed, onion, garlic and lemon juice to a food processor and pulse several times. Add all the fresh and dried herbs and seasonings and baking powder, process until incorporated. Add the cooked farro (drain if necessary). Add the breadcrumbs and parsley and pulse 5 to 6 times until blended thoroughly. Shape into 12 cakes and fry in a skillet in 2 to 3 batches using the coconut oil as needed. Serve with Eggplant and Mushroom sauce. Serves 6.
©Janice Moreland http://thekitchentwist.com

For the Eggplant and Mushroom Sauce
½ large eggplant, diced
1 T Himalayan sea salt*
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 lb. crimini mushrooms, halved
1 ½ cups grape tomatoes
3 cups vegetable broth
¼ cup non-dairy, non-hydrogenated butter
20 basil leaves, chiffonade or minced

Place eggplant in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt and add just enough water to cover. Let stand 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°.  Line a very large baking sheet with foil and lightly grease with olive oil. Drain eggplant and place on baking sheet with the remaining vegetables. Toss with a little olive oil drizzled over top. Roast in the preheated oven 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Heat the vegetable broth and non-dairy butter in a medium saucepan to boiling and reduce by ⅓. Stir in the roasted vegetables and basil. Serve over the farro and garbanzo Cakes. Garnish with additional fresh chopped basil.

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Saturday evening I met Jamie, an engaging and delightful woman. We talked about our lives and our families. We touched on gratitude and faith and eventually we talked about food. Jamie seemed sincerely fascinated by the idea of only eating plants and mentioned that she really liked hummus which inspired me to create my first post. Thank you Jamie, here’s my hummus recipe, with the twist.

THE TWIST!

Hummus is high in protein and fiber and is chock full of minerals, especially manganese, phosphorous, iron, folate and calcium. It may feel like a guilty pleasure but this food is very healthy.


HUMMUS

6 T fresh lemon juice
½ cup water
¾ cup tahini, stirred well
4 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 (14 oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 small garlic cloves, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 t Himalayan sea salt*
½ t cumin
⅛ t Cayenne pepper
1 T minced fresh cilantro or parsley leaves

Mix lemon juice and water in a small bowl. Combine tahini and olive oil in a separate bowl or measuring cup. Set aside 3 T of garbanzo beans for garnish.  Combine remaining garbanzo beans and next 4 ingredients in a food processor, pulsing 15 to 20 times. Scrape down bowl with a rubber spatula. While machine is running, add lemon juice mixture in a stead stream through the feed tube. Scrape down bowl and continue to process for 1 full minute. With machine running, add oil-tahini mixture in a steady stream through the feed tube, processing until smooth, about 20 seconds. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with reserved garbanzo beans and cilantro or parsley. Let stand 30 minutes, drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and serve.
©Janice Moreland http://thekitchentwist.com

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