Peanut Chews and Cruciferous Veggies | VeganMoFo 2019 Day Five

Well. Happy Monday. :) I’m feeling a bit more collected after yesterday’s rage-fueled rant, thanks to the curative powers of The Office and someone cooking dinner for me and Brooklyn 99 and puppy snuggles and a bite of chocolate ice cream.

And mid-day peanut chews.

I’d never had these little nuggets of chewy, chocolatey, peanutty goodness until I moved to Maryland six years ago (!!!) and started my current job. A former coworker (since retired) was known around the office for passing out peanut chews as little edible kudos, producing a handful from a pocket and sharing them with all and sundry. Not only are they accidentally vegan, but they’re also made locally(ish). The flavor is probably not to everyone’s tastes; rather than relying on a traditional caramel for chewiness, they use molasses — an ingredient well documented on this blog as it’s one of my favorites. I dig it, and I dig them.

Anyway, I grabbed a packet of peanut chews from the vending machine today because sometimes you just need a little chocolate to soothe your soul.

(Side note: Although I generally favor chocolate recommended by the FEP list, I just wanted something fast and easily available today. Looks like Goldenberg’s is on the “Cannot recommend but are working on the issues in various ways” list. I’m not perfect.)

An equally delicious thing I ate today was dinner, even though it was ridiculously simple: a huge skillet of cabbage, sautéed with Earth Balance and topped with salt, pepper, and some generous gratings of my precious Violife parm. I also made some spicy pan-sautéed kale with black-eyed peas for protein. I attempted to cook ye olde failed chickwheat by dicing it and lightly frying it, but… instead of getting crispy and edible, it became soft and mushy. Vom-o-rama. Steven kindly took some of the pieces I fished out of my bowl, but even he gave up after a while. I’m really trying not to let my failed chickwheat go to waste, but dang. It’s nasty.

Anyway, the rest of dinner was a delight. All crucifers benefit from high heat and a decent amount of cooking time, in my opinion, and sautéed cabbage is one of my favorites. It’s also a great foil to the salty parmesan. A perfect combination.

We’ve just gotten back from the gym, so hopefully those exercise endorphins will further buoy my mood. :)

(P.S. No update on my catbird friend. I emailed the rehab to check in but haven’t heard back yet. (They specifically requested emails rather than phone calls.) Sigh. Keep those fingers and toes crossed.)

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Raaka Unroasted Vegan Chocolate Review

Among Steven’s many excellent qualities is one that makes birthdays and holidays extra fun: He is a terrific gift-giver. He’s the type of person who keeps a running list all year long, adding ideas gleaned from offhand comments or the merest suggestion. His gifts are always thoughtful and frequently generous. For my 25th birthday — a year in which I’d come up with a list of 25 goals to accomplish — he made what was essentially a birthday advent calendar, with one box for each goal. Once I accomplished the goal, I’d open the box to find a trinket to commemorate my success: a sachet of saffron for a cooking-related goal, that sort of thing. For my 30th, he gave me a generous gift certificate to a local photography school so that I could take classes, a nod to my desire to improve my photography and to my desire to focus more on experiences than physical things. Steven derives genuine joy in giving the perfect gift, without expecting the recipient to reciprocate with something equally perfect. (Although I was pretty proud this Christmas when I got him a handmade Slytherin robe, which seemed to delight and surprise him.)

All this is to say that even my stocking is a thrill to open come Christmas morning. This year, along with some other lovely stocking stuffers, Steven included three chocolate bars from Raaka, an ethical chocolatier that produces some truly wonderful vegan chocolate bars. The gift ticked all the boxes for me, a lover of high-quality dark chocolate who tries to support small companies that incorporate transparent, ethical practices in their supply chain. I hadn’t heard of the brand before I received Steven’s gift, but I was glad to learn about them.

Raaka differentiates itself from other chocolatiers by focusing on single-origin unroasted beans and by being truly transparent about their processes. I received three bars, which came packaged in a nice little muslin bag I’ll happily use to stash toiletries during my travels. Here are the bars I tried. Spoiler: I love them all.

Vegan Raaka chocolate bars


Bourbon Cask Aged

Raaka describes this bar as their “tuxedoed sophisticate,” and they’re not wrong. The company barrel-ages their single-origin cacao in bourbon casks, imbuing the chocolate with a deep, rich, complex flavor. Would I have described this chocolate as bourbon-infused had I not read the label? Probably not. Is it still delicious? Yes, it is.

Pink Sea Salt

I am fully here for the trend of sprinkling salt atop an otherwise sweet chocolate! This bar fulfills all my salty-sweet dreams, with a grains of sharp pink salt liberally dashed onto a 71% cacao bar of chocolate. It’s utterly delightful.

Coconut Milk

This is easily the best vegan chocolate I’ve had in a long, long time. It hits a perfect balance between milk and dark chocolate, melting on the tongue like a milk but with the complex flavors of a dark, and very little actual coconut flavor. It’s light and smooth, a creamy delight that goes down easy. I’m exercising restraint and making this bar last as long as I can!


Vegan Raaka chocolate bars

If you can’t tell, I’m officially a Raaka convert. This is quality chocolate prepared with love and respect. I’m not sure that I’d identify it as unroasted if I didn’t know it in advance, but whatever they’re doing, they’re doing right. Plus, the labels are pleasing to look at and the price is comparable with other artisanal chocolate bars (which is admittedly steep). It’s chocolate to be savored, eaten slowly a square at a time. My kind of chocolate.

Raaka has quite a few other flavors, and I’m looking forward to trying them. I love the idea of the cab sauv bar, and they just introduced an oat milk bar (!?!) that sounds really interesting.

Let me know your favorite ethical vegan chocolate brands… if only to give Steven ideas for my March birthday! :D

Chocolate Deliciousness | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Eighteen

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Three: Ingredient Challenges
Today is Chocolate Cupcake Day,
but you can make anything you want with chocolate!

This VeganMoFo, I tell ya. I’ll be honest: I’m a little disappointed that I haven’t been able to share as many brand-new original recipes as I’d have liked. Chalk it up to a few factors — being on vacation during the first few days of the month; being busy with freelance work; various recipes failing on the first try — but there it is.

Today, another sob story: I wanted to share a recipe for a super chocolaty banana soft serve, but alas, my bananas did not cooperate. They were either too ripe (like, I put them in the freezer when they were black  and smooshy and now their only possible use is for banana bread) or too unripe (I refuse — REFUSE — to eat bananas when any green is showing on the stem).

Then I thought I might make some chocolate aquafaba mousse, because I’ve never made one that truly succeeded. But Steven is avoiding added sugar at the moment, and I didn’t want to make something he couldn’t eat. (And I do think some sugar is required for a dish like this.)

Then I got sick! It’s a minor cold, but I am not up to the triple threat that is preparing a post for a new recipe (cooking the food and documenting the recipe; staging and photographing the food; editing the photos of the food). So, instead, please accept this  chocolate recipe round-up — and my sincere apologies for not giving you more. Luckily I’ve already made and shot the recipe for tomorrow, so at least I’ll have something new to share then! In the meantime… CHOCOLATE.

Fudgy Black Bean Brownies

Vegan brownies

Vegan chocolate cookies and bars

  • Isa’s fantastic Mexican hot chocolate snickerdoodles. I haven’t made these in a while, but they’re always amazing.
  • Chocolate peppermint crinkles — perfect for the holidays!
  • Chocolate-covered cookie dough bars.

Vegan chocolate cakes, pies, and tarts

Vegan chocolate puddings and frozen treats

Vegan chocolate drinks, boozy and not

Vegan chocolate candies and fudge

  • KINDER BUENO BARS, veganized. I really, really need to make these.
  • Five-ingredient salted caramel peanut butter truffles.
  • Chocolate-topped buttercrunch toffee. Yes, please.
  • Good ol’ fashioned fudge.

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Mocha Teff Muffins

LVV MoFo 2014 main

Last year for Christmas, my parents put bags of teff flour in the kids’ stockings. (Has that sentence ever been written before?!) I’d ask a leading question like, “What do you think it says about us that we were thrilled?” but I suspect many of my readers would be equally excited to receive a new ingredient as a present! I loved everything about this gift, from the thought behind it to the product’s packaging.

Truth be told, though, I haven’t used it till now. I wanted to do it justice, y’know? I figured I should make injera, but I wanted to do that only if I were making a big Ethiopian feast, and that just hasn’t happened yet. But as I rummaged through my pantry in search of nutritional superstars in disguise, I noticed that a quarter cup of teff flour has 20% of your daily value of iron, 8% of our RDV of calcium, 24% of your RDV of iron, and a cool 5 grams of protein. Needless to say, I had to try it, and I wondered how it would fare in a baked good. The answer? Really, really well.

Mocha Teff Muffins Mocha Teff Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

  • 3/4 cup teff flour
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (Dutch-processed, ideally)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Dash ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup cold very strong coffee (feel free to make it using instant espresso powder)
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup vegan sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar (or additional regular sugar)
  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3-1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350˚ and prepare a muffin tin using liners or a light spray of oil.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the first seven dry ingredients (teff flour through cinnamon). Stir to combine, then add the oats. In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients and the sugar. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet. Using a plastic spatula or a wooden spoon, stir gently to combine, but don’t overmix. The batter will be very smooth, almost silky. Fold in the chocolate chips, then add the batter to the prepared muffin tin with a spoon. Fill each well about 3/4 of the way. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for at least five minutes before eating.

Mocha Teff Muffins

I’m enchanted with teff flour! The grain itself is teeny-tiny, and the flour is incredibly fine. It makes a silky-smooth batter that mixes with nearly no trouble, and the baked muffin has a light, delicate crumb. I’m itching to bake with it again already!

And the nutritional stats of these not-too-sweet muffins? If you eat two (and you will), you’ll get 22% of your RDV of iron, 7% of your RDV of calcium, about 7 grams of protein, and a respectable helping of fiber.

Have you cooked with teff flour?

Chocolate-Orange Chia Pudding

LVV MoFo 2014 mainIt’s probably impossible to write anything about chia seeds that hasn’t been said before—all the jokes have been made, y’know? And I think we’ve moved beyond regarding chia seeds as a novelty. They’re firmly ensconced in the arsenal of cooks who enjoy experimenting with their gelatinous properties and appreciate their nutritional profile. Three tablespoons offer 20% of your recommended daily value of calcium, 15% of your daily value of iron, and 5 g of protein, along with a substantial amount of fiber.

I personally go through phases with chia seeds. I’ll be all into them for a month, then have a pudding or overnight oat bowl that’s just too gelatinous, and then I’ll be over them. But with this vibrantly flavored Chocolate-Orange Chia Pudding, I’m back in the chia game.

Chocolate-Orange Chia Seed Pudding

Chocolate-Orange Chia Pudding
Serves one

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup water (you could probably use nondairy milk, but I was a little leery of mixing it with the orange juice!)
  • 3 T chia seeds
  • 2 T cocoa powder
  • 2 T maple syrup (you can add more if you’d like a sweeter pudding)
  • Dash salt
  • Cacao nibs, coconut shreds, or mini chocolate chips for topping (optional but recommended!)

Add all ingredients to a jar or container with an airtight lid and shake vigorously for at least 15 seconds. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until the pudding reaches desired consistency. Add any toppings and enjoy!

Chocolate-Orange Chia Seed Pudding

Although the three tablespoons of chia seeds carry the main nutritional heft in this pudding, the two tablespoons of maple syrup add a surprising 8% of your daily value of calcium. That’s a total of 28% of your daily value of calcium in a single serving of pudding. Not bad for dessert!

What’s your favorite chia seed recipe?

Chocolate-Hazelnut Buckwheat Bites

LVV MoFo 2014 main

In just a couple days, S and I devoured all the Apricot Buckwheat Bites I made earlier this week. I’m surprised they lasted longer than a day, to be honest!

“Mmm. I really like these,” S said when he tried the first one. And then, a few bites later, “You should make a chocolate version.”

A chocolate version. Once the idea was in my head, it wouldn’t leave. I had to make it happen.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Buckwheat Bites

Chocolate-Hazelnut Buckwheat Bites
Makes 25 balls about 1.25″ in diameter

  • 1 C raw hazelnuts
  • 1/4 C raw buckwheat groats
  • 18-20 raw Medjool dates
  • 2 T raw shelled hemp seeds
  • 1/3 C chocolate chips
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Add the hazelnuts, buckwheat groats, the hemp seeds, and about 15 dates to a food processor and process until well combined. Add the chocolate chips, maple syrup, and sea salt and process for 10-15 seconds. Check the mixture—if it’s not holding together at all, add a few dates, process, and check again. Add more dates if necessary until the mixture is sticky but holds together.

Using your hands, roll the mixture into balls about 1.25″ in diameter. Store in the refrigerator for best results.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Buckwheat Bites

Between the chocolate chips and the crunchy buckwheat, these little bites taste more like candy than anything else. But five balls give you 20% of your daily value of iron, along with 9 grams of protein, 7% of your daily value of calcium, and a decent dose of fiber. Sweet!

Sweets from the Sweet

After last week’s discussion of sickness, why don’t we talk about something sweet? Or maybe even many sweet things? Sounds good, right? I agree.

This past Christmas, a few sweet people gave me more than a few sweet gifts. I’m not embarrassed to admit that my immediate family still does the Christmas stocking thing. We like our traditions! And I think my mom likes pretending that we’re still kids. I don’t mind, either, especially not this year when she filled my stocking with a preponderence of delicious vegan treats. Although some of them fell squarely in the savory camp (roasted seaweed snacks!), the majority were sweet – Jocolat bars and dried fruit leather, for example. Perhaps the most exciting sweet treat was a six-piece box of Nicobella truffles.

Thin rectangular box filled with six small rectangular truffles.

Simple and elegant.

Aren’t they just gorgeous, all nestled into that pretty orange box? And the flavors were equally inspiring: blueberry almond, ginger green tea, pumpkin chai, pure cocoa bliss, walnut flaxseed, and sunflower butter banana. I savored these slowly over the course of a week or two, proving that my self-control has grown in leaps and bounds in the past few years. ;) I think the pumpkin chai was my favorite, but plain ol’ pure cocoa bliss was up there, too. A few of the flavors had a little bit of grittiness to the chocolate centers, but it wasn’t overwhelming or unpleasant. I’d love to try some other Nicobella varieties, especially their peanut butter squares! I’m a sucker for all things peanut butter + chocolate, and these are sweetened with my beloved maple syrup.

Luckily for me, my Christmas haul included a peanut butter-y, chocolate-y treat. S gave me a whole box of homemade peanut butter cups!

Three round chocolate peanut butter cups on pieces of cut parchment paper.

Handmade!

These were just as delicious as they look. If only S would make me treats more often! If that’s too time-consuming, I’d settle for some store-bought goods. S’s mom gave me (among other things) three Go Max Go candy bars. I joked that she’s my official Go Max Go dealer – the only other time I’ve eaten them was when she gave me a few for Christmas last year! I hope it’s a tradition that continues, because they’re the nearest equivalent to candy bars of yore that I’ve found. Although I can rarely eat an entire bar without getting sugar overload these days, sometimes you just want something that tastes like the chocolate bars of your childhood.

Whew – that’s a lot of chocolate for one post! I just finished up my last peanut butter cup this week, meaning that my stash lasted a month. Not too bad, right? ;)

What sweet treats have you eaten lately?

P.S. I’m going to be in Seattle this weekend/next week on a work trip (and visit with my brother) – if you’ve got recommendations for things to do or places to eat, send ’em my way!