Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Vegan Blondies

VeganMoFo 2016 graphic

Week One: Treat Yourself (and others)!

This past Sunday was full of frustration… and cookies. I’ve had a specific cookie concept in my head for a few weeks now, and I decided to work on the recipe this weekend. The first attempt failed, leaving Steven and I with a Tupperware full of cookies that were more like puffy biscuits. (Steven wasn’t complaining.)

Back to the kitchen I went, hoping some modifications would help. Nope. The second batch spread too thin and crumbled horribly, leaving us with a Tupperware now full of biscuit-y cookies and crumbly cookies (Steven still wasn’t complaining).

After that, I gave up — I’ll return to the concept soon, but I couldn’t bear a third failure in one day.

That’s the rub, when it comes to recipe development: you’ve gotta be okay with failure. As a semi-reformed perfectionist, I still get frustrated when things don’t go my way. I’m learning to be okay with it, and to learn from it, but it still grates on me.

So a few nights ago, when another idea surfaced in my MoFo-inspired mind, I headed to the kitchen with just a little trepidation. I knew what I wanted: rich, chewy vegan peanut butter blondie bars that would almost melt in your mouth, studded with chocolate chips for a slightly bitter counterpoint to the sweetness. I melted, mixed, tasted, and finally put them in the oven, hoping my baking mojo had returned and that the curious alchemy of cookie-creation was in my favor that night.

Vegan peanut butter chocolate chip blondies // govegga.com

It was — though I didn’t think so at first. As I tried the blondies, my initial reaction was disappointment. They weren’t sweet enough! I had failed! I kept chewing, though, and soon realized that they did indeed have a perfectly pleasant sweetness; a few tablespoons of maple syrup add complexity and mean that the sweetness grows slowly on your tongue. And you wouldn’t want them much sweeter — these are rich, buttery blondies; too much sugar would render them cloying and unpleasant to eat.

And so! With much relief, today I bring you vegan peanut butter blondies, an indulgent treat that’s supremely easy to whip up. I baked mine in my favorite Le Creuset ceramic 9×9” square dish, and they came out beautifully with just a spray of oil lining the pan. If you’re using a more persnickety dish, feel free to line with parchment paper for easy removal. (And keep your fingers crossed for another cookie recipe coming soon — I think I’ll crack it yet!)

Vegan peanut butter chocolate chip blondies // govegga.com

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies

Makes 9 squares

  • 1/3 C Earth Balance, melted
  • 1/2 creamy natural peanut butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 C white sugar
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 T ground flax
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and oil a 9×9″ baking dish.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the melted Earth Balance, peanut butter, and vanilla extract until well combined. Add the sugars and maple syrup and incorporate, then stir in the salt, baking powder, ground flax, and flours. (You might want to add the flour a little at a time for easier mixing.) Fold in the chocolate chips. The mixture should be similar to cookie dough.

Add the dough to the prepared baking dish and use a spatula to spread evenly. Bake for 23-25 minutes, just until a skewer or knife comes out clean. Do not overbake. Cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing and enjoying.

Notes

  • I’m sure you could omit the white whole wheat flour in favor of more all-purpose flour — though you might need to add a few tablespoonfuls more.
  • Feel free to substitute mini chocolate chips or even white chocolate chips.
  • These would probably cook up well in an 8×8″ pan — just cook for a couple minutes longer.

PIN IT

Vegan peanut butter chocolate chip blondies // govegga.com

Looking for a slightly healthier dessert option that’ll still leave you feeling like you’re treating yourself? Why not try my fudgy black bean brownies, a treat from MoFo 2014?

Advertisements

Spaghetti Squash and Peanut Sauce

VeganMoFo 2015 banner

Day 16: What’s your favorite late summer food?

Forget April — September is the cruelest month. My beloved and most favorite season is coming to an end, and I have to soak up every last bit of sun before the cold sets in. Sigh.

At least there’s late-summer and early-fall produce to comfort me… like squash! Although some smaller squash are at their prime in the height of summer, most larger and more cold-resistant squash peak in the early fall. I think my favorite transition-season squash is the oh-so-fun spaghetti squash. Although I typically serve it with a traditional tomato-based marinara, Steven recently tried it with an unlikely alternative topping: a spicy peanut sauce.

Spaghetti Squash with Peanut Sauce

This is our go-to super-simple peanut sauce. It pairs perfectly with rice noodles, soba noodles… pretty much any noodle! So I shouldn’t have been surprised that it complements spaghetti squash nicely. I simply roasted my squash for about an hour, used a fork to separate the strands, and poured on a big ol’ dollop of sauce. Mmm. Next time you’re looking for a new way to use spaghetti squash, give this a go!

Simple Peanut Sauce
Serves 2-3

  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter, smooth or chunky
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 T soy sauce
  • 1-2 tsp sambal oelek
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (optional — use only if serving with regular noodles; squash is sweet enough!)

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until the sauce is emulsified. That’s it!

What’s your favorite way to eat spaghetti squash?

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my links, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs. :)

My Weird Snack

VeganMoFo 2015 banner

Day #4: Tell us about a weird food combo that you love.

Once, when I was young, my mom told me that when she was young, her older sister used to eat the weirdest food combination: shortening plus granulated sugar. Basically, fat and sugar. My mom told me this in disgust, and on the surface I sympathized, but inside I was curious: What would shortening and sugar taste like? Needless to say, I found out: Sickeningly oily, sweet, and a teeny tiny bit disgustingly good.

Unlike my aunt, I never made a habit of sneaking the infamous shortening-sugar mixture. But, I must admit, I do have a snack habit that’s nearly as weird. These days, when I get the munchies, here’s what I mix up.

Tell us about a weird food combo that you love.

IT’S WEIRD AND GROSS AND UNHEALTHY, I KNOW. It’s a sugar and fat bomb. But it’s MY sugar and fat bomb. I mix up a big spoonful of peanut butter, a small scoop of flour, a small glug of maple syrup, a dash salt, a handful of chocolate chips, and enough powdered sugar to make into a goopier cookie dough texture. And then I eat it. And now that’s out in the open.

…so, what’s YOUR weird snack?!

VeganMoFo 2015: PB&J Overnight Oats for Breakfast

VeganMoFo 2015 bannerIf you’re a regular reader, you know that every year I get very into the Vegan Month of Food (aka VeganMoFo). Themes are my JAM, and I love coming up with a new one every year. But not this year. This year, the powers-that-be at MoFo HQ are doing something a little different by offering up daily prompts that participants are highly encouraged to follow. And I’m happy to join! No more MoFo stress for me; this year, I’m going to revel in the simple deliciousness of vegan food. And what better way to start than with breakfast?!

That’s right, today’s prompt is: Rise and Shine! It’s MoFo time! Tell us about your breakfast.

Now, I’m no stranger to breakfast recipes — I’ve shared lots of ’em here. For a work-day morning, I generally keep things simple: oatmeal, a baked good, a piece of fruit… I usually don’t get much more complex than that. So for today’s breakfast, I opted for an easy, make-ahead breakfast: overnight oats. This time, I adapted a classic lunch flavor pairing (PB&J!) for breakfast. The addition of peanut butter adds a little extra hit of protein, helping keep you full for longer. You can use any jam, jelly, or preserve in this recipe; I opted for a homemade blueberry-lavender jam I whipped up a few weeks ago. It’s unsweetened and a little tart, so I added some brown sugar to my oats. Feel free to omit the added sweetener if your jam is sweet enough!

PB and J Overnight Oats

PB&J Overnight Oats
Serves two

  • 1 cup rolled oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Oats)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • Heaping 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 T brown sugar, agave nectar, or maple syrup (omit if your jam is sweetened)
  • Dash salt
  • ~1/4 cup jam of choice

Add the almond milk, peanut butter, sweetener, and salt to an airtight container and whisk until the peanut butter is emulsified and fully incorporated in the mixture. Add the oats, cover the container, and shake for about 10-15 seconds. Refrigerate overnight.

To serve, layer oatmeal and jam in a serving jar or bowl. Top with chopped peanuts if desired. Enjoy!

Trying a new jam flavor? Let me know how your vegan PB&J overnight oats turn out!

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies to help cover hosting costs.

Kale, Sweet Potato, & Quinoa Bowl with Ginger-Peanut Sauce (and, I’m going to New Zealand!)

If it’s not clear yet, I’m all about bowls. Gimme a grain + a green + a delicious sauce and I’m a happy camper. One of my favorite veggie combos is kale and sweet potatoes — they make such a great pair, both flavor-wise and texture-wise. Today’s bowl gives kale + sweet potatoes the chance to team up with quinoa and a gingery peanut sauce for a nutritious, flavorful meal. A drizzle of fresh lime juice is the perfect finishing touch!

Kale, Sweet Potato, & Quinoa Bowl

Sorry for the subpar photo!

Kale, Sweet Potato, & Quinoa Bowl with Ginger-Peanut Sauce
Serves 3-4

For the Bowl

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1.5 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 large bunch kale, roughly chopped (I used lacinato kale, but curly kale would be great too)
  • 1/2 lime for serving
  • Chopped peanuts or hemp seeds for serving (optional)

For the Sauce

  • 1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • Scant 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon sambal oelek
  • Water to thin the sauce

Using your favorite steaming method, steam the sweet potatoes for about 10 minutes or until they’re fork-tender. While they’re steaming, you can chop the kale or prepare the sauce. To make the sauce, whisk together all the ingredients and add enough water to emulsify the mixture. You can add more or less water depending on how thin or thick you like your sauce. Set the prepared sauce aside.

When the sweet potatoes are fork-tender, remove them from the steamer and set them aside. Add the chopped kale and steam it for about 5 minutes or until it’s tender enough for your tastes. (I leave the stems on, so I like to make sure they’re tender too.)

To assemble the bowls, add the quinoa, top with kale, and then top with sweet potatoes. Add the sauce and a squeeze of fresh lime juice and toppings, if using. Enjoy!

~~~

In news that’s tangentially related to food, I’m going to New Zealand! I’m leaving this Thursday and staying with a friend who’s working there currently. She’s based in Auckland, but we have lots of adventures planned on both islands. I’ve been researching lots of tasty Auckland dining options, but let me know if you have recommendations! I’ll also be in the Bay of Islands, Rotorua, Christchurch, and somewhere else on the South Island yet to be determined (probably near Arthur’s Pass).

Finally, as promised… I shaved my head! I raised nearly $700 for childhood cancer research thanks to the generosity of my friends, family, and coworkers. And you know what? Having a shaved head is awesome. I feel so bad-ass! (Not to mention that my showers are now so, so quick!) I’m excited to explore New Zealand with my new look. :)

Kelly After

Baked Sweet Potato & Mung Bean Croquettes with Peanutty Coconut Sauce

LVV MoFo 2014 main

As I said to S yesterday, “One of the best parts about Vegan MoFo is that we eat really well.” Spurred on by my desire to offer up high-quality recipes, I force myself to overcome my laziness and get creative. So far this week, I’ve dug deep into my pantry and fridge; I haven’t had to make any special grocery store trips (other than my weekly shopping on Sunday). Today, though, I ran to the store for a red bell pepper, because I knew this particular dish needed it.

Sweet Potato and Mung Bean Croquettes with Peanutty Coconut Sauce

These baked croquettes not only taste amazing, but they feature two nutritional superstars: sweet potatoes and mung beans. The combination offers a one-two punch of protein and iron (and don’t you worry, we’ll be talking about iron soon!). Three of these patties will load you up with 23 grams of protein, 39% of your daily recommended value of iron, 17% of your daily calcium needs, and goodly doses of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. And that’s not even including the coconut-peanut sauce, a creamy topping that’s a breeze to prepare. And did I mention these are gluten-free if you use a GF tamari or soy sauce? Celiac friends, rejoice!

Baked Sweet Potato & Mung Bean Croquettes with Peanutty Coconut Sauce
Makes 15 croquettes and one cup of sauce

  • 2 cups whole mung beans, ideally soaked overnight
  • 1 lb. sweet potatoes (about three medium-sized potatoes), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped (measure after chopping)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 2 T toasted black sesame seeds
  • 1 to 2 T sambal oelek (depending on your heat tolerance)
  • 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2-3 T coconut flour (or other gluten-free flour of choice)

For the sauce:

  • 3/4 C full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 C unsalted creamy natural peanut butter
  • 2 tsp sambal oelek
  • 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Boil the sweet potatoes for about 15 minutes or until soft. At the same time, either boil or steam the mung beans. You can boil them right along with the sweet potatoes, or if you have a steamer pot set, steam them right on top of the potatoes. (I have a set like this one and that’s what I did.) When the sweet potatoes are soft, drain the pot and set them and the mung beans aside to cool.

While the mung beans and potatoes are cooking and subsequently cooling, chop the garlic, scallions, and red bell pepper and set aside. Next, make the sauce by whisking all five sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.

Preheat your oven to 375˚ and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or oil it lightly (coconut oil works great here!).

When the potatoes and mung beans have cooled a bit, add all the sweet potatoes, all the garlic, and about half the mung beans to a food processor and pulse a few times. Add half the remaining mung beans, pulse again, and then add the remaining mung beans. Process until the sweet potatoes are fully mashed and most of the mung beans are incorporated into the mixture. It’s okay if some of the beans are still whole; you want a nice variation.

Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the scallions, red bell pepper, sesame seeds, sambal oelek, and soy sauce. Mix until combined using a wooden spoon or plastic spatula. Add 2 tablespoons of coconut flour and mix again. Depending on how much sambal oelek you added, your mixture might need another tablespoon. The mixture should stick together easily but shouldn’t be at all dry—you want it just the tiniest bit sticky.

Using your hands, scoop about 1/4 cup of the mixture at a time and flatten it into patties about 3/4″ thick. Spread evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Place in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are beginning to brown. At that point, remove from the oven and spray or brush lightly with coconut oil, then broil for another 3-5 minutes, being sure not to burn them. Remove from oven and let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Top with coconut sauce, a sprinkle of sesame seeds, and extra scallions if you have ’em. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato and Mung Bean Croquettes with Peanutty Coconut Sauce

What’s your favorite use for mung beans or sweet potatoes?

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Granola (and a brief disquisition on protein needs)

LVV MoFo 2014 main

Snickering at the “But where do you get your protein?!” question is a bit of a shibboleth in vegan circles. It’s a tired question, one that’s inspired lots of great memes. And it has a pretty simple answer: From nearly everything I eat. This quote from the American Heart Association just about sums it up:

“You don’t need to eat foods from animals to have enough protein in your diet. Plant proteins alone can provide enough of the essential and non-essential amino acids, as long as sources of dietary protein are varied and caloric intake is high enough to meet energy needs.” (1)

Bam.

Still, protein-related myths abound. There’s a notion that plant proteins are inferior to their animal-derived counterparts because they don’t provide all essential amino acids in a single source (and are thus called “incomplete” proteins). There’s a commonly held and oft-mentioned misbelief that you must consume all of your complementary proteins in a single meal to derive the full protein benefit, but that’s been disproven. Instead, as long as you eat a variety of proteins in a single day, your body can take care of combining them. (2)

So—how much protein do you need? Turns out, not as much as lots of people think. Unless you’re very active, 10-35% of your calories should come from protein. The CDC has a basic set of guidelines here, and you can get more tailored recommendations here. I’ve done a few calculations, and I should be getting between 50 and 70 grams per day. What does that mean in real-world food terms? Well, half a block of tofu has around 18 grams, half a cup of tempeh has 15 grams, and half a cup of black beans has 20 grams. And those are just the protein powerhouses! Most of the incidental foods we eat contain at least a little protein, and those grams add up. For example, bagels often contain around 10 grams of protein. A small handful of almonds gives you around 4 grams. And you could get a whole 7 grams just from eating granola. Not just any granola—Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Granola.

This granola.

Peanut butter granola spilling from a mason jar onto a wooden cutting board.

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Granola

Serves 8

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup creamy unsalted natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups rolled oats (I like Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Oats)
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325˚ and line a flat baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small saucepan, add the coconut oil, peanut butter, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Stir to combine, heating over low so that the oil and peanut butter soften. Once all four ingredients are well mixed, turn off the heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add all the dried ingredients. Pour the peanut butter mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a large wooden spoon. Once the dry ingredients are coated with the peanut butter mixture, pour the granola onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the oats are golden, removing from the oven and stirring every ten minutes or so. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least ten minutes before eating.

pbgranola3

Let’s be real—you’re probably going to eat this stuff by the handful, grabbing a clump every time you walk by the cooling baking sheet. But you could also serve it in a bowl with some cold almond milk or a dollop of soy yogurt, adding a couple extra grams of protein to your day. Yum.

pbgranola2

So, bottom line about protein? Stop worrying about it. Eat a varied, healthy diet and you’ll be just fine. And remember, protein lurks in the most unlikely places—even a bowl of sweet, salty, peanutty granola.

Sources cited:

(1) http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Vegetarian-Diets_UCM_306032_Article.jsp 
(2) http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/protein.html

Note:

I’m neither a doctor nor a dietitian; please don’t treat my posts as medical advice! Consult a medical practitioner for specific medical or nutritional recommendations.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies to help cover hosting costs.