Coconut Pumpkin Bread

Happy Halloween weekend! I have to work all weekend so will not be dressing up, but Elysia has a fun costume in store (which I’m sure she’d love to fill you in on 🙂 ). I suppose Halloween isn’t technically until Monday so, if you’re like me in the past, you still have time to decide on what you’re going to wear. I have always forgotten to come up with a costume until the last-minute so I usually end up buying whatever I can find on sale at a Halloween shop. This is definitely not the most economical way of going about it! I’m just not as creative as I wish I was when it comes to picking out costumes I guess.

I remember when we were kids, our mom would usually make or help us make costumes. I went as a princess one year and my costume was made out of a pink leotard with a tutu and lots of sequins. Man, I wish that I could go trick-or-treating again! I don’t think it would fit nowadays though….. What about you? Did you or do you make your costumes?

While the following recipe isn’t exactly Halloween-inspired, it does include pumpkin. We hope that you’re not sick of it yet! I always get emails from Runner’s World and Mark Bittman occasionally has delicious-looking recipes on there so I finally decided to try one. Well; sort of. We can never follow a recipe exactly and I wanted to increase the coconut-taste in his coconut version. Coconut flour is definitely different from regular flour. It’s gluten-free (although the spelt flour that I used isn’t) and soaks up a ton of moisture! Because of this, the first time I altered the recipe, I decreased the amount of flour overall, and did so too much. However, I fixed it in the below version and think that the bread tastes great! It looks like there are a lot of ingredients but that’s mostly because of the spices. If you like, you can replace them with pumpkin pie spice.

Coconut Pumpkin Bread (Based on Mark Bittman’s Sweet Potato Muffins)
[Makes 3 mini loaves]

  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 cups Spelt Flour (or whole wheat pastry)
  • 2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 cup sucanat
  • 1/4 cup stevia (or sub more sucanat/sugar)
  • 1/4 cup smart balance
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 3 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract (or sub more vanilla)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice + about 1/2 cup almond/soy/rice milk*
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (I used reduced fat unsweetened from ‘Let’s Do…Organic’).

– Preheat oven to 350 F.

– *In a measuring cup, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and then fill with your choice of milk to the 1/2 cup point (so you will have a little less than 1/2 cup milk). Allow this to sit so that it curdles.

– Melt the smart balance; then mix in the coconut oil so that it melts as well. Whisk in the remaining wet ingredients (including sucanat/sugar).

– In another bowl, combine all dry ingredients (except coconut).

– With a wooden spoon or spatula, combine wet and dry ingredients.

– Fold in the shredded coconut.

– Bake in mini loaf pans for 25-30 minutes (mine took 27); until a toothpick comes out clean.

– Remove from oven, transfer pan to a cooling rack, and let cool for 10 minutes.

– Remove bread from pans and allow to cool completely before cutting.

If you are worried about the bread drying out as it cools, create a tent out of the tin foil that you used!

It tastes great heated up with a little smart balance and a side of pumpkin spice coffee!

Question:

Are you dressing up for Halloween? Which night/s are you celebrating this year?

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This Isn’t Your Mama’s Tofu!

We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard people say that tofu is gross. To that we say; if you think it’s gross, you (or whoever fed it to you) don’t understand how it should be done! Tofu literally takes on the flavor of whatever you want it to. It’s a blank slate! Follow one or all of these tips to really ramp up that flavor (be it bbq, lemon, or other seasonings):

-Tip number one: for a denser, (‘meatier’, if you will…) texture, freeze your tofu first. When you’re ready to create a delicious dish, thaw it out under running water and then squeeze the extra water out of it. Then proceed with whatever recipe/marinade you plan on using.

-Tip number two: if you don’t freeze your tofu (or if you do and really want all that water out!), wrap it in a kitchen towel or paper towels and then put a heavy book/tower of weighty items on it for at least 1/2 an hour to remove the water from it that way.

-Tip number three: The longer you marinate it, the more flavor it will absorb. For instance, if you put it in a soup, it will probably taste better the next day if you’re adding it plain. The same goes for marinades. Stick it in a tupperware dish and cover it with BBQ sauce the night before and you’re ready to cook it up the next day! However, if you don’t have time to marinate it or decide last minute that tofu is what you want, it also works well to prepare it the way the following recipe describes.

Tip number four: Use good tofu. Yes, there is such a thing. We like Wildwood High-Protein, Super Firm Tofu. West Soy Extra Firm Tofu is probably second best in our opinion. Neither are in the water-filled containers that you see in the stores; they’re vacuum packed in very little water. If you live in or near Spencer, West Virginia, Spring Creek Tofu is phenomenal and surpasses both brands mentioned previously; we just can’t get it around here. Look around where you live! You may find some locally-made tofu that tastes great as well!

Wait, what about all of the negativity surrounding soy lately??

Lately soy has been an object of ridicule and scrutiny; well, I’m going to straighten out all the facts and hype so you have the tools to make an educated decision for yourself! For those of you who don’t know what the soy scare is about, some people have become concerned that soy-containing products have adverse affects on thyroid and hormones, specifically estrogen levels in men. What many people don’t know is that all of the research that has been conducted has been on animals (another frustrating topic). Scientists fed mice large quantities of soy and monitored their reaction. Of course the mice did not fair well to these doses and the conclusion that soy is bad for our health was born.

Yes, soy does contain phytoestrogens, which is the naturally occurring plant chemical that supposedly raises estrogen levels. The truth is, you would need to eat large quantities of soy for these phytoestrogens to have any real impact on your hormones and thyroid. When I say large, I mean LARGE amounts, we’re talking way more than a couple blocks of tofu a day! As with many other things in this world, it is perfectly fine in moderation and is an excellent source of protein.

One thing that really irks us is the finger-pointing at soy when hormone-pumped animals are being slaughtered and milked for public consumption. Your hormones are much safer if you reach for a carton of soymilk as opposed to a carton of large manufacturers’ cow’s milk!

Lemon Scented Baked Tofu
[Serves One]

  • 1 serving of Super/Extra Firm Tofu
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Salt
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian Spices
  • 10 Spears Asparagus
  • 1/8 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 Small Lemon, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon-flavored olive oil
  • Pepper, to taste

– Preheat oven to 400 F and oil a small baking dish.

– Slice the tofu into thin slices and line the bottom of the baking dish with it. Season the tofu slices with all of the spices (use only 1/4 teaspoon of the garlic salt and 1 teaspoon of the nutritional yeast, reserving the rest) and then top this with the asparagus and cranberries.

– If desired, sprinkle the remaining garlic salt and nutritional yeast on the asparagus and cranberries.

– Top with lemon slices.

– Cover with sprayed tin foil and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the asparagus is cooked to desired doneness. Drizzle the lemon-flavored olive oil over the dish.

**Notes:
– The asparagus in this dish can easily be substituted for other vegetables. Chopped broccoli or sliced baby carrots taste delicious as well.
– Serve over some cooked Quinoa or over a salad for a complete meal!

Question:

We often find, as vegans, that many people judge our food before they give it a chance, and tofu is definitely one of those dishes.

Have you tried tofu? What is your favorite way to enjoy it? If you have tried it, what is your favorite brand?