Monday, July 12, 2010

Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies (wheat-free*)

There is something oh so comforting about fresh-out-of-the-oven Peanut Butter Cookies. Even better when they are vegan. If you are not keen about turning on your oven in these warm summer months, then I have some tasty alternatives for you at the end of the recipe. The original recipe that I used and then vegan-ized can be found here.

Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies 

3/4 cup ground oats or Spelt flour*
3/4 cup oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup natural peanut butter **
1/2 cup agave ***
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 medium sized mashed banana

Preheat oven to 180C. Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients then stir into dry ingredients. Mixture should be wet; allow to sit for about 10 minutes and the ground oats will absorb some of the moisture. Roll into 1.5 inch balls and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Press cookies down with dampened fork. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until bottom edges begin to turn a slight golden brown.

*This recipe can also be gluten-free if you use oats that are certified to be gluten free. Also, if you are not worried about the wheat, then whole wheat flour is fine (I used Spelt flour in the picture)

**In theory, this recipe should also work with almond butter, but I have yet to give it a try. Will let you know when I have.

***Maybe it's just me, but that seems like a lot of agave. If you want to cut back a bit, you can go as low as 1/4 cup, then add a couple tablespoons of non-dairy milk to replace the moisture.

Some Oven-Free Alternatives! 
We really like eating this as a cookie dough. I enjoy it topped on Raw Banana Chocolate Ice Cream. Also, you can leave it as cookie dough, shape into balls and roll in cocoa, carob powder or icing sugar (if you are not worried about the sugar). Cool finished balls in the fridge for roughly 3 hours before eating (or however long you are able to wait). Then enjoy!

Happy Baking.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

I've Turned Orange!

The FIFA World Cup is upon us, and it is very evident here in The Netherlands. The Dutch team is orange, and there is no mistaking it. Our entire neighborhood is decorated with orange; orange flags, orange stuffed animals, orange get the idea. 

Orange streamers weave across the streets from one home to another. 
Even our grocery store has showcased all their orange vegetables, the bakery is selling their cakes iced in orange, snackfoods have been repackaged in orange and M&M's are available in a special Netherlands edition. It's incredible. It's everywhere.

So, what do you do when everyone and everything around you is colored orange? 

You join them!

We put on our orange shirts (that we still had from Koninginnedag) and cheer. It is hard not to get excited when you see everyone else so excited. It's infectious. I love it.

I hope that you, no matter what color you may be sporting, are enjoying the World Cup.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Blueberry Banana Whole Wheat Muffins (Vegan)

I made these this weekend and. they. were.


I used this recipe as my base then added

1 Cup blueberries* (fresh or frozen, thawed first)
1 tsp cinnamon

*mix the blueberries into the dry ingredients, this will coat the blueberries and prevent them from turning your batter purple.

I love these muffins. They are soft, tender, fluffy and full of goodness. Hubby and I ate half the batch before the day was done so I decided that I better freeze the rest so that he could have some in his lunch next week. To freeze them, I individually wrap them in plastic wrap, then put them all into a freezer bag with the date marked on them. They will keep like this for 2-3 months, if wrapped properly. To pack them in my hubby's lunch I just take one out of the freezer in the morning, and he unwraps it at lunch, gives it a few seconds in the microwave and it tastes just like it came out of the oven. 

What a yummy lunch time treat.

Happy baking!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

YW Value Table Cards

After another brief blogging break I am back with plenty to write about. We made a last minute trip back to Canada. 

It was wonderful.

Upon returning home, it was time to put together the YW in Excellence and New Beginnings Evening. What fun!

The tasks were delegated out and I was quite content with getting a creative aspect of it; the table setting. The previous year, they had done a great idea of setting a vase of flowers in each value color on the main table. At the end of the evening, the girls could come up and make their own Value Bouquet and we decided to do that again this year. They LOVED this. Combine the flowers with colored table cloths and some table cards and you have a great table setting for the front of the room.

Which brings me to the table cards. I made these with the intention that they would be used throughout the year as a table setting during our value themed months.

It is a little difficult to tell from the picture, but the value text is raised and mounted onto white corrugated poster board, which was then mounted on to folded, white cardstock. Tie a color coordinated ribbon around and voila! 

The evening was so enjoyable and it was great to see the girls receive recognition for everything that they had been busy with during the last year. We have a very talented group of girls (and I am not the least bit biased).


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Must See Video


I had been thinking about my new post for a few days; not sure which of my drafts to edit to create a full post. Then, a friend shared this video with me and I knew that this is what I wanted to share with you this week. 

It is a video about a very beautiful woman named Stephanie Nielson. Perhaps you have heard of her. She has been blogging about her life for 5 years over at NieNie Dialogues. It was in that time span that her and her husband got into a near fatal plane crash. 

Their story is inspiring. 

Enjoy the video.

With Love,

Thursday, April 22, 2010

When I am nervous my knees shake...conquering my fear of public speaking

I was asked to speak in church this past Sunday. It was an experience that I am always grateful for, but that does not change the fact that public speaking makes me very nervous.

My first experience speaking in front of a crowd that I can remember was waaaaay back in 4th grade. I had a speaking part in a school play (and by speaking part I mean I had one, 4-word line) and I thought my heart was going to jump into my throat. When it came time to recite my line, I was so nervous that only a soft, shaky whisper emerged. The strange thing is that when I got off that stage, I was so enamored by the feeling of being on stage that I wanted more opportunities to conquer my fear. Consequently, I pursued many years of dance, drama and debate in order to improve my comfort level in front of a crowd. 

I am happy to report that I have come a long way since those elementary school days. I am certainly not a professional when it comes to public speaking but I have learned to speak slowly, clearly and disguise the nervous shake in my voice. There is still one aspect that I cannot seem to control - my  knees. When I open my mouth to speak, my knees start trembling.  

So what's a girl to do?

Well, this girl always wears long skirts and prays that she will be standing behind a stand when she speaks.

Despite my shaky knees, I do enjoy the opportunity to improve my skills and abilities. Perhaps one day I shall have these knees conquered.

For those of you who find they have particular trouble with public speaking, I suggest you avoid listening to pieces of advice like "just picture your audience in their underwear" because those things do not work. Who wants that image in their mind anyhow? I will suggest checking out this list of tips for public speaking that was put together by Toastmasters International. It has been a great help for me to review this list when I am preparing for public speaking so that I know the important things to remember.

Believe it or not, public speaking can be a fun, enjoyable experience. Now if only I could communicate that to my nerves that send my knees into convulsions.

Happy Speaking.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Please keep you hands and arms on the bicycle at all times...and enjoy a Vegan Banana Muffin Recipe

I'm back!

After semi-disappearing from the blog for a month, I have returned. I guess I forgot to leave a message saying that I would be gone. But, that's in the past.

The last month has been full of adventures. Our Little Man has hit some very exciting milestones; including pulling all of the wetwipes out of the container. We also had visitors for a couple of weeks. It was exciting to be able to introduce others to a taste of the Dutch culture that we have come to love so dearly. We made sure that our guests got the full Dutch experience: cycling, market, canals and herring among many other fun things. That said, I have realized that I was not born to be a tour guide. It was fun while it lasted, but I am happy to be hanging up my tour-guide-hat until we have some more wonderful guests.

In other news: 

Remember my plea for The Muffin Man to help my sad state? Well, it was answered! And it turns out that it is not a Muffin Man at all, but a Muffin Woman. Thanks to Gina over at Health Nuts Blog I made some fantastic (and healthy) Banana Muffins. Of course, I veganized it. If you would like to make the original recipe then go on over and check it out here. If you would like the vegan version then read on. 

(please note:  I cut the original recipe in half. The original recipe yields 2 dozen and that is just too much for our little family to eat. You could definitely freeze the extras, but we have a small European fridge which means there isn't room to freeze muffins. If you would like more muffins, feel free to double the following recipe.)

Vegan Banana Muffins

1.5 c. whole-wheat flour
1 1/4 t. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T ground flaxseed*
1/2 c. Agave (you could try out Maple Syrup too. If you are not trying to make them vegan, stick with the honey as called for in the original recipe as honey will help your muffins to stay fresher, longer)
1/2 c. applesauce
1/8 tsp. vanilla
3 T water*
2 ripe medium bananas, mashed
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°. In large bowl, mix together dry ingredients. In separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and stir to combine. Fold in nuts (if using). Pour into greased muffin pans. Bake for 28-30 minutes. Transfer to to a cooling rack. When muffins have cooled, store in an airtight container.
Yields 1 dozen muffins.

*The ground flaxseed and the water are to replace the eggs. Gina suggested that you could also increase the apple sauce to replace the eggs. Apple sauce is NOT an egg replacer, however, it would work in this instance since there are bananas in the recipe which will fulfill the role the eggs would have played. I used flaxseed because I like the nutty flavor that it gives to the muffins.

Final Thoughts
Hubby and I both really liked these muffins. They tasted like Bran Muffins with banana. They are sweet enough for a treat but healthy enough for breakfast on the go. We will definitely make these again! If you try them out, be sure to let me know what you think and head on over to let Gina know how much you love her recipe.

Happy baking.