Saturday, October 22, 2011

Veganism Unprocessed

Corn-Free July's first-ever guest-authored blog post comes from my friend Krisha.  She's been successfully pulling off a diet of zero animal products for almost two years now, so she's no stranger to conscientious eating.  I tried the breakfast bars from her recipe below and they're great!


"Taking your own advice is really, really hard.

As an educator for Whole Foods Market, I'm forever providing my Team Members with bits of information that cannot but improve their lives. Stay away from GMOs! Build a healthy plate around vegetables instead of meat! I'm filled to bursting with advice for everyone around me. Just last week, I hosted a small class on the importance of eating breakfast in the morning. I explain that, not only can skipping breakfast cause you to gain weight (very often the opposite result sought by those who wait until lunch to break their fast), but studies have shown that it can have negative effects on your neurological function as well. And then, in the midst of my class, it happens.

One of my Team Members raises his hand and asks “What do you usually have for breakfast in the morning?”

“Uh...well....when I do have breakfast....”

“When you do have breakfast? You don't have breakfast every day? Didn't you just say that missing breakfast was, like, really bad for you?”

Like I said, taking your own advice is really, really hard. I know that eating breakfast is important. They don't call it the most important meal of the day for no reason. But my priority list goes:
     1. sleeping
     2.getting to work on time and
     3. eating breakfast.
Typically when I do have breakfast, I have to grab something at work that I can eat while I'm prepping for my classes. Sometimes it's a bagel and peanut butter. Sometimes it's a Clif bar and some OJ. Very rarely is it something that's actually good for me.

At the same time that I was thinking that it might be easier for my Team Members to take my advice if I followed it myself, Jane sent me a link about October Unprocessed. As a vegan, I tend to eat fewer processed foods than other people I know, but I am just as susceptible to the siren call of convenience foods, especially for breakfast. So this seemed like the opportune time to make the switch from no breakfast or a hideously processed convenience breakfast to a regular, homemade breakfast.

Don't paint me in the kitchen at 5:00 a.m. cooking up a vegetable omelet and homemade wheat bread toast just yet. Like I said, sleeping is #1, everything else is secondary. What I needed was a breakfast that I could make ahead of time on a day off, grab on my way in and eat when I was actually hungry or had time. Checking through my favorite home cooking blogs, I remembered that Angela Liddon of has wonderful make & take or make & reheat recipes for every meal.

Determined to shake off the fog of hypocrisy, I spent about an hour and a half in the kitchen on my day off this week making two batches of homemade breakfast bars. For those measly 90 minutes and about $12 in ingredients (mostly dried fruits and a couple of bananas) I ended up with over two weeks’ worth of breakfasts. If I had shelled out the money for pre-made bars, I would have spent almost twice that much, and gotten massive amounts of sugar and processed chemicals in the bargain.

Both of these recipes can be found on, along with multiple other breakfast bar recipes & her brilliant Overnight Oats, which can be re-heated throughout the week with various different toppings, to keep you from getting bored with your breakfasts.

Healthy Banana Cranberry Oat Bars

    ¼ cup almond milk (or other)
    ½ cup Sucanat or brown sugar (I used brown sugar with delicious results)
    1 tbsp ground flax seed
    ¼ cup coconut oil (or other light tasting oil), melted
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    2 medium very ripe bananas
    1/3 cup cranberries or raisins
    1 ½ cup regular oats
    ½ cup unsweetened coconut
    ½ tsp cinnamon
    ¼ cup whole wheat flour (or other flour)
    ½ tsp baking powder
    1/8 tsp kosher salt

-  Preheat oven to 350º F and line 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, combine sugar, ground flax seeds, almond milk, oil and vanilla. Whisk together.
- Cut the bananas into chunks and stir into wet mixture. Grab a fork or potato masher and mash the  banana into the wet mixture. It is ok if some chunks remain. Stir in the cranberries or raisins, and set aside.
-In another bowl, mix your dry ingredients. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir well. Scoop the granola batter into the pan. Smooth out with a spoon or hands and press it down firmly.
-Bake at  350º F for 35 – 40 minutes until the edges begin to golden and it is slightly firm to the touch. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to dry completely. Slice into 8 – 10 bars.

Fruit and Nut Energy Bites
    1/3 cup whole-grain Kamut flour (or whole wheat, all-purpose, etc. I used whole wheat)
    1/8 tsp baking powder
    1/8 tsp baking soda
    ¼ tsp sea salt
    ½ tsp cinnamon
    1/3 cup Sucanat or light brown sugar (I used brown)
    1 ½ cups toasted walnuts (can also used pecans, almonds or hazelnuts), chopped
    ½ cup dried cherries or cranberries
    12 Medjool dates (approximately 1 cup chopped dates), pits removed and chopped (or figs and/or    prunes)
    1 cup apricots, cut into bite sized pieces
    1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp water)
    1 tbsp almond milk
    ½ tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line a square pan (8 or 9 inch) with parchment paper across both sides for easy lifting. In a small bowl, mix together flax egg and set aside.

Chop and toast the walnuts for 8-9 minutes at 325ºF. Remove from oven and set aside. Toasting the nuts really brings out the flavor, so you don't want to skip this step.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the walnuts and dried fruit. Make sure the nuts and dried fruit are all coated with the flour mixture.

Mix the vanilla into the flax egg after it has thickened up about 10 minutes.

Add the flax egg mixture and the 1 tbsp almond milk to the fruit and nut mixture and mix well. Spread into the pan, pressing with fingers to even it out.

Bake for about 33 – 35 minutes at 325ºF or until golden in color. Remove from pan and allow to cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Now transfer back into the pan and place in freezer to set for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan once again and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Now slice the bites up with a sharp knife.

You can absolutely make these two recipes simultaneously, to save yourself the time and sanity. I set my oven to 325ºF and just baked the Banana Cranberry Oat bars for an extra 5-7 minutes, keeping an eye on them to make sure that they weren't getting too dry or brown.

Every once in a while, it feels good to take your own advice."

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