Kabocha Squash (Japanese Pumpkin) Bread

This sweet bread is a great treat as the weather gets colder, with warm and comforting spices that are perfect for a fall day. Instead of using a regular American pumpkin, this loaf uses kabocha squash to make it moist and flavorful. Kabocha squash is also known as Japanese pumpkin, its flavor is somewhere between a pumpkin and a butternut squash and it’s texture is wonderful for baking. Enjoy this bread fresh out of the oven or toasted with some butter the next morning.

If kabocha isn’t in season when you make this recipe, you can substitute with pumpkin puree for a similar flavor. This recipe can also be made vegan very easily by using vegan butter and “flax eggs.” To make a flax egg, grind 1 T of flax seed with 3 T of water and set it in your refrigerator for 15 minutes before adding it in the place of eggs. I made a vegan version of this sweet bread for our Front End team meeting and it was a hit!

 

Ingredients:

2 Cups all purpose flour
½ Tsp salt
1 Tsp baking soda
½ Tsp baking powder
1 Tsp ground cloves
1 Tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tsp ground nutmeg
2 Cups brown sugar
2 eggs
⅔  Cup unsalted butter
2 Cups kabocha puree

 

To make kabocha puree:

Peel a small kabocha squash.
Cut the kabocha in half and scoop out it’s seeds, then chop it into large cubes.
In a large pot, add the kabocha cubes to boiling water. Boil for 20 minutes.
Remove the pot from heat. Using a colander, strain the kabocha from the boiling water.
Transfer the kabocha to a food processor or blender until it is smooth to form the puree.
Drain any excess water from the puree using a cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer.
Set the puree aside until you are ready to bake.

 

To bake the bread:

Preheat your oven to 375℉
In a large bowl, combine your flour, spices, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk them together and set it aside.
In a separate smaller bowl, add your butter and sugar. Cream them together by beating them with a whisk until combined.
Add your eggs to the sugar and butter mixture, beating until the mixture becomes fluffy.
Pour your kabocha puree into the mixture and beat it until the mixture is combined.
Add your dry ingredients and fold the wet and dry mixtures together until a thick batter is formed.
Transfer the batter to a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.
Bake for one hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Serve it warm and fresh out of the oven or the next morning toasted with a little bit of butter. Enjoy!

 

No-Bake Granola Bar Treats

These granola treats are my favorite snack to enjoy on a Saturday afternoon. With protein from peanut butter and sweetness from chocolate and honey, they’re filling and sure to satisfy.

This recipe calls for peanut butter, but any nut butter works perfectly in this recipe. Don’t hesitate to use whatever nut butter you have on hand, or what you like best. For those using chocolate in this recipe, make sure to add your chocolate after the granola has cooled slightly so it won’t melt. However, if you’d like the batch to be extra chocolaty, feel free to mix it in while the granola is still warm.

The base of this recipe serves as a blank canvas for all kinds of granola bar creations. I have a pretty persistent sweet tooth, so I enjoy making these with sweet additions like chocolate. You can add any kind of nuts, seeds or dried fruits you have on hand and omit the chocolate to make these bars even more nutritious.

Ingredients:

¾ cup peanut butter
½ cup honey
2 T sunflower oil (or any neutral-flavored oil)
1 Tsp vanilla extract
½ Tsp sea salt
2 ¼ cups old fashioned oats
¼ cup milk chocolate chips
¼ cup white chocolate chips

Variations:
½ cup chopped nuts
½ cup dried fruit
½ cup dried shaved coconut
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup chia seeds

Instructions:

Line an 8x8inch pan baking pan with parchment paper. Set it aside.
In a saucepan over medium heat, add your peanut butter, oil and honey. Simmer it until it begins to bubble slightly, stirring occasionally. This may take 7 to 10 minutes.
Add your vanilla extract and salt. Stir the mixture to incorporate it and allow it to simmer for one more minute.
Add your oats and stir until combined, allowing the oats to fully absorb the mixture.
Place your granola to the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes, allowing it to cool slightly. Remove it and stir in the chocolate chips until fully incorporated.
Transfer the granola to your baking pan and press it into the pan. Packing the granola down firmly and evenly will help it keep its shape once prepared.
Allow the granola to chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.
Once cooled, lift the granola out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut them into your desired shape and enjoy!

Banana Yogurt Smoothie Bowl

This smoothie bowl is great for any breakfast, or even as a midnight snack. With added protein from greek yogurt and peanut butter, it’s sure to keep you full all morning while satisfying your sweet tooth.

This recipe serves as a base for a smoothie bowl. You can add your favorite toppings and come up with all kinds of great flavor combinations. If you have a peanut allergy, any type of nut butter works great in this smoothie bowl. For vegans or those with milk allergies, any type of thick vegan yogurt can be substituted in this recipe as well. Almond milk is added to ensure that the smoothie has enough liquid to blend properly, but you can substitute with any milk of your choice.

This recipe also makes great “nice cream,” a popular name for ice cream made with bananas. To make this recipe into nice cream, you can double or triple the ingredients and pour it into a loaf pan to place in your freezer to enjoy later.

 

Ingredients:

½ cup unsweetened greek yogurt
1 frozen banana
2 T peanut butter
¼ cup almond milk

Optional:
Granola
Chopped nuts
Sliced fruit
Seeds
Chopped coconut
Nut butter
Cereal
Chocolate
Honey

Instructions:

Add your almond milk, frozen banana, greek yogurt and peanut butter to a blender or food processor.

Blend until the mixture is smooth and fully incorporated.

Spoon into a bowl and top with your desired toppings. Enjoy!

 

Chilled Cucumber and Yogurt Soup

With the arrival of summer’s hot weather, you might be getting creative with different ways to cool off. Try out this chilled cucumber soup, made with greek yogurt. It’s a refreshing, creamy, tangy dish you can enjoy on a particularly warm afternoon or evening. Serve it as an appetizer or a palette cleanser along with your favorite grill fare – or, enjoy it on it’s own!

This recipe calls for greek yogurt. For vegans or those who are lactose intolerant, any type of unsweetened greek-style or thick yogurt will work great in this recipe.

 

Ingredients:

1 large cucumber
1 cup unsweetened greek yogurt
1 shallot
1 clove garlic
1 T fresh or dried dill weed
1 T lime juice
½ tsp salt or to taste

 

Optional garnishes:

A sprinkle of dill weed
A dollop of yogurt
Thinly sliced cucumbers

 

Instructions:

Dice your shallot and garlic clove. Set them aside.

Peel your cumber and remove the seeds. Chop into medium-sized chunks and set aside.

In a blender or food processor, add the diced shallots and garlic. Add your cucumber, greek yogurt, dill weed, lime juice and salt.

Blend the soup until it is smooth.

Transfer the soup into the fridge, in an airtight container and allow it to cool for 30 minute to an hour. Serve and enjoy!

2-Ingredient Chocolate Truffles

This recipe comes from one of our front-end team members, Delaney. She loves creating affordable, plant-based meals for herself and is excited to share her creations for you to enjoy!

If you have a craving for rich chocolate, this is a must-try recipe. You only need 2 ingredients, your microwave and one bowl. No mess, no fuss and lots of yummy chocolate truffles. You can even customize them and coat them with whatever toppings you’d like. I used some sprinkles I had in my cabinet, along with some powdered sugar and cocoa powder to coat these. I’ve put some suggestions for coatings along with the recipe, but feel free to get creative with them!

This recipe calls for coconut cream, but heavy cream also works to make the chocolate ganache base for these truffles. I recommend using chocolate that’s between semi-sweet or 70% dark to achieve the right texture and firmness for these truffles. You can store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container if you want to save some for later. They’ll stay fresh for 1 week, or up to 2 months if stored in the freezer.

Ingredients:

¼ cup of coconut cream (find it on the baking aisle)
1 cup of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
½ Tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Extras for Coating:
Cocoa Powder
Sprinkles
Powdered Sugar
Cinnamon Sugar
Chopped Nuts

Directions:

Scoop the coconut cream into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave the coconut cream on high for 1 to 2 minutes, or until it begins to boil. This will depend on the strength of your microwave, so keep an eye on your cream and adjust the time as needed.
Remove the bowl from the microwave and pour chocolate chips into the cream. Do not stir. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel for 5 minutes. This will allow the chocolate to melt and easily incorporate into the cream.
After 5 minutes, stir until the chocolate is incorporated with the cream and no chocolate lumps are visible.
Allow the ganache to chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. Don’t cover the ganache while it’s warm, as covering it will form condensation that can cause it to split.
Once chilled, use a small scoop or a spoon to roll the ganache into balls.
Coat the balls in your desired toppings or enjoy them plain!

Salsa-Stuffed Bell Peppers (Vegan)

This recipe comes from our intern, Delaney. She loves creating affordable, plant-based meals for herself and is excited to share her creations for you to enjoy!

These stuffed peppers rely on tomato-based salsa to add a punch of flavor into this classic dish. Using your favorite salsa, you can make these peppers pack a spicy punch or a mild heat.

This dish uses lentils as a protein. Ground beef, or a vegan ground beef substitute, would also taste great as the protein in these peppers. For those using meat in this dish, add your cooked meat into the pan in place of lentils. I also use vegan mozzarella-style cheese to top these peppers, but regular cheese would work perfectly in this recipe.

 

Ingredients:

6 green bell peppers
2 cups cooked lentils
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups salsa
1 white onion
1 clove garlic
1 T salt (or as desired)
1 T black pepper (or as desired)
½ cup vegan mozzarella-style shredded cheese
4 T neutral oil

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 400℉. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Cut the tops off of your green peppers, removing the stem. Scoop out the seeds from the pepper and brush them with 3 T oil.

Dice your onion and mince your garlic.

On medium-high heat, add your onion into a pan. Drizzle with a T of oil and cook until tender.

Add your minced garlic or 2 T pre-minced garlic to the pan, allowing it to cook for 2 minutes and stir occasionally.

Add your salsa, salt and pepper to the pan, stirring until incorporated. Allow it to cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add your lentils and rice to the pan, stirring until incorporated. Allow it to cook for 3-5 minutes. Remove it from the stove.

Spoon the mixture into the peppers, filling them until there is ½ an inch of space in the top of the pepper.

Place the peppers in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the peppers and top them with shredded mozzarella-style vegan cheese.

Place the peppers back in the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the peppers from the oven and allow them to cool for 3-5 minutes. Enjoy!

Frozen Fruit Cups

This frozen treat is a great snack or dessert to make with your kids on a hot summer’s day! With lots of fresh and fruity taste from the blueberries and a creamy punch from the Greek yogurt, these frozen yogurt cups are a surefire hit. It’s easy to whip up in an afternoon and your kids can even help you make it!

This recipe calls for blueberries, but you can use any fruit you’d like, or you can use multiple kinds of fruit. This recipe also calls for unsweetened Greek yogurt. You can use any kind of yogurt you have on hand, sweetened or unsweetened, although Greek is recommended to give it an extra-creamy texture. If the yogurt you’re using is sweetened, you may want to omit the honey or maple syrup to keep the sweetness balanced.

Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened Greek yogurt
½ cup blueberries
1 T honey or maple syrup (optional)

Instructions:

Line a muffin tin with paper muffin liners.
In a small bowl, add your yogurt and honey. Stir to incorporate.
Add a few blueberries to the bottom of each muffin tin.
Spoon yogurt into each muffin tin, covering the blueberries. Fill the tins about ¾ of the way full.
Add the remaining blueberries to the top of each muffin tin.
Place the muffin tin in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours.
Remove the muffin tin from the freezer and release the yogurt cups from the tin.
Peel off the paper muffin liners and enjoy!

 

Building a Grain Bowl

Are you stuck thinking about what to make for dinner tonight?

Try whipping up an easy, delicious meal from your pantry by following this no-nonsense grain bowl guide.

Easy as 1, 2, 3… 4!

 

Crispy Oven-Roasted Chickpeas (Vegan)

This recipe comes from our intern, Delaney Blomstrom. She loves creating affordable, plant-based meals for herself and is excited to share her creations for you to enjoy!

Do you have a can of chickpeas, but aren’t sure what to make with them? These oven-roasted chickpeas are perfect for anyone in a pantry rut. Using ingredients I had in my spice cabinet, I whipped up these three delicious flavors. I hope you enjoy these flavors, and that this inspires you to make your own flavor combinations using this recipe.

 

Cuban-Inspired Chickpeas:
1 T cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 T onion powder
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 can of chickpeas (drained)
2 tsp oil of your choice (optional)

 

Cheesy Vegan Chickpeas:
2 T Nutritional Yeast
1 T garlic powder
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 can chickpeas (drained)
2 tsp oil of your choice (optional)

 

Tangy Ranch Chickpeas:
1 T dill
1 T parsley
1 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1 T apple cider vinegar
2 tsp oil of your choice (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 ℉
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat. Your chickpeas should not stick to the parchment paper, even if you don’t use oil for this recipe.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, add your drained chickpeas, all the seasonings and oil if desired. Stir the chickpeas until they are evenly coated in the seasonings and oil.  If the chickpeas still have moisture from their canning liquid, they will still crisp up in the oven. If they have had time to dry or if you’d like them to be very crispy, a little oil will be necessary to keep them from burning.
  4. Pour them onto the lined baking sheet, spreading them evenly across the sheet. 
  5. Roast for 40 to 55 minutes, turning the chickpeas over every 15 minutes to ensure an even roast on all sides.
  6. Remove chickpeas from the oven and cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve as a snack, side, salad topping or with your favorite grains!

 

 

Creamy Mushroom Pasta (Vegan)

Makes 2 servings

This creamy mushroom pasta combines shiitake and white button mushrooms with a simple cream sauce to make one delicious dish. The Co-op carries a variety of fresh mushrooms and I was eager to create a recipe with them. Shiitake mushrooms have a smoky, earthy flavor, which pairs well with the mild flavor of the button mushrooms. I love cooking with mushrooms because they are versatile, hearty, and have a savory umami flavor. The cream sauce for this pasta is so simple to make and is made out of vegan butter, whole wheat flour, and soymilk. The silky sauce pairs perfectly with the savory mushrooms and tender pasta. If you’re looking for a new way to enjoy mushrooms, I recommend giving this recipe a try!

 

Ingredients:

2 ½ tbsp. vegan butter (I used Earth Balance Original)
12 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
4 oz. shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 ½ tbsp. whole wheat flour
2 cups unsweetened soymilk
Salt and Pepper to taste
8 oz. dried spaghetti
¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped

 

Directions:

  1. In a large pan, sauté sliced mushrooms in 1 tbsp. of butter over medium-high heat for 5 minutes until mushrooms become golden brown
  2. Season the mushrooms with dried oregano, dried basil, salt, and pepper. Transfer sautéed mushrooms to a bowl.
  3. To the same pan, melt 1½ tbsp. butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add in whole wheat flour
  4. Whisk the flour and butter mixture for one minute. Add in soymilk and turn heat to high. Continue to whisk the cream sauce. Once boiled, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Whisk occasionally.
  5. While the cream sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to boil. Once water is boiled, add in spaghetti. Cook spaghetti for 12 minutes until noodles are tender.
  6. Add the mushrooms to the cream sauce and mix. Next, add in the spaghetti and mix. Transfer the pasta to bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Enjoy!

 

 

By Tiffany Wu / Guest Blogger

Tiffany is a graduate of JMU, and majored in dietetics. Her family owned a Chinese restaurant when she was growing up, so her passion for food and cooking began at an early age. She especially likes creating delicious and healthy plant-based recipes.