Tender Teff Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies

tender teff peanut butter cookies

Wow, that title is a mouthful.

But then again, so are these cookies.

In keeping with the theme of using gluten-free flours in recipes that make them shine, these simple cookies take teff flour and let it sing. And they are certainly easy to make, straightforward, and made with simple clean ingredients.

Tender Teff Peanut Butter cookies require just six ingredients (or eight, if you add the raisins and chocolate chips and I definitely recommend that you do), and, while I haven’t tried them this way, I suspect they would be equally delicious with almond butter. Maybe even cashew butter or sunflower seed butter, if you are feeling particularly bold and wild.

tender teff peanut butter cookies

They’re tender, sweet but not too sweet, and just the right amount of crumbly. Gluten-free cookies are great like that. The whole goal of shortbread is to be free of gluten – it’s what gives shortbread that classic sandy texture. Gluten-free and shortbread are like two peas in a pod. And since lots of gluten-free baking turns out a bit crumbly/sandy anyways, why not say it was what you were aiming for in the first place?

Quite frankly, the first time I made these I ate too many of them. Plus, I put chocolate chips in them AND made those little cross hatching marks on them that make peanut butter cookies so much cuter. What’s a gal to do?

tender teff peanut butter cookiestender teff peanut butter cookies

But out of that snacking experience was born the freezer test. I usually bake things, eat a few from the oven, and freeze all the rest. It’s a system that works for me. These cookies freeze really nicely. Keep that in mind if you want to make a larger batch. The recipe is so simple it can be halved, doubled, etc.

So all hail teff flour! And nut butter. And whatever else you want to add. Hey-oh!

For more glorious teff options, try teff banana chocoate chip muffins.

Tender Teff Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies

  • Author: Backyard Owl tweaks on this original recipe from Bob’s Red Mill
  • Recipe notes: vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, naturally-sweetened

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups teff flour
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon himilayan pink salt or sea salt
  • optional: 1/2 cup chocolate chips and/or 1/2 cup raisins

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a small saucepan and over low heat, whisk together peanut butter, coconut oil, and maple syrup, just until combined.
  3. Stir in vanilla.
  4. Take off heat and let cool for a minute or two
  5. Stir in teff flour and salt and mix until combined.
  6. Stir in raisins and/or chocolate chips, if using.
  7. Scoop by the spoonful and round into balls, before placing on a baking sheet.
  8. Cross hatch and flatten the cookie dough using a fork – this is where we get that classic peanut butter cookie look.
  9. Bake for 13-15 minutes, depending on size, and let cool.
  10. Enjoy!

© Backyard Owl

Make Chickpea Flour Shine With These 5 Awesome Recipes

chewy chocolate chip chickpea cookies - vegan & gluten-free

Sometimes after buying a large bag of chickpea/teff/sorghum/coconut/almond/etc. flour, you make the recipe you intended to make and then think, ‘huh. Well, that still leaves me 95% of this flour. What do I do with it now?’

It’s handy to have a back-pocket repertoire of recipes that feature whatever flour you have in mind. And chickpea flour is a great place to start building that repertoire.

There are a number of amazingly delicious and healthy things that you can do with chickpea flour, and that you can really ONLY do with chickpea flour. As in, the recipes require chickpea flour to work. When you’re into gluten-free baking, it’s really great to find a recipe that showcases your gluten-free flour for the beauty that it is.

For the recipes below, you don’t need any other flours or blends. Nope, you scoop out the chickpea flour and you’re off to the races. I like that kind of simplicity.

savoury chickpea flour crackers with onion and sesame seeds

Now, I’m sure I’ve talked about the nutrition of chickpea flour before, but I’m going to do it again because it helps it stick in my brain and because it’s worthwhile information to share.

In addition to being a beautiful golden yellow colour, chickpea flour has fibre, protein, iron, and it is, of course, naturally gluten-free. It also has B vitamins and trace minerals, and is most infinitely better for you than bleached all-purpose flour (which should really be limited to special occasion baking, or eliminated completely).

Below are five amazing recipes below that I have vetted personally for awesomeness.  The process was rigorous and scientific, let me tell you. I am 99.6% confident you’ll agree with my findings that the below recipes are both delicious and nutritious.

Enjoy those golden halycon chickpea flour days.

Make Chickpea Flour Shine With These 5 Awesome Recipes

  1. ONE BOWL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: chewy, healthy, chocolatey, easy to make, and full of protein and fibre. You can’t beat that for a chocolate chip cookie.
  2. ITALIAN SOCCA: an amazing crepe-like flatbread that you can cook up in a skillet, and use for pizza crusts, wraps, and more. Like a chickpea flour pancake, socca is totally delicious, especially with caramelized onions.
  3. VEGAN FRENCH TOAST: chickpea flour makes the most perfect vegan french toast ever. Or, if you want to call it by its chickpea flour name, you can use “fronch” toast, which helps distinguish it from regular french toast and quite frankly is way more fun to say.
  4. SAVOURY CHICKPEA FLOUR CRACKERS: you can make these crackers any way you want. They’re really quick to make and very hearty for those of you that like a substantial cracker with a good crunch. The flavour options are extensive.
  5. QUICHE a la CHICKPEA: if you haven’t already guessed, chickpea flour is a perfect stand-in for the custardy, savoury protein of eggs. These mini quiches are awesome. Make them crustless or with a gluten-free crust if you are looking for something a little more luxury. Then, add some caramelized onions or sundried tomatoes. Ooh la la!

© Backyard Owl

Homemade Muesli Breakfast Cereal with Banana Chips and Raisins

homemade muesli with blueberries

I lived in Granada, Spain for about 6 weeks after my second year of university, and for the entire time, I subsisted (for breakfast) on Fruta y Fibre cereal, purchased from a nearby department store that had a grocery chain in the bottom. It was basically flaked wheat cereal with dried fruit and banana chips, and I topped it with soy milk, which at the time was the only non-dairy milk I could find.

To this day, the taste of that kind of cereal brings back this feeling of summer (it was HOT there) and more particularly, summer mornings when you weren’t sure what the day would hold, you knew there was going to be adventure, and your breakfast was something you really looked forward to. Breakfast was the stable, delicious known quantity in my day of unpredictability.

homemade muesli with rolled oats and banana chips

Flash forward some ten plus years, and you find me mostly having smoothies or oats for breakfast. A few years ago I stopped buying packaged breakfast cereals – I was trying to reduce my consumption of ‘processed’ foods and I was also getting tired of the packaging. But, a few weeks ago, in this flash of summer heat, I had a sudden desire for breakfast cereal. And not just any kind – a replica of the Fruta y Fibre cereal I had so many moons ago, right down to the banana chips.

Now, to call this a recipe is a bit of stretch. And to pretend banana chips offer ANY health value is also kind of a stretch, but sometimes having a balanced approach to health means enjoying the foods that are meaningful to you, but taking the time to make them the best version that they can be.

homemade muesli with blueberries

So that’s what this cereal is. It uses a processed flaked cereal, it’s true, but everything else is whole food. And basically you just toss all the stuff together in a big tupperware container. And yes, it is WAY cheaper than any of the cereals you’ll find at the grocery store. Packaged muesli will set you back something considerable, but making your own is actually pretty cheap per serving, once you’ve invested in the main ingredients.

Top this homemade muesli with blueberries or strawberries or some other awesome seasonal fruit, and boost the nutrition with hemp seeds or chia seeds. Also, you can easily swap in a gluten-free flaked cereal if you want it to be gluten-free. Just ensure you are also using gluten-free oats, and substitute more oats for the kamut flakes.

And don’t forget about those banana chips! They lend the whole cereal this tropical air, which will help carry you away to the desert-like beauty of the Spain of your mind.

Not bad for breakfast cereal.

Homemade Muesli Breakfast Cereal with Banana Chips and Raisins

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: plant-based, egg-free, dairy-free, high-fibre

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup kamut flakes (or more rolled oats)
  • 4 cups high fibre flaked cereal (I like the kind that comes in the big eco packs – less packaging, better price)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup banana chips (look for something organic here – I found some that are organic, and made with organic cane sugar and organic coconut oil)
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup walnuts

Instructions:

  1. Mix all the stuff together in a big container with a good seal. Store in a cool, dry place (or in the fridge, to preserve the healthy fats in the walnuts).
  2. Portion out into servings and top with fruit and almond milk. (You probably don’t need to be told how to eat cereal, right?) I like mine with hemp and chia seeds as well. I keep them in the fridge and add just before eating.

© Backyard Owl

Big Glow Salad with Sweet Onion Dressing

big glow salad 4

There is a certain point on the thermometer when suddenly a woman’s thoughts turn to foods that are crisp, refreshing, and bursting with seasonal flavour. For me, that temperature is somewhere around 25 degree celsius. Depends on the humidity.

When the mercury gets that high, suddenly all I want are homemade fresh rolls, plump blueberries, melt-in-your-mouth strawberries, ripe peaches, watermelon, chilled cranberry juice (the real stuff, mixed with water – otherwise it’s far too puckersome), tangy lime and lemon and avocado sorbets, cold cereals, and big, amazing, stacked salads.

big glow salad

Why big glow? Well, basically this salad is an awesome opportunity to pack in healthy fats, nourishing proteins, vibrant greens, and antioxidant-filled vegetables. All of these things, my friends, boost your body, help protect your cells from damage, and contribute to an overall feeling of good health that makes you glow, not just because your skin looks great, but because you feel really good.

And when it’s hot outside, your body is already working hard! It needs light nutrient-packed options that give it fuel without weighing it down. You want to feel that you could eat your supper and still hop on your bicycle for a ride (though, please don’t do this, unless it’s a really really gentle ride).

big glow salad 2

The sweet onion dressing is a bit of cheat, I’ll admit. Organic onion powder just makes the whole thing so much faster and easier – just make sure it IS organic, as clean as you can find, and doesn’t have any additional salt. We just want to the onion-y part. We can add some good quality salt ourselves later.

Enjoy the big glow salad! Eat it outside under a blue sky in your tank top and shorts. Eat it after your bike ride. Eat it and enjoy the summer sunshine.

big glow salad 3Big Glow Salad with Sweet Onion Dressing

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: refined sugar-free, naturally-sweetened, plant-based, veggie-packed, gluten-free

Ingredients:

For the Salad:

  • 2 cups Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1/2 cup: shredded carrots, diced celery, chopped sweet peppers
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons almonds
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
  • Your choice of protein: tofu, local free-range organic eggs, tempeh, etc. I sprinkled my tofu with a bit of smoked paprika.

For the Sweet Onion Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dijon maple mustard
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or your favourite sweetener
  • 1 tablespoon organic onion powder (no salt added)
  • pinch sea salt or himalayan pink salt
  • pinch ground black pepper

Instructions:

  1. To make the dressing: whisk together all of the ingredients (or throw in a glass bottle and shake shake shake). Done.
  2. Set your oven to a low heat broil and toast the sunflower seeds and almonds, along with the tofu, for about 4 minutes or until seeds are starting to turn a light golden colour.
  3. Shred up the romaine and mixed veggies, and toss with 2 tablespoons or desired amount of sweet onion dressing.
  4. Sprinkle hemp seeds on romaine, and top with warm toasted nuts/seeds.
  5. Enjoy!

© Backyard Owl

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins with Teff and Kamut Flour

vegan banana chocolate chip muffins with teff and kamut flour

I’m definitely new to the teff flour bandwagon. I’m not entirely sure that there even IS a teff flour bandwagon, but however small or niche it is, I’m still new to it. I’ve seen a few delicious looking teff flour recipes in one of my favourite cookbooks, Clean Food, but the only thing I’d eaten that was made of teff was that tangy and spongy and amazing injera bread that they serve at Ethiopian restaurants. It kind of made me associate teff flour with a sourdough taste and I had this bias that it would be difficult to bake with, or have a strong flavour like quinoa flour (sorrry quinoa flour! but it’s true).

Where did I get these ideas? Who knows. I made ’em up and then thought they were true. So it was time to break with my preconceived notions about teff.

vegan banana chocolate chip muffins with teff and kamut flours

What is teff, you might ask? Teff is kind of like quinoa – a small seed, not really a grain – and like quinoa, it’s just a nutritional powerhouse for the body. Teff has protein and fibre, of course, and it also has really high amounts of iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and manganese (and for those of who you are like, manganese? really? I say, yes, manganese! It’s good for skin health, cardiovascular health, bone structure, your thryoid gland, sex hormones, blood sugar, metabolism. Yes to manganese!). Teff has even been called the “stamina” grain – noted for giving long distance runners energy and endurance. It also has B vitamins and is naturally gluten-free. There is no downside. 

Okay, it’s a bit expensive. That’s the only downside. But, at what price health? (I use that to rationalize many expensive grocery purchases. It’s a positive, yet slightly costly, life philosophy).

vegan banana chocolate chip muffins with teff and kamut flour

But fear not that these muffins are too ‘out there’ for your average muffin consuming individuals. My banana chocolate chip teff muffins are like gateway muffins into using teff – a gentle introduction into alternate flours. They are half teff flour and half kamut flour, which is an ancient wheat (and not gluten-free) that kind of helps balance any difficulties that gluten-free baking sometimes faces. If you wanted to substitute another gluten-free flour to make the muffins totally gluten-free, I would also recommend adding perhaps a teaspoon or so of xantham gum (although the bananas do a pretty awesome job of binding things together).

These muffins bake up beautifully. Nice and tall muffin tops in the tin (I like a good, tall muffin) and really great texture and flavour. So what else can I say? They are…(wait for it)… teff-rific. They are teff-initely worth trying. Taste teff these muffins as soon as you can.

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins with Teff and Kamut Flour

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soy-free

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup kamut flour
  • 1 cup dark brown teff flour
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • healthy sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 cups mashed ripe bananas, about 4 large
  • 1/2 unsweetened, non-dairy milk
  • 1/3 cup melted virgin coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325F.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon (if using).
  3. In a medium bowl, mash bananas and check you have about 2 cups.
  4. Add vanilla, maple syrup, melted coconut oil, and non-dairy milk to banana mash and whisk together vigourously.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just mixed.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips.
  7. Scoop batter into oiled or paper lined muffins tins and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until muffin tops spring back lightly when pressed with a finger.
  8. Cool, and enjoy!

© Backyard Owl

What Clean Eating Can Do For You – And What It Can’t: Reflections on the EAT WELL, LIVE VIBRANTLY Challenge

green juice2

The April EAT WELL, LIVE VIBRANTLY clean eating challenge is coming to an end. The official challenge part of it, I mean. Or the month part of it? Either way, the April of refined sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, alcohol-free, caffeine-free eating is reaching its official end. Except, I really like eating this way – so while it might look a little different, much of how I ate for April will be how I eat in the coming months.

So how was it? And do I feel better? Let me think about how to answer this. It isn’t as though I’ve gone from a haggard, fatigue-filled sack to a vibrant and entirely new person. Clean eating is a huge step in the right direction but it isn’t everything. That said, I do feel better. I feel like my eating has been re-set in a healthier way. I feel like I’m excited again about what food can be and how much fun and health and deliciousness it can offer.

Simple and Refreshing Iced Herbal Tea with Fruit and Mint Leaves

Below are a few more of my reflections about my month of clean eating, and what clean eating can do (or can’t do) for you too.

What Clean Eating Can Do:

  • Reset your Mind and Tastebuds: I found that by about two weeks in, I had already dropped some of the eating/food habits that weren’t serving me well and was really starting to appreciate the tastes, foods, and feelings that came from the foods I was eating instead. If you feel like your diet is getting a bit looser than you want, and not in a way that makes you feel good, setting up a challenge like this for two or three weeks can really help you re-set your thinking about food and bring things back to the healthy, fresh, interesting, clean way of eating that feels more positive and more vibrant.
  • Make You Feel Better: This is kind of an obvious one, but it needs to be said. It’s hard to describe, but my body feels calmer. My skin is clearer, my mind a little less foggy, and I just feel that my body is (sorry, this is kind of new age-y) happier. There is still a lot of room to grow (see the entire section below) but as a start, I feel like I’m slowly offering my body and mind the healing and supportive foods that they want and need.
  • Help You to Glow: Eating clean helps increase your nutrient intake, which supports the functioning of your body and skin, which can give you greater energy and a more vibrant glow. Plus, sticking with foods that are good for you gives you the positive energy that comes with making choices for your health and wellbeing. That makes you glow, too.
  • Help you Figure Out what Makes you feel Worse: After eating this way for several weeks, there is almost a natural knowledge that emerges in your body that looks at certain foods and says, that could taste good but it will not make you feel good. And that little bit of mindfulness and awareness is enough to make you not want to eat that specific food because when you realize how much is out there that tastes good AND feels good, the foods that makes you feel like shit actually don’t seem that appealing anymore.

What Clean Eating Can’t Do:

  • Fix all of your digestive ailments: Healthy, optimal digestion is the result of several things: good food, proper chewing, and eating in a calm, non-hurried way so that your digestive system gets a chance to turn on and get to work. Clean food, I’m sorry to say, can be wolfed down just like any other food. So, eating healthfully is a piece of the puzzle but the puzzle really starts to look like something good when you add the right digestive habits to it as well.
  • Bring you food joy: the point of a food challenge like this isn’t to think restrictively. That’s the mistake I made at the beginning and it brought me and my eating no joy. Food is a pleasure and a fuel source and it should be thought of as both. And finding recipes that excite you, remaking your favourite dishes with healthier options, recreating restaurant meals that delighted your senses – these are the joys of eating, and they should be part of your lifestyle. Don’t remove the joy. Just shopping off a list of “eat this, don’t eat this” isn’t going to make you feel better if you don’t also find the spark of excitement, delight, and real pleasure that comes from eating foods you know are good for you but that you also enjoy.
  • Nix the Sugar: Maple syrup, blackstrap molasses, brown rice syrup, raw honey. You can make delicious cookies and sweets and chocolate using natural sugars, and while this is SO much better than refined sugar, it ain’t exactly like eating a cucumber, you know? I ate plenty of no-bake puffed quinoa bars during this challenge and that’s not entirely the point. Now, see above about food joy – I’m not saying remove all of this stuff entirely. I’m just saying you still need to make a choice to opt for fruits and vegetables as much as you can.
  • Control your portions: Nuts, coconut oil, almond butter, amazing sweet potatoes, smoked tofu – all clean, all delicious, all awesome. But also still all a bit hard for the ol’ digesto system if consumed in excess. Any food is. Clean eating helps to ensure the foods you consume are great, good, or at least better for you, but there’s still something to be said for thinking about how much of those foods you’re eating. Eating healthy foods can help make you feel lighter, more energetic. Supporting that with appropriate meal sizes also helps in a big way.

radiant turmeric and ginger tea

Overall, I’d say that clean eating is an important and awesome part of living a healthy vibrant lifestyle. But it goes hand in hand with other habits that are also vital and that are part of a whole package of intaking foods into your body in the optimal form, setting, and pace that are right for you and your digestion.

And more than that, clean eating goes hand it hand with an understanding that no eating pattern has to be PERFECT all of the time. Perfection is not the goal. Health, vibrancy, and happiness are the goal, and they come when you approach your eating with determination but also gentleness.

So eat clean, my friends! Start with one challenge, and then add another, and another, until you feel your food habits are really serving you and supporting you as the energetic, vibrant, creative, happy, and glowing individual you wish to be.

© Backyard Owl

Crunchy Chickpea Flour Crackers with Onion and Sesame Seeds

savoury chickpea flour crackers with onion and sesame seedsThere is a reason I included chickpea flour as one of my ‘extra choice’ items for my April clean eating challenge – these crackers are that reason. These crackers, and all of the other awesome stuff you can make from chickpea flour, like socca, chocolate chip cookies, and vegan french toast.

Chickpea flour is underestimated and undervalued but the stuff is kickass. It’s got fibre, protein, minerals, and it’s naturally gluten-free. It’s versatile, delicious, and it’s fun. You’re baking with ground up chickpeas! What’s not to love?

Just don’t taste the batter.

savoury chickpea flour crackers with onion and sesame seeds

Now, some of you will probably disregard this advice or will perhaps have had traumatic chickpea flour experiences in the past. You will wrinkle your noses in disgust and say, Emily, I went ahead and tasted that chickpea flour batter.  It was touch and go there for awhile – I barely made it out of the experience alive. How could you lead me so astray?

Well, as with all things chickpea (in my experience), that beany bitterness bakes itself right out of the batter while it’s in the oven. Keep the faith. The resulting product will be savoury, delicious, crunchy, and sans-bitterness.

And with this base recipe, you can pretty much add whatever you want – omit the sesame seeds and add sunflower seeds; try with other seasonings (like garlic powder or chili powder!). It’s amazingly flexible.

savoury chickpea flour crackers with onion and sesame seeds

And you are making your own crackers! You’re part of the solution! No more boxes or plastic packages to throw away. No more spending your entire paycheck on one box of gluten-free crackers (because let’s be honest, that’s how much they cost). Just simple, savoury, chickpea flour.

Crunchy Chickpea Flour Crackers with Onion and Sesame Seeds

  • Author: recipe inspired by this basic version at Heather G Nutrition
  • Recipe Notes: egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chickpea flour (cold)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus 1 teaspoon for brushing on top
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons organic onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon himayalan pink salt (reduce if you aren’t interested in a nice salty cracker)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons water (or so)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together chickpea flour, sesame seeds, onion powder, pink salt, and baking powder.
  3. Stir in olive oil.
  4. After the olive oil is kind of ‘smooshed’ in, stir in water. The dough should kind of be a bit sticky but not too sticky. It should feel like cookie dough.
  5. On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough until thin (as thin or thick as you like your crackers). Keep flouring everything so the dough doesn’t stick.
  6. Using a bench scraper/dough scraper or some other device to cut the dough into strips and transfer to your baking sheet, then cut into squares.
  7. Brush lightly with a bit of olive oil.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes until light golden.
  9. Store in an airtight container.

Crunch and enjoy!

© Backyard Owl