Autumnal Pumpkin Spice Muffins – Grain-Free, Dairy-Free

pumpkin spice muffins 1

As Mindy says on The Mindy Project: “Autumn is the time when the leaves go from green to orange, the lattes go from vanilla to pumpkin, and girls toss their razors out the window for there will be no bare legs seen until April.” Oh Mindy, so wise.

Personal grooming aside, as soon as the calendar passes the first of October, adding pumpkin to everything you bake isn’t a half bad idea. Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene and fibre, and a pumpkin spice muffin is the quintessential autumn baked good (along with ginger molasses cookies, though one could probably argue that ginger molasses is really more winter than autumn. So, pumpkin spice it is).pumpkin spice muffins

These muffins are a direct take from Against All Grain, a wonderful cookbook (and blog!) if you’re looking to find grain-free options that are simple, straightforward, and based on traditional recipes that might be among your favourites, like banana bread or oatmeal raisin cookies (sans oatmeal, of course).

Baking grain-free is not the cheapest excursion, I know. But, if you follow a paleo diet, or find that eating grain-free is something you prefer or need to do to keep you system vibrant and humming, then consider these muffins a worthwhile investment.

These pumpkin spice muffins baked up beautifully, tasted pumpkin spice-y, and were sweet but not overly sweet. And they were very filling. Pour yourself a glass of almond milk and set a few of these on a plate, and then open up those windows for the cool, crisp breeze and let it wash over you. #autumnmakeseverythingbetterpumpkin spice muffins

Autumnal Pumpkin Spice Muffins – grain-free, dairy-free

  • Author: Against All Grain cookbook (I just tinkered with the spices and upped the chocolate chips – modifications included below).
  • Recipe Notes: grain-free, dairy-free
  • Yield: 10 regular-size muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt/Himalayan pink salt (finely ground)
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 pastured/free-range/organic eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup or honey (if honey, should be warmed until liquid)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup dark dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (optional)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 325F.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, spices, and salt.
  • In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, whisk together pumpkin, eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup/honey, and vanilla.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until almost combined
  • Stir in chocolate chips and mix until well combined.
  • Scoop into an oiled muffin tin and top with pumpkin seeds, if using.
  • Bake for 22-26 minutes, or until lightly browned, spring back with pressed, and an cake tester inserted into the muffin comes out clean.
  • Store at room temperature for a few days, or pop into the freezer once cool.

© Backyard Owl

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No-Bake Muesli Energy Bars with Almond Butter

no bake granola bars with pumpkin seeds

It’s a gorgeous day here – blue skies, breezy, warm but not hot, and no humidity. I’ve gone for a bike ride, bought strawberries at the farmers market, picked up my books from the library, walked about, and now I’m blogging and eating maca chocolate. In other words, utter perfection. Let all summer days be like this, says I!

I’m almost finished my program at the Canadian School for Natural Nutrition, and admittedly that’s why you haven’t seen many blog posts in recent months. But this beautiful day just sang to me and said, Emily, steal away a few moments and write something on the blog. So here I am.no bake granola bars with pumpkin seeds 3

This part of July is where summer really kicks into a higher gear. The farmers’ market is starting to show its colours – spring rhubarb is still available, but the strawberries are there, and soon I’ll see peaches, tomatoes, corn, and zucchinis overflowing on the tables. My own little farm here (I use the term ‘farm’ extremely loosely) has thus far produced 2 blueberries, 4 raspberries, and some purple podded peas. A tiny harvest, but a satisfying one. I can see the raspberries slowly turning from that light pinkish colour to the deeper red, so soon I’ll return to that glorious time when there are raspberries to eat every day when I come home from work.

It’s a nice time to be alive, isn’t it?

no bake granola bars with pumpkin seeds 2

To keep your energy up through the biking, walking, jam-making, hammock-reading, blueberry-picking, running, mowing, weeding, harvesting, swimming, kombucha-drinking, or whatever you have on the go this summer, whip up some of these energy bars (finally, I’m getting to the recipe!). They’re simple, offer protein, fibre, and healthy fat, and you can make them either as energy balls/bites or just press them into the pan and make granola bars. They’re best right from the fridge (structural integrity relies on the coldness of the coconut oil), but if you don’t mind eating them more as a melted crumble, tote them to the beach! Why not?

And of course, they require no oven, so the only breeze and warmth you feel will be that of the summer sun, wafting through your open windows.

Happy July!

No-Bake Muesli Energy Bites with Almond Butter

Recipe Notes: option for gluten-free (use gluten-free oats), option for plant-based (maple syrup instead of honey), dairy-free, egg-free, wheat-free

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups muesli (basically oats with a bit of dried fruit added – plain rolled oats are fine too)
  • 1/2 shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or himalayan pink salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • optional: sprinkle of ground cinnamon

Instructions: 

  1. Whirl the muesli, coconut, seeds of choice, chocolate chips, and dried fruit of choice in your food processor until you’ve turned it into very small bits, or almost flour. The dried fruit will remain in larger pieces – this is totally fine. The chocolate might also stay in bigger chunks – also totally fine, and in fact, quite delicious.
  2. Dump this mix into a large bowl.
  3. In a small sauce pan and over very low heat, gently whisk together almond butter, raw honey, coconut oil, pink salt, and vanilla extract until smooth and a bit pourable.
  4. Pour over the dry mix and stir until all dry parts are well coated and mixture holds its shape when squeezed into a ball.
  5. Roll into balls or press into an 8×8 pan and store in an airtight container in the fridge. For best shape, eat right from the fridge or keep cool.

© Backyard Owl

Chocolate Chip Shortbread with Dark Chocolate and Coconut Oil – V, GF

chocolate-chip-shortbread with coconut oil

Well, it’s Valentine’s Day! This is a day to celebrate love, in all its forms. Love for your family, your friends, your pets, your lover, your garden, your home, and above all, yourself. Today is a good day to give yourself a little extra care. Maybe an epsom salt bath, maybe a special nourishing dinner, maybe an extra square of dark chocolate.

And you all know how I love my luxurious dark chocolate. The flavour of these cookies comes primarily from the chocolate, so please feel free to excite your palate with the 72%, 75%, 80% dark chocolate you’ve been eyeing for some time now but haven’t purchased for yourself. Now is the time.

chocolate-chip-shortbread with coconut oil

Because this shortbread uses coconut oil as the main fat, the cookies are more crunchy than crumbly. If you used Earth Balance or similar vegan butter, or a grass-fed dairy butter, I imagine you would get a feel more similar to classic shortbread. That being said, coconut oil is a wonderful, energizing, healthy fat, so I can sacrifice a little texture to get some more of that healthy fat in.

If you want a few other colours, feel free to add pistachios, dried cranberries, or maybe even some orange zest. Wow. That combo would be amazing (mental note for a future recipe).

chocolate-chip-shortbread-with coconut oil

If you’re looking for a nice meditation for the day, I used this solar plexus chakra meditation from Cauldrons and Cupcakes. The solar plexus chakra is your third chakra, and it’s where your will, self-esteem, and self-identity reside. It’s a great focus point for when you’re asking questions about what you need/want. And, this meditation particular is awesome for taking 10 minutes to ask yourself: what is best for me right now?

So happy love day! Feel all that positive energy floating around and let it boost you up.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread with Dark Chocolate and Coconut Oil – v, gf

  • Author: Recipe from Unconventional Baker, with full credit given to the recipe found here here. Tweaks (and the addition of chocolate) by Backyard Owl.
  • Recipe Notes: dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, softened (use refined coconut oil if you prefer cookies without a coconut taste)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (room temperature)
  • 2 1/4 cups gluten-free flour blend (I used 1 3/4 cups white rice flour and 1/2 cup tapioca flour/starch)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt/Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate PLUS 1/2 cup dark chocolate (for melting and dipping).

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Beat softened coconut oil until smooth.
  3. Add maple syrup, vanilla extract, and salt and beat until combined. Scrape down the bowl.
  4. Stir in the gluten-free flour, ground cinnamon, and chopped dark chocolate, and mix until fully combined (the dough should moist, so that when you press it together it holds in a ball shape).
  5. Pour dough out onto counter (sprinkled with gluten-free flour to prevent the dough from sticking) and place some wax paper over the dough.
  6. Roll out the dough until it is your preferred thickness. and cut out shapes with heart cookie cutter (or whatever cutter you have on hand and want to use).
  7. Place cookies on baking sheet and chill briefly in fridge or freezer, for about 5 minutes.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned on bottom of cookie.
  9. While cookies are cooling, prepare chocolate for dipping. In a double boiler, melt chocolate until liquid and smooth. Individually dip cookies and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper or silicon.
  10. Chill in the fridge until firm. The cookies can be kept in the fridge or at room temperature, though note that the chocolate will be most crisp (because it wasn’t tempered when melting) if stored in the fridge.
  11. Enjoy and share the love!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

© Backyard Owl

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Broccoli and Teriyaki Tempeh

sweet-potatoes and broccoli with teriyaki tempeh

I asked my sister the other day what she would like to see more of on the blog, and she said: simple supper options. So, in that spirit, here we go!

The original recipe inspiration for this came from Vegetarian Times magazine. I’m a huge library user and I love going in and finding that the new issue of VT is available. They have a lot of neat vegan and plant-based recipes, and such beautiful photographs!

sweet-potatoes and broccoli with teriyaki tempeh

I feel like I’m going through a bit of recipe fatigue at the moment. Maybe it’s because I have a cold (I’m not sure what I feel like eating) or because I made soup and it was too hot and I burned off all my taste buds (making me sometimes not sure what I actually AM eating). So between the two, I mostly feel like eating the soup I made for lunch, and then again for supper, because, well, there’s a lot of it. And then I don’t have to think too much.

Speaking of, this cold is relatively minor, but still a blow to my ego. I like to think I am cultivating the ferrari of immune systems, and when I get a cold IN SEPTEMBER I suddenly think, geez louise. Ferrari? Not in your dreams, lady.

sweet-potatoes and broccoli with teriyaki tempeh

Then again, colds are a reminder of exactly that – our immune systems are a bit compromised. Maybe it means you’re working too hard; not resting enough; not eating the best foods for your body; not getting enough gentle, restorative exercise (like walking in this beautiful fresh air!).

Which brings us back to this supper. It’s simple, nourishing, a great balance of sweet and salty and umami, a beautiful visual feast of green and orange, and pretty easy for your body to handle, from a digestion standpoint.

So maybe I should say, thank you cold! For pointing me in the direction of some healing foods, for making me take a moment to look at where I’m not giving my body what it needs, and for reminding me, yet again, that being healthy really is the best feeling and the best gift.

sweet-potatoes and broccoli with teriyaki tempeh

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Steamed Broccoli and Teriyaki Tempeh

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: plant-based, nut-free, gluten-free (if you use a gluten-free soy sauce), grain-free

Ingredients:

  • one head of broccoli
  • one pkg tempeh
  • 4 medium sized sweet potatoes
  • one large onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, coconut oil, or coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt/himalayan pink salt/sacred salts
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium tamari
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon your favourite dijon mustard

Instructions:

  1. To marinate tempeh: in a medium glass bowl, whisk together tamari, maple syrup, and mustard. Slice tempeh into cubes and shake around in your marinade. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Preheat oven to 400F.
  3. Slice sweet potatoes into long wedges and place on baking tray.
  4. Slice onion into rounds and scatter artistically over sweet potatoes.
  5. Drizzle oil over sweet potatoes/onions and sprinkle with sea salt.
  6. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until sweet potatoes are soft and onions smell amazing.
  7. While the potatoes are cooking, gently steam/boil (steaming is preferred, but you might be like me and not currently be in possession of a steamer) broccoli in or over boiling water until close to tender and a brighter green colour. Drain and keep warm.
  8. In the last few minutes of your potatoes baking, place tempeh on a baking sheet and throw in the oven, baking until lightly browned.
  9. Arrange sweet potatoes, broccoli, and tempeh your plate, and drizzle with a little leftover marinade, if desired.
  10. Enjoy!

l© Backyard Owl

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

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

Chewy One Bowl Chocolate Chip Cookies (with Chickpea Flour) – v, gf

chewy chocolate chip chickpea cookies - vegan & gluten-freeSo who here thinks chickpea flour tastes gross? Show of hands. That’s quite a few of you, but I’m betting it’s from when you tried some adventurous gluten-free chickpea flour recipe and tasted the batter and thought, dear god, what monster have I created? Chickpea flour – un-baked – is kind of bitter. It does not taste good. Let’s just get that out of the way right now.

BUT – chickpea flour baked INTO things has no taste, really. That is to say, it loses the offensive taste. And, it keeps the protein, chewiness, and gluten-free fabulousness.

chewy chocolate chip chickpea cookies - vegan & gluten-free

My eyes have been opened recently to the joys of chickpea flour. It makes a delicious cookie, for one, and it’s so versatile! Other cultures have been baking and cooking with chickpea flour for centuries, but North American culture is just catching up. In the last few days alone I’ve seen recipes for chickpea flour flatbreads, quiches made with chickpea flour, french toast with chickpea flour, and blondies with chickpea flour, among others.

And, compared to many gluten-free flours, it’s relatively inexpensive. And, though this may be entirely psychological, it seems a little more “from a whole food” than say, potato starch (how do they get just the starch out of the potato?)

So if you are looking for a healthy treat that is high in protein and fibre, I’d encourage you to try these cookies. You could add raisins, nut butter, or perhaps some sunflower or pumpkin seeds. If you don’t find the batter sweet enough (they are JUST on the edge), feel free to also add an additional tablespoon or two of maple syrup, or, sprinkle the tops with some organic cane sugar.

Welcome to the chickpea flour fan club! chewy chocolate chip chickpea cookies - vegan & gluten-free

Chewy One Bowl Chocolate Chip Cookies (with Chickpea Flour)

  • Author: Tweaks by Backyard Owl; original recipe inspired by Oatmeal with a Fork’s Incredible Protein Chocolate Chip Cookies.
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, source of fibre and protein, soy-free, nut-free, naturally-sweetened

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup COLD/FROZEN chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • ¼ t. sea salt or himalayan pink salt
  • ½ t. baking soda
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted before measuring
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons (or as needed) almond milk
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Whisk together cold chickpea flour, rolled oats, sea salt, baking soda, and chocolate chips.
  • Melt coconut oil over low heat, and measure out.
  • Add melted coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla to dry ingredients and stir. If needed, add the almond milk.
  • Scoop and roll into balls of your desired size.
  • Bake for about 12 minutes or until lightly golden.
  • Remove from oven, and gently press down with a fork. This step squishes the cookies and improves their chewy factor.
  • Cool, and store in an airtight container.

© Backyard Owl