Agent Minty's Blog

Trying to be vegan and delicious!

Goldilocks oatmeal muffins February 17, 2014

Filed under: Recipes — Agent Minty @ 7:29 pm
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Making the perfect oatmeal muffin has been quite a challenge for me.

Stack of oatmeal muffins

I want it to have a little texture, but not be too coarse. I tried several variations on my original recipe, each one being disappointing for different reasons: Too sweet, too dense, or too rough. I felt like Goldilocks raiding the bears’ muffin stash!

Muffin on a plate with jam

Finally I’ve struck my ideal: fluffy, oaty, and not-too-sweet. Perfect with jam for dessert or with peanut butter for a snack at work. Pulsing the oats in the blender at the beginning gives these muffins a finer texture without sacrificing fibre or oat flavour.

Milled oats

These are also relatively high in protein, but aren’t too calorie-dense. For those of you who are into that sort of thing, one muffin has approximately 140 calories, 6g fat, 4g protein, and 5g sugar. Compare that to a Nature Valley trail mix bar, which has 140 calories, 4g fat, 2g protein, and 12g sugar. But enough about nutrition, as I don’t purport to be a healthy living blog, just a blog with delicious, wannabe-vegan recipes.

Muffins and apple on lunch sack

A few more technical notes about these muffins:

1. Even with the nutritional info listed above, these are lower fat than traditional muffins. I have found that muffin recipes with less than 1/4 c fat will stick to paper liners once they have cooled, so I would recommend just spraying your tin and pouring in the batter directly.

2. These muffins do have a coconut aroma, which is how I can get away with so little sugar. I know at least one person who hates coconut (hi Lia!), and have subbed out coconut oil for canola or olive oil in other recipes with a fair amount of success. Since canola doesn’t have the same melting point as coconut oil, I would recommend 1 Tbsp of melted margarine of butter and 2 Tbsp of liquid oil. If you do this you may wish to up the white sugar content by 1-2 Tbsp.

muffin batter in tins

3. You really do want to stir these muffins more than most recipes. The oatmeal needs to hydrate before baking, and if you stir just until mixed/slightly lumpy like with traditional muffins, you will get very uneven batter and resultantly clumpy muffins.

 

OK, long spiel aside, here we go:

 

Goldilocks oatmeal muffins – An Agent Minty original recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rolled oats (not instant), pulsed in the food processor until fine
  • 3/4 cup white flour
  • 2 Tbsp brown rice protein powder (if you don’t have protein powder, use more almond meal)
  • 2 Tbsp almond meal
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup almond milk or other milk of your choice
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Instructions:

  1. Pulse oats in a blender.
  2. Add all other dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine lemon juice and milk, stirring until the milk curdles.
  4. Microwave for about 30 seconds so that the milk mixture is not very cold. Otherwise the coconut oil will harden when added.
  5. Add remaining liquids, stirring briefly.
  6. Pour liquid mix onto the dry ingredients.
  7. Stir gently but thoroughly until no dry lumps remain and the batter is smooth.
  8. Sit at room temperature for 10-20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 400F.
  9. Divide batter between greased muffin tins.
  10. Bake in centre of oven, rotating once, for 18 minutes. If you prefer muffins that are crispy on the outside, bake for 20 minutes.
 

Sick day soup February 11, 2014

Filed under: Recipes — Agent Minty @ 9:29 pm
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Ah, the late-winter cold. Charming cousin to the Autumn and Christmas colds I’ve had this year. Despite me taking better care of myself than ever, a little bit of stress and enough germs in the workplace had me down for the weekend, plus yesterday. I felt indifferent to most food, but I wanted to make something healthy and filling, that wouldn’t upset my tummy.

Enter this soup. It’s packed with protein and carotenes, and makes enough to last for days. Think of it as the charming cousin of split pea soup and sweet potato soup. Also, it’s darn cheap to make, and tastes delicious with garlic toasts and plenty of cracked black pepper. Note that you can use a different mix of split lentils and beans, but for the best texture you should choose mostly ones that have their skins removed.

Lentil-yam-soup

 

 

 

Sweet potato, lentil, and sun-dried tomato soup – An Agent Minty original recipe

Makes eight 1-cup servings.

Ingredients:

  • One medium sweet potato, cubed
  • Olive oil
  • Herbs: parsley, sage, savoury
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 3/4 cup moong dal
  • 2/3 c green lentils
  • 2 veggie bouillon cubes
  • 1 small can of V-8
  • 1.5 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

Instructions:

  1. Toss sweet potato cubes in enough oil to generously coat.
  2. Toss with salt and herbs of choice.
  3. Bake in a casserole dish at 400F for approximately 40 minutes, until very soft. 
  4. Meanwhile, wash your lentils until the water runs clear.
  5. Add the lentils to 8-10 cups of water, pus a generous amount of olive oil in a large pot and heat on medium-high.
  6. Once the lentils have come to a boil, turn heat to a gentle simmer and add bouillon cubes and V-8. Partly cover with a lid.
  7. Add more water as needed to prevent the lentils from sticking, stirring every 10 minutes or so.
  8. Simmer lentils for 30-40 minutes until they are very soft and start to break apart.
  9. Add in cooked sweet potato, sun-dried tomatoes, and nutritional yeast. 
  10. Simmer for another 10 minutes to allow flavours to combine.
  11. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until it is smooth.
  12. Season with salt as needed.
 

Sorta-healthy blueberry muffins January 1, 2014

Filed under: Recipes — Agent Minty @ 5:42 pm
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Mrs. Minty summed up the current feeling perfectly a few days ago: “I am sick of treats.” While the homemade candy and cookies we have been eating all December were delicious, the feeling around here is that it’s time to get back to real food. I wanted to make something with a little fibre and nutrition in them, but still sweet enough to satisfy my over-stimulated sweet tooth.

In tin logo

Blueberry muffins. Nothing too fancy, and almost everybody loves them.

Perfect for breakfast, or smeared with peanut butter as an afternoon snack. Light enough to feel like an easy start for anyone who has resolved to eat healthier in 2013.

Plated muffins logo

Sorta-healthy blueberry muffins – by Agent Minty, very loosely based on the Reduced-Fat muffins in Joy of Cooking

Makes 12 medium muffins

Pro tip: when making low-fat muffins, don’t use paper liners or the cooled muffins will stick to the liners and break apart when you try to unwrap them. Just bake them straight in the (well-sprayed) pan.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour of your choice
  • 6 Tbsp white sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp ground flax
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg replacer whisked well into 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp melted margarine
  • 1 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup frozen blueberries (I like wild blueberries as they are smaller and distribute more evenly)
  • Cinnamon-sugar mix (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, flax, and salt.
  3. Whisk up egg replacer and set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine melted fats with a little bit of milk, stir, and add remaining milk.
  5. Add egg replacer mixture and vanilla to milk-oil mixture.
  6. Pour liquids into dry ingredients and stir with a spatula a few times until the mixture is moist but still very lumpy.
  7. Add blueberries and stir until evenly distributed. The dough will still be somewhat lumpy.
  8. Drop into greased muffin tins.
  9. If desired, lightly sprinkle tops of muffins with cinnamon sugar.
  10. Bake in centre of oven for 25-30 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

 

Happy new year, everyone! I hope you’re working towards whatever positive changes you want to make in your life!

 

Christmas Ice Cream – Candy Cane Crackle December 18, 2013

Filed under: Recipes — Agent Minty @ 7:11 pm
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Canadian readers will probably be familiar with President’s Choice Candy Cane ice cream. It came out in 1995 and was immediately my favourite ice cream ever. Rich vanilla ice cream with chunks of candy cane and ribbons of hard chocolate that crackled when you scooped some out. Our whole family looked forward to eating it for dessert in December. It underwent a redesign about five years ago and hasn’t been the same since – now the ice cream is minty, there are red and green globs of candy instead of broken candy canes, and the ice cream itself isn’t as rich. I don’t have a picture of the old version, but here’s what it looks like now:

PC brand - little red paperclip

I have tweaked the recipe over the past two years until it is as creamy and crackly as I remember. It is with pride that I’m sharing it with you now… hopefully it will be a Christmas favourite with your family, too!

IMG_2558

Christmas Crackle Ice Cream

The vanilla base is modified from the French Vanilla ice cream in Hannah Kaminsky’s Vegan a la Mode, but the rest of the ideas are my own. Note that this recipe makes a large batch of ice cream – lots to share!

Ingredients:

  • 5 1/2 Tbsp Bird’s custard powder (for whiter ice cream, use half custard powder and half corn starch)
  • 1 cup soy milk or almond milk
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • pinch salt
  • 1 can gold (high-fat) coconut milk, left in a cool place to separate
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla paste, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp vodka
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, or shortening
  • 6 Tbsp chocolate chips
  • 3/4 to 1 cup of crushed green and red candy canes (red only is fine, the addition of green is just prettier to me)

Instructions:

  1. Whisk the custard powder and 1 cup of milk in a saucepan until thoroughly dissolved.
  2. Stir in the sugar.
  3. Slowly warm the mixture on low to medium heat, whisking the whole time.
  4. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring heat to medium.
  5. Add in remaining almond milk and salt.
  6. Stir until the mixture thickens.
  7. Meanwhile, scoop out fatty portion of coconut milk (should be 1 1/4 to 1 2/3 cups) and microwave for 30 seconds to soften.
  8. Once the mixture on the stove is the consistency of a light pudding, take off the heat.
  9. Stir in coconut milk and vanilla.
  10. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.
  11. Add in vodka.
  12. Cool for at least two hours, stirring occasionally to break up the “skin” that forms.  If you forget to stir, just whiz the mixture for a few seconds with an immersion blender before freezing.IMG_2533
  13. Pour the chilled mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze until the ice cream is quite stiff.
  14. Meanwhile, melt together the chocolate chips and coconut oil
  15. Add the crushed candy canes and mix in the ice cream maker for only about one minute. Adding the candy canes too early will allow them to bleed – you’ll get grey ice cream!
  16. Scoop out about half a cup of ice cream, drizzle melted chocolate in thin strings on top. Aim for thin layers!IMG_2543
  17. Repeat until all of the ice cream is used up. You’ll have a little chocolate left over.
  18. Freeze for at least two hours.

Enjoy! Merry Christmas!

ice cream closeup

 

Nephew Cookies October 12, 2013

Filed under: Recipes — Agent Minty @ 8:22 pm
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I announce that I’m back to blogging, and then what happens?

I have a string of kitchen failures: VegNews’ vegan eclairs, after two tries, still end up mediocre; tortillas that stick and burn to the pan; mock chicken noodle soup that looks unmentionably unappetizing (but tasty).

I catch a raging cold/pinkeye from my wife and am out of commission for nearly two weeks.

But I’m mostly on the mend, and nothing makes me feel better than making something in the kitchen. As it is a long weekend, I have lots of time to play. I don’t feel like inventing something new, so I’m just sharing some old favourites. Today I made cookies invented by my wife with our nephew a while back. We had little of any particular baking ingredient left, so they combined them all to make something delicious. We actually refer to these as “_____’s cookies”, but since this nephew is now a pre-teen who spends way too much time online, we’ll keep him anonymous. Anyway, these are great with a mug of tea on an autumn afternoon, or shared with young chocolate-loving relatives.

Nephew cookies

Nephew Cookies 

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

If using powdered egg replacer, take the time to really beat the mixture until frothy.
If you prefer thin, chewy cookies, use the higher amount of margarine, if you prefer softer, puffy cookies, use the lower amount.

  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup vegan margarine or butter
  • 1/2 cup firmly backed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 “egg”
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup +2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp grates nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup blanched, salted peanuts
  • 1/3 cup whole almonds
  • 2 Tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • about 1/4 cup dark chocolate melting wafers
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cream together butter and both sugars.
  3. Whisk egg well and add to butter mixture, along with vanilla. Mix well.
  4. Add in flour, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Mix well.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips, peanuts, and almonds.
  6. Drop in 2-inch mounds on a greased cookie sheet. Press a melting wafer into the centre of each cookie.
  7. Bake for 14 minutes, rotating cookie sheets halfway through.
  8. Allow cookies to firm up for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.
 

Seasonally Appropriate Pumpkin Pie September 25, 2013

Filed under: Recipes — Agent Minty @ 8:42 am
Tags: , , , , ,

This time of year, everyone starts craving pumpkin. I’ll leave pumpkin-spiked coffee for other people to rhapsodize over; I’d rather focus on pumpkin baked goods! Since Canadian Thanksgiving is two and a half weeks away, I’m trying to post a recipe with enough time in advance so that you can actually make it (Unlike Valentine’s Day and St Patrick’s Day in the past). This recipe sets like a charm – no runny filling or dry, tofu flavour. I promise that the spicy pumpkin flavour really shines in this recipe! If you plan on making this for a mixed crowd, don’t even bother telling anyone that it’s vegan, as they will never know.

Sugar-covered pumpkin pie

A few notes about substitutions:

The good news is that this can be enjoyed by people with dietary sensitivities, too – if you want it gluten-free, just use certified gluten-free cornstarch and a gluten-free or nut-based pie crust.

Over the past years, I have used almost every iteration of dairy-free milk possible, and everything works except the extremely low-fat milks. If you are using potato or rice milk, sub in a few tablespoons of coconut milk for the total “milk” volume. Or, in desperation, sub in one and a half tablespoons of neutral-flavoured oil (I have done this and it works).

Any tofu labelled “soft” will work – unsweetened, dessert tofu, or Mori-nu vacuum packed. I have not tried using traditional asian tofu or medium tofu, so I can’t vouch for the success of that substitution.

If you have a favourite combination of spices from a family recipe, go ahead and use them here instead of the ones I have recommended.

Pumkpin pie slice

Vegan Pumpkin Pie - An original recipe by Agent Minty

  • 1 prepared pie crust
  • 2 cups canned, cooked pumpkin (non seasoned), divided
  • 6.5 Tbsp (1/3 of a 300g/10oz package) of soft tofu… do not press beforehand!
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp dairy-free milk
  • 3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp arrowroot OR corn starch
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Pre-bake crust: Roll out pie crust and fit into pan. Prick all over with a fork. Cover with tin foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 10 minutes until crust is barely golden. Remove tin foil and allow to cool while finishing the filling.
  3. Readjust oven temperature to 350F
  4. Combine 1/2 cup pumpkin with the tofu in a food processor. Blend for at least 5 minutes, until the mixture is a smooth, creamy orange with no flecks of tofu. You may need to scrape down the bowl halfway through.
  5. Add the remaining pumpkin and process another minute.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients and process 2-5 minutes if smooth, scraping down the bowl if necessary.
  7. Pour into the pre-baked pie crust and smooth with the back of a spatula.
  8. Cover the entire pie with a loose sheet of tinfoil. This prevents the crust from burning or the top of the filling from getting leathery.
  9. Bake at 350F for one hour.
  10. Remove the tinfoil and increase oven temperature to 385F.
  11. Optional but nice step: brush the exposed crust with dairy-free milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  12. Bake another 15-30 minutes until the cruse is lightly browned.
  13. Allow to cool for at least one hour.
  14. Serve with Coconut Whipped Cream if desired, or decorate with powdered sugar.
 

I’m back!

Filed under: Explanation — Agent Minty @ 7:50 am

So the kitchen is done (pictures soon), and the summer of vacation and intense work in the lab has slowed down.

Time to blog again!

 

 
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