Dark Chocolate Banana Bread Granola

Dark Chocolate Banana Bread Granola

Dark Chocolate Banana Bread Granola//heartofabaker.com

I was sipping wine with another blogger friend earlier in the week (Hi Erin!) and we were discussing how we just weren’t ready for this season to end.  Yes, it might be 90 degrees and humid as all get out, but I would rather be able to side on a patio in the shade than freeze my buns off scurrying into an overheated restaurant for happy hour, hands down. Of course, our discussion turned to food and we both agreed that we were just not ready to pull out the pumpkin and fall flavors quite yet, just not now at least. I know September is here and fall is knocking on our door, but I just can’t. Not yet! (more…)

Vegan Almond Joy Popcorn

Vegan Almond Joy Popcorn

Almond Joy Popcorn// heartofabaker.com

It’s popcorn week! I’m taking part in popcorn week with a bunch of other bloggers and we are doing sweet/savory/popcorn in every form. There’s a sweet giveaway at the end, so don’t forget to check that out at the bottom. Anywho, I have to admit that I kept putting this recipe off because I had no idea what to make. Did I want to go sweet? Savory? Something totally different? I thought about doing some kind of basil/garlic popcorn recipe, but as it turns out, I used all my basil when I was making a vinaigrette and accidentally also used some mint in that vinaigrette too, blegh. My mind was onto sweet popcorn recipes after that and when I realized I had a few sad almonds in my cabinets and a lot of shredded coconut, the almond joy popcorn was born!

Almond Joy Popcorn// heartofabaker.com

This is one of the easiest recipes I threw together, especially since I discovered that you can pop the popcorn in the microwave without any oil (!!) and then spread it out, top it with chocolate and go to town with chopped almonds and shredded coconut. Now, let’s talk about the microwave popping thing for a second. I discovered this method a while ago, after my dad told me about trying it out. I like the idea of making popping popcorn super fast and easy, plus a bit healthier, so I tried it out. It totally worked! But, since I was popping a bigger batch of popcorn for this recipe, I didn’t think about the fact that the plastic lid I was using to cover the bowl would be heated for so long that it might MELT. Yep, I melted a plastic lid into a bowl of popcorn and it was a total mess. Thankfully, the bowl ended up being totally fine and it all cleaned up pretty easily, but still, you’ve been warned.

Almond Joy Popcorn// heartofabaker.com

I recommend using dark chocolate here, especially since there are so few ingredients and it’s really the main sweetness factor going on. Another fair warning, watch out for un-popped kernels in your popcorn. I crunched down on a bite or two, thinking I had an almond bit, and it ended up being a kernel, ouch. I would just sift through the popcorn as you pop it, making sure you catch them all before drizzling the chocolate on top. This stores well in the freezer and would probably keep for about a week. Although, at the rate I’m going, this stuff isn’t going to make it much past the weekend!

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Vegan Almond Joy Popcorn
 
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This popcorn is a perfect snack or quick dessert! Microwave and oil free popped popcorn topped with almonds, shredded coconut and dark chocolate drizzle. (Vegan, No Bake)
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 cup dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup chopped almonds
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
Instructions
  1. In a large, microwave safe bowl, place half of the kernels and top with a plate or plastic lid. Microwave the popcorn until popped, which will depend on your microwave (Mine took 2-3 minutes). Pop the other half of the kernels and lay out all of your popped corn onto a wax lined, rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.
  2. In a small microwave safe bowl, melt together the dark chocolate and coconut oil. For me, this took about 2 minutes, but keep an eye on it! Drizzle the melted chocolate over your popcorn and sprinkle with chopped almonds and coconut. Freeze to make the chocolate drizzle solid.

 

Don’t forget to check out the giveaway below! 

 

Popcorn Week Contributors

 

Movie Night Giveaway

We’re giving away a big movie night prize pack that’s worth more than $115! See the Rafflecopter below to enter to win this amazing set. The prize pack includes:

Giveaway rules:

  1. Enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter widget below. Everyone gets a free entry! You can enter multiple times, up to 18 additional entries by following the giveaway sponsors on social media. (If you’ve followed in the past, that counts! Just enter the info as prompted.) All entries will be verified. No purchase is necessary to win.
  2. The giveaway is open until Friday, July 17, 2015 at 10 a.m. EST. One winner will be chosen at random and emailed within 48 hours. Winners must claim prize within 48 hours of initial contact. The retail value of the prize is $117. Prizes shown in the graphic are the only ones available.
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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Vegan Steel Cut Oat Banana and Dark Chocolate Muffins

Vegan Steel Cut Oat Banana and Dark Chocolate Muffins

Banana and Dark Chocolate Steel Cut Oat Muffins//heartofabaker.com

When it comes to recipe testing, my fiance can be a hard nut to crack (although sandwich cookies and layer cakes usually get the automatic thumbs up). I always know if he loves something or is just on the fence about it, because he will either be quick to exclaim ‘This is really good!’ or just keep quiet and be all ‘oh yeah it’s pretty good…’. Sometimes when he’s just so-so about a meal or dessert I get all inquisitive, like ‘What don’t you like about it?’ ‘What would make you like it more?’ and try to figure out how I can make the next batch better. These questions aren’t just because he is the main customer for food at our house, but because he is my best test subject for all my blog recipes. I know if I can appeal to him, I can appeal to almost anyone who is a little wary about vegan food.

Banana and Dark Chocolate Steel Cut Oat Muffins//heartofabaker.com

If I have doubts about a recipe, he is able to pick up on it on the spot. I didn’t think I put enough sugar in those cookies? Bang, he says they aren’t sweet enough. I’m questioning the frosting on that cake? Yep, that boy picks up on it lickety split. These muffins though? The first response as he bit into one right out of the oven was, ‘Ohh these are good, like really good!’. Winner!

Banana and Dark Chocolate Steel Cut Oat Muffins//heartofabaker.com

I always seem to buy a package of steel cut oats with the best of intentions (breakfast! So healthy!), but then remember that they not only take longer to cook than regular oats, but also can really ruin a dish if they aren’t cooked all the way through. But, the upside is that steel cut oats are super filling and versatile, once you get them cooked properly and into the right recipe. When I was thinking about muffins with steel cut oats in them, I knew I didn’t want something that started with ‘Take your pre-cooked batch of oats..’, because when you are just trying to make muffins for tomorrow’s breakfast, the last thing you want is to have to pre cook a whole batch of dang oats, right? Behold, the microwave method! I did a little Googling and found out that you can, in fact, cook steel cut oats in the microwave in just a few minute’s time, bingo! My biggest words of wisdom would be to keep an eye on the oats as they are cooking, because they tend to get crazy and boil over the top of the bowl, creating a super slimy and gross mess that no one wants to clean out of their microwave. I found the sweet spot for my oats was around 7-8 minutes, but yours may differ. Also, if you have ripe bananas, go ahead and use those, because more sweetness in a muffin really never did hurt anyone. The dark chocolate is optional and can be subbed out for your favorite chocolate chips too, it all depends on what you have on hand.  I’ve been loving a few bars of Aloha’s chocolate that Amanda sent me a few weeks ago. Go make some muffins for a mid-week breakfast, blogger tested…fiance approved!

Banana and Dark Chocolate Steel Cut Oat Muffins
 
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Steel cut oats are the perfect base for a vegan banana muffin studded with dark chocolate chunks!
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 cup cooked steel cut oats
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 bananas, ripe
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup non dairy milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chopped dark chocolate
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a muffin tin and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl with a hand mixer, blend together the cooked steel cut oats, brown sugar and bananas until smooth and creamy. On low, blend in the baking powder, baking soda, flour, apple cider vinegar, milk and vanilla extract. Stir in the chopped dark chocolate until combined.
  3. Distribute batter evenly between the muffin wells, filling each almost to the top. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until tops of the muffins are golden brown and spring back when lightly touched.

 

Vegan Almond Joy Oat Bran Granola Bars

Vegan Almond Joy Oat Bran Granola Bars

Almond Joy Oat Bran Granola Bars--heartofabaker.com

I know that the internet is all aflutter with Valentine’s Day things that are pink, heart shaped and probably have chocolate in them. So, I’m here apologizing for not giving you a dessert to make for your boo, but I brought granola bars crossed with a candy bar, so can we call it even? To be honest, Valentine’s Day always kind of sneaks up on me, since it’s in that vast expanse of winter/wishing it were spring and time just kind of seems to stand still until the snow melts (it’s going to be a longgg time until that happens).  So while I don’t have a heart shaped cake or pink dessert for you, there are ideas for chocolate desserts out there! My girl Christina has been posting chocolate recipes left and right and this cute little cake looks perfect for a quick weekend date night dessert.  But, if you are looking for a night in, baking your heart out with snacks for the upcoming week, these are your ticket!

Almond Joy Oat Bran Granola Bars--heartofabaker.com

I was out of rolled oats and had oat bran, so that’s the main reason these came to be. I wasn’t sure how the oat bran was going to work out, but it surprisingly, made for a pretty easy granola bar recipe! I will say that mine were slightly overbaked and I wish I had taken them out sooner, so keep an eye on your timer and keep checking these to make sure they don’t burn on the edges. As far as the mix-ins go, most everything can be swapped out for whatever you have on had, just made sure you keep the peanut butter and maple syrup in so they hold together after baking!

Almond Joy Oat Bran Granola Bars--heartofabaker.com

Almond Joy Oat Bran Granola Bars
 
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Vegan granola bars with a twist! Oats are replaced with oat bran, and coconut and almonds are a welcome addition to these granola bars.
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2 cups oat bran
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup chopped almonds
  • ⅓ cup shredded coconut
  • Melted chocolate, for drizzling and topping (1/3 cup chocolate chips+1 teaspoon coconut oil)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, grease an 8x8 or 9x9 pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients, except for the chocolate. Make sure the mixture is combined throughly and becomes thick and somewhat sticky. If the mixture is very dry, add a bit more maple syrup and peanut butter until it can be pressed together easily. Press the mixture into the greased pan evenly and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. After cooling and cutting, drizzle with melted chocolate.

 

5 Easy Vegan Travel Snacks

5 Easy Vegan Travel Snacks

I’ve always loved the feeling of going on a trip, no matter how far or close I’m going. The parts I do like: packing (I’m weird), planning what to eat, the hopefully nicer weather, and the snacks (duh!). Things I don’t like so much: delays, unpacking, saying goodbye to dear friends who live far away, and being hungry in an airport without snacks. One of the worst hangry (hungry/angry) situations I’ve been in is when I’ve had a flight delay and am just SO hungry. Most of the options at the airport are kind of gross or wayyy overpriced and none of the above appeal to me when I’m just hungry and want to be home or at my destination (especially is it’s a beach, hello!). I used to think that I could survive on finding something to eat at the airport or just wait to eat until I got to where I was going. But, sometimes life and delays and weather happens and I just get really testy and the only thing to solve it is a solid snack. I’m not talking a tiny bag of peanuts or a few crackers that I packed away in my bag, but a solid, honest to goodness snack or portable meal that will fill me up and make me MUCH less hungry/angry. On the other hand, it is way cheaper than paying $6 for a soft pretzel, no matter how good those are, they just aren’t worth it, am I right?

5 Easy Vegan Travel Snacks//heartofabaker.com

So let’s get down to what I normally pack into my carry-on to keep me full and happy. With a little bit of preparation, these come together pretty quickly and won’t make your seat neighbor hate you (hellllo no one wants to smell your egg/tuna/insert smelly thing here salad).

5 Easy Vegan Travel Snacks//heartofabaker.com

Roasted Chickpeas– Roasted chickpeas have become one of my favorite snacks over the past couple of years. Who knew that roasting beans would make them all crispy and addictive? These salt and vinegar chickpeas have consistently turned out for me. Some recipes don’t get all the chickpeas crispy or burn them and then I’m just disappointed I wasted a sheet full of  chickpeas. Make sure you let these cool all the way before transferring to a container or bag, or they will get mushy again and all the crispiness will be gone.

5 Easy Vegan Travel Snacks//heartofabaker.com

Oat Bran Granola Bars- (recipe coming soon!) These were born out of running out of rolled oats and needing something just a bit different rather than regular ol’ granola bars. Vegan granola bars can be tricky sometimes, since you can’t use eggs as a binder, but dates or peanut butter are perfect as a substitute! I like to individually wrap these to prevent crumbs or mess. Plus, they are a great substitute if the hotel breakfast is sketchy/sparse and you are in a pinch.

White Bean Dip with Almonds and Rosemary– This recipe is originally from 101 Cookbooks and has been a consistent winner for me as far as snacks go. The white beans, almonds and rosemary sound fancy and like they don’t really go together, but trust me, it is so so good. I like to pair these with these crackers, match made in heaven.  I know making your own crackers sounds like too much work, but it’s totally worth it.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Dough Bites– I don’t always use this exact recipe, but in form or another they involve oats, peanut butter, chocolate (duh) and other odds and ends. These are perfect for popping while waiting in line to board or a ‘tide-me-over-until-dinner’ snack. I always tend to eat these first because they are more like dessert and fill me up super quick. I mean, I’ll take a cookie any day, but these are a good travel-friendly substitute.

5 Easy Vegan Travel Snacks//heartofabaker.com

Loaded Veggie Sandwich- Again, this is more of a what I have on hand situation, rather than a real recipe. I like to grab a small baguette from Trader Joe’s to make sure the bread stands up to any spread or pesto I pair with this sandwich. Plus, it feels a little fancier so I’m not tempted to splurge on that expensive Chili’s To Go stand at the airport. I take any veggies I have on hand, roasted or raw, slice them up and build a nice, hefty sandwich with hummus, pesto or any other kind of spread. I will maybe get a bag of chips to round out the meal and to feed my potato chip addiction, but otherwise, this is a pretty good way to keep on track with meals at the airport.

Empty water bottle- Because, duh and no one wants to pay $4 for your tepid bottle of water, please and thank you. I also threw in some smoked almonds from TJ’s because those are my favorite!

There you go! Where are you traveling this year? I have a Galentine’s Day reunion coming up (if you don’t know what that is who are you and also, use this for reference), a wedding and of course, honeymoon at the end of the year! I’m sure there may be weekend trips sprinkled here and there, but those are the major ones for now. What do you pack when you travel? I’m always on board for new/more snacks!

5 Easy Vegan Travel Snacks//heartofabaker.com