Protein-Packed Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Having had somewhat of a love affair with chickpeas my whole life, I find it odd that only relatively recently have I discovered the wonder that is chickpea flour. It’s a protein powerhouse: just one cup has 21 grams of protein. That’s about double the amount of protein found in a cup of all-purpose wheat flour and still five grams more than whole wheat flour. In addition, it also has 10 grams of dietary fiber — three times as much as all-purpose flour and just under the amount in a cup of whole wheat flour.

So when I found myself craving pumpkin and the delightful fall spices that typically accompany said squash, I decided to try adding chickpea flour to the mix. The results did not disappoint. These muffins are flavorful with a delicious, moist interior. And because the other type of flour used in these muffins is oat flour, this recipe is very easy to make gluten free (just use gluten-free oat flour or gluten-free oats to make your own oat flour!).

These muffins are low in added sweeteners, so they certainly aren’t a sickeningly sweet treat. But they make a very satisfying, guilt-free snack or breakfast. And with something this packed full of spices, I find that I like being able to taste the complexity of the flavors rather than just tasting sweetness. But if sweets are your thing, don’t hesitate to make these a little sweeter! They’ll still have all the nutrition that oats, chickpeas, pumpkin, and ginger have to offer!

Protein-Packed Pumpkin Spice MuffinsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


  • 1 flax “egg” (1 tablespoon ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons water)
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 4 tablespoons agave nectar (this recipe is designed to be low in added sweeteners. If you like sweeter muffins, try adding more agave nectar or a few tablespoons of coconut sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup almond or soy milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger (I often add even more than this because of the health benefits of ginger)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 chickpea flour or besan
  • 3/4 cup oat flour (I ground my own by putting rolled oats in the food processor)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Begin by whisking your flax egg together in a small bowl and setting it aside. Next, combine the pumpkin puree, coconut oil, agave nectar and vanilla extract in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the almond milk and spices. In a smaller bowl, combine the two flours with the baking powder, baking soda and salt, stirring well to eliminate any lumps.


Whisk the flax mixture into the wet ingredients. Follow this by slowly adding the bowl of dry ingredients. Whisk to incorporate if there are lumps.


Once the batter is mixed together, divide it among 10-12 spaces in a muffin tin. Bake 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!




Sundried Tomato & Basil Cheese Ball

Tonight is a good night. I’m so ready for the holidays this year. Thanksgiving (a.k.a. pre-Christmas) is just around the corner and I’m getting excited for holiday cheer and of course, food. Lots of it. I pulled out my Christmas decorations tonight and I’ve been wrestling with my kitty, Icarus, whose current goal in life is to tear all of the ornaments off of our tiny, artificial Christmas tree. But the struggle seems to have subsided for the time being, so I’m taking the time to finally post a recipe I’ve wanted to share for a while.

I’ve been up to a lot since the last time I posted. I started a yoga teacher training program at a nearby yoga studio, which has been fantastically fulfilling and rewarding. It’s been great to learn more about yoga history, philosophy, and practice and start to share it with students and community members through the yoga club at the university where I work.

However, I’m ashamed to admit that I have definitely not been keeping up with my goal to post once a week on the blog. I’m hoping to make a fresh start with this fantastic Sundried Tomato and Basil Cheese Ball recipe! After reading Miyoko Schinner’s “Artisan Vegan Cheese,” I’ve been tinkering around with making cheeses, and this is one that I’ve created using the techniques from her book as inspiration. It’s perfect for holiday gatherings and tastes absolutely fantastic on baguette slices or crackers. But seriously, go with the baguette if you can. Nothing beats creamy, flavorful cheese spread over slices of a delicious baguette. Whatever you do, be sure to eat this cheese!

One note for this recipe is that you will need a good food processor or high-power blender to make this cheese. I have an 11-cup Cuisinart food processor.

Sundried Tomato & Basil Cheese BallOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 1/3 cup rejuvelac (recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (oil-packed or dried)
  • 4 cubes Dorot frozen basil, equivalent to 4 teaspoons densely-packed chopped basil (I cannot recommend these fresh frozen basil cubes enough, they have transformed my life. If you don’t have these handy, I would recommend acquiring some fresh or concentrated basil and adding it to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
  • 1-2 teaspoons + 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup refined coconut oil (optional)

If you have purchased rejuvelac from the store, please skip this step. To make rejuvelac, soak 1/2 cup of whole grains, such as wheat or quinoa overnight. Next, sprout the grains in a sprouter or mason jar (I use this sprouter), rinsing multiple times a day until the grains begin to grow little shoots. At this point, place the sprouted grains in a 1 quart mason jar filled with purified water. Leave the grains soaking for approximately 24 hours, or until the water looks cloudy and smells and tastes tangy. That’s rejuvelac, folks! Put it in the fridge and it will keep for several weeks.

Now, on to the cheese. Begin by soaking the cashews for several hours or overnight. Then, process the cashews with the rejuvelac and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor. At this step, you don’t need to worry about processing the cheese until it’s completely creamy, you’ll be processing it again later, so it’s fine if the texture is slightly grainy. Next, leave the cashew mixture in a covered glass dish in a cupboard or other cool, dry place to culture for 24 to 36 hours, depending on desired sharpness.

After it has finished culturing, proces the cashew cheese with the sundried tomatoes, basil, nutritional yeast, salt and (optional) coconut oil. Be sure to only use refined coconut oil, as virgin coconut oil will impart a coconut flavor to your food. The purpose of the coconut oil is to make the cheese slightly firmer, as coconut oil solidifies nicely, but the cheese is still great without it.

Also, at this step I used the full 2 teaspoons of salt, but you may wish to start with less salt and only add as much as needed to suit your personal preferences.

From here, blend until smooth and creamy, and then form into a ball and place in a glass dish in the refrigerator for several hours, until chilled and slightly firm. If desired, top with fresh or dried basil.

Sundried Tomato and Basil CheeseFinally, spread and eat!

Sundried Tomato Basil Cheese

The Avocado Tomato Open-Face

In case you needed some toast inspiration this week, here’s a delicious open-faced sandwich that involves one of the best foods of all: avocado. Avocado is one of my all-time favorite foods, and not just because you can make guacamole out of it. It’s creamy and just has a fantastic flavor even plain. Toast is also one of my favorite foods, so spreading avocado on it is pretty much a recipe for success in my book.

This delightful little open-faced sandwich is one that my dad taught me how to make. This recipe certainly isn’t rocket science, but I hope that you can enjoy it as much as I have. Or use it as a jumping off point to make your own toasty open-faced masterpieces.

The Avocado Tomato Open-Faced Sandwich



  • 2 pieces of bread
  • 1/2 of an avocado
  • 1 small tomato
  • A pinch of salt
  • Several slices of vegan cheese (optional)




First, put two pieces of toast in the toaster. Then, slice your tomato and avocado.


Then, lay out half of the avocado slices onto a piece of toast.

Sprinkle a pinch of salt onto the avocado slices and spread them across the piece of toast.


Lay several slices of tomato on top of the toast.


At this point, you can either dig in, or, if you have it on hand, lay a few slices of vegan cheese on top of the tomato. The cheese adds a little extra deliciousness, but the fresh fruit (it’s weird that both of those are fruits, I know) is fantastic on its own. Enjoy!


Vegan Banana Bread + Baby Muffins

Tonight something happened in my household that rarely occurs: a surplus of ripe bananas. Normally, we go through bananas like water thanks to my brother, N. I decided to take advantage of this unprecedented plethora of bananas and bake a banana-themed dessert. This recipe is one of my favorites because of its simplicity, and because it lends itself so well to vegan baking. Bananas are a natural binder, which makes them an ideal replacement for eggs in baking. Also, the bananas add a really nice level of sweetness so you don’t have to go overboard with the sweetener. Oh, and did I mention that the finished product tastes fantastic? I hope you enjoy this incredibly simple recipe for healthy, delicious banana bread or muffins. (All photo credit goes to the amazing Tori Johnson).

Vegan Banana Bread + Baby Muffins

Ingredients:Vegan Banana Mini Muffins

4 ripe bananas
1 to 1 1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
1 tablespoon applesauce
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Optional: blueberries or walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350. Mash the bananas in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in the rest of the wet ingredients and mix well. Stir together the dry ingredients in a separate, smaller bowl. Mix the dry ingredients with the wet mixture. Add blueberries or walnuts, if desired. Measure into bread pans or muffin pans and bake until done (the time varies greatly depending on whether you are baking muffins or bread).

I’ve found that this recipe works best in mini bread pans or a muffin pan so the inside can bake thoroughly without the outside getting too brown. My absolute favorite thing to make with this recipe? Baby muffins. As Jim Gaffigan would say: “I’ll just have one or twelve.”