17 ene. 2017

Almond Butter Energy Bars

As I'm typing this new post, all wrapped up in my blanket with almost-frozen fingertips, all I can think about is enjoying a cup of thick hot chocolate and browse through all the new cookbooks I got for Christmas (my cookbook collection is HUGE)...but I promised to behave and cut back on sugar and luscious treats for a while, so I'd probably end up preparing some tea or a vegan rooibos chai latte to go with these delicious energy bars. They will surely give me the energy I need before my daily workout session and satisfy my untamed-but in process to be tamed-sweet tooth. 
These almond butter energy bars are packed with lots of super seeds like chia, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin, also with organic rolled oats (did you know they are good to help you have a good night's sleep?), a subtle touch of spicy ginger and pure maple syrup. 
I wanted to try something different from my previous energy bars recipes, which btw I've just seen that there are three different energy bar recipes on the blog apart from this new one and I love it cause now you have many options to pick the one that suits you best. All the previous ones had dates and even though the date flavor wasn't overwhelming I thought that maybe a non date-based recipe would be appreciated by all of those who are tired of seeing dates whenever they search for energy bites, bliss balls, raw treats, etc. Hey, I haven't developed any aversion to dates, in fact there's a big bag of sweet fresh medjool dates waiting for me in the fridge until I decide what kind of recipe to do with them.
Hope you are staying warm and safe during these freezing cold winter days!

Almond Butter Energy Bars
(yield: 12 small bars)

1 cup rolled oats.
1/2 cup filtered water.
1/2 cup unsweetened almond butter (or PB).
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (or agave/rice syrup).
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger.
A pinch of salt.
2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds.
2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds.
2 tablespoons dried cranberries.
1 tablespoon raw sesame seeds.
1/2 tablespoon chia seeds.
Optional: melted dark chocolate to drizzle on top.

In a medium bowl place the rolled oats and cover with the water, let it rest until all the water has been absorbed and the oats are softer. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180 º C (350 ºF) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Distribute the oats on a single layer over the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes approximately, stirring occasionally, until they are crispy and golden brown. It is important to stir them so they don't stick together nor form into clusters.
Let them cool slightly before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.
In a large mixing bowl and using a hand whisk or a big wooden spoon beat together the maple syrup, almond butter, ginger and salt. Add in the roasted oat, seeds and dried cranberries, and mix well until all ingredients are combined and a sticky granola forms.
Line a small container (or a brownie pan) with parchment paper so they lift out easily.
Press down firmly until the surface looks even and flattened, make sure the bars are really packed so they don't crumble easily.
Cover with parchment paper or plastic wrap and let firm up in the fridge for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
Remove bars from pan and cut into 12 even bars. Drizzle with dark chocolate and store in an airtight container in the fridge. If the temperature is warm and/or the bars start to fall apart store them in the freezer.

13 ene. 2017

Banana Almond Smoothie

Hey everybody I'm back! Maybe you thought that I partied way too hard on New Year's Eve and I'm still recovering or that I decided to retire to some tropical paradise...but the truth is that I've been a lazy blogger and a multi-tasking housewife at the same time. Let me explain myself: the first week after xmas I decided to go back to my workout routine, and even push myself a little bit harder because even though I didn't stop exercising during the holidays I didn't take it as seriously as I use to. Also I needed to take a break from blogging, relax and find some inspiration for this year's recipes. The second week was all about decluttering my closet once and for all, that was the perfect excuse to go sale shopping with my sister and end up with some new sweaters, a grey super soft scarf, a couple of necklaces and way too many lipsticks (I'm an addict and can't help it). Then I did a lot more cleaning because apart from my lipstick addiction I'm also a clean freak (and I can be an utter pain in the ass for those around me).
Well, the rest of the days was all about simply doing those things I haven't done in a while and I really love/help myself relax like doing my nails, catch up on my favorite tv shows and spend more time with my favorite person in the whole wide world which is my sister.
I'm sorry I haven't been active since late december but I promise I've been thinking about my favorite food bloggers and all your latest recipes are in my mail inbox, so as soon as I'm done writing this post I'm going to pay a visit to each one of them.
Enough blabbing about me, let's talk about this super healthy smoothie packed with lots of nutritious ingredients. It's creamy and spiced, a great quick breakfast and also perfect to help you get thru the day or as an afternoon snack. Personally I love it to recover after a workout because it has banana, quinoa (a powerhouse of nutrients and plant protein), almonds (healthy fats, shiny hair, good nails!) and also I like to sprinkle whatever seed and/or nut leftovers on top. For an extra kick of energy and deliciousness add 2 tablespoons of raw cacao powder (pure cocoa powder works well too) and you'll have a super nice chocolate smoothie.
Hope you are all having a great and healthy beginning of the year! I'm planning on doing more and more clean recipes, my body is need of a good detox and I'm thinking about maybe introducing some simple, easy plant-based savory recipes in the near future. What do you think?

Banana Almond Smoothie
(Yields 1 large smoothie)

1 cup rice-coconut milk.
1/2 ripe banana.
2 generous tablespoons unsweetened natural vegan yogurt.
2 tablespoons organic quinoa powder (instant quinoa).
2 tablespoons raw almonds.
1 tablespoon raw pumpkin seeds.
1 teaspoon chia seeds.
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger.
1 or 2 tablespoons agave syrup (or maple syrup), optional.
- For the chocolate flavor:
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder (or pure cocoa powder).
- For sprinkling:
Sunflower, chia and sesame seeds.
Oat flakes.
Puffed quinoa.

Blend the milk, yogurt and chopped banana in a high speed blender until the banana is completely incorporated. 
Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Stop and taste the level of sweetness, for a more sweet smoothie add a bit of agave syrup or maple syrup.
Serve immediately in a tall glass and decorate with the seeds, oat flakes and a few puffed quinoa balls.
To make the chocolate flavor simply add two tablespoons of cacao powder with the rest of the ingredients.

- You can use your favorite veggie milk. I've tried this recipe also with oat milk and it tastes as delicious.
- If you don't have or can't find organic instant quinoa use any other plant-based protein powder like pea or maca powder. I don't recommend, though, using powders like kale, wheatgrass or spirulina cause they'll mask the sweet and spiced flavor of this smoothie.
- Adjust the sweetness to your taste, it'll also depend on how ripe your banana is. Organic coconut syrup or a few drops of liquid stevia are also good alternatives to sweeten things up.

29 dic. 2016

Soft Nougat Crème Brûlée

This is it, my friends...the year is about to end and I honestly don't know how where did it go. I'm sure I'll have the exact same feeling next year while I'm typing the last recipe of 2017 but time flies and we can't do anything but making the most of it.
I'm not a big fan of New Year's Eve, don't like big crowds and all that hustle so I usually stay at home that night and keep it very low-key; but that doesn't mean I'm not going to celebrate it! It's a great excuse to plan a good feast with delicious appetizers, small bites and a classic at my home every New Year's Eve: french champagne (yup, the expensive one because you only live once) and macarons. I want the last supper of the year to be a fancy one! So is there anything more 'chic' than french champagne and macarons?! I think I was Marie Antoinette in my past life, haha.
To finish off the year in the most sweet way I bring you today another classic at Casa Gem: crème brûlée, my mom's favorite dessert. This one is a special and very personal version of the classic french dessert, the cream is mixed with soft almond nougat and it's completely dairy-free. Trust me when I say this vegan version is as good (if not better) than the original crème brûlée and the soft nougat adds a super delicious nutty flavor and a velvety texture. For those who aren't familiar to spanish soft almond nougat: the classic recipe is made with finely ground almonds and honey but to make this recipe 100 % vegan I bought one from a spanish brand that also makes vegan versions and it contains ground roasted almonds, raw cane sugar, lemon and cinnamon. It melts in your mouth, so delicious! 
This is an easy recipe that can be made in the blink of an eye, the only "but" is that you need to prepare it one day in advance so the cream sets in the fridge overnight. Other than that you'll have a great individual dessert to wow your guests and start off the new year on a sweet note. 

Happy New Year!

Receta en español aquí!

Soft Nougat Crème Brûlée
(4 to 8 servings, depending on ramekins size)

2 cups unsweetened soy milk.
1/4 cup organic light brown sugar.
200 g (7 oz) soft almond nougat.
Peel of one organic lemon.
2 cinnamon sticks.
1/3 cup cornstarch.
1/4 cup soy milk, at room temperature.
- Toppings:
Organic light brown sugar (to make the sugar crust).
Crumbled soft almond nougat.

In a medium saucepan over low-medium heat stir together the first 2 cups of soy milk, sugar, lemon peel and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, remove from the heat and discard the lemon peel and cinnamon sticks. 
Chop and crumble the soft almond nougat and add it to the lemon-infused milk. Cook over low heat and stir constantly with a wooden spatula until the nougat is completely melted and incorporated. You might need to break down some stubborn chunks of nougat with the wooden spoon to get a smooth texture. Set aside.
In a small mixing bowl stir together the cornstarch and the rest of the soy milk (1/4 cup), mix well using a fork or a small whire whisk. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the saucepan with the nougat milk and cook, over low heat, stirring constantly to prevent any curdling or lumps. Keep whisking with a silicone hand whisk until the mixture starts to thicken to a pudding-like consistency. It will take up to 5 minutes approximately.
Once the cream is thick remove from the heat immediately and let it cool completely at room temperature, covering the surface of the cream with plastic wrap as this will prevent a skin from forming on the top.
Distribute the cream evenly between the ramekins, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
When ready to serve, unwrap each ramequin and sprinkle each one with 1 teaspoon of sugar approximately, spread the sugar evenly and, using a small kitchen torch, melt the sugar to form a crispy top layer. Be careful not to burn the sugar, otherwise the caramel will has a slightly bitter flavor.
Decorate with crumbled soft almond nougat (optional), allow the crème brûlée to sit for at least 5 minutes and serve.

- This recipe yields 4 to 8 servings approximately, it will depend on the size of your ramekins.
- About the milk: I've tried this recipe with oat milk just a few days ago and got the same good results; so for those who want a soy-free version: try with oat milk! I'm pretty sure it will also work with almond milk but don't recommend using rice or coconut milk. Always sugar-free milk, this dessert is sweet enough, trust me!
- To make this recipe 100 % vegan I bought vegan soft almond nougat. However the traditional recipe calls for finely ground roasted almonds and honey, which is not a vegan ingredient. That's why you should carefully read the ingredient list when buying this type of nougat if you follow a strict vegan diet, a lot of brands use honey and egg whites to produce this nougat and only the most artisanal and gourmet brands follow the ancient recipe (ground almonds, sugar, lemon and cinnamon).