Vegan Banana Carrot Muffins

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Let me tell you why throwing something out is a trillion times worse than ripping a bandaid.

I’m a reuser. I’m a recycler. My roommates have mentioned on more than one occasion that they’re sick of drinking from jars. We…might be drinking from glasses formerly known as candle holders.

And it’s not just that.

Having three pennies in my wallet for those times when the total is $7.48 gives me probably the greatest joy in the world. The red sneakers I got seven years ago will have their comeback.

Call me weird. Call me a pack rat (Except I’m not really a pack rat because I really have very few things and I give stuff away all the time and I don’t want you to think my room is full of what you’d find on an episode of Hoarders.).

But being this way has its advantages, guys. Especially in the kitchen.

Did you know that you can save your  vegetable butts (onion skins, carrot greens, celery ends) and make some amazingly delicious broth? And brown bananas are the perfect excuse to bake something. Duh.

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Or like those times you get 67 bananas instead of just four because you want potassium something awful?

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And then you’re all “I’m gonna smash you and turn you into muffins, bananas.”

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I’m not much of a carrot eater. But when a bundle of organic ones are on sale, I have to get them, right?

While the rest of the girls are compulsive lip gloss buyers, I’m busy getting far too many vegetables.

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So, some oats are going in these. You’re lucky this round didn’t get flax seeds.

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Can I also just say that repurposing string to hold up jewelry is the best?

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So stop throwing things away. Make some broth. Something about lemonade.

Vegan Banana Carrot Muffins.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 medium bananas, mashed
1/2 carrots, grated
1/2 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup rolled oats

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas until only a few chunks remain. Add the vanilla and almond milk and mix with a fork. Whisk in the brown sugar until no clumps remain.

In a medium bowl, sift the dry ingredients. Fold into the banana mixture about half a cup at a time.

Add the oats and grated carrots, lightly folding until fully incorporated.

Put batter into muffin tins or ramekins, filling only about 3/4 of the way.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean.

Makes enough muffins for you to resist leftover Easter chocolate. For…maybe 5 more minutes.

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Sloppy Joy

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Sundays start at half past noon, when you hear the upstairs neighbors recounting last night’s shenanigans and there’s a cat frantically trying to get your attention because she’s hungry. Everyone’s craving brunch and coffee. A smoothie. Can someone just get me a glass of orange juice?

I just want a glass of orange juice so I can spend the rest of the afternoon watching football and screaming as popcorn flies off the couch. Maybe I’ll go for a run. Maybe I won’t. Okay, I’ll go for a walk.

I’ll probably, at the very least, get some face wash and deodorant during halftime and between the 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. games, I’ll throw a bunch of tempeh into a pot and sizzle some fennel.

And I’ll call it a Sloppy Joy because it’s vegan.

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You know how I love tempeh. I put it in sandwiches sometimes. It’s packed with enough fiber to last you at least three days. It’s a bunch of grains packed together. It’s a super duper food.

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It’s pretty hard to eat tempeh raw. It tastes like soft and squishy barley. Because that’s kind of what it is. But if you steam it or boil it for a little while, it softens up and resembles the consistency of ground beef. Except not really. At all.

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So so so so much garlic.

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Mince a prince!

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So many spices!

Sloppy Joys

2 8oz blocks of tempeh
1 red onion, chopped
10-12 cloves garlic, minced
2 6oz cans tomato paste
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 cups cheap beer
4 tablespoons capers, minced
4 teaspoons cumin
4 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

In a large pot, place a steam basket with the tempeh and bring about one inch of water to a boil. Steam for about 15 minutes and let the tempeh cool completely. Once it’s at room temperature, shred with a box grater and set aside.

Heat the extra virgin olive oil with the fennel seeds and chili pepper flakes in a large skillet. When the fennel begins to sizzle, add the onions and sauté until they turn translucent. Add the capers, garlic, soy sauce, beer, tomato paste and the rest of the spices and bring to a low boil before decreasing the heat to a simmer. Add the tempeh and simmer until desired consistency is reached.

Serve with warm toast or on a kaiser roll. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, or anything you so choose.

Makes about 6-8 servings.

Pumpkin Muffins with Chocolate Chips

My kitchen is a cornucopia of fibrous muffins.  I don’t know how it happened, but the counter went from zero muffins to two dozen in the blink of an eye.

The moment December hit, my neighborhood was bombarded with colorful LED lights that flicker “realistically” (because icicles naturally flicker?) in the night.  I even caved and put lights in the window.  I may even get a tree.

And every year, something in those lights trigger my eyeballs which trigger something in my belly that makes me want chocolate and peppermint and eggnog.  All day.  In my sleep.

There is a solid chocolate frog on the kitchen table.  Okay, half of one.

Whatever.  I just did 100 squats.  And these muffins are so hearty and fibrous they may as well be balls of flax and grain.

Except they taste sweet and fluffy.  And not flaxy.  And they aren’t shaped like balls at all.  And they have chocolate chips in them because I couldn’t resist.  It’s December.

I made this pumpkin pureé.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s just another leftover Halloween pumpkin, but it’s so much tastier than canned pureé.  And I’m more likely to cut my finger on a can.

If you want to make your own, just chop up the pumpkin (after scooping out the innards), cut off the skins, and boil until soft.  Whip it up in a food processor and you’re golden.

Muffins dipped in Turkish espresso?  Don’t mind if I do.

Pumpkin Muffins with Chocolate Chips.

1 cup pureéd pumpkin
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup 10-grain hot cereal or millet
1/4 cup milk

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (Optional.  But not really.)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and spices.  Add the oats and hot cereal and toss until evenly mixed.

In a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar and pumpkin pureé until smooth.  Add the oil, eggs, and vanilla extract and whisk until the oil no longer separates (about a minute).

Slowly beat in the flour mixture.  Fold in the milk until the batter is fluffy.  Lightly fold in the chocolate chips.

Line or grease 18 muffin tins, filling each cup about 3/4.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 18 muffins.