Caribbean-Style Banana Bread w/ Sweet Orange Blossom Cashew Cream

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I’ve been wanting to make this Banana Bread recipe for a few weeks, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to top it with.  I knew I wanted something creamy but what flavor….?  That was the question.  Time was ticking as my bananas were at their ripest and I didn’t want to start over with a new batch of bananas to ripen.  As you can tell, I was very determined to get the perfect topping for it.  And then it happened…that aha! moment. I was looking through a couple of cookbooks searching for a dinner recipe, when I came across Bryant Terry’s Afro-Vegan Cookbook.  Let me just say, this book is amazing.  It a cookbook bursting with African and Caribbean flavors that are vibrant, colorful…a celebration if you will of plant-based foods with a taste of tradition.  I came across Bryant’s Sweet Orange Blossom Cream and I got my a ha! moment.  It was serendipity. 

Let me just say that I love banana bread.  It is a quick and simple classic quick bread, however I wanted to zhuzh it up a bit.  Give it life.  And life I did give it.  The orange blossom cream was heavenly on top of it.  I made a few changes.  Instead of silken tofu, I used soaked cashews, thereby making a cashew cream.  I opted out of using bourbon (the original recipe) as I wanted it to be more for breakfast or a snack.  However, if you feel the need to add the bourbon (Bryant uses 1 Tablespoon), go for it.  I also used maple syrup instead of agave, but feel free to use your favorite sweetener.  The absolute best part about this recipe is the Orange Blossom Water or Orange Flower Water.  It is a clear and perfumed essence made by the distillation of fresh bitter orange blossoms.  Get a bottle and take a whiff.  You’ll want to put it in your food, put it in your favorite drinks, spray your sheets, etc.  You can find Orange Flower Water at Middle Eastern markets or buy it here.  It is used in a lot of desserts such as baklava and Mexican Wedding cakes. 



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Caribbean Style Banana Bread w/ Sweet Orange Blossom Cashew Cream//makes 1 loaf
Adapted from B. Smith's Entertaining and Cooking for Friends

¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
½ cup vegan butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ¼ cup mashed ripe banana
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Sweet Orange Blossom Cream//1 cup
Adapted from Afro-Vegan

1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours, drained, and rinsed
¼ cup agave or maple syrup
¼ cup non-dairy milk or water (I used almond milk)
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
¼ cup freshly squeezed navel orange juice
Finely grated zest of 1 navel orange
1 teaspoon orange blossom water

To prepare the frosting, place the cashews, syrup, non-dairy milk or water, salt, and extract in a high-speed blender or food processor. Blend or process until the mixture is mostly smooth; in a high-speed blender, this will be about 2 minutes once you get to high speed, and in a food processor it should take about 4 minutes, with a few breaks to scrape the bowl down. Then, with the machine running, drizzle in the coconut oil. Continue blending till the frosting is smooth and emulsified. Transfer it to an airtight container to chill for at least 2 hours. It will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.

For the banana bread, preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.  In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice.  In another large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Then fold in the flour mixture, alternating with mashed banana, yogurt, and vanilla.  Stir in the nuts.  Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool.  

The BEST Vegan Snickerdoodle Cookies

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The BEST Vegan Snickerdoodle Cookies!

As I write this post, I am on my 3rd and final (I promise) cookie of the evening.  But, what can I say?  They’re chewy, tender and bursting with cinnamon.  Snickerdoodles are my kids’ absolute favorite cookie.  And their mommy’s as well.

These cookies were much needed and much appreciated by my little ones.  School is back in session and now I have a Kindergartner and a 4th grader.  My 4th grader is in a new school, with new teachers, more homework, new class friends, did I say more homework.  While my Kindergartner can breeze through his homework, my 4th grader’s work requires patience, cheerleading, google and partnership with her teacher.  I think I’ve emailed her at least 2-3 times in the last 2 weeks to stay on point.  If you’re reading this my daughter’s awesome teacher (my daughter has told every teacher she has that I have a food blog) you rock and thank you for your patience. 

At the end of the day, making these cookies for them after a hardworking week, gave them that much needed push and assurance that mommy has got their backs.

Enjoy making these cookies and Happy Back to School!


Vegan Snickerdoodle Cookies//yield 15

Adapted from A Little Sweet Life

I omitted the vanilla sugar, coconut oil and almond extract from A Little Sweet Life’s recipe.  I added White Whole Wheat Flour for added fiber.  Feel free to add your favorite flour especially if you’re gluten-free.

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup cane sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) vegan butter (I used this Earth Balance Vegan Butter Sticks)
1 ripe banana
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup cane sugar (for coating)
½ teaspoon cinnamon (for coating)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.  Next, in a medium bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the vegan butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the mashed banana, and vanilla extract.  Mix until incorporated.  Add your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. 

To make the coating, mix your ¼ cup sugar with a ½ tablespoon cinnamon in a small bowl.  Use a teaspoon or a mini ice cream scoop to form the dough into balls.  Roll n cinnamon sugar.  Place on parchment paper linked baking sheet.  Bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Do not over bake.  They should still feel soft in the middle.  Remove from oven and let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes.  Move cookies to a cookie rack and cool completely.  Store in airtight container.



Matcha Spinach Hummus w/ Dukkah & Golden Pea Shoots

This recipe is in partnership with DōMatcha®

Hummus is one of my favorite go to lunches, weekdays and weekends.  It is the perfect food as it is loaded with protein and good fats.  It is simple to make and can be customized with the addition of squash, carrots, bell peppers, beets and so on.  This Matcha Spinach Hummus with Dukkah (more on this later) was exactly what I needed this past weekend.  It was back-to-school shopping weekend and I had a plan and I had hummus.  Much like Christmas shopping, although less erratic (I can still get parking), back to school shopping is its own level of crazy.  So, I needed a quick meal on the road to keep me focused and to not become part of the crazy.  Translation: Overwhelmed and a bit hangry. 

The recipe only requires chickpeas, tahini, spinach, garlic cloves, matcha powder, and olive oil.  I sprinkled the matcha hummus with Dukkah (pronounced DOO-kah) for extra crunch and tanginess.  Dukkah is an Egyptian condiment consisting of a mixture of herbs, nuts (usually hazelnuts) and spices.  I purchased mine from here.  You can use this as a spice crust for fish, meat, chicken, tofu and vegetables.  In other words, you can put it on everything.  And you will, once you taste it.



Matcha Hummus w/ Spinach, Dukkah & Golden Pea Shoots//serves 8

2 (15.5 oz) cans chickpeas, drained
½ cup tahini
2 cups fresh spinach
2 cloves garlic, peeled or to taste
Juice of 1 lemon, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons DōMatcha green tea
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup store bought dukkah, for sprinkling

Golden Pea Shoots (optional)
Micro Cilantro or regular cilantro

Place drained chickpeas, tahini, spinach, garlic, lemon juice, matcha powder and olive oil in a food processor. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and process mixture until smooth.  Add more olive oil as needed until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt, pepper or lemon juice.  To serve, drizzle with olive oil, dukkah, golden pea shoots and micro cilantro.