Honey Maple Grahams

DSC_0302Today was such a beautiful spring day, out here in Southern California, and I was elated because it is my day off. Days off just mean so much more when you can enjoy them outside in the sun. I was able to attend my favorite early morning yoga class and had a long walk on the beach trail with my mom and pup. I came home pretty hungry and began pondering that ever incessant question “What should I eat?”. After finding a few healthy snacks nearby, I felt satiated and sat down to read my book. It was then that I realized I sort of, maybe, kind of, wanted another little snack but, this time, with a little sugar. I decided this gorgeous day was calling for something special; homemade graham crackers. Graham crackers were one of my favorite snacks growing up with just the right amount of sweetness and a touch of honey they were always satisfying. I have been wanting to make some for a while now, but was yearning to make them with a healthy spin, of course. I found Smitten Kitchen’s recipe of her homemade grahams and tweaked it to fit in with what we like over here, at our honeyed home. Instead of using almost an entire stick of butter, I decided on conducting a slight experiment with these infamous crackers, and substituting for room temperature coconut oil. Coconut oil at room temperature (or any temp below 75ºF) is in a solid form, like butter.

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Extra Virgin Coconut Oil has so many incredible health benefits. It has a reputation of stimulating the thyroid therefore increasing metabolism, it is super high in caprylic acid which helps fight off disease causing bacteria, it has shown to lower cholesterol and increase weight loss, and can reduce the risk heart disease. Not to mention, the wonderful benefits coconut oil gives to the skin; helping to speed up healing on flesh wounds and deeply moisturize. Coconut oil is a staple in my pantry and I am always looking for new ways to incorporate this heart-supporting organic miracle compound in my food!

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Graham crackers are normally made with graham flour. Graham flour is a type of whole wheat flour and is composed of all parts of the wheat grain ground separately from each other. If you do not have graham flour, substitute for whole wheat and all will be well and good. I enjoy these honeyed grahams by themselves, sandwiched with homemade nutella, or, on special occasions, as a s’more. I adore the slight sweetness, the crunch, and most of all the fact that they are vegan! Healthy and homemade…a job well done.

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Honey Maple Grahams {Vegan} 

Makes about 40 crackers
(Prep time: 10 minutes, Chill time: 2.5 hours- overnight, Bake time: 15 minutes)
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Graham Crackers 
 

2 cups graham flour (or whole wheat flour)

1/2 cup rolled oats, ground into a flour

1 cup Muscovado (or packed cup brown sugar)

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp sea salt

6 TBSP extra virgin coconut oil, at room temperature (in it’s solid form)

1 TBSP ice cold water

5 TBSP organic unsweetened vanilla almond milk

2 TBSP pure vanilla extract

2 TBSP organic maple syrup

1/3 cup clover honey (use agave if vegan)

For optional topping:

3 TBSP turbinado sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1. In the bowl of the food processor, pulse rolled oats for about 2-3 minutes until oat flour is formed. Add in the whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt, and Muscovado sugar and pulse a few times until combined. Add the room temperature (solid) coconut oil and the ice cold water and pulse until a coarse meal is formed. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, honey, maple syrup, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients into the food processor and combine until a thick and sticky dough forms. Spread a piece of plastic wrap on the counter top and lightly dust with flour. Scoop the dough onto the middle of the plastic wrap and pat the dough into a rectangle about an inch in thickness. Cover with plastic wrap and place on a baking sheet and put into the fridge for 2 hours or overnight. While the dough is chilling, prepare the topping and mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.

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2. When dough has chilled, remove from the fridge, and cut the dough in half. Place half the dough back in the fridge while working with the other half. Flour the surface of the counter very well and roll out half of the dough into about an 1/8 inch thin rectangle (don’t be afraid to use extra flour here because the dough is very sticky). Cut the edges off and cut into 16 perfect squares. Place the squares on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat. Sprinkle the crackers with topping and place in freezer for 15 minutes to chill. Repeat this with the other half of the dough. Gather all the the edges and scraps, chill until firm, re-roll, and cut.

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3. Preheat the oven to 350º. Once the cut cracker dough has chilled in the freezer, poke the crackers with a fork or the blunt end of a wooden skewer to decorate them. Bake crackers for 15-18 minutes on the middle rack one sheet at a time. They should be dark golden brown and firm to the touch. Serving suggestion: spread with homemade nutella or almond butter and sandwich together or dip into your favorite milk.

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Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Spread {Homemade Nutella}

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I have to admit that eating full meals doesn’t happen often for me. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a good plate, but I would describe myself as a habitual snacker. It often happens when Kris is working and I am alone for dinner. I skip all the  fuss of preparing a meal for myself and instead satisfy my instinct and go for the pickings; something like creamy St. Andre cheese on a multigrain cracker, a super green salad with toasted almonds, or some sort of bruschetta crostinis. Now that I think of it, I think it’s the crunch of snacks that I really love. I don’t know where it began; whether it is engrained in my genes (my mother is perpetual nibbler too) or if it is just something women in general enjoy. I love small bites throughout the day, but this way of eating could be dangerous if you don’t make the right decisions on what you choose to nosh on. I often have healthy snacks in my pantry and fridge, and always have homemade stuff in jars on the counter; like this Coconut Espresso Nut Butter. I love having handcrafted versions of  my favorite kinds of spreads I grew up on as a kid, like Nutella. Who doesn’t love that creamy, sweet, chocolatey hazelnut butter on, well….anything?! It’s good stuff but to be completely honest it is really not that good for you. The store bought stuff is loaded with modified (partially hydrogenated) palm oil and the first ingredient is sugar. Now, if we are gonna be doing all this snacking we really need to stray from ingredients like that. This is why I make my own version at home, and I am fully aware of every single component I put into it. Here is the recipe for a the best tasting chocolate hazelnut butter I could come up with…and guess what? It has only 4 ingredients, it’s sweetened with natural sugars, and it’s vegan. You’re welcome.

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Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Butter {Vegan, Gluten Free, & Paleo}

(Cook time: 10 minutes, Assembly time: 10 minutes)

 

2 cups raw whole hazelnuts, roasted

1 cup 72% (or higher) dark chocolate, chopped (if vegan, use vegan dark chocolate)

1 cup organic unsweetened vanilla almond milk

4 TBSP organic honey or agave

1/2 tsp sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400º. Spread the hazelnuts on a small baking sheet and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool before putting the nuts onto a dish towel. Fold the dish towel over the nuts and rub all the skins of the hazelnuts off (not all the skins will come off, and that’s ok). Put the nuts into the bowl of the food processor and process for about 5-8 minutes or until hazelnut butter is formed.

2. Fill up a small saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add a glass bowl on top of the water, be sure the water isn’t touching the bottom of the glass bowl, and turn the heat down to a simmer. Add the chopped dark chocolate to the glass bowl and stir until melted. Remove from heat and add in the almond milk. Stir until milk and chocolate are completely combined. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

3. Add the milk & chocolate mixture to the bowl of the food processor with the hazelnut butter. Add the sea salt and honey and process for a few minutes until well combined. Pour the mixture into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to one month. Serve on toast, or dip your favorite pretzels, or better yet…eat by the spoonful! Enjoy!

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Is it just me or does this kinda looks like Pac-man?? It’s the little things…