Tag Archives: Vegan

Fig and Walnut Bars

I’m watching The Reader as I write this.  If you haven’t seen this movie yet (or read the book), I strongly suggest that you do so, even though it is a bit, ahem–uncomfortable at times.

Yesterday I went to a rehab hospital with my class and met several patients with different life-altering diagnoses such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, strokes, and other neurological disorders.  What really struck me is that every patient that we were introduced to were working at their therapy with positive, if not downright upbeat, attitudes.

These are patients with fairly new injuries that had a significant effect on their physical and mental functioning.  Even though the hospital was a really great one, I’m sure they’d rather be home or in their jobs like they were a few months ago than struggling to do basic tasks that only recently were so easy they were automatic.  I just can’t imagine the immense willpower it must take every day to pick oneself out of the deep sea of “why mes” and “what ifs” and just start focusing on needs to be done.

So kudos to the people who can do that–you are amazing and inspiring,

I brought some leftover fig and walnut bars for my friends and I to snack on while we were driving to and from the hospital.  They were definitely a welcome bite, since we were starving.

Fig and Walnut Bars (adapted from this recipe)

for the filling:

  • 8 oz dried figs, stems removed and cut into quarters
  • 1 T Lyle’s golden syrup (or honey)
  • 2 T water
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ground ginger

for the crust:

  • 1 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1 C old-fashioned oats
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 6 T apple butter (or applesauce)
  • 1 flax egg (1 T ground flaxseed in 3 T warm water)
  • 2 T Lyle’s golden syrup (or honey)
  • 1 C toasted walnuts, for the top

To make the filling, combine all the ingredients (figs, syrup, water, lemon juice, and spices) into a food processor and combine until roughly smooth.  If a dash more water is necessary for it to form a paste, add it.

Set aside.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a square 9″ pan with canola oil.

In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients, leaving out the toasted walnuts (to toast them, simply place them in the hot oven on a metal pan for five-eight minutes until browned).  Stir until a thick dough is formed.  You may need to add a bit more applesauce or water if it is too thick–it should be like a drop cookie dough.

Spread about three-quarters of the dough into the bottom of the pan and press it even.  Layer the fig filling on top (it should be a thin but even layer), and drop spoonfuls of the remaining oatmeal dough on top of the fig layer.  Spread the dough thinly and press the toasted walnuts into the mixture.

Bake on the middle rack for about 20 minutes, until the dough is browned.  It’s a bit difficult to tell with all the walnuts and layers, but it should be relatively firm to the touch.  Allow it to cool completely before slicing.

These are amazing–the fig center is sweet enough to make it taste like a dessert, even though the ingredients say otherwise.  With whole walnuts on top and a soft oatmeal “crust”, there are enough textures and flavors to make this a seriously satisfying snack.

A fig newton on (healthy) steroids.

I cut them into bars first, and then in half again into bites–mini snacks are just that much more appealing, don’t you think?

I’ve got a lot of school work to do this weekend, but never fear: the spring break countdown has finally begun!  On Friday, Fritz and I are headed to my parents’ house for an entire week, and I can. not. wait!

Kinda weird that I have to bring my baby tomato plants on a 6 1/2 hour drive, but a you gotta do what you gotta do.

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Filed under Desserts

Lentil Loaf

I was recently perusing one of my favorite healthy eating blogs (you guys know this: Oh She Glows, duh) and stumbled upon something Angela made called a lentil loaf–basically the healthy, vegan version of meatloaf.  Well, I’m not a vegan, but I do want to eat well, and the ingredients in this loaf just looked spectacular!  I couldn’t resist.

Plus, I’m on vacation and I have a lot of time on my hands.

I even went to the gym again today, even though I went yesterday and plan to go tomorrow, mainly because I was bored.  Hopefully that continues after school starts–tomorrow I’m starting a “Total Body Conditioning” class, and I’ll let you know how that goes.

Anyway, back to the loaf.

Walnut Lentil Loaf (slightly adapted from the Oh She Glows version)

  • 1 C dry lentils cooked in 3 C veggie, chicken, or beef broth
  • 3 T ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 C warm water
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/3 C grated carrot
  • 1/3 C grated apple
  • 1/4 C raisins
  • 3/4 C toasted walnuts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • 1/3 C whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 C bread crumbs

First, cook the lentils in the broth in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil then reduce to low, and simmer for about 45 minutes.

While doing that, toast the walnuts in a 350 degree oven for five minutes–don’t burn ’em!

Also, combine the flaxseed and water in a small bowl and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.  A weird and magical thing happens and a gooey gel forms (this is called a “flax egg”).

While the lentils are cooking, dice the onion and garlic and saute them in a large pan for a few minutes until browned.  Add the carrots and cook for another minute, then toss in the grated apple, walnuts, and raisins and finish with another two minutes, add the salt, pepper, and thyme and set aside.

Speaking of thyme, remember all the herbs from my herb garden that I hung up to dry?

There they are!  Lavender, thyme, and sage.  I love cooking with herbs that I grew and dried myself–it makes me feel like a totally independent and self-sufficient woman…even though I bought every single other ingredient.

Once the lentils are cooked and cooled, process 75% of them in a food processor until smooth (well, mine weren’t really smooth.  More like mashed).  In a large bowl, combine the lentils (processed and unprocessed), the flour, bread crumbs, and flax egg.  Mix together (man up and use your hands to get it done quickly!), and add the veggies and squish those in there too.

Line a bread pan with parchment paper so that the long sides hang over the pan.  Fill with the lentil mixture and press firmly into the pan until it is even on top. 

For the glaze, mix ketchup, balsamic vinegar, and some honey in a small bowl and spread over the top.  I didn’t measure amounts, but I hate ketchup (and love vinegar), so I can assure you that I went light on the former and heavy on the latter.

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour (I did 45 minutes this time but would go a bit longer next time for more crispness on the edges), slice, and enjoy!  We ate it with a green salad and some cardamom rice leftover from yesterday.

This was a giant success.  It was great–though I can’t imagine most meat-eaters would like it replacing their mother’s beloved beef-and-rice meatloaf.  I’ve myself have never been a fan (not just yours, Mom, but any meatloaf!), so this is a great substitution for me.  Fritz also raved about how filling it was, and was very shocked to hear all the healthy ingredients fueling him for his test tomorrow.

I love tricking Fritz with hidden extra veggies.

I think this will help prepare me for my future children.

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Filed under Entrees, Uncategorized