PB&J No Bake Protein Balls

pbjproteinballsLooking for a not so sweet peanut butter treat? I have it right here! They seriously taste like little PB&J’s.

What You’ll Need

1 banana- super mashed

1/2 C nut butter of your choice – I went with crunchy peanut butter.

2-3 scoops protein powder – I used vanilla pea protein.

1/2 TSP cinnamon

1 TBSP chia seed

1/4 C dried cherries, unsweetened

Combine all the ingredients well. Scoop evenly into balls. I had about 18. Stored in the fridge, they should last about a week.

Canning Apple Pie Filling

theveganfarmer.com applepieIt’s that time of year we amp up the canning and prepare for the winter. It’s apple season which means all the things apple are being canned- cider, applesauce, apple pie filling. Filling is great to have on hand to whip up a quick pie or cobbler. We host once a month family dinners and most major holiday events so lots of pies are being made. It’s also super tasty on toast, in oatmeal, and honestly, straight from the jar. We canned 15 quarts this weekend. This will last us the winter. It’s a large recipe. You’ll need to reduce it for smaller batches.

What You’ll Need

15 lbs apples, peeled and cored

13 C sugar

3 TBSP cinnamon

3/4 TSP nutmeg

6 TSP salt

3 TSP cardamom

3 C cornstarch

9 TBSP lemon juice

30 C water

In a very large pan mix the sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and 15 cups of water. Cook until dissolved. While that’s dissolving, whisk together 15 cups of water and 3 cups of cornstarch. Once the sugar mixture is dissolved, add the cornstarch mixture and stir frequently until it’s boiling, bubbly, and thick. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice.

While all that is happening, sterilize your jars in a water bath. Remove, and while hot, fill 3/4 with apples. Pour in the filling leaving 1/2 inch room at the top of each jar. Slide a knife around to rid the jars of air bubbles. Put the lids on and loosely screw on the bands. Return the quarts to the water bath. Once the water is boiling, can for 20 minutes. Remove the jars. Allow them to cool completely before removing them. Be sure to check each sealed properly before storing. Enjoy!

theveganfarmer.com applepiefilling

Black Bean, Rice, and Egg Bowl

theveganfarmer.com beansriceI’m on a serious bean kick. Black beans are by far my favorite. To add extra protein and get the kid to eat it, I added an egg. I threw this recipe together so this is just an approximation-

What You’ll Need

1 C brown rice, cooked

1/3 C black beans, cooked

1/4 onion, chopped

1 egg

1 TBSP oil

1/4 C water

1/4 red pepper, chopped

salt to taste

red pepper to taste

garlic to taste

splash of Braggs or soy sauce

In a pan, heat the oil and cook the onion for 4-5 minutes. Add everything but the egg and cook a few minutes until the rice and beans are heated. While this is happening, crack an egg into a heated, buttered (earth balance) pan. Fry to your liking. Pour the rice and beans into a bowl and top with the egg. To keep it vegan, leave the egg. Enjoy!

No Bake PB&J Bites

It’s swelteringly (totally a word) hot here the last couple of days. I don’t even want to look at my oven. What’s a girl to do when she needs a sweet treat? Make some no bake PB&J bites! These are hands down my favorite treat. The rest of the family enjoys them too.

What You’ll Need

theveganfarmer.com pbj

10 medjool dates, pitted

1/2 C raisins- or 1/4 C raisins and 1/4 C dried cherries

1/3 C peanuts

1/4 C cashews

3 TBSP creamy peanut butter

pinch of salt

Throw everything in a food processor and blend about one minute. You don’t want it to be smooth. Roll the mixture into small balls or flatten into bars and chill for about an hour. How many bites you end up with depends on who is helping make them.

theveganfarmer.com pbj2

I usually end up with 18-20. These are the perfect snack packed with protein and yum. Enjoy!

theveganfarmer.com pbj3

Canned Spiced Cherry Jam (without pectin)

theveganfarmer.com spicedcherryjamYou guyyyyysssss. This jam. It’s everything. We have a sour cherry tree in our yard. It is sour cherry season. I’ve spent the last several days arguing with the birds over how many I’m allowed to have. Seriously. An Oriole almost took my eye out this morning. Anyway, if you’ve never had jam made from sour cherries, I suggest you RUN to the nearest pick your own farm and get some. It was super easy to make.

What You’ll Need

lots of cherries. LOTS. I used about 2.5 quarts

4 cups white sugar

3 cups brown sugar

4 TBSP lemon juice



ground clove

Remove stems and pits from the cherries. This is much quicker to do if you have a cherry pitter. Throw them in a big pot with about 1/2 cup of water. Bring it to a boil then reduce and simmer for 15 minutes or so. Add the sugars, lemon juice, and spices. I don’t have measurements for the spices. Just add them in small amounts until you find the flavor you like best. At this point I took a potato masher and mashed some of the cherries. My next batch I’ll puree half before adding to the pot. Bring it back to a full boil and stir constantly for about 10 minutes. Sterilize your jars and lids. Once the jam has thickened a little, go ahead and pour it into the sterilized jars. Leave about 1/4 inch space at the top. Place lids and bands on until just tight. Lower the jars into a water bath, cover, and bring to a boil for 8 minutes. Remove the jars from the water bath and let sit for 24 hours. Test the lids to make sure they’ve sealed. Enjoy this cherry deliciousness on toast, ice cream, in oatmeal or straight from the spoon.

Free and Fun Kids Activities

theveganfarmer.com storyvilleI’m always looking for free or low cost activities to keep Emme busy. Ideally, they’re also fun and educational. I’ve compiled a list of some of the fun activities we like to do. If you’re in the Baltimore area, or your city has one of these businesses, check them out.

Lakeshore Learning Store– They offer free crafts for kids each Saturday 11am-3pm.

Home Depot– Their kids workshops are usually the first Saturday of each month. The first time you go, your child is given an apron with his or her name on it. After each project, they get a pin of that project to put on their apron. They even get a snack at the end of each workshop.

Lowe’s- This is similar to Home Depot with the exception you usually need to register your child. They fill fast.

Storyville– I’ve written about it before. We adore Storyville. We visit at least once a week. It’s a tiny village for kids 0-5. Infants have a separate gated area.

Baltimore Museum of Art– They have family drop in art workshops each Sunday 2pm-5pm.

Walter’s Museum– This is nearly free at $5 an art class. They also have free drop in art activities on Saturdays 10am-3pm.

Marshy Point Nature Center– They have Pre-K drop in nature classes on Mondays. They run on donations so please give a few dollars. The rangers are super knowledgeable and awesome with the kids.

Barnes & Noble– Story time. It varies by store so call first.

Port Discovery- They have $2 Target family nights once a month. The next one is 2/20/15 4pm-8pm.

AC Moore/Michael’s- They offer kids art workshops as well. Call your local store to find out when.

Playgrounds– Here are just a few we love- the 33rd St. Y (Stadium Place), Herring Run, Gunpowder tire park, Meadowood Regional, and Linkwood Playground.

What free, or nearly free, activities keep you busy?

Peanut Butter Fudge Dip

theveganfarmer.com fudgedipNo combination is better than chocolate and peanut butter. Since it’s snowing and gray outside, I decided to whip up a little chocolate-y pick me up. This little dip satisfies a very intense craving for sweets. It also contains a can of beans for extra fiber. So it’s healthy, right? We are eating it on animal crackers, cookies, bread, and my favorite, straight from the spoon.

What You’ll Need

1 can any type white beans- I used beans we canned from the garden

1/2 C unsweetened cocoa

4 TBSP agave syrup

1-2 TBSP peanut butter

unsweetened almond milk

dash of cinnamon

Blend it all together in a high speed blender.  You should have icing consistency dip once it’s all combined.  Add the almond milk as needed to achieve this consistency. Eat it with all the things. Enjoy!

Imaginative Play: Dress Up Area

theveganfarmer.com dressupPart of downsizing our living last year meant giving up a dedicated office. Emme and I share an office/play room that will one day also be where I home school her. I’ve worked very hard to make it a fun, imaginative, and productive space for both of us. As it’s not that big of a space, I’ve had to get really creative in how it’s used. We currently have a reading area, a writing area, and my desk. What was lacking was a dress up area.

Since she’s currently very into imaginative play, princesses, and all things frilly and twirly, a dress up area was a must. But it had to take up little space.  We have this weird section of wall that is encasing air conditioning duct work. We can’t hang anything on it that requires nails or screws for fear of puncturing the duct work. Which made it perfect for peel and stick mirrors and command strips to hold princess dresses and fairy wings. I let her decide the mirror pattern. I think she did a super job of it.  I ordered these awesome peel and stick mirrors on Amazon. They actually stick and reflect a clear image.

Once she was satisfied with the mirrors, we hung her dresses on command strips. I found that cute picnic basket at Goodwill for $3. It holds all her dress up shoes, hats, sunglasses, tiaras and wands. She absolutely loves it. It was very easy to set up and cost less than $15.

Do you share an office? If you have an actual playroom, do you have separate stations like we do?


Zucchini Nachos

theveganfarmer.com zucchininachosI love nachos. I don’t love how many calories are in nachos. I’ve come up with the perfect solution. Zucchini chips instead of tortilla chips! So good. Especially with a spicy black bean burger crumbled on top. Confession- I ate half the chips before the nachos were made.

What You’ll Need


olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Black bean burger

Daiya cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 425. Slice the zucchini and press out any excess water. Line them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Brush olive oil on top and sprinkle salt and pepper on them. Bake for 40-45 minutes, flipping halfway through. Layer them on a plate, crumble black bean burgers on top and add some Daiya cheddar. Enjoy!





December Goals & Chickpea Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

theveganfarmer.com chickpea cookiesHello, December!  My favorite time of the year is here! I’m so excited for Christmas not only because it’s my favorite, but because Emme has a full grasp this year on what it means. There is lots to do and see, but first, let’s review November and set some December goals.

I’m happy to report I completed every goal last month.  This month I’m keeping the big to do’s short.  Actually, there’s only one.  I’m making everyone give up added sugar until Christmas Eve.  I know.  I’m completely insane. BUT, the sugar has been out of control.  I feel we need to reset out palate’s and learn to appreciate real food again.  I’ll be making lots of tasty no sugar added treats to get us through.  Up first, no sugar added chickpea chocolate peanut butter cookies.  Here’s what you’ll need-

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

3/4 C natural chunky peanut butter, plus some for topping

2.5 TBSP cocoa

1/4 C date caramel- 4 dates, soaked and pitted. puree with 2 tbsp soaking water, 1 tbsp unsweetened almond milk

splash vanilla extract

2 TBSP unsweetened almond milk

1 TSP baking powder

pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease cookie sheets and set aside.  Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Use a small scoop to drop dough balls onto the cookie sheets.  Press them fairly flat and top with a bit of peanut butter.  Bake until crispy, about 20-25 minutes.  Enjoy!