Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Quest for Guilt-Free Sweets: [Vegan] Persimmon Bread (no eggs, oil, or butter!)

What can I say, I'm a forever sweet girl... meaning I love sweets, not that I'm a crazy nice loving person (though well, if you were to say I was, I wouldn't stop you). But of course, my body, metabolism, genetics, and society all do not meaning I cannot, as much as I would like to, eat ice cream, cakes, and cookies all day every day. So I'm am on an endless quest to find healthier options for my usual sweet treats. Although today's creation is more inspired by my need to use up anything in the house before it goes bad - and in this case, it was the persimmons my mom's coworkers and friends had given her. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of persimmons. I'm not sure why but they're not my go-to fruit and I definitely wouldn't be eating them plain (I also hate papaya and I think persimmons and papaya are pretty similar but who knows).
I searched high and low on the Internet for persimmon recipes and finally decided to go with the one with the highest ratings - aka this one here from AllRecipes (my go to for almost everything I try out). One thing I especially like about AllRecipes (besides the fact that there are always such good reviews, feedback, and tips) is that you can adjust the serving size! The original recipe that I used was set to make 3 loves of bread! Since I've never made persimmon bread and I was planning on making a lot of modifications, I decided to play it safe and 1/4 the recipe to make one small loaf to test out first. (Trust me, I have a LOT more persimmon puree to use up.)
Here's what the ingredients of my modified persimmon recipe ended up as:
  • 1/2 cup persimmon pulp
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5/8 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 substitute egg (meaning 1 tablespoon flax seed + 3 tablespoons of water let to sit for 5 minutes or until it becomes a thick gooey paste)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup chopped/broken walnuts
*Note: I write ranges of measurements for the spices because I eyeballed them. All of my spices have a sprinkle top lid so I never really measure them, I just estimate. I actually put a lot more cinnamon than I was planning on adding but the end result turned out fine so I don't think it's a big deal (I know I'm a terrible baker who doesn't follow the golden rule of BE PRECISE). I think you can adjust the amount of spices you want depending on whether or not you like them. I LOVE pumpkin anything and the spices that go with it so I assumed I'd like them just the same with the persimmons. 

If you ask why I didn't use an egg, it's not because I'm allergic to them, it's more like eggs are quite expensive at the moment where I live and I'd rather save my eggs for recipes that do require it (ie. to make an egg omelette). Flax seed is really good for you and I've used it in multiple recipes and had success replacing eggs with this flax seed+water combo. I was lucky that this recipe didn't call for butter and only oil as I was able to replace the oil with applesauce. I think applesauce can be used to substitute for butter but I'm not sure and haven't tried it yet so who knows. I have, however, used applesauce in a chocolate bread recipe before and it worked perfectly also so I had faith in subbing out the oil. If you aren't feeling so daring, I saw in the reviews a lot of people used olive oil to up the health factor. For those of you wanting to go even more healthier (which yes this isn't 100% guilt free but it is closer than the original recipe), I'd try using whole wheat flour or using some flax seed (without water) in place of some of the all-purpose flour (I wouldn't recommend using flax seed for ALL the flour though). You can also use honey instead of sugar or some sort of no calorie sugar (Monkfruit anyone?).
I followed all the same steps as the original recipe with minor modifications which you'll see below.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line 6x3 inch loaf pan/glass Tupperware with parchment paper (I actually used a special half parchment paper half foil but normal parchment paper is fine I think).
  2. In a small bowl, stir together persimmon pulp and baking soda. Let stand while completing step 3 to thicken the pulp. It will become a thick jello like blob.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine sugar, applesauce, flax seed egg, spices, and salt. Blend until smooth (I actually used a spoon to mix everything because I was too lazy to grab a whisk/use my electric beater/the spoon was working fine). 
  4. Mix in persimmon pulp and flour in alternating manner. I did 1/4 cup flour, half of persimmon pulp, 1/4 cup flour, other half of persimmon pulp, 1/4 cup flour. 
  5. Add walnuts. 
  6. Pour batter into pan (up to 2/3 full)
  7. Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. (I used a conventional oven so I actually made the temperature like 345 F and took my bread out at 50 minutes.) Cool in pan for 10 minutes (I waited like 5) before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

 This bread is similar to a banana or pumpkin bread in that it's super moist. I'm not sure if I would call it dense..I guess it is but not in the heavy rich way. I think I could have baked my bread a little longer in the oven to dry it out a bit more and make it less moist (I'm not 100% sure if that would have helped but that's what the Internet suggests so I might give that a try next time I make this..which will be soon seeing how much persimmon puree I still have!) A lot of reviewers mentioned difficulty removing the bread from its pan due to the extreme moistness which is why I lined my glass loaf-shaped Tupperware with parchment paper. I didn't have to worry about cleaning the pan and literally just pulled the bread out of the pan! I let it cool on the wire rack for a good 10-15 minutes before prying the parchment paper away from the sides of the bread.
Other changes I might do for my next attempt include decreasing the sugar further (although I found the bread to be perfect in sweetness but hey, you can always have less sugar!) or using honey instead of sugar, increasing the amount of flour I used to make the cake slightly less moist, adding raisins or more walnuts, and upping the spices. I mean honestly I'm really satisfied and happy with how the bread turned out but I want to play around with the ingredients more and see what a difference it makes. Normally I don't make a recipe more than once or twice because I don't have enough ingredients or time, but really this was so easy and simple and I have so much persimmon puree, I might as well!

Anyways, that's my take on persimmon bread. I know lots of people have their own take on it so if you know a recipe you think is better and/or healthier, leave it in the comments below. Or if you even have another persimmon recipe cause.. we have SO many persimmons and puree that I don't know how many times I can make this bread before my parents get sick of it.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Disney Princess Series Nail Art: The Little Mermaid (Ariel)

I've been wanting to do the Little Mermaid for a while now but could never decide on the right design (or find one that I could feasibly do). There are a ton of wonderful mermaid inspirational nail pictures on Pinterest (which you should follow my Pinterest nail board for photo inspirations!) but some of them are too difficult to use (like how am I supposed to draw fish scales without a nail stamper?! I know you can use like.. fish net fabric and stipple nail polish over it but I didn't have that/couldn't be bothered haha). I did go onto Ebay and found some seashell jewels for super cheap and once they came, I was able to create my Little Mermaid design! It's definitely not a requirement but I think to have some sort of sea jewel like a starfish, seashell, nautical anything really... well it just helps add to the look.

Summer always seemed like the right time to do mermaid nails but I never got around to it so now in the fall it does seem my nails do look a bit little misplaced or out of season. Nevertheless, they are definitely super bright and will catch anyone's eye ;) I highly recommend you have a good strong top coat or nail adhesive so that your jewels don't fall of though. I used my standard Seche Vite topcoat without any problems.
The nail polishes I used are as follows (from left to right):
-Forever 21 Nail Polish in Red
-Barry M Nail Paint Gelly in Greenberry
-Covergirl Boundless Color in Gold Rush (discontinued)
-butter LONDON 3 Free Nail Lacquer - Marbs
I blotted on the gold nail polishes by wiping off any excess nail polish and also painting some of the gold polish on a makeup sponge and dabbing it onto my nail. If I were to redo this look I would get a thicker larger and chunkier gold glitter nail polish though as the gold glitter I have was way too fine for the look I was going for.
Well that's my nail art rant/post of the day (week? month?). I hope you guys enjoy and try to recreate it! If you do, please tag me on instagram or twitter (@creamydinner) or leave a comment below!