sunshine bliss balls (vegan, dairy free, gluten free, no added sugar)

 

It’s funny, but often I get my recipe inspiration when I have an event or theme to work with. Probably because the possibilities are endless when it comes to dreaming up recipes and it’s one way of narrowing things down. LOL

I created these Sunshine Bliss Balls as I was preparing to head to Cincinnati a few weeks ago for a Bible Study Fellowhship leaders retreat. If you’re not familiar with BSF, it’s an international Bible study program and one that has been an ah-mazing resource for me and thousands of others around the world.

Anyway…

Whenever I travel away from home, I always prepare myself by packing “survival” foods because I’ve learned that most places are at a loss of how to accommodate a vegan diet in a way the stretches beyond a salad. Now, I never mind eating salads (see my last post), but when I’m paying for it, I want something more than I can easily make at home…and for much cheaper.

So I’ve learned that if I want to balance my diet, I need to supplement what is available with what I can bring.

One of the ways I do that is with snacks. Especially energy balls. Like these Sunshine Bliss Balls.

 

 

The beauty of an energy ball is they are extremely portable, typically contain a good mix of carbs, fats and protein and can satisfy a sweet tooth, snackish craving without any added sugar or empty calories.

This recipe took it’s inspiration from a date-orange slice recipe that my mom found years ago when we lived in England. I wanted to replicate the tanginess but take it in a different direction as well. Like adding fresh turmeric which is inflammatory and an antioxidant.

In these Sunshine Bliss Balls you will find:

  • dates
  • dried mango
  • dried apricots
  • unsweetened shredded coconut
  • almond butter
  • sesame seeds
  • fresh turmeric
  • orange juice

They are a little on the stickier side, so you definitely want to coat them in the unsweetened shredded coconut and keeping them in the fridge is a plus (although they can hold up at room temp). If you make them to travel, packing them in a sturdy container is essential.

Okay, ready for the recipe? Here you go!

Sunshine Bliss Balls
Total Time
10 mins
 

When you need a bright boost of macro- and micro-nutrients on the go, these Sunshine Bliss Balls are just the things.

Course: Dessert, Snack
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dried mango
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 1 cup medjool dates*
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated turmeric
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1 T sesame seeds
  • 1/16 tsp sea salt
Instructions
  1. If the mango, apricots or dates are on the dry side, briefly soak them in warm water to soften them. Drain, then add them to a food processor or strong blender along with the remaining ingredients and blend until thoroughly combined. You will scrape the bowl a few times to ensure easy mixing.

  2. Spoon out enough mixture to form 1" balls. Since the "batter" is sticky, have a bowl of water next to you to lightly dampen your hands as you roll each ball.

  3. Roll each bliss ball into unsweetened shredded coconut and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES

I highly recommend buying only dried fruit that is free from sulfur, additives and sugar.

It's best to buy Medjool dates with the pits still in them as they are more moist than the pre-pitted kind. Obviously, you'll need to remove those pits before soaking/blending. 😉

 

 

 

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • Happily, Aldi has been carrying Medjool dates lately, but you can also find them here.

 

 

 

 

rainbow brownie pizza (vegan, no added sugar, gluten free)

 

Rainbows and bright colors have been on my mind lately because here in Ohio, this time of year can be really hard. Those of you living in northern and cloudy climates who struggle with winter blues will know what I mean. #wink

Which is why the more color I see on my plate the better, like this recipe I shared last week. And this rainbow brownie pizza? It’s like a sweet reminder of the promise that summer is coming.

 

So let’s dig in, shall we?

 

To make the rainbow brownie pizza, I started with a base made from my favorite brownie recipe and spread on a generous helping of date caramel. Both recipes are free of added sugar and gluten free.

If you’re wondering why date caramel instead of the cream cheese often used on fruit pizzas, it’s because I try to avoid processed vegan products which often contain ingredients that are just as unhealthy as animal-based products. And I have yet to find a homemade cream cheese recipe that I’m happy with.

 

 

We could stop right there and I would be perfectly happy, but since this is a pizza, we need some toppings, right?

For this rainbow, I chose strawberries, mandarin oranges, pineapple, kiwi, blueberries and blackberries. Of course, if these aren’t your favorites, simply swap them out with a fruit of the same color. Easy peasy.

Regardless of the fruit you choose, I highly recommend going organic for the berries because of the high pesticide content conventional berries contain. The Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list is my favorite resource for verifying which foods I want to prioritize buying organic. And since this recipe requires only a small amount of each fruit, it won’t break the bank to make this switch.

Since we don’t have a traditional round pizza pan, I chose to make the brownie base in a 9″ cake pan, filling it only half way. If you do the same thing, either make only half the brownie batter or fill two 9″ cake pans. I personally recommend the second.

To keep things simple and added sugar free, I thinned a little of the date caramel with more unsweetened almond milk for the drizzle and sprinkled cacao nibs on top. I’m working on a chocolate sauce recipe and once it’s ready, you can bet I’ll be updating this recipe to include chocolate drizzle too!

 

Rainbow Brownie Pizza
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Cooling Time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

Chocolate, fruit and date caramel come together in this easy to assemble dessert, snack or even breakfast recipe that gets rave reviews and pleases a crowd.

Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1 Rockier Road Brownie recipe (without the topping)
  • 1 Date Caramel recipe
  • 1 package organic strawberries
  • 6-7 mandarin oranges, peeled
  • 1/2 pineapple, peeled and cored
  • 5-6 kiwi, peeled
  • 1 package blueberries
  • 1 package blackberries
Instructions
  1. Make the brownie recipe and either press onto a well-greased round pizza pan or spread batter into two 9" round cake pans well greased and lined with a circle of parchment paper on the bottom. Baking time 5-7 minutes less if spreading batter onto a pizza pan.

  2. While the base is baking, make the date caramel and prepare the fruit. Rinse the strawberries and slice in half, peel the oranges and pull apart each section. For the pineapple, cut into bite-sized wedges. Peel the kiwi and slice into rounds. Rinse the blueberries and blackberries and gently pat dry.

  3. When the base is done cooking, let it cool before spreading on the date caramel. To speed up the cooling, you can place it in the fridge.

  4. Arrange the fruit in a rainbow pattern starting with the strawberries around the outside and working your way inward with each color of fruit. Let the orange, pineapple and kiwi slices overlap slightly.

  5. For the caramel drizzle, take 1-2 tablespoons of date caramel and thin slightly with unsweetened non-dairy milk of your choice. It should be just runny enough to pour easily off a spoon and over the fruit. If desired, sprinkle with cacao nibs.

 

 

 

carrot muffins (vegan, dairy free, no added sugar)

 

Since we’re in the season of getting together and gift-giving, I want to give you a better-for-you, better-for-them muffin recipe. A carrot muffin recipe and one that is free of any added sugar and full of vitamins and make-you-feel good ingredients.

This time of year, it feels like we’re inundated with foods that are high in fats and sugars, doesn’t it? And even though muffins appear innocent, many muffin recipes have plenty of both. Especially if you add the pat of butter – vegan or no.

 

 

Why am I so passionate about this? It’s because I’ve seen how much better I feel and how much better my body functions when I keep the added sugars and even fats on the lower side. I also know how impossible it feels eat healthier when it seems like everyone else is digging into those holiday treats. I’ll be sharing much more on sugar, it’s effects and what you can do about it in the coming weeks and am excited about something I have in the works for you!

So what’s the secret to keeping these carrot muffins on the healthy side? Dates, carrots and a bit of zucchini, plus using whole grain flour. They were a big hit with my children who can be picky, so I think it’s safe to say these will be a crowd-pleaser.

Make these for breakfast, for a snack for a brunch or for someone else whom you want to love with food that loves you back. XOXO

 

(Oh, and if you want a second no-added-sugar muffin recipe, you can grab my chocolate zucchini muffin recipe here.)

carrot muffins
Prep Time
20 mins
 

Carrot muffins free from added sugar and filled only plant-based ingredients. Perfect for breakfast, brunch or a snack.

Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Snack
Servings: 12
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
Dry Ingredients
  • 1.5 cups whole grain spelt or ivory wheat flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 scooop 100% pure stevia
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp all spice
  • 1/8 tsp powdered ginger
Wet Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 small just ripe or slightly underripe banana
  • 1.5 cups almond coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup date paste
  • 1 flax egg (1 T ground flax + 2 T water)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Grease a muffin very well (coconut oil is recommended).

  2. Add the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and stir to thoroughly combine.

  3. Add walnuts to a food processor and blend until the walnuts begin to release their oils (will start to become like a paste). Add remaining ingredients EXCEPT carrots, zucchini and apple cider vinegar and blend until well combined.

  4. Pour into the bowl containing the dry ingredients and gently fold to mix.

  5. Gently stir in the carrots and zucchini until thoroughly combined and then gently stir in the apple cider vinegar. Spoon into the prepared muffin tin - adding the batter almost to the top.

  6. Place in the pre-heated oven and bake 27-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let them cool for 5-10 minutes in the tin, then loosen and move muffins to a cookie rack to finish cooling. Store in an air tight container.

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES:    If you can't find date paste, you can make your own by soaking 3/4 cup of Medjool dates in warm water for 1-2 hours and then blending until smooth. In this case, it's best to buy Medjool dates with the pits still in them and simply remove the pits just before using.          *           I highly recommend storing these muffins in the fridge if they aren't eaten after the first day. Without the added sugar plus high moisture content, they can turn moldy more quickly than you might expect. Experience is talking here.

 

 

 

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • Date paste: I usually buy mine at a local Mediterranean/middle eastern store. If you don’t have one near by, you can make your own using Medjool dates (see Recipe Notes) Happily, Aldi has been carrying Medjool dates lately, but you can also find them here.
  • I got my organic spelt flour (GMO free!) from the bulk section at Whole Foods, or you can find it here.
  • Pure stevia: It’s critical to use 100% pure stevia with no additives or fillers (see this post). I get mine at Trader Joe’s, but try the NOW BetterStevia™ Organic Zero Calorie Powdered Sweetener — 1 oz brand here. Even though it appears pricey, a little goes a looong way, and my container lasted me for several years! This link will save you $5 on your order…comment or message me if you want to know which products I stock up on to get the free shipping
  • I use Silk almond coconut milk. If you can’t find it, you could always mix half unsweetened almond milk and half full fat coconut milk.

 

 

chocolate zucchini muffins (vegan, no added sugar, dairy free, soy free)

 

I know I’ve hit on a real winner of a recipe when my husband asks for me to make it again. He’s my gold standard. Not that my other recipes aren’t equally tasty, but rather, they might not be equally tasty to people who still love to eat meat, dairy and sugar. Like my husband.

So I’m going to guess that these chocolate zucchini muffins will be safe to label as crowd-pleasers …for vegans and non-vegans, sugar addicts and sugar abstainers alike.

I honestly wasn’t sure how these would turn out and it’s been awhile since I’ve attempted baked goods because most of my past efforts weren’t good enough to try baking again. You see, when you remove the dairy and the eggs and the added sugar, the science of baking a simple muffin suddenly becomes more complicated.

That challenge makes this victory all the no-added-sugar sweeter. If you’re curious why I work to eliminate added sugar in my diet and what the heck do I mean by added sugar anyway, click here to receive a free video which explains all that.

I love these chocolate zucchini muffins because…

  • they are chocolate (hello!)
  • are sweetened only with fruit
  • contain a ‘veggie which my children normally don’t like
  • have an added plant-protein boost from the almond butter and ground flax seed
  • and just look at these delightful air bubbles when you split them open (which reminds me of the Aero bars I used to eat as a child – it’s a Canadian thing)

 

When I’ve made these, I used fresh shredded zucchini. If you’re using frozen, make sure you stir it in while it’s still frozen and get them into the oven ASAP. That way, the water naturally occurring in the zucchini won’t create a soggy mess for you.

Confession: I did add a few dairy-free chocolate chips to some of the batter which helps “bridge the gap” between traditional added sugar muffins and fruit-sweetened ones. However, I don’t think my family was any wiser when they ate the chip-free muffins, so I might leave them out altogether next time.

 

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

These chocolate zucchini muffins are sweetened entirely with fruit which makes them perfect for breakfast, but they are sweet enough for snacking or as a dessert too!

Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Servings: 12
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
Dry Ingredients
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 scoops 100% pure stevia*
Wet Ingredients
  • 1 small ripe/slightly underripe banana
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond coconut milk
  • 1 flax egg (1 T ground flax seed + 3 T water)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup date paste*
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • dairy-free chocolate chips (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F and grease your muffin tin well (coconut oil is recommended). Mix up your flax egg and set aside.

  2. In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients and mix to thoroughly combine.

  3. In a food processor or high speed blender, add all wet ingredients EXCEPT the zucchini and apple cider vinegar. Blend until well-combined and very smooth then add to the dry ingredients. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet until combined.

  4. Gently stir in the zucchini and then add the apple cider vinegar and gently mix again. Spoon into prepared muffin tins and bake for 27-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


  5. When finished baking, leave in the muffin tins for 10-15 minutes and then loosen with a knife and remove from the tin and place on a cooling rack. Store muffins in a covered container for 1-2 days refrigerated or 3-4 days refrigerated.

Recipe Notes

*Recipe Notes

  • Be sure to use 100% pure stevia
  • If you can't find date paste, you can make your own by soaking 3/4 cup of Medjool dates in warm water for 1-2 hours and then blending until smooth. In this case, it's best to buy Medjool dates with the pits still in them and simply remove the pits just before using.
  • I recommend using spelt flour and unsweetened almond coconut milk as it's why I used and results may vary with other flours or dairy-free milks although feel free to experiment
  • Unless you don't mind a slight banana flavor to these muffins, I recommend using a small perfectly ripe or just under-ripe banana.

 

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  •  Click here for my favorite food processor
  • I got my organic spelt flour (GMO free!) from the bulk section at Whole Foods, or you can find it here.
  • Target and many other grocery stores carry the unsweetened almond coconut milk, but you also can get it here.
  • Pure stevia: It’s critical to use 100% pure stevia with no additives or fillers. I get mine at Trader Joe’s, but try the NOW BetterStevia™ Organic Zero Calorie Powdered Sweetener — 1 oz brand here. Even though it appears pricey, a little goes a looong way, and my container lasted me for several years! This link will save you $5 on your order…comment or message me if you want to know which products I stock up on to get the free shipping
  • I usually buy my almond butter from Trader Joe’s, but click here for another option.
  • Date paste: I usually buy mine at a local Mediterranean/middle eastern store. If you don’t have one near by, you can make your own using Medjool dates (see Recipe Notes) Happily, Aldi has been carrying Medjool dates lately, but you can also find them here.
  • I get my chocolate chips at Trader Joe’s, but here is another kind of dairy-free chocolate chip if you aren’t near a Trader Joe’s

 

date caramel (vegan, gluten free, no added sugar)

One of the hardest things I ever did was take on a three-month sugar detox several years ago. It took me more than a year to work up the courage to see it through, but once I finished it, I knew I never wanted to go back to my sugar-seeking ways.

Except the thought of not enjoying desserts again, especially for special occasions, was a bit of downer. Thankfully, I’ve learned that kicking the added sugar habit does not mean you can never treat yo’self.

In fact, it’s the opposite with recipes like this date caramel!

This no-added sugar alternative to traditional caramel sauce has the extra benefit of plant-protein (from the almonds) and copper, magnesium, manganese, vitamin B6, niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin found in the dates. So rich and creamy but without the empty calories and energy rush…or crash. I could happily eat an entire jar in one sitting.

The key to this recipe is buying Medjool dates with the pits still in them (you’ll remove the pits before blending, of course). You may need to adjust the salt content depending on whether you’re using salted or unsalted almond butter and your personal preference (I used salted).

 

(contains affiliate links)

  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • I usually buy my almond butter from Trader Joe’s, but click here for another option.
  • Happily, Aldi has been carrying Medjool dates lately, but you can also find them here.

 

 

Date Caramel
Prep Time
10 mins
 

Rich and creamy and loaded with nutrients and plant-protein, this date caramel easily comes together to satisfy your sweet tooth, but without giving you a sugar crash.

Course: Dessert, Snack
Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup almond butter
  • 6-8 Medjool dates
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp (scant) salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Instructions
  1. Pit the dates and then add all ingredients to a food processor or high speed blender. Blend until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy, adjusting salt to taste. For a thinner sauce, add more almond milk.

Recipe Notes

Store in an airtight jar in the fridge.