no bake chocolate mint squares (vegan, no added sugar, paleo, gluten free)

 

There are three things I have to do before I start writing a blog post: get my pictures purdied up, make sure my nails are clipped short and fix my hair in a ponytail. The pictures are essential. The other two? Just a couple quirks that minimize distractions for me. LOL

Now that those are out of the way, let’s chat about these no bake chocolate mint squares.

They are a minty take on a couple of recipes I frequently use for desserts and are fast and simple to whip up. The only downside, perhaps, is waiting a couple of hours for them to set in the fridge. Which is why it’s always a good idea to leave a little bit of the mousse filling in the food processor bowl.

Here are the stats on these no bake chocolate mint squares:

  • chocolatey
  • minty
  • vegan
  • gluten free
  • paleo option
  • raw option
  • no added sugar
  • plant protein
  • higher in fat (thanks to the avocado, coconut milk and nuts)

 

I’m giving you two options for the finished look: naked…

 

 

 

…and fancy.

 

Truthfully, I often go the low-key route and let the taste of these squares do all the talking (especially if I’m in a hurry), but occasionally it’s fun to dress things up a little, especially if you’re bringing these along to a friend’s house or potluck.

To make the fancy version, be sure to follow the steps in the instructions carefully which will save you time and ingredients. Trust me on this one.

If you use peppermint essential oil (like I did), make sure it is a high quality one and approved for internal consumption. My favorite brand is by Young Living with the extra bonus of being able to support my friend in her business. If you use peppermint extract, you’ll need more than the EO since it isn’t as strong.

Now for the recipe, shall we?

 

No bake chocolate mint squares
Prep Time
10 mins
Chil Time
2 hrs
 

These vegan chocolately minty squares are easy to make, free of added sugars and can be suited to a gluten free and paleo diet.

Course: Dessert, Snack
Servings: 16 squares
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
For the base:
  • 1 cup almonds (raw if preferred)
  • 3/4 cup date paste*
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 scoops 100% pure powdered stevia
For the filling:
  • 1 just ripe avocado
  • 1 15 oz can full fat coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup date paste*
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 scoops 100% pure powdered stevia
  • 2 T peanut butter (or almond butter for paleo)
For the green drizzle:
  • 1/4 cup reserved avocado/coconut mixture (see instructions)
  • 2-3 pinches 100% pure powdered stevia
  • 1-2 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 1/8-1/16 tsp matcha
For the chocolate drizzle:
  • 1/4 cup reserved chocolate mixture (see instructions)
  • 3 tsp unsweetened almond milk
  • cacoa nibs (optional)
Instructions
For the base:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and mix until the nuts are chopped fine and the ingredients just hold together when pinched between your fingers. Be careful not to over mix as the nuts will release their oils.

  2. Pour into an 8x8 glass baking dish and press down firmly and evenly to form the base. Set aside.

For the filling:
  1. Add the coconut milk and avocado to a clean food processor bowl and mix until smooth. If making the fancy version of the squares remove 1/4 of the mixture, add to a clean jar and set aside.

  2. Add remaining filling ingredients to the processor and blend until smooth, scraping down the bowl a couple of times. If making the fancy version, remove 1/4 cup of the chocolate mixture, add to a clean jar and set aside.

  3. Pour filling over the base, cover with foil and chill in the fridge for at least two hours to set. Cut into 16 squares and serve. Store in the fridge for up to two days (if they last that long 😉 )

For the fancy version of the squares:
  1. Combine all green drizzle ingredients and mix thoroughly. Cover the jar with the lid and chill until ready to decorate the squares.

  2. Thin the reserved 1/4 cup of chocolate mixture with almond milk. Cover the jar with the lid and chill until ready to decorate the squares.

  3. Once the squares are chilled and set, pour the green drizzle into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. Alternatively, you can use a plastic sandwich bag by spooning in the mixture, sealing and cutting off a tiny corner of the bag. Drizzle over the squares in a loose zigzag pattern.

  4. Repeat for the chocolate drizzle using a clean bag. If desired, sprinkle cacao nibs over the squares.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

(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.
  • 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

vegan nanaimo bars (no added sugar, no bake, paleo, gluten free)

 

Last week I shared with you a no-added sugar brownie recipe that is a certified crowd please. Today I’m sharing one of my childhood favorites at Christmas time – naniamo bars. They are a Canadian thing that should take the world by storm and are named after Nanaimo, British Columbia which is on Vancouver Island. BTW…Vancouver and Vancouver Island are two must see destinations if you like to travel. But I digress…

These vegan nanaimo bars almost brought me to tears. The first time because I nailed the recipe which doesn’t always happen. The second time because I rushed the chilling process and they turned into a gooey mess when I wanted to photograph them (I forgot the first time). These pictures were my third time making and you can better believe I was praying hard they would turn out. They did. #happydance

The original nanaimo bar recipe is packed with sugar and dairy, so cue the makeover team (me) to turn them into no added sugar, vegan nanaimo bars. Which are paleo-friendly and gluten free to boot.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

 

The base: Regular nanaimo bars have a cookie-crumb base layer. This was the easiest layer to duplicate for the vegan, no added sugar option thanks to dates, almonds and coconut.

The custard layer: The traditional recipe is a custard flavor icing so it’s packed with sugar and dairy. This was the hardest layer to replicate for these vegan nanaimo bars but with a few savvy substitutions and a prayer, it turned out better than I anticipated. Yeah for a recipe win!

The top layer: Instead of melting chocolate and drizzling it over top, I chose to whip up a no-added sugar version that doesn’t harden like in the traditional recipe but gives you creamy chocolate goodness to sink your teeth into.

 

 

Even though these vegan nanaimo bars sound complicated and involved because of the three layers, they are incredibly easy to make and require zero baking. The only thing that’s really required beyond a food processor and blender is a little patience while they chill.

Like the brownies, you will get this VIP vegan nanaimo bars recipe when you become one of my newsletter friends. It’s free, of course, and not only does signing up get you extra special recipes like this one, it also saves you time by dropping new recipes right in your inbox!

Ready to get your vegan nanaimo bars recipe game on? Unlock it by clicking the picture below.

 

 

rockier road vegan brownies (no added sugar)

 

Sometimes getting a recipe just right takes awhile. Sometimes the results are only good for the garbage (yeah, that bad). And sometimes they are an unexpected blessing. This last result is exactly what happened here.

I can’t remember exactly what I was going for when I first mixed this rockier road vegan brownies recipe up. I think it might have been chocolate cookies. Anyway, whatever it was, it just didn’t happen.

Except the results were exactly what I was going for in an chocolately fudgey vegan brownie recipe. Whooop, whooop! Then inspired by another recipe I saw in a vegan cookbook, I tossed on some chopped almonds and cacao nibs. Voila! Rockier road vegan brownies.

Why rockier road?

Because in the name of all things no-added-sugar, I left out the marshmallows. See? The road just got rockier. I honestly don’t think you’ll miss that pop of sugar, though, and I’ve shared this with enough people to know you won’t hear any complaining.

The recipe for these rockier road vegan brownies is a VIP recipe which you can snag when you sign up for my newsletter here (or click the image below). I’m also including the photos for how I packaged these to give as a gift along with gift tag labels.

Let’s spread a little no-added-sugar plant-based food joy, shall we?

 

 

snack to school week: apples + date caramel (vegan, no added sugar)

(Subscribe to my newsletter here so you don’t miss a Snack to School Week – or any – recipe!)

 

The other week I shared this recipe for date caramel. This week, I’m sharing it again; this time with the quintessential back to school fruit: apples.

My personal favorites are granny smiths because their tartness is a perfect complement to the natural sweetness of the date caramel. Organic apples are best since conventional apples rank #4 on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list. (Hint: to have quick access to this list, download their Dirty Dozen app to your phone!)

And on that sweetness…there is no added sugar in this date caramel. It’s sweetened entirely by the sugars which naturally occur in the dried Medjool dates (which are the best choice for this recipe).

Funnily enough though, my youngest thought it was “too sweet.” I’m still scratching my head over this one since he happily eats candy and drinks pop whenever he can despite my best efforts to squash that. LOL Which just goes to show even “kid friendly” recipes aren’t foolproof as I shared on Day One of Snack to School Week.

I love this recipe because its:

  • easy to prepare
  • fun
  • packed full of nutrients
  • smooth and creamy
  • a better way to appease that sweet tooth
  • versatile

If you’re sending the apples to school, try squeezing a little lemon juice over them to keep them from turning brown.

Only one more day to go in the 2017 edition of Snack to School Week. Come back tomorrow for my roundup of other amazing school snack ideas!

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.

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

  • 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.

 

snack to school week: trail mix

(Subscribe to my newsletter here so you don’t miss a Snack to School Week – or any – recipe!)

Today my children started back to school; it’s a day I’ve been looking forward to for weeks. Not just because we’re (okay, I’m) ready to get back on a more structured schedule, but because I’ve been dreaming up recipes and planning posts to share for “Snack to School Week” here on Wildberry Press! Yipee!

Before we jump into today’s recipe, a little disclaimer…while I hope these recipes will please those little palettes – and your too! – I won’t use the label “kid friendly.” I’ve been down that road enough times to know there is always at least one child who refuses to eat “kid friendly” foods. I don’t know about you, but that has always left me feeling a) I was scammed by the recipe creators or b) my child isn’t normal. Neither of which is true; it’s just life. 😉 Instead, I’m sharing recipes that are generally crowd pleasers and have been given the thumbs up by most of my brood.

Like this trail mix.

Though it’s tempting to buy pre-made trail mixes in the stores, I have yet to find one that doesn’t contain an unnecessary amount of added sugar, preservatives and/or food dyes. So for the longest time, I’ve made up my own mixes.

Back when my children were little and I hadn’t curbed my sugar intake LOL I used to make this version all the time and I had to share it because of the secret I discovered in getting them to eat all the trail mix and not just picking out the chocolate chips.

Want to know what it is?

Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and pop it in a warm oven like 200 degrees F) for at least 15-20 minutes.

 

Then simply stir until all the pieces are coated in chocolate, pour onto a jelly roll pan and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. And voila! Trail mix with chocolate that can’t be picked out.

The other thing I love about this recipe is the ability to customize it to different tastes and control the sugar content (or eliminate all together if you’ve cut back on sugar like me).

To keep it vegan, look for dairy-free chocolate chips. If you’re sending this to nut-free school, check if seeds, like pumpkin and sunflower, are allowed instead or eliminate them all together.

 

 

 

 

 

(contains affiliate links)

  • Buying nuts in bulk is cheapest. I get mine at BJs, but you also can find them here
  • I buy Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels (also at BJ’s), which you can find 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
  • I prefer using apple juice sweetened cranberries which I find in the bulk section at Whole Foods, but you also can find them here
  • I also get my raw pumpkin seeds in the Whole Foods bulk section, but they also can be purchased here.

 

Get all the Snack to School Week recipes and other plant-based inspiration delivered right to your inbox, by subscribing to my newsletter here.

 

Trail Mix
Prep Time
35 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

Easily cutomizable and free of the excessive added sugars, preservatives and/or food dyes commonly found in store-bought trail mixes. 

Course: Snack
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • almonds
  • mini pretzels
  • raw pumpkin seeds
  • raisins
  • dried cranberries
  • dairy free chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Place in a warm oven (around 200 degrees F) for 15-20 minutes or until the chocolate chips are soft and melty. Pour the mixture onto a jelly roll pan and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until the chocolate has firmed up. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe Notes
  • Using apple juice sweetened cranberries lowers the added sugar content
  • Try different combinations of nuts and seeds and dried fruits. 

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.

chocolate mousse cake (vegan, sugar free, gluten free, paleo)

mousse cake

I’m not really sure if “cake” is the right work to describe this dessert. Pie doesn’t really fit either, although this does have a crust. But after doing some research to see if there was a more fitting name for this confection and turning up nada, I’m running with cake. Food people, if I’ve missed named this dessert, please let me know. I’m all ears.

Ever since radically reducing my sugar intake a couple of years (and more on this to come next week), I’ve tried to stick to desserts that use mostly fruit to sweeten them. After seeing similar concoction around the Web, I knew I had to try my hand at my own version.

mousse cake steps

This recipe combines the recipe for my dark chocolate pudding mousse with an almond-coconut-chocolate crust sweetened only with date paste. If you want more “cake,” then double the recipe for the pudding.

The best part? You won’t regret eating a second, or third, piece. It’s a cake that will make your taste buds and your body sing – even if it’s not made for a birthday. 😉

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the Chocolate Mousse Cake recipe

chocolate mousse cake

Prep Time: 20-25 minutes

Serves: 8-10

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 1 c. whole almonds
  • ½ c. date paste
  • ½ c. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ c. unsweetened cocoa powder

For the Mousse

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • ¾ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ c. date paste
  • 1- 14.5 oz can full fat coconut milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 scoops 100% pure stevia
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 T almond butter

Instructions

Combine all crust ingredients in a food processor and blend until the mixture begins to hold together.

Press the crust mixture in a springform pan, packing down tightly,

Combine mousse ingredients in a food processor, scraping down the sides a couple of times, and blend until smooth. You may need to do this in two separate batches if doubling the mousse.

Spread mousse over crust and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Recipe Notes

Double the ingredients for the mousse layer if a higher cake is desired.

Make sure you buy 100% PURE stevia – it should come with its own very tiny scoop. I get mine at Trader Joe’s.

Buy fair trade cocoa powder, if possible

For a raw food dessert, be sure to use raw almonds and almond butter.

Powered by Recipage

raisins & almonds

raisins and almonds

Little did I know when I learning to play “Raisins and Almonds” on the piano as a child, that it would become one of my favorite snacks. Mostly I was puzzled by the title and the lyrics and wondered why a child was comforted by their mother singing about raisins and almonds.

Now I understand.

Trying to eat a mainly whole foods, plant-based diet that is low on carbs and sugars rules out a lot of mainstream snack options.

Raisins + almonds to the rescue.

If I was into superheros they would be my Batman + Robin… a dynamic duo teaming up to battle hunger pangs and snack attacks. (Living in a house with three men-in-training and their father is rubbing off on me. – grin -)

my men

And the recipe? So simple. Grab one handful of raisins and balance it with a handful of almonds.

Seriously, though, when you are changing your diet, finding your healthy “go to” item is a key to staying on track. Especially when traveling and being around others who generally eat the foods you are trying to avoid.

100_0675

The keys to a successful go to snack are:

  • quick and easy to prepare
  • portable
  • satisfying
  • enjoyable to eat
  • positively supports your diet (e.g.  raisins are rich in iron, almonds in calcium and protein)

  So, What is your go to snack?