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.)

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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.

 

 

green kiwi smoothie and holiday talk (vegan, dairy free, no added sugar, nut free)

 

 

One of the things I love about eating a low added sugar, plant-based diet is how much lighter it makes me feel on the inside.

I can’t remember the last time I walked away from a meal feeling sluggish and…blah. About the only time that happens is if I step outside my nutrition plan. While I do make occasional exceptions for this, after several years of eating a plant-based, diet I’m naturally motivated to stay on track because my body lets me know it is not. happy. when I don’t. (If you haven’t reached that sweet spot yet and want to, contact me here and we can talk about how, as a coach, I can help you with that).

Cue the holidays.

It’s a hard time of year, right? Especially if you’ve made a commitment to change your diet or stick to the one you’ve been on. Suddenly you’re faced with several weeks of get togethers, parties and dinners filled with decadent, indulgent foods which typically don’t exactly fit in the “good for you” category, plus an onslaught of desserts that pop up everywhere. Even eating a 100% plant-based diet doesn’t automatically mean you’re immune.

So, what to do?

While I can’t answer that for you specifically, I can tell you what’s worked for me for almost five years now. Happy dance. I’m sharing my secrets here in my “Holiday Survival Hacks for Healthy Eating” guide.

And for one of those tips, you’ll want this recipe for my green kiwi smoothie. It’s refreshing, quick and easy to make with only three ingredients. Now, that’s a cause for celebration!

 

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green kiwi smoothie

Simple to make and so refreshing with only three whole foods ingredients.

Course: Beverage
Servings: 1
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 4 kiwis, per person
  • 1/4 just-ripe banana
  • small handful organic spinach, destemmed
Instructions
  1. Peel two of the kiwis, slice and place in the freezer. Do the same for the banana. Let freeze for 30 minutes to one hour.

  2. Remove kiwis and banana from the freezer and add to a blender along with the remaining kiwis and spinach. Blend until smooth and all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Consume immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mini pumpkin pies with maple coconut whip (vegan, dairy free, nut free, added sugar free option)

 

Aren’t these the cutest? Teeny pumpkin pies just waiting to be popped into your mouth. Pumpkin pie made without any added sugars and allowing only a hint of it in the coconut whip.

Funny thing, though, until I came up with this recipe, I wasn’t a pumpkin pie fan. Never baked one. Never wanted to. It’s a texture thing.

With this recipe, the texture (thankfully) changes by pulling out the milk, eggs and sugar and replacing it with whole fruits. It also keeps the filling added sugar free which means you’re never going to regret that “one last piece.” So, yay, for a healthy makeover too!

 

 

Besides those two pumpkin pie victories, I think my biggest cause for celebration was the pastry crust. As I shared here, I’m normally a crisp person because of my pie crust struggles. But this crust came together beautifully with the combination of whole grain spelt flour and Earth Balance vegan buttery spread, plus keeping everything chilled. (BTW you’ll definitely want to come back here early Wednesday for a recipe idea using leftover pie crust dough.)

You could easily bake the pumpkin pie shells ahead of time – even freeze them a few weeks in advance – and the filling is perfect for making a day or two ahead of time to let the flavors of the spices fully develop. My personal preference is to let each person add their own dollop of coconut whip along with a dash of nutmeg, or leave it off completely.

 

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pumpkin pie-lets with maple coconut whip
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
12 mins
Total Time
42 mins
 

Made mostly added-sugar free, these mini pumpkin pies are a vegan twist on a traditional holiday recipe.

Course: Dessert
Servings: 36 mini pumpkin pies
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 2.5 cups spelt flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup vegan buttery spread, chilled
  • 1/2-2/3 cup ice water
For the filling:
  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup date paste
  • 1/2 small just ripe banana
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • scant 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • scant 1/2 tsp ginger
  • scant 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 4 scoops 100% pure stevia
  • 1 tsp vanilla
For the maple coconut whip:
  • 1 15-oz can full fat coconut milk
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup or 1/2 scoop stevia
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
Instructions
For the crust:
  1. For best results, chill the bowl, pastry blender, utensils and all ingredients for at least 30 minutes.

  2. In a medium bowl, stir together flour and salt, then use the pastry blender to cut in the butter until tiny pea-sized balls begin to form. Gradually stir in a 1/2 cup of the ice water using a metal spoon. Add more water as needed until the pastry begins to form the shape of a ball.

  3. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Before rolling out, divide the dough in half.

  4. Remove half of the dough from the fridge and on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8"-1"4 thickness. Use the lid of a wide-mouth mason jar to trace out circles for the individual pie crusts. It's best to start around the edges of the crust and then trace out the circles on the inside to maximize the use of your crust. Put scraps aside in the fridge and roll out the other half of the dough, then use remaining scraps and re-roll.

  5. Place each crust into a mini cupcake/tart pan and gently form the crust to the inside of each cup. Prick the bottom of each pie crust several times with a fork, then line top of pan with a double thickness of foil before placing in a 450 degree F oven for 8 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 4-6 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

  6. Remove from oven and remove each shell to cool on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container or freeze in a sturdy freezer-friendly container until ready to use.

For the filling:
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or high speed blender and mix until thoroughly combined. I find it helps to blend for several minutes, let it rest for a few minutes and then give it a final blending for an additional 1-2 minutes.

  2. If not filling the mini pie shells immediately, store filling in an air tight container in the fridge.

For the maple coconut whip:
  1. Chill the can of full fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight to have the cream set. Open the can and carefully drain off the liquid/remove the cream from the can.

  2. Place the cream in mixing bowl and add the maple syrup or stevia and the vanilla. Use a set of beaters or hand whisk to whip up the cream. The coconut whip can be made one day ahead of time, but you'll need to repeat the whipping process before serving.

To assemble the pie-lets:
  1. Spoon the pumpkin pie filling into each pie shell. Top with a dollop of maple coconut whip and a dash of nutmeg.

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.
  • 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’ve found the full-fat coconut milk at Whole Foods doesn’t set well and not all brands do. Thai Kitchen is one brand, however, that has pretty reliably set for me. You can get it here if you can’t find it in the Asian section of your local grocery store.

 

 

peanut butter banana milkshake (vegan, no added sugar)

pbmilkshakes Shakes and smoothies are such a “thing” these days.

(Almost) every time I see a shake or smoothie recipe posted on my favorite food blogs or on the pages of a magazine, I think, “I should try that.”

Yet, I rarely make it past this shake.100_2516It tastes rich and unwholesome but really is made from a few simple good-for-you ingredients with no dairy or sugar in sight and was inspired by this recipe over at Healthy. Happy. Life.

Enough said. With summer is in full swing and school starting in less that one month for us, I’m keeping this post short and sweet…

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peanut butter banana milkshake (dairy free, no added sugar)

Smooth and creamy, this shake is a perfect combination of salty and sweet.

Course: Beverage, Breakfast, Snack
Servings: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 banana, pre-sliced & frozen
  • 3 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • dashes cinnamon
  • 1/2-3/4 cup unsweetened, dairy-free milk
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender, starting with ½ cup of almond milk. Blend until smooth, adding more milk as needed to produce a thick but pourable shake.


Recipe Notes

I love using unsweetened almond milk for this, but suspect it would be yummy with unsweetened coconut milk too! For a peanut free version, try walnuts. To keep the recipe raw, use a raw nut butter.

lemon curd (vegan, reduced sugar)

lemon curdtextScones are one of the desserts my mum makes if company is coming for lunch or in the afternoon and usually she serves them with jam. But on occasion she would treat us to lemon curd to accompany the scones. Perhaps it is because we had it so rarely that I enjoy it so thoroughly.

Given the use of eggs and lots of sugar, lemon curd was something I didn’t think I would be eating again after switching to a plant-based diet several years ago and drastically cutting back on my sugar intake (including unrefined sugars) last year.
100_2352Lemon curd is something I associate with my mum and with England and with special occasions…which makes this a good follow up to Mother’s Day and this post.

But when my mom made a lemon meringue pie using a plant-based lemon filling, it got me thinking that perhaps it was possible to recreate a plant-based lemon curd. After doing some research and experimenting, I finally arrived at this recipe.

I was able to reduce the sugar by using white grape juice and adding less than 1/4 cup of liquid sweetener. I usually use coconut nectar since it carries a low glycemic rating, which means the body absorbs it more slowly than other forms of sugar. You can find it for a good price here at Vitacost (I recommend stocking up to save on shipping). The organic cornstarch (find it here at Abe’s Market) and coconut cream help thicken it.

lemon curdprocess
left: curd before adding coconut cream & non-dairy butter right: after adding coconut cream & non-dairy butter

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the lemon curd recipe

lemon curd (vegan, reduced sugar)

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Cook Time: 5-7 minutes

Makes: about 2.5 cups

Ingredients

  • ¾ c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Zest from one organic lemon* (optional)
  • ½ c. white grape juice
  • 3 T coconut nectar** or agave
  • 2 scoops 100% pure stevia
  • 5 T organic cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 T vegan butter
  • Cream from 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • Scant 1/8 tsp turmeric (optional)

Instructions

In a sauce pan, combine juices, zest if using, sweeteners, cornstarch and salt. Whisk constantly over high heat until mixtures begins to thicken. Don’t worry if it takes on a lumpy texture, step 2 will smooth it out!

Immediately turn off heat and whisk in butter and coconut cream until smooth.

Add turmeric for a brighter lemony color.

Cool and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes

I love this recipe because even if your mixture goes lumpy in step one, adding the coconut cream and butter and giving it a good hard whisk seems to correct it back to smooth and silky.

*It’s best to use organic lemons if you want to add the zest because of the high pesticide content in the rind, however if you’re just using the juice and organic lemons are out of your budget, regular lemons will do.

**I like using coconut nectar because of its low glycemic rating. I buy mine through Vitacost – clicking this link gives me credit to their Refer-a-Friend program.

Make sure the stevia you use is 100% pure as many stevia products have additives including added sweeteners. I get mine at Trader Joe’s and it comes with its own tiny scoop.

Organic cornstarch, while on the pricey side is best because of GMOs in nonorganic corn. You can get it through Abe’s Market, but natural foods stores also may carry it.

I use Thai Kitchen’s full fat coconut milk because the coconut cream is often already separated from the liquid. However, if the cream hasn’t consolidated on its own (you can tell by giving the can a gentle shake, refrigerate it overnight upside down.

I found adding a little turmeric enhances the visual appeal of the curd since the white grape juice and coconut nectar or agave produce a beige-colored curd.

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naturally salty sweet peanut butter banana jumblelaya (vegan, nut-free/raw option)

100_1879Sometimes, I think the best recipes are those that are cobbled together…a little of this, a little of that, nothing measured. Just a few favorite ingredients in a bowl, in a cup, on a plate. Snacking especially lends itself to improv eating.

Although my go to snack often is enough to satisfy, sometimes, I’m looking for something a little bit more…

100_1883This snack is by no means intended to approximate the traditional Cajun jambalaya in the rice-veggies-meat sense, but it does mimic the dish’s mish mash approach to pulling ingredients together.

Peanut butter + banana have long been a favorite of mine. (In my white-bread eating days, it was especially satisfying eat the pb+b on a toasted plain bagel.)

Add in naturally sweet dried coconut and raisins and the hint of cinnamon and you have an unconventional, yet satisfying snack. I usually toss all these ingredients in a bowl, but for the pictures, I used a small canning jar, because it just looks prettier.

If you have a nut allergy, substitute in sunflower seed butter. And if you prefer eating raw, use a raw nut butter. I recommend using a salted nut/seed butter as it complements the delicate sweetness of the fruit.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the salty sweet peanut butter banana jumblelaya

 Salty Sweet Peanut Butter Banana Jumblelaya

100_1878

 

 

 

1 banana per person
Raisins
Unsweetened, shredded dried coconut
Cinnamon
Salted peanut butter or nut or seed butter of choice

1. Slice bananas into a bowl, jar or mug
2. Sprinkle on cinnamon
3. Add remaining ingredients in desired quantity
4. Enjoy!

blueberry banana bread bars (gluten free option)

blueberry bars

In July and August, it’s become a family tradition to trek out to an organic blueberry farm 40 minutes from where we live. A bit of a hike, but being able to eat organic, locally grown berries almost year round makes the trip completely worth it (and the per pound savings offset the cost of gas…when you pick 13-15 lbs of berries at a time).

To help the berries last, we rinse them when we get home, pour them on a jelly roll pan, freeze, then bag them up and store them in the freezer. And save them for recipes like this…

The inspiration for these bars comes from this recipe at Oh She Glows (one of my favorite go-to sites for recipe ideas). From the first time I made them, they were an instant hit with family and friends and are a frequently requested recipe.

When making these for a crowd, I double the recipe and press it into a 15×10″ glass baking dish. Pressing the batter into a glass baking dish keeps the prep time to a minimum and it looks pretty with the blueberries sprinkled over top. If you are doubling the recipe, please see the recipe notes for a slight modification on adding and mixing the ingredients. Also, if you do not have a 15×10″ dish, try two 8×8″ glass baking dishes.

CLICK TO PRINT A PDF of the blueberry banana bread bars recipe

blueberry banana bread bars

Cook Time: 30-35 minutes

Keywords: bake food processor bread breakfast dessert snack low-sodium nut-free soy-free sugar-free vegan bananas dates oats blueberries

Ingredients

  • 2 large bananas
  • 1/2 c. date paste
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil
  • 2 c. rolled oats, gluten free if needed
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/.2 – 1 c. blueberries

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 275 degree F.

2. Add bananas, date paste and coconut oil to a food processor and blend well.

3. Add the oats, coconut, vanilla, cinnamon and baking powder and blend well.

4. Press mixture into a greased 8×8 glass baking dish, then top with blueberries, gently pressing the berries into the batter.

5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and the middle is firm, but yields slightly to the touch.

6. Cool then cut.

recipe notes:

If doubling the recipe, you will probably need to break up the steps further. Here’s what I do: First, coarsely blend all the oats and set aside in a large bowl. Then blend other ingredients per instructions above (without the oats). Next, stir the blended ingredients together with the oats in a large bowl. Continue with steps 4-6.

I think this recipe works best with ripe to slightly overripe bananas.

If you can’t find date paste (I get mine at a middle eastern market), use 1 1/4 c. pitted Medjool dates.

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