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.

 

 

 

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  • 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.

 

 

basic vegetable stock (vegan, sodium free, soy free)

Besides creating healthy yummy recipes, there are two things I love to do that go along with creating healthy yummy recipes: finding ways to save money and reducing waste.

This basic vegetable stock manages all three.

How? Glad you asked.

The genius of this vegetable stock is it’s simplicity…just save your scraps of onion, garlic, carrot, celery and wilted bits of fresh herbs, freeze them, then turn them into a flavorful stock. No hard and fast recipe needed, but here are a few helpful tips:

  • A higher ratio of onions and garlic will produce a more savory stock; carrots and celery one with a sweeter overtone.
  • It’s possible to include members from the brassica family (e.g. kale stems, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, etc.) but I personally don’t recommend it since they carry strong, and sometimes, bitter, flavors.
  • To keep your sodium levels in check, I prefer leaving out the salt in the stock. However, I would add freshly ground pepper or a up to a teaspoon of whole peppercorns. A few pinches of turmeric also works.
  • When you’re first getting in the habit of doing this, leave a designated veggie scrap container on your counter or even write yourself a reminder…there have been countless times when I meant to save my scraps only to toss them in the garbage out of forgetfulness.
  • I store my scraps in a designated bag (I reuse cereal box liners for this!) in our freezer and pull them out when I have enough for a large pot.
  • I usually freeze my stock in mason jars, but if you like sauteing with veggie stock (a much better option than oil…although I just use plain water), use an ice cube tray to produce convenient small portions.

 

There you have it…in one large stock pot, you have a flavorful base for soups and stews, get a bigger bang for your buck by using food parts normally pitched directly in the garbage, save money on buying pre-made stock and spare the landfill more container garbage. It kind of feels like being a superhero. But with an apron instead of a cape.

Last thing…in case you’re wondering if I do this all the time? No. Right now I try for once a month because sometimes life is just too busy or I don’t have enough scraps saved to make the stock needed in a recipe. For me, it’s about doing the best that I can…and keeping an emergency container of store bought sodium-free stock in my pantry for all those other times,

Penny-saving Basic Vegetable Stock
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

A simple stock to flavor your recipes and get extra mileage out of your vegetable scraps.

Ingredients
  • onion scraps
  • garlic scraps
  • celery scraps
  • carrot scraps
  • wilted herbs
  • peppercorns or freshly ground pepper
  • 2-3 pinches turmeric (optional)
Instructions
  1. Collect enough vegetable scraps to fill at least one half of a large stock pot. Fill the pot with water up to about 2-3 inches below the pot rim. Add pepper corns and turmeric, if using. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 35-45 minutes or until all the vegetables are very tender.

  2. Place a vegetable colander over a second large pot or stock pot and carefully pour the cooked vegetable stock into the colander, making sure the stock is collecting in the pot below (and not running down the sides - it happens!).

  3. Either use immediately in a recipe or let cool completely before transferring into mason jars, ice cube trays or other storage containers.

  4. Freeze and use within 2-3 months.

 

 

 

roasted carrot coconut ginger soup (vegan, dairy free, gluten free, soy free)

This roasted carrot coconut ginger soup absolutely hollers “fall” doesn’t it?

The bright orange color. The roasted root vegetables. The richness of the coconut milk and comforting heat of the ginger. Then add a sprinkle of spicy sweet pumpkin seeds and this is a meal and the sings. The inspiration for this soup came from similar versions I’ve seen in stores. But my version comes without the added oils that most store-bought varieties include and cutting back on added oils = a healthier you.

There are two extremely important lessons I learned when making the soup: 1) peel the carrots before roasting them. I merely scrubbed them to leave the nutrient-rich skin in tact, but found it gave a bitter overtone to the soup.

 

 

2) Be extremely careful if you puree hot soup in a blender. I overfilled mine to “speed up” the blending step which resulted in a big mess and a couple burns on my skin. Yep. Big time blender fail.

 

 

Also, when I made this soup, I pureed the roasted carrots, onions and ginger with the coconut milk and then put in my stock pot along with the water, seasonings and lentils.

 

However, you could try adding everything to the stock pot, bringing it to a boil, then simmering for at least 30 minutes before blending it. Doing it this way would save you an extra step.

If you want to serve your soup with the spicy sweet pumpkin seeds – something I highly recommend! – you can get that recipe when you purchase a copy of the Perk Up Your Pantry – Fall edition recipe ebook. Not only does it include the spicy sweet pumpkin seeds, but you’ll get:

  • 5 essential sauce recipes
  • 5 essential snack recipes
  • 5 easy main dish recipes
  • 3 fall-inspired bonus recipes
  • A shopping list of all ingredients

PLUS you’ll receive two bonus items: a meal prep tip sheet and a meal plan tip sheet which includes a suggested meal plan featuring the recipe in the Fall Perk Up Your Pantry recipe book. All for only $8! Click here to buy it now.

 

 

roasted carrot coconut ginger soup
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 15 mins
Total Time
1 hr 30 mins
 

A soup that absolutely hollers, "fall." From it's bright orange color, warming heat and rich creaminess, it a perfect recipe to celebrate the season.

Course: Main Course, Soup
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 8-10 medium carrots, peeled, cut in half
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 14-oz can full fall coconut milk
  • 1/5-2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup red lentils, well rinsed
  • 4 cups water
Instructions
  1. Place carrots cut side down on a lightly greased baking sheet (avocado oil recommended) or one lined with parchment paper along with onions and garlic. Roast in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until carrots get a slight char on their cut sides.

  2. Remove from oven and add all ingredients to a stock pot, bring water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until lentils are cooked and carrots are very soft.

  3. Using a blender stick or traditional blender, carefully puree soup until very thick and smooth. Serve immediately or store in fridge for a day or two to let flavors further develop.

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES:  Serve with spicy sweet pumpkin seeds for a fun twist and added crunch (in place of crackers)

 

 

 

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  • You should be able to find canned full-fat coconut milk in most grocery stores. I buy either the Thai Kitchen brand or Whole Foods 365 coconut milk (which is better since their cans are BPA free!). However, if you can’t find it, try here.
  • I get my red lentils in bulk from Whole Foods, but you also can find them here.

minestrone soup with sesame parmesan (vegan, dairy free, soy free)

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With fall officially peeking around the corner and an early chill in the air – at least around here – I’m starting to crave  warm, comforting foods. Especially big pots of them for plenty of leftovers which matches with our busier back-to-school schedule. Like this minestrone soup.

I first came across this minestrone soup recipe in this cook book while I was trying to find more veggie-based recipes but before I went all in with a plant-based diet. It’s been a favorite of mine ever since.

One of the things I love about it is the subtle addition of zucchini. This is key when your garden produces monster-sized ones because you forgot to pick it (ahem). And when you are more of a zucchini liker than zucchini lovers. And in case you didn’t catch it, here’s a zucchini recipe I shared last week. The other thing I love is the use of rosemary – an herb I thought was a strange addition at first, but it definitely makes this soup sing.

 

I’ll warn you that although this minestrone soup is more labor intensive than many of my other soup recipes (like this one and this one), it’s completely worth it because of the quantity it makes and how well it freezes. If you have children who are able to handle a knife, have them help you with the chopping. Even a young child could help break the frozen green beans or help with the lettuce spinner for the spinach.

The original recipe called for using parmesan cheese. Since this wouldn’t fly for a vegan recipe, I whipped up some sesame seed parmesan which can be sprinkled on or stirred in (which also happens to boost the calcium and protein as well!). For those of you watching your fat intake (especially due to heart disease), you’ll be happy to know the soup is made without any oil and you can skip adding the parmesan altogether.

 

 

 

This soup tastes even better the second day because the flavors are able to develop. If it works, plan ahead and make it the day before you actually plan to eat it!

 

Minestrone Soup with Sesame Seed Parmesan
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 mins
 

This soup is chock full of vegetables and herbs and tastes even better the second day after it's been made. The sesame seed parm is a nod to the traditional recipe and boosts the calcium and plant-protein and is just plain fun to sprinkle on.

Course: Main Course, Soup
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
For the soup
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped carrots
  • 4 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups finely diced tomatoes (or 1-14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4.5 cups water
  • 2 small zucchini, shredded
  • 1 cup green beans in 1" lengths
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped spinach
  • 2 cups beans (white or kidney)
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp freshly chopped basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp crumbled rosemary
  • freshly ground pepper
For the sesame parm
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 4 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
Instructions
For the soup:
  1. Add the onion and garlic along with 1" water to a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Cook until the onion is translucent, then add in the carrots, celery and tomatoes. Cook another 1-2 minutes. Add all remaining soup ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45-minutes to 1 hour or until the potatoes are tender. Adjust seasonings as needed.

For the sesame parm:
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or high speed blender and mix until thoroughly combined and the sesame seeds are crumbly and look like parmesan cheese. Can be stored in an air-tight jar in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.

Recipe Notes

Recipe Notes:

I prefer this soup with the vegetables (especially the tomatoes and zucchini) finely chopped - or in the case of the zucchini, shredded. This especially helps when serving it to children who tend to be suspicious of large chunks of vegetables - or adults who feel the same way. 😉

 

 

 

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

  •  Click here for my favorite mini food processor
  • I get both my nutritional yeast and sesame seeds in bulk at Whole Foods, but you also can find them here and here.

 

 

crockpot carrot cake oatmeal (vegan, sugar free)

This week I’m running a 6-day clean eating crockpot challenge through a private Facebook group.

The recipes for apple cinnamon and banana bread oatmeal in the meal plan got me thinking about what other kinds of desserts could be transformed into a healthy breakfast.

Carrot cake immediately came to mind.

Naturally sweetened only with fruit and containing hints of cinnamon and ginger make this oatmeal a tasty way to start the morning. And because it’s made in a crockpot, it’s already warm when you wake up.

If you are interested in learning about upcoming clean eating challenges, please leave a comment and I will contact you. 

Crockpot Carrot Cake Oatmeal
3 cups oat berries/groats
3.5 cups water
2.5 cups nondairy milk
2 large carrots, finely grated
3 large Medjool dates, roughly chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
raisins

1. Put all ingredients (except for the raisins if you prefer to add them upon serving) into the crockpot and stir.
2. Turn crockpot on low and allowed to cook for 6 to 8 hours.
3. Spoon into bowls and garnish with raisins and pour on additional non-dairy milk if desired.
4. Makes about six servings and stores well in the refrigerator for several days.

Recipe Notes
I prefer using whole oat berries (or groats) as they take a longer time for your body to break down. Which means they’re not easily been converted into simple carbohydrates. 

Although you could add the raisins directly into the crockpot, I prefer to add them upon serving. 

skillet pot pie (gluten free option)

100_1058Every year the  Dairy Farmers of Canada release a free calendar featuring recipes starring one or more dairy products. The Milk Calendar is a fixture on my parents’ fridge. Even though they no longer eat dairy. But it’s an endearing tradition and I always look forward to flipping through it.

While I cringe at the propaganda that continually tries to convince the public that eating dairy is a good and essential thing to do (it’s not), a few of the calendar’s recipes can be adapted to suit a vegan diet. One of the recipes my mum tried years ago was the Milk Calendar’s Turkey Pot Pie. It was an instant hit in our family.

I’ve been making the same recipe for years for my own family, although I had taken out the turkey even before changing my diet. Once I eliminated dairy from diet, I further modified the recipe to incorporate plant-based milk and butter.

Traditionally, I’ve made this recipe in a casserole dish, but decided to change things up and make it in one of our cast iron skillets.

No skillet? No worries. Simply cook in a regular pot, then transfer the filling to a casserole dish and top with the crust. It’s as easy as…pie.

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CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the Skillet Pot Pie Recipe

Skillet Pot Pie

Prep Time: 30-45 minutes

Cook Time: 45-55 minutes

Keywords: bake saute entree casserole gluten-free nut-free vegan sugar-free potato carrot peas mushroom

    For the Filling

    • 2 cups diced organic potatoes*
    • 2 cups sliced carrots
    • 1 medium-small onion, minced
    • 1 large garlic clove, minced
    • 1 cup diced mushrooms
    • 1/4 red pepper, finely minced
    • 1 cup peas
    • 1 cup organic corn
    • 1 tsp tapioca flour or organic cornstarch
    • scant 1/4 cup flour of your choice, gluten free if needed*
    • 1/2 cup unsalted veggie stock
    • 1 cup unsweetened dairy-free milk*
    • 1/2-3/4 cup water
    • 1/2 tsp. thyme
    • 1/2-1 tsp salt
    • dashes of pepper and turmeric

    For the Crust

    • 1 cup flour of your choice, gluten free if needed*
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 T parsley
    • 1/2 c. of unsweetened dairy-free milk, chilled*
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/3 c. organic dairy-free butter, chilled*
    • 1/2 tsp. xantham gum if using gluten-free flour
    *see Recipe Notes for details

    Instructions

    For the Filling

    Par boil diced/chopping potatoes and carrots until just fork tender. Par boiling saved cooking time and ensures the potatoes and carrots will cook properly.

    Meanwhile, in the skillet, saute onion and garlic in a little veggie stock until onions begin to soften. Add the mushrooms and red pepper and saute until the vegetables are tender. Add more stock as needed to prevent the liquid from boiling away.

    Stir in tapioca and flour until thoroughly mixed, then pour in stock, milk and water and bring to a boil while stirring frequently to prevent the flour from sticking to the bottom of the skillet.

    Once the mixture boils, add thyme, salt, pepper and turmeric and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Cool the filling, then add potatoes, carrots, peas and corn.

    For the Crust

    Mix together the flour, baking powder, parsley and salt. Cut in chilled butter until the mixture has crumbs the size of peas. Pour in milk and gently stir to combine. Drop by the spoonful over the filling.

    To Bake

    Place skillet in an oven warmed to 375 degrees and bake 45-55 minutes or until the filling is warmed through and the crust is baked. To prevent the crust from burning, you might need to cover the skillet loosely with foil for the last 10-15 minutes of baking. Placing a large baking sheet on a rack below the skillet is recommended to catch any drips from the filling as it likes to bubble over the pan.

    Recipe Notes

    Using organic vegetables is always best, especially for the potatoes (due to pesticides) and corn (because of GMO). If using soy-based dairy substitutes, it’s best to use organic because of GMO.

    I found cooling the filling mixture before adding the potatoes, carrots, peas and corn helps the peas retain a bright green color instead of turning an unappealing grayish green.

    For the filling, I used organic brown rice flour and unsweetened organic soy milk. For the crust, I used equal parts organic brown rice flour and whole wheat pastry flour, unsweetened organic soy milk and Smart Balance organic dairy-free whipped buttery spread.

    Since the crust is unfussy (more of a biscuit, really), feel free to experiment with your favorite blend of flour. However, its best to add xantham gum if going completely gluten free.

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