vegan nut Parmesan (vegan, dairy free, gluten free)

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I think one of the hardest things about going “all in” with a plant-based diet is giving up the dairy…especially cheese. It’s one of the foods I thought I could never live without and believed it would be easier for me to be a vegetarian than a vegan.

Thankfully, we’ve entered an era where it’s easier than ever to give up our “could never live without” foods, especially when our health is at stake.

So today I’m sharing with you one of my favorite “cheese hacks” for salads, soups, stews or where ever you might like a sprinkle of savory cheesy flavor (but without the dairy): vegan nut Parmesan. Three kinds to be exact.

 

 

I was first introduced to the idea of a vegan nut Parmesan in Angela Liddon’s first cookbook…her recipes were a life-saver to this vegan newbie! Besides the cheezy flavor they add to a dish, I also love that they add a pop of plant-based protein, especially to leafy green salads which have a lower protein content than other dishes.

Since trying that first vegan nut Parmesan, I’ve experimented with other nuts and seeds and found the three that I’m sharing with you today to be my favorites…

Pecan Parmesan: This is the one directly inspired by The Oh She Glows Cookbook. I love it on salads and roasted vegetables or even snacking on it right from the jar when I’m craving something salty.

Cashew Parmesan: I love this best with almost everything…pasta, pizza, soups, salads and stews and believe it most closely resembles the real thing in both texture and flavor.

Pistachio Parmesan: Sprinkling it over sweet potatoes is my favorite way to enjoy it, but it’s lovely on salads too.

 

And here are the recipes for each:

vegan nut Parmesan

A trio of nut Parmesans to get your cheese fix even without the dairy.

Course: Topping
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
Pecan Parmesan
  • 1 c. pecans, toasted
  • 4 tsp. nutritional yeast
  • 3 tsp. avocado or olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
Cashew Parmesan
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 8 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp avocado or olive oil
Pistachio Parmesan
  • 1 c shelled pistachios
  • 9 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp avocado or olive oil
Instructions
  1. For each Parmesan (separately)...add the ingredients to a food processor or blender and pulse or mix until the nuts are finely chopped. Do not over mix or the nuts will begin to release their oils and stick together.

Store in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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.

 

 

cheesy kale chips (vegan, oil free, gluten free, soy free, paleo)

 

Aren’t snack foods made from good-for-you ingredients the best? Like kale chips!

The first time I tried kale chips, it was love at first bite. Savory, salty, crunchy…yum! But the thing I wasn’t in love with was the price tag, especially for frequent snacking (keep in mind we have four hungry children to feed, three of which are boys).

So I turned to my own kitchen to try and re-create the ideal snacking experience.

 

 

Here are few things I’ve learned along the way:

  • The key to a good kale chip is the seasoning. Since kale is strongly flavored itself, if you’re too light with the seasonings, you have a chip that tastes just like dried kale. Not to exciting.
  • It’s also essential to get the moisture balance right. Too little and it’s hard to coat the kale, too much and they’re on the soggy side and take forever to dry out.
  • Ideally, kale chips are best made with a food dehydrator. But if you lack one of those, as I do, setting your oven at it’s lowest setting – usually about 200 degrees F – is an excellent runner up.
  • Unless you plan on eating your kale chips on the spot, you’ll want to be sure all the kale is completely dried out before storing them in an airtight container. Just a little bit of moisture and the chips loose their crispiness and become chewy. If this happens to you – and it has to me many times – trying popping them back in a 200 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes to dry them out again.

 

Pack these in ziplock bags if you’re traveling. Not only do they add zero weight to your luggage, but it can help you get your superfood fix if you’re not sure what snacking options you’ll have access to on the road. I brought these on a road trip with me this summer and will probably plan to do the same when I head to the Dominican Republic in February on a mission trip.

 

Last thing…if you’re new to vegan “cheese,” be prepared that it will not taste like the cheese you’ve been used to…if you go in expecting that, you’ll be disappointed every time. Or you’ll need to buy manufactured vegan cheeses. I’ve learned that the idea is try an approximate the flavors and textures of familiar foods and appreciate the plant-based version for what it is…healthier, lighter and fuel your body can use.

 

cheesy kale chips
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

Savory, salty, crunchy, snack-y, yummy! That about sums up these cheesy kale chips that can be made in your oven or with a food dehydrator.

Course: Snack
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1/2 large bunch kale
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • dashes freshly ground pepper
  • water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F

  2. Prepare kale by rinsing, patting completely dry then removing the stems. Chop into large pieces that are approximately 2" square. Add to a large mixing bowl.

  3. In a food processor or blender, add remaining ingredients except the water and blend until the cashews are very finely chopped - almost powdery. Add just enough water to create a thick paste (too much water = soggy chips). Massage the mixture into the kale until all the leaves are completely covered.

  4. Spread the kale in a single layer on a large baking sheet. For best results, make sure each kale leaf is spread out. Sprinkle on additional seasonings to taste.

  5. Put into the oven for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan. Bake for another 15 minutes and remove any completely dried chips. Place remaining chips back in the over for another 10 minutes or until all the chips are completely dried.

Recipe Notes

While the chips are best enjoyed immediately for ultimate crispiness, they can be stored in an airtight jar after cooling completely. If they're too soft and you have to have them crispy, pop them in a 200 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes.

 

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

  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • I found Trader Joe’s has the best price for cashews.
  • Nutritional yeast can be found in most health food stores or here. I get mine from the bulk section at Whole Foods.

 

 

 

game, set, matcha coconut lime energy bites (vegan, no added sugar, gluten free, paleo)

As we’re learning, life in high school is busy…especially when you throw in sports. It usually makes for a long day and a late arrival home.

To brighten up my daughter’s long day and making snacking on the run easier, I whipped up these matcha coconut lime energy bites – a nod to her chosen sport this season and because matcha naturally boosts energy. It also helps with mental alertness, has antioxidant powers (hello bright green powder!), boosts the immune system and cardiovascular health and can fight infections – which gives it an A+ in my books.

 

 

This was my first time trying matcha after hearing of it several years ago on Kathy Patalsky’s blog, Healthy Happy Life. Yep, even thought I’m a tea drinker, it took me this long to try it since it’s more expensive than the tea I normally buy, but happily, I found that a little goes a looong way. And I’m excited to experiment and see what this does for my own energy.

If you’ve never tried matcha, it tastes like green tea because it is, um, green tea, but carries greater health benefits. If you want to learn more about its history, how it’s grown and it’s properties, click here.

Making these game, set, matcha energy bites is as easy as 1-2-3. Just thoroughly mix the ingredients in a food processor, form into bite-sized balls and coat in unsweetened shredded coconut since the batter is very sticky. You could coat them in matcha powder as I did here, but that amount of undiluted matcha powder carries a bitter overtone. So unless you don’t mind a little bitter with you no-added-sugar sweet, I’d stick with the unsweetened coconut.

Speaking of sweet…as with most of my recipes, these energy bites do not have any energy-sapping, immune suppressing added sugar! They also work for gluten-free and paleo diets since they are free from grains.

 

Game, Set, Matcha Coconut Lime Energy Bites
Prep Time
15 mins
 

These coconut lime energy bites carry the subtle flavor of green tea and are perfect for hectic days when you're on the go and need a natural boost of energy.

Course: Snack
Servings: 9 energy bites
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 6 medjool dates
  • 3 T fresh lime juice
  • 1.5 tsp matcha powder
  • 1 scoop 100% pure stevia powder
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (plus more for coating)
  • 2 pinches salt
Instructions
  1. Pit the dates, then put all ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender and mix until thoroughly combined and the cashews have mostly been chopped into very fine pieces. Since the mixture is very sticky, keep your hands slightly wet with water to form the bite-size balls. Place additional coconut in a plastic bag, drop in each energy bite one at a time and shake to coat. For best results, refrigerate for at least one hour before eating.

    Can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for several days.

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES

It's best to buy Medjool dates with the pits still in them as they tend to stay juicer than when the pits are removed. Make sure you are using 100% PURE stevia - read the ingredients closely! - as most stevia powders have added sweeteners and/or artificial ingredients.

 

 

 

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

  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • Since this was my first time trying matcha, I purchased a small amount from Whole Foods. But you can find it cheaper here and in a larger quantity
  • 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. 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

5-ingredient key lime pie bites (vegan, sugar free)

One of the most frutrating things about changing your diet is relearning how to cook. The substitutes for the ingredients you used to rely on (sugar, white flour, eggs, dairy, meat etc.), don’t behave in the same way. In the first three months that I spent eating a plant-based diet, I was brought almost to tears several times because the kitchen suddenly felt like a foreign place.

Which makes the victory all the (sugar-free) sweeter when I hit on the right mix of ingredients the first time I make up a recipe. And judging by how quickly these little bites disappeared with our small group from church, I’d say these were a BIG hit.

If you have Lime Vitality Essential oil, I’d use that to give them a limey kick, but freshly squeezed lime juice will work too. They can be served naked or with a coconut coating. 

Last thing before I share the recipe…on Monday, I’m doing a clean eating challenge with a “Big Game” theme. It features a six day meal plan (including this recipe) of foods you might find at a “Big Game” party, but with a healthier twist. Comment if you’d like in on the challenge which I run through a private Facebook group (or you can request to join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1359914420746043/)


Key Lime Pie Bites 
1⁄2 cup cashews
1 c date paste
3 drops of lime vitality essential oil or 1-2 tsp of lime juice
3⁄4 c large flake, unsweetened coconut
Shredded coconut (optional)

Put all ingredients except the shredded coconut in a blender or food processor and blend until the mixture is very smooth. Roll into bite-sized balls. If desired, roll in shredded coconut. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to one week.