ode to chocolate: a valentine’s day recipe roundup

Ahhhh, chocolate!

Food in general may win men over, but you, chocolate, are definitely the way to a woman’s heart. God knew what He was doing when He made you a super-fruit and then gave us things like coffee and chili and peanut butter and dates to mix with you and make our taste buds swoon.

The only thing, chocolate, is that you’re often paired with sugar and dairy milk and other sketchy ingredients which totally drags your healthy vibe down. So not cool.

But I’m here for you, chocolate, and created this Valentine’s Day recipe round up which gives you the starring role supported by a cast of ingredients that plays to your superfood talents and lets your antioxidant superpowers shine.

Ready? Roll recipes!

 

Chocolate, you make a surprising appearance in this comfort food staple…

 

His ‘n Hers Black Bean Chili

 

 

 

And with the main meal out of the way, here are all the desserts and snacks you were made for..

 

Mocha Hazelnut Torte

 

Nanaimo Bars

 

Rockier Road Brownies

 

 

 

Chocolate Doughnuts with Milk Chocolate Glaze + Pink Sprinkles

 

German Chocolate Cake

 

 

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

 

 

Pistachio Wrapped Chocolate Truffles

 

Dark Chocolate Pudding Mousse

 

 

So there you have it, chocolate! Your Valentine’s Day recipe round up in a nutshell.

So many recipes you were simply made for. I can’t to see what other combinations we come up with this year. Looking back, I see we haven’t made nearly enough of pairing you with peanut butter or fresh fruit or even finding ways to sneak you in where people least expect to see you. We’ll have to remedy that, you and I.

XOXO

 

P.S. In the comments, tell me which recipe you absolutely have to try and/or what kinds of flavor combinations you might like to see me team up with chocolate in future recipes. I have a few ideas up my sleeve, but I always love to hear from you!

mocha hazelnut torte (vegan, added sugar free, no bake, gluten free, paleo)

I can’t decide which I like better: chocolate + coffee or chocolate + hazelnuts. Hmmmm….

If you had to pick one, what would you choose? (Tell me in the comments.)

Fortunately, we don’t have to choose one over the other because I’ve brought both together is this mocha hazelnut torte! It’s a dessert that looks decadent, but contains only whole food, added sugar free ingredients, so it’s a recipe that loves your body back.

Ever since I detoxed from sugar a few years ago, I’ve been on a mission to have my cake and eat it too…just without the added sugars which keep you hooked on the very thing that brings your energy levels down and anxiety up. Thanks to dates, stevia and few other tricks, it’s made this mission much easier and I’m excited to share the results with you in my recipes.

This mocha hazelnut torte is incredibly easy to whip up and I even have a pro tip for you for easily removing those pesky hazelnut skins which would make the crust bitter. Check out the tip here over at Will Cook for Friends. It’s seriously so ridiculously easy that you’ll probably do a happy dance in your kitchen. Or at least in your head.

Because my husband and I aren’t dedicated coffee drinkers, I’ve never learned to make a good pot of coffee and don’t keep coffee in the house (shocking, I know), so I relied on Trader Joe’s Coconut Cold Brewed Coffee Concentrate for the body of the torte. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you and can’t find an equivalent, here’s a cold brew coffee recipe by Wellness Mama or see the “Shop the Recipe” section at the end of the post for a link on where you can buy it online.

But let’s dig in to the recipe, shall we?

 

Mocha Hazelnut Torte

Chocolate, coffee and hazelnuts come together in this easy, no bake dessert recipe that is free of added sugars so it loves your body back whether you have one slice...or two

Course: Dessert
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, skins removed
  • 1/4 + 2T cup cocoa powder (fair trade is best)
  • 2 scoop 100% pure stevia powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup date paste*
For the filling:
  • 2 avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 1.5 cups cocoa powder (fair trade is best)
  • 1.5 cups date paste*
  • 2 15 oz. cans full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup cold brew coffee concentrate
  • 4 tsp vanilla
  • 6 scoops 100% pure stevia powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Instructions
For the crust:
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and mix until thoroughly combined and the mixture easily holds together when pinched between your fingers. Pour into a 9" spring form pan and press firmly to form the crust.

For the filling:
  1. For one of the cans of coconut milk, make sure the fat has separated from the liquid by chilling it in the fridge overnight.

  2. Depending on the size of the bowl of your food processor or blender size, you may need to do the filling in two equal batches  to ensure everything mixes thoroughly.

  3. First combine the avocado, cocoa powder, date paste, vanilla, stevia, salt and one can of coconut milk.

  4. With the other can, remove the fat and then add it to the other filling ingredients along with the coffee concentrate. Mix until thoroughly combined, scraping the bowl a couple times to make sure everything is well blended and very smooth.

  5. Pour the filling onto the crust, cover with foil and chill for at least four hours before serving. It's best if kept refrigerated. Decorate with hazelnuts or fresh fruit if desired.

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 to make about 1/2 cup of date paste. In this case, it's best to buy Medjool dates with the pits still in them and simply remove the pits just before using. Multiply quantities of dates as needed to make enough date paste for your recipe.

 

 

 

(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.
  • Cocoa powder: for fair trade cocoa powder which helps support farmers at fair wages, Equal Exchange is an excellent brand with a very rich cocoa flavor. I got mine at Whole Foods, but you can also find it online here.
  • Trader Joe’s coconut cold-brew coffee concentrate can also be found online 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?

 

 

his ‘n hers secret ingredient vegan black bean chili

 

Before I adopted a plant-based diet, there were some dishes that I never made with meat. Like pasta sauce (here’s my go to recipe). And chili.

Not sure why, but for some reason, I never liked the addition of meat in these dishes. However, once I went all in on the vegan eating, I knew I had to pay more attention to my protein sources.

 

Let’s pause a minute on this while I clear up the myth that you can’t get “enough” protein on a plant-based diet…

  • First, all plants have protein, though some have more than others (think nuts, legumes, beans, lentils).
  • Secondly, our bodies don’t store protein and will eliminate the excess or turn it into fat.
  • Therefore, there’s absolutely no point in consuming more than your body will use for that day. For example, 1 cup of cooked, chopped chicken has about 43 grams of protein. That’s only 3 grams shy of the recommended daily requirement for the average woman. So unless our lady eats almost nothing else the rest of the day, she’ll be consuming way more protein than is needed.
  • By comparison, I reach a third of my daily requirements with a thoughtful, 100% plant-based breakfast. Combine that with lunch, dinner and snacks, I rarely have an issue meeting my daily requirements unless I’ve skimped on the nuts and beans.

 

Which brings me to this secret-ingredient vegan black bean chili.

 

 

Beans are excellent sources of plant-based protein, but I wanted to dot my protein “i’s” and “t’s” in this dish and add a little more. Plus I wanted to give the appearance that meat was present to appeal to meat eaters. Like my husband.

So what’s the secret ingredient in this secret-ingredient vegan black bean chili? Walnuts! Finely chopping the walnuts with some garlic and onion powders and sage in a food processor or blender makes it look like I’ve added ground meat into my chili. Genius, right?!

But wait, there’s a second secret ingredient too…chocolate!

It may sound weird, but trust me on this. The chocolate tangos with the chili powder to deepen the flavor, plus it’s a superfood that has won many a woman’s heart so of course it needs to go there.

And there you have it. The his ‘n hers secret ingredient vegan black bean chili.

Let’s get cooking!

 

his 'n hers secret ingredient vegan black bean chili
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 25 mins
 

This protein-packed chili has two secret ingredients to appeal both to him and to her.

Course: Entree
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 3 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup veggie stock
  • 4.5-6 cups black beans
  • 2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 7-8 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 Tbsp chili powder
  • 3 tsp cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp oregano
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp cumin
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 3-4 dashes onion powder
  • 3-4 dashes garlic powder
  • 1-2 dashes ground sage
Instructions
  1. If you're cooking your own black beans, do so according to package directions. I usually soak mine in cold water overnight, rinse then add to a fresh pot of boiling water and boil for about 115-20 minutes. Then I turn off the heat and soak for several more hours.

  2. If you want the walnuts more tender, soak them for 30 minutes in water that been just boiled.

  3. Add the onion, garlic and peppers to a large stock pot along with the veggie stock over high heat. Saute about 5 minutes or until the veggies start to become tender.

  4. Add tomatoes and spices. (Hint: I like using the 1 cup of water to rinse out the cans and add it into the chili pot - it helps prevent waste that way!)

  5. Add cooked beans.

  6. For the walnuts, add to a food processor or blender along with garlic and onion powders and sage and pulse until the walnuts are finely chopped. Then add to the chili.

  7. Bring the chili to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about one hour to let the flavors develop.

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES: This chili tastes even better on the second and third day as the spices work themselves through. It also freezes well!

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

chocolate doughnuts with milk chocolate glaze (vegan, no added sugar)

 

Doughnut, you guys!

No added sugar, baked-not-fried, packed-with-fruit and finished-with-fun chocolate doughnuts. With milk chocolate glaze. And pink sprinkles. Food dye free sprinkles.

It’s a party on your plate and in your mouth.

How is all this accomplished in one little recipe? Simple! I used my chocolate zucchini muffin recipe, sweetened it up a bit (more dates and stevia) and spooned it into a doughnut pan. Voila! Healthy chocolate doughnuts.

 

 

But, wait, there’s more! To increase the fun factor, I added a milk chocolate glaze and pink sprinkles – all made without a lick of added sugar, dairy or food coloring.

 

This recipe makes more batter than can fill one six-doughnut pan which leave you with a couple options…fill a second doughnut pan or the same doughnut pan twice or use the remaining batter for cupcakes (which is what I did).

Eat them on your own, with a friend, with coffee or tea. Eat them for dessert, as a snack or even at breakfast. Because who says healthy eating has to be boring? #notme

About those no-added-sugar, food-dye-free sprinkles, though…that’s an extra special bonus recipe that you can only get here. So fun! I don’t think these doughnuts would be the same without them.

 

As with all my recipes, if you’re not sure where to get the ingredients or items needed to replicate this in your own kitchen, see below the chocolate doughnuts with milk chocolate glaze recipe for a “Shop the Recipe” guide.

 

chocolate doughnuts with milk chocolate glaze

These chocolate doughnuts are sweetened entirely with fruit and baked, not fried, so you can enjoy this healthy treat as a dessert, snack or even for breakfast!

Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
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
  • 4 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
  • 2/3 cup date paste*
  • 1/4 cup almond or peanut butter
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
For the milk chocolate glaze
  • 3/4 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup date paste
  • 1/2 scoops 100% pure stevia
  • pinch salt
  • non-dairy milk, to thin
Instructions
For the doughnuts:
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F and grease your doughnut tin extremely 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 doughnut tins making the batter level with the pan and bake for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  5. When finished baking, leave in the doughnut 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.

For the milk chocolate glaze
  1. Add all ingredients to a small sauce pan and stir over medium-high heat until the date paste breaks down completely and the mixture is very smooth. A potato masher or immersion blender can help with this.

  2. Cool, then thin as needed with additional non-dairy milk.

Recipe Notes

*RECIPE NOTES: Be sure to use 100% pure stevia (see this post for more info)       *       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 🙂 )

If you dough-nut have a doughnut pan (sorry, couldn’t resist), try your local thrift shop or re-sale site/app. Or here are two options I found for you online: a metal pan and a silicon one.

  • 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 (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 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.

 

 

 

german chocolate cake (vegan, no added sugar, soy free)

 

Happy Birthday…to me!

Yep, it’s my birthday today and I’m celebrating by sharing this german chocolate cake recipe with you.

But first…if you’ve been checking regularly with me, you might have noticed it was awfully silent here last week. It’s for a good reason, I promise you, and I’ll be revealing more later this week (eek! excited!). My newsletter tribe already got a bit of sneak peek. If you also want to be among the first to hear exciting news and never miss a recipe, sign up for the newsletter here. I also share a little more content and personal stories there too!

Right. Back to the cake.

Before I made the switch to a vegan, low/no added sugar diet, german chocolate cake topped my list as a favorite birthday cake. It was one I thought was crossed off my list forever since the traditional frosting uses evaporated milk and eggs and is packed with sugar.

Then I discovered that if I combined dates with three basic ingredients. it produced a frosting that closely approximates the original but far surpasses it nutritionally. Insert celebration with confetti here.

photo @pixabay.com

 

The german chocolate cake itself is a modification of my chocolate zucchini muffin recipe…which means these also work perfectly as cupcakes!

And here’s an interesting bit of trivia…when I first heard of this cake, I thought “german” meant it was a cake that originated in Germany by some inspired baker. However, it actually refers to the last name of an English-American chocolatier, Samuel German, who invented a certain kind of dark baking chocolate. So, really, the cake should be German’s chocolate cake.

German Chocolate Cake
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 

This classic cake gets a healthy makeover by eliminating both the added sugar and dairy. Instead, dates, pecans and coconut form the decadent frosting and the cake itself gets a nutritional boost from shredded zucchini.

Course: Dessert
Ingredients
Dry Ingredients
  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 scoops 100% pure stevia*
Wet Ingredients
  • 2 small ripe/slightly underripe banana
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond coconut milk
  • 2 flax eggs 2 T ground flax seed + 4 T water
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup date paste*
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
Frosting
  • 15-20 Medjool dates with pits (remove pits before mixing)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
Instructions
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9" cake pans well (coconut oil is recommended). On a piece of parchment paper, use one of the cake pans to trace two circles in pencil. Cut out the circles and place one (pencil-mark down) in each cake pan. 

  2. Mix up your flax egg and set aside. 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 the batter as you sprinkle in the zucchini a little at a time and then add the apple cider vinegar and gently mix again. Spoon into prepared batter into the pans and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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

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 the cake, I recommend using a small perfectly ripe or just under-ripe banana.

 

 

 

  •  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.
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut: If you have a Whole Foods or natural foods store near by, check the bulk section! Or get it here.
  • Pecans: I buy mine at BJs (a wholesale club) or you can find them here. If you aren’t a member of BJs and want to check it out, use this link to sign up for a BJs membership and we’ll both get $25!

 

 

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

 

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.

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calico brownies (gluten free, low sugar, vegan) + fair trade

100_2143Disclaimer: This is a post that starts out seriously but ends in chocolate.

My husband and I are reading the book, “The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster.” It’s written by an American journalist living in Haiti when the earthquake struck five years ago. However, it’s also a book which details Haiti’s volatile history, sometimes of their own making, but also from in the influence of foreign powers rocking their boat. With the earthquake that just happened in Nepal and more natural disasters of increasing intensity on their way, it’s a timely book to be reading.

But what does Haiti have to do with brownies?

calicobrowniesNot much. At least in the sense that Haiti isn’t a large producer of the world’s chocolate  or coconut oil (it does export some). However, many of the trade practices which adversely affect Haiti on other fronts (which Katz relates in the book), also are in place with countries that do produce the most of the chocolate and coconut oil we consume.

For those of us living in affluent nations, the sad truth is that certain imported foods we enjoy at low cost to us comes at a high cost to others. (If you are interested in learning more about the importance of fair trade, I’ve included some links at the end of this post following the recipe.)

But I believe this can change because every time I make a purchase decision, I am casting my vote not only for the product but also for the business practice that brought it to the shelf.

So when a recipe calls for an ingredient that largely is produced and exported from a developing nation, I cast my vote in favor of fair trade as much as possible.

(Here’s where the brownies come in!)

Unlike most brownies which carry a high sugar content, these Calico Brownies, which are adapted from the “Peanut Butter Brownie” recipe found in “Vegan Planet”* on page 508, derive most of their sweetness from dates. They also feature fair trade cocoa power and fair trade coconut oil…which I think makes them taste all the sweeter.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the calico brownies recipe

 calico brownies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

 Serves: 16 brownies

Ingredients

  • 2 flax eggs (2 T ground flax + 6 T water)
  • ½ cup fair trade coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 cup agave or other liquid sweetener
  • 1 cup date paste
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • ¾ cup fair trade unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 3 scoops 100% pure stevia
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼-1/3 c. no sugar natural peanut butter

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In small bowl, combine the flax seed and water to make the flax eggs. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt oil, add in vanilla and agave, then turn off heat.

Break date paste into smaller pieces and stir into liquid mixture – using a potato masher works well to further break up the date paste.

Add in flax eggs and stir.

Add in dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to combine (the mixture will appear dense and crumble in large pieces.

Pour mixture into greased 8×8 glass baking dish and press down firmly with hands.

Pour peanut butter over batter and use a knife to work it in, then press down batter again (keeping your hands moistened with water helps prevent the batter from sticking to them.

Bake 20 minutes.

Let it cool completely before cutting.

Recipe Notes

Typically, I’ve purchased Equal Exchange’s Unsweetened Baking Cocoa at my local health food store, but recently found Frontier’s Unsweetened Baking Cocoa for less at Abe’s Market. (you can get free shipping on orders over $49.) I usually buy Br. Bronner’s brand of fair trade coconut oil.

Make sure the stevia you use is 100%, otherwise results will vary. I buy mine at Trader Joe’s and it comes with its own scoop.

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 *I am an Amazon associate. If you purchase the cookbook through this link, it will provide a small credit to my account.