jam roll (vegan, added sugar free, nut free)

 

Growing up, I always knew pie meant one thing…jam roll.

I’m not sure where the tradition started, but I remember my English grandmother and my mom making them  – often using strawberry or raspberry jam as the filling. It’s a completely genius way to use up scraps of pastry left over from pastry making and there’s something so right about warm jam between a crispy layer of pastry.

Here’s how it’s done.

 

 

1. Reform your pastry scraps into a ball and roll out to 1/8″-1/4″ thick.

2. Spread a thin layer of jam over the pastry bringing it almost to the edges. To keep it added sugar free, use only jam made with 100% fruit. I used Crofter’s wild blueberry jam here.

3. Fold one of the long side over to the middle.

4. Repeat with the other long side.

5. Then fold both short ends over and press to seal.

6. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is a light golden brown.

7. Let the jam roll cool slightly before slicing and serving…preferably with a cup of tea.

 

I would love to hear back from you on this…have you made jam rolls from left over pastry scraps before? Or do you have another brilliant method that’s become a tradition in your family? Tell us in the comments!

 

 

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: 12 pie-lets
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
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 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.

 

 

loaded sweet potatoes with spicy guacamole and black bean sofrito (vegan, dairy free, soy free, gluten free)

 

It always amazes me how hard it is to find a recipe that my entire family likes. I often get close with a 5 out of 6 thumbs up, but hitting a perfect score of 6 for 6 is maddeningly elusive. So imagine my surprise when this loaded sweet potato with spicy guacamole and black bean sofrito was a clear winner.

Even with my daughter who doesn’t usually like bean dishes. Or my boys who prefer mild to spicy. Let’s pause while I celebrate with a hearty “ole.”

 

 

I love the contrasting flavors, textures and color of this dish…the sweetness with the spicy, the creaminess punctuated with a light crunchiness, the deep orange flesh of the sweet potato with the brilliant green of the avocado.

This recipe is extremely easy to pull together and is simply packed plant-powdered nutrition. Let me break it down:

  • The sweet potatoes are high in fiber and vitamins like A, B6 and C and carry a low glycemic index. And did you know you can eat their skins? You can! Just scrub them well before baking. I thought it would be weird to eat sweet potato skin at first, but I really like it!
  • The black bean sofrito boosts the protein along with the fiber in this dish. I learned the secret of yummy black bean sofrito when I was on a mission trip to Panama earlier this year…at each lunch and dinner while we were in the mountains, beans would be served (along with rice and some meat). I couldn’t get over how good the beans tasted and had to know what made them so flavorful. When I tried it after I got back home, I was extremely pleased with the results.
  • For the spicy gucamole, I wanted to do more than simply give it some heat – I wanted to sneak in some extra nutrients too which I accomplished by adding spinach. Were my kids any wiser? Nope!

 

 

If you want to make this for a weeknight but anticipate being tight on time, bake your sweet potatoes ahead of time. Although the sofrito cooks up quickly, to make things speedier, you also could make it ahead of time. You’ll want to make the spicy guacamole fresh, though, but it will take less than 10 minutes. While you’re making the guac, you can be re-heating the potatoes and sofrito.

 

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loaded sweet potatoes with spicy guac and black bean sofrito
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
1 hrs 20 mins
 

A nutrient-dense meal that's easy to pull together and a beautiful contrast in flavors, texture and color.

Course: Appetizer, Entree, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 6 people
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1 per person sweet potato, scrubbed
For the black bean sofrito
  • 3 cups black beans, cooked
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dashes pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
For the spicy guacamole
  • 3 avocadoes, peeled and pitted
  • 4.5-6 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp, scant salt
  • 1/2 cup spinach, chopped fine
  • 1/3-1/2 cup jalapeno peppers, minced
  • dashes freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • dashes dried chili flakes, to taste (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pierce each sweet potato several times with a knife then in a 375 degree F oven for about 45 minutes or until the flesh is very tender.

For the black bean sofrito:
  1. Add the onion, garlic and tomato to a pot with a little water and cook over high heat until the onion is translucent. Add more water if needed to prevent the vegetables from sticking.

  2. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and then simmer until the water is absorbed, using a potato masher to break up the beans slightly. For a creamier sofrito, add a little more water and adjust seasonings to taste.

For the spicy guac:
  1. Cut the avocado into a bowl and mash. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Make sure you save the avocado pit which can be added to any leftovers to prevent browning.

 

 

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

  • My daughter and I have a mild obsession with Jeff’s Natural’s jalapeno peppers which you can find here. Jeff uses purer ingredients than the canned kind and I love them in this spicy guacamole.

 

easier-than-pie apple crisp (no added sugar, vegan, soy free, dairy free)

 

I never was much of a pie person. Unlike pizza where I could eat just the crust, pie crust left me cold. And making it? My results were rarely worth the effort. Which is why crisps are more my speed.

Easier to pull together and capped with a sweet, flavorful topping…mmmm. Yes. Please.

My favorite way to make this apple crisp also makes it virtually foolproof because you can control your chunky-to-sauce ratio and turn out the perfect-for-you apple crisp every time. Personally, I like things a little more on the saucy side.

For the topping, I swapped out the traditional brown sugar and butter for dates (in the form of date paste) and pecans. Much healthier options and still distinctly sweet too. The oats were allowed to stay (you can make these certified gluten free if need be).

While I’ve shared before that I hesitate to label any of my recipes kid friendly (because they like to buck trends), this is a recipe that all of my children enjoy. And because it’s free of any added sugars, I have no problem if they want to eat it for a snack or even for breakfast.

The apple crisp filling is one “ingredient” where I don’t measure because it’s kind of hard to mess up. The only way you can really ruin the filling is by using too much cinnamon. Feel free to let your hair down and not worry about getting it perfect. Good grief, cooking should be fun, not stressful and there are some recipes (like these) where I love to encourage you to feel confident in straying from a strict recipe! When you try this recipe for yourself the first time, go easy on the cinnamon – tasting it before adding more.

 

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easier-than-pie apple crisp
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

This apple crisp is extremely easy to make and, with managing the sweetness without added sugars, is perfect as a dessert, snack or even breakfast!

Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
For the filling
  • 2 per person apples (organic is best)
  • dashes cinnamon
For the crust
  • 3/4 cup date paste
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 cup whole rolled oats, organic is best
Instructions
For the filling:
  1. Peel and core apples* and roughly chop. Add to a large saucepan along with enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until apples begin to break down. A potato masher can help with this. For a chunkier filling, leave more apples in tact in bite-sized pieces. For more sauce, mash more apples up. Sprinkle with dashes of cinnamon to taste.

For the topping:
  1. While the apples are cooking, add all topping ingredients to a food process or blender and blend until it becomes crumbly.

For the crisp:
  1. Add filling to a casserole or glass baking dish and sprinkle on the topping. You can stop here and eat it as is, or, place in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes for a slightly firmer topping.


Recipe Notes

*RECIPE NOTES:  Using a mix of green or tart apples with sweeter ones yields the most flavorful filling       *        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.       *       Extra topping can be stored in the fridge for about a week. Sprinkle it over raw fruit or add to oatmeal...or eat it by the handful like I sometimes do!

 

 

 

(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.

 

 

weeknight spinach tikka masala (vegan, dairy free, gluten free, soy free)

My love for Indian food – especially south Indian – has grown over the years and my favorite go-to curry sauce is this one. It’s one of the often-requested dishes from my boys (although they like chicken to go along with it…sigh). But, my girl…she’s a tough one! So far I haven’t won her over to that recipe, so you could have knocked me over with a feather when she actually liked this one. Praise the Lord.

If you’re looking for a quick-ish fresh meal to make and one that rocks leftovers – this one is it!

 

 

The sauce is the epitome of comfort food, Indian-style, with its warming spices and rich creaminess of the coconut milk. It gets an added nutrition boost from quick-cooking red lentils, which makes them ideally suited for weeknights, and freshly chopped spinach. It can be spooned over chickpeas or quinoa for added plant-protein or served traditionally with rice (brown is best). For our meal, I served it with oven roasted broccoli and green beans since those are two family favorites, but you can easily adapt your veggie add-ons to suit your tastes. Weeknight tip: use frozen veggies to save on chopping time!!

 

 

For a quick weeknight meal, I recommend following the preparation steps outlined in the recipe. Alternatively, you could prep the sauce ahead of time and simply re-heat when ready to serve.

 

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weeknight spinach tikka masala

Warm comfort food designed for weeknights and made for leftovers.

Course: Entree, Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 6 people
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
For the tikka masala sauce
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 tsp freshly minced ginger or 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup red lentils
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach
For the rest of the dish:
  • chickpeas, quinoa or rice
  • veggies of choice
Instructions
  1. If you are serving with brown rice and don't have a rice- or pressure cooker, put a pot of water on to boil (like you would for pasta) and turn on the oven to 350 degrees F. If you are serving with quinoa, rinse thoroughly and add to pot with water. For less mushy quinoa use a scant 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa. For example, if you're cooking one cup of dried quinoa, add only 1 3/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer. Cooks in about 10 minutes.

  2. Spread your veggies on a cookie sheet and pop in the oven. Rinse lentils thoroughly and set aside.

  3. Begin to chop the veggies for the tikka masala sauce. If cooking rice, at whatever point in this process your water starts to boil, add in the rice and cook uncovered as you would pasta. Set the time for 23 minutes.

  4. Finish preparing the tikka masala sauce and add in the lentils. Bring the sauce to a boil, cover the pot, then reduce to a simmer.

  5. Chop spinach and take a peek at your veggies in the oven. When they start to brown slightly, turn the oven off. Keep them in the oven until ready to serve so they stay warm.

  6. When the timer beeps, test your rice for doneness, then either allow to cook for another minute or two or drain immediately and return to the pot.

  7. When the lentils are fully cooked (about 10-15 minutes), add in the spinach and cilantro and stir to combine.

  8. To serve, add quinoa/chickpeas/rice to a bowl along with the veggies and spoon the sauce over top.

  9. 9) Store leftovers in the fridge for up to several days or freeze for later.
Recipe Notes

Recipe Notes

  • I prefer buying my broccoli and green beans frozen to save me a step.
  • If you want leftovers, I recommend doubling the sauce recipe.

 

 

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

  • I’m able to buy my broccoli organically and in bulk from BJ’s (a wholesale club). If you don’t have a wholesale club membership and want to check BJ’s out, click here to get details on a membership (if you sign up we both get $25!!). Or, if you’re not sure if a wholesale club membership is worth it, you can download an article here where I share my experience and steps in evaluating whether a membership made sense for us.
  • 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.
  • I love Trader Joe’s frozen french-style green beans which is what I used here.

 

 

 

building a better vegan BLT (+ VIP eggplant bacon recipe)

Today is National Sandwich Day. (Scratching my head over who comes up with these things, but we’ll run with it.) And what better way to celebrate than with a sandwich classic…the BLT? A vegan BLT.

Let’s dig in.

While it’s kind of hard to construct a bad BLT, there are a few tweaks you can try to make it even better both for taste and to give it a healthier nutrition profile. Here’s how:

 

  1. Start with whole wheat or whole grain bread. Whole wheat breads (and 100% whole grain breads are even better), give you the whole enchilada of fiber and nutrients and prevent sharp spikes in your blood sugar levels. They also add a nutty flavor to your sandwich. I also try to buy breads that are free of added sugars, additives and preservatives.
  2. Use red pepper hummus. Mayo – even vegan mayo – is rather empty on the nutrition side since it’s made mostly from fats. By using hummus (especially red pepper hummus), keeps your plant-protein game strong and is packed with other benefits like more iron, folate, B vitamins, fiber and vitamin C. Although hummus is incredibly easy to make, it’s also one of the rare go-to foods that I usually choose to buy instead of make – Sabra is my favorite brand.
  3. Add organic greens.  I reached for organic green leafy lettuce for this sandwich, but next time I would use organic spinach for its extra iron content. Buying organic for spinach is especially important since it ranks number 2 on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list.
  4. Slice up organic tomatoes. Tomatoes rank number 10 on the Dirty Dozen list, so if you want to build a better BLT, go organic for the co-star of this sandwich.
  5. Stack on the eggplant bacon (VIP recipe alert!!). Sure, you could buy the processed vegan versions, but if you read those ingredients, I think you’ll agree they aren’t “better.” When I first went vegan, I made my peace about having my BLT’s without the “B” until I discovered “bacon bits” made from flaked coconut. While these somewhat worked as a substitute, they didn’t exactly cut the mustard. I think this eggplant bacon does. Not only can you make it look like strips of bacon, complete with crinkles, but I prefer the flavor and the texture.

 

 

The eggplant bacon is a VIP recipe reserved for the veggie-lovers on my newsletter list. If you want to get on the list and have the eggplant bacon recipe shipped to your inbox, click the button below. As an added bonus, you’ll never miss another recipe on Wildberry Press!

 

Last, but not least, don’t forget the pickles. What sandwich is complete without them? Apart from PB&J maybe. If you want to go better with your pickles too, look for brands that don’t include food dyes and other additives and preservatives found in most brands – especially the popular ones. Your best bet is to check the refrigerated section of your grocery store and it’s where I found a brand that is made here in Ohio and these are the ingredients: pickles, salt, dill, garlic and pickling spices. So simple. Why add anything else?

 

Now I want to hear from you…what is your favorite classic sandwich?

 

 

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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

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.

 

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cheesy kale chips
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
1 hrs
 

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.

 

 

 

vegan italian sausage soup (dairy free, soy free)

 

Last week, I shared my basic veggie stock recipe with you. Today, I’m giving you the perfect recipe to try it out with: vegan Italian sausage soup.

When I first decided to go all in with a plant-based diet, I immediately thought of ways to replace meat-based dishes with vegan versions that closely approximated those flavors and textures I was used to. But when I started experimenting with new-to-me-foods like TVP, seitan and pre-packaged vegan “meats,” I wasn’t too thrilled with the results. You see, my goal in adopting this new diet was to get healthier and eating a lot of wheat-based and processed foods didn’t feel like it would help me reach this goal.

So I tabled those foods and beefed up on the veggies and whole foods. It’s a food philosophy I continue to maintain with the occasional exception. Like this vegan Italian sausage soup.

The credit goes to my mom for finding a non-vegan version of this soup, but adapting it using vegan italian sausages created by Field Roast. (BTW, this isn’t a sponsored post.)

 

 

The thing I love about these sausages is the flavor dimension they bring to this soup…I’m not sure it would taste the same without them! I also love that the ingredients are straight-forward and consists mostly of foods I can find in my own kitchen, like eggplant, red bell pepper, garlic and onion.

As with many soups, this recipe comes together easily. Since it’s ready in about 30 minutes, it makes it perfect for hectic weeknights when you’re in a time crunch to get dinner on the table.

 

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vegan italian sausage soup
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

When you want a soup with a little "meatiness" to it, this vegan italian sausage soup is the answer. It's also perfect for hectic weeknights since it comes together in less than 30 minutes.

Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6 people
Ingredients
  • 2-4 links Field Roast Italian sausage, sliced into 1/2" rounds
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 29 ounces sodium free veggie stock
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 6 ounces fresh spinach, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh basil, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • dashes freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup pasta of choice (optional)
Instructions
  1. Add onion and garlic to a large saucepan with a little water and saute over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. If desired, finely chop tomatoes before adding them along with the remaining ingredients with the exception of the pasta (if using) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add pasta if using, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

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,

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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.