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

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

 

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.

    warming indian mulligatawny soup (vegan, dairy free, oil free, no added sugar, gluten free)

    As someone who prefers to use medication as an absolute last resort, I’m always on the lookout for food and recipes that give the body a fighting chance against infection before medication is needed.

    And this warming Indian mulligatawny soup is just what the homeopathic doctor ordered.

    Chock full of spices, vegetables and a kick of plant-based protein from red lentils, this soup comes together easily even if the ingredient list looks intimidating. Actually, it’s exactly because of all these ingredients (which are mostly spices) that makes this soup an excellent meal especially during cold and flu season.

    For example:

    • Ginger strengthens the immune system, helps with digestion and helps with respiratory health
    • Turmeric and cinnamon are antioxidants and anti inflammatory
    • Cardamon helps with digestion problems
    • Thyme soothes sore throats and coughs and also helps with digestion

     

     

    One of the reasons I also love this soup is that it’s one of the few soup recipes my husband also enjoys.  Without meats and cheese, he jokingly refers to most soups as “tea with vegetables” i.e. they don’t feel filling enough. The kids, on the other hand give it a mixed review. LOL

    This warming Indian mulligatawny soup is a plant-based and oil-free version of a recipe from The Wanderlust Kitchen and I’m grateful for the friend who passed it along. While the rice isn’t strictly necessary, it rounds out the recipe as a hearty meal. Quinoa would also work well as substitute.

     

    warming indian mulligatawny soup
    Prep Time
    25 mins
    Cook Time
    30 mins
    Total Time
    55 mins
     
    Course: Entree, Soup
    Cuisine: Indian
    Servings: 6
    Author: Andrea Anderson
    Ingredients
    • 1 yellow onion, chopped fine
    • 1 carrot
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 small apples, diced
    • 1 14.5 can diced tomatoes
    • 1 lime, juiced
    • 1 tsp powdered ginger
    • 1.5 T curry powder
    • 1.5 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 3/4 tsp turmeric
    • 1/4 tsp cardamom
    • 1 tsp thyme
    • 1 tsp salt
    • freshly ground pepper
    • 3 cups water
    • 1/2 cup red lentils, uncooked
    • 1 14 oz can full fat coconut milk
    • 1/4 cup fresh cilatro, chopped
    Instructions
    1. Add a little water to cover the bottom of a large soup or stock pot and saute the onions, garlic and carrots over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except the fresh cilantro and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until lentils are cooked thoroughly.

    2. Add fresh cilantro and serve over rice or quinoa if desired.

     

    easy black bean dip (vegan, dairy free, gluten free)

     

    I have a gift for you today…an incredibly easy recipe for you to make and I bet you have all of the ingredients in your pantry. It’s been one of my favorites for years and is inspired by a recipe I found on the Whole Foods recipe site before I even made the transition to a plant-based diet: Black bean dip.

    Although the “dip” word would make you think this is appetizer-only, I love making it for our main meal with a side of raw veggies and hummus! All of the “meaty” plant-based protein coming from the beans makes it hearty enough for that.

    Because this black bean dip is quick and simple to pull together, I love saving it for Sundays (my low key cooking or no-cooking day) and for times when I’m up to my ears in life and/or have been cooking up a storm. You know, kind of like what will happen this weekend.

     

     

    This black bean dip is made of only six ingredients and can be served with the traditional tortilla chips or you could try it with my sweet potato rounds if you have a little more time. Guacamole is an excellent side kick. You can get my basic guac recipe here or my new favorite spicy version here.

    Because this recipe is so easy going, I rarely measure the ingredients when I’m whipping it up, but I’ve included suggested measurements for you here. It’s a recipe that works well for experimenting to adapt to your tastes, but if you do so, start with my suggestions and go slowly from there.

    Bonus: You can make it a day ahead of time which also gives the flavors time to develop, though you might want to add a little extra salsa on the re-heating.

     

    Easy Black Bean Dip
    Prep Time
    5 mins
    Cook Time
    10 mins
    Total Time
    15 mins
     

    This six-ingredient is simple to whip up and works well as an appetizer or main dish.

    Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
    Cuisine: Mexican
    Servings: 6
    Author: Andrea Anderson
    Ingredients
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 3 cup black beans, cooked
    • 3/4 cup salsa
    • 1/8 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp cumin
    • cilantro for garnish (optional)
    • torrilla chips for serving
    • guacamole on the side (optional)
    Instructions
    1. Add garlic and onion to a medium saucepan with a little bit of water and saute over high heat until the onion is translucent, adding more water if needed to prevent burning.

    2. Reduce to medium-high heat and add in remaining ingredients. Mash beans slightly for a chunkier dip and more thoroughly for a smoother dip. Cook until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated and heated through.

    3. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with cilantro if desired. Serve with tortilla chips and/or sweet potato rounds and a side of guacamole, if desired.

     

     

     

     

    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!

     

    5 from 1 vote
    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 🙂 )

     

     

     

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

     

     

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

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

    Cue the holidays.

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

    So, what to do?

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

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

     

    green kiwi smoothie

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

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

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

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    mini pumpkin pie-lets …updated (vegan, dairy free)

    As I was cooking for Thanksgiving last week, I discovered a bit of an oops in this recipe for mini pumpkin pie-lets. Originally, I posted that the recipe made 12 pie-lets, when really, it makes about 36. I have no idea what I was thinking when I wrote up the original. Total face palm.

    Hint: if you want more than a little pastry leftover to make these, then make two dozen mini pumpkin pie-lets and eat the leftover filling like pumpkin mousse.

    I updated the recipe in the original post plus made a slight tweak to the spices because I can’t help it…I’m always experimenting! I found that I liked a little more of each spice compared to the portions I initially wrote down. I’m re-sharing the updated recipe here too.

    If you want a little more behind-the-scenes details on how my Thanksgiving prep went (including why I felt like a total failure), I’m sharing that with my newsletter insider crew. If you want to get on that list so you never miss a recipe and have direct access to tips and stories I only share there, you can do that by signing up here.

    Now for that updates mini pumpkin pies recipe…

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Recipe Notes

    RECIPE NOTES:

    If you can't find date paste, you can make your own by soaking 3/4 cup of Medjool dates in warm water for 1-2 hours and then blending until smooth. In this case, it's best to buy Medjool dates with the pits still in them and simply remove the pits just before using.

     

     

     

     

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

    • Click here for my favorite food processor
    • Date paste: I usually buy mine at a local Mediterranean/middle eastern store. If you don’t have one near by, you can make your own using Medjool dates (see Recipe Notes) Happily, Aldi has been carrying Medjool dates lately, but you can also find them here.
    • I got my organic spelt flour (GMO free!) from the bulk section at Whole Foods, or you can find it here.
    • Pure stevia: It’s critical to use 100% pure stevia with no additives or fillers (see this post). I get mine at Trader Joe’s, but try the NOW BetterStevia™ Organic Zero Calorie Powdered Sweetener — 1 oz brand here. Even though it appears pricey, a little goes a looong way, and my container lasted me for several years! This link will save you $5 on your order…comment or message me if you want to know which products I stock up on to get the free shipping
    • I’ve found the full-fat coconut milk at Whole Foods doesn’t set well and not all brands do. Thai Kitchen is one brand, however, that has pretty reliably set for me. You can get it here if you can’t find it in the Asian section of your local grocery store.

    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.

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Recipe Notes

    RECIPE NOTES:

    If you can't find date paste, you can make your own by soaking 3/4 cup of Medjool dates in warm water for 1-2 hours and then blending until smooth. In this case, it's best to buy Medjool dates with the pits still in them and simply remove the pits just before using.

     

     

     

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

    • Click here for my favorite food processor
    • Date paste: I usually buy mine at a local Mediterranean/middle eastern store. If you don’t have one near by, you can make your own using Medjool dates (see Recipe Notes) Happily, Aldi has been carrying Medjool dates lately, but you can also find them here.
    • I got my organic spelt flour (GMO free!) from the bulk section at Whole Foods, or you can find it here.
    • Pure stevia: It’s critical to use 100% pure stevia with no additives or fillers (see this post). I get mine at Trader Joe’s, but try the NOW BetterStevia™ Organic Zero Calorie Powdered Sweetener — 1 oz brand here. Even though it appears pricey, a little goes a looong way, and my container lasted me for several years! This link will save you $5 on your order…comment or message me if you want to know which products I stock up on to get the free shipping
    • I’ve found the full-fat coconut milk at Whole Foods doesn’t set well and not all brands do. Thai Kitchen is one brand, however, that has pretty reliably set for me. You can get it here if you can’t find it in the Asian section of your local grocery store.

     

     

    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.

     

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

     

     

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    • 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.

     

    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!

     

     

     

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    • Click here for my favorite food processor
    • Date paste: I usually buy mine at a local Mediterranean/middle eastern store. If you don’t have one near by, you can make your own using Medjool dates (see Recipe Notes) Happily, Aldi has been carrying Medjool dates lately, but you can also find them here.