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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

date caramel (vegan, gluten free, no added sugar)

One of the hardest things I ever did was take on a three-month sugar detox several years ago. It took me more than a year to work up the courage to see it through, but once I finished it, I knew I never wanted to go back to my sugar-seeking ways.

Except the thought of not enjoying desserts again, especially for special occasions, was a bit of downer. Thankfully, I’ve learned that kicking the added sugar habit does not mean you can never treat yo’self.

In fact, it’s the opposite with recipes like this date caramel!

This no-added sugar alternative to traditional caramel sauce has the extra benefit of plant-protein (from the almonds) and copper, magnesium, manganese, vitamin B6, niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin found in the dates. So rich and creamy but without the empty calories and energy rush…or crash. I could happily eat an entire jar in one sitting.

The key to this recipe is buying Medjool dates with the pits still in them (you’ll remove the pits before blending, of course). You may need to adjust the salt content depending on whether you’re using salted or unsalted almond butter and your personal preference (I used salted).

 

(contains affiliate links)

  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • I usually buy my almond butter from Trader Joe’s, but click here for another option.
  • Happily, Aldi has been carrying Medjool dates lately, but you can also find them here.

 

 

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Date Caramel
Prep Time
10 mins
 

Rich and creamy and loaded with nutrients and plant-protein, this date caramel easily comes together to satisfy your sweet tooth, but without giving you a sugar crash.

Course: Dessert, Snack
Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup almond butter
  • 6-8 Medjool dates
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp (scant) salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Instructions
  1. Pit the dates and then add all ingredients to a food processor or high speed blender. Blend until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy, adjusting salt to taste. For a thinner sauce, add more almond milk.

Recipe Notes

Store in an airtight jar in the fridge.

simply saturday granola (vegan, no added sugar, gluten free option)

Ironically, this granola was much easier to test and make than trying to share it with you in this post. Because, technology. It’s a long story, which I’ll spare you, but I’m storing up these tidbits for blog-related tips to help you avoid the same pitfalls.

For now, granola.

When I changed my diet to one extremely low in added sugar, I thought granola was a thing of the past. Typically, granola has a high added sugar content; even vegan versions tend to use more than I’m comfortable with.

Coming up with a raw granola recipe I was pleased with was simple. However, I wasn’t sure if a cooked version using dates as the sweetener would yield that same crunchy texture of traditional granola. But, oh yes… it does!

As the title suggests, this granola is simple and straightforward to fix. While I often make mine on a Saturday, you certainly can prepare this any day of the week. The key to a good crunch is stirring during the baking time, breaking up the clusters, and completely cooling it before storing it in air-tight jars.

 

Click here for where to buy the date paste, stevia and unsweetened shredded coconut online. To try to find the ingredients locally, here are a few tips:

  • 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)
  • 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.
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut: If you have a Whole Foods or natural foods store near by, check the bulk section!

 

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Simply Saturday Granola
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Ingredients
  • 3 cups whole rolled oats (gluten free, if needed)
  • 1/2 cup date paste
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 3 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 scoops 100% pure stevia
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup nuts of choice, chopped
Instructions
  1. Turn on oven to 350 F.  Grease a large jelly roll pan (recommend using coconut or avocado oil). Chop and measure out nuts. Measure out oats and coconut in separate bowls.

  2. Add almond milk, coconut oil, cinnamon, stevia and salt to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add date paste* and stir until the date paste breaks down and the mixture is very smooth. Next, stir in oats and coat thoroughly, then immediately stir in the coconut. Spread out on the prepared jelly roll pan, breaking up any clumps in the mixture and sprinkle on the nuts.

  3. Pop in the oven and set the timer for 12 minutes. When the time is up, remove from oven, stir to break up any clumps and prevent the granola on the out edges of the pan from burning. Return to oven for another 12 minutes, removed and stir again. If needed, return the granola to the oven for 3-5 minutes or until the granola is a light golden brown color. Turn off head and leave granola to finish drying out.

  4. When the granola is completely cooled, pour into airtight glass jars for storage.

Recipe Notes
  • If you don't have pre-made date paste on hand, you can easily make your own. For this recipe, take about 3/4 cups of Medjool dates (buy the ones with the pits, but remove the pits just before using), soak them in warm water for at least 1-2 hours. Drain, reserving the soak water and place in a blender or food processor. Blend until very smooth, adding a little soak water if needed.
  • Having the pan prepared, nuts chopped and oats and coconut measured and ready to go helps keep the baking time to a minimum as it prevents the date mixture from soaking into the oats.
  • Pecans are my favorite nuts of choice for this recipe!

 

 

(*May contain affiliate links)

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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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field of greens salad with stadium mustard dressing & crackerjack peanuts

field of greens saladEight years in and we finally signed our middle son up for baseball this year. It was something I’d meant to do several years ago, but somehow it’s hard to think baseball when registration is required in the throes of winter.

An avid sports fan, my husband has been looking forward to this from the birth of our first child. And he’s been teaching our boys especially how to root-root-root for the home team even when they often “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.” (It’s been decades since they won a World Series.)teamI have my own fond baseball memories…the Toronto Blue Jays winning the World Series two years in a row (though we’ve moved away, I’ll always quietly root for them too), my years as a pitcher on our high school slow pitch team, and neighborhood boys breaking out the bats and mitts as soon as the air breathed spring.

100_2672So with baseball season in full swing, I thought it would be fun to create a salad inspired by “American’s pastime.”field of greens CollageCucumbers and marinated mushrooms (an homage to a ball and mitt) nestle on a field of kale and Brussel sprouts. “Crackerjack” peanuts are a nod to the classic stadium snack but are coated with dates to keep the sugar “outta there.” Topping it off is a bittersweet stadium mustard dressing.crackerjackpeanutsA note on the peanuts: If saving money is important to you, it’s cheaper to shell them yourself. Seeing as we had a 5 lb. bag hanging around the house, this is the route I’ve taken lately). However, if time is of the essence, go for the pre-shelled and roasted peanuts. If you splurge on Spanish-roasted peanuts (my favorite choice for this salad), be sure to gently rub them in a clean kitchen towel to remove the skins.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the field of greens salad recipe

field of greens salad

Prep Time: 20-30 minutes

Cook Time: 10-15 minutes

Serves: 4-6 people

 

Ingredients

    for the Salad

    • Brussel sprouts, finely chopped
    • Kale, destemmed and chopped
    • Cucumber, sliced

    for the Marinated Mushrooms

    • 4 large Portabella mushroom caps or 16 oz. baby bellas
    • 1/3-1/2 cup coconut aminos
    • oregano
    • garlic powder
    • freshly ground black pepper

    for the “Crackerjack” peanuts

    • ½ cup shelled peanuts or Spanish peanuts
    • 1 T date paste
    • 2-3 T water

    for the Stadium Mustard dressing

    • ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
    • ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
    • 2 T stadium mustard
    • 2 T tahini
    • 1.5-2 tsp. agave or coconut nectar
    • ½ tsp. regular mustard
    • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
    • few dashes turmeric for color (optional)

    Instructions

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

    Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium high heat, combine date paste and water, stirring to combine. Add peanuts and continue to stir over medium high heat until they begin to clump together and the date paste begins to dry out (about 5-7 minutes). You may need to reduce the heat near the end of the cooking time to prevent the date paste from burning.

    Transfer peanuts to a baking pan and place in oven for another 5 minutes. Remove and cool.

    In a frying pan, add ingredients for the Marinated Mushrooms, bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat and cook until most of the liquid has reduced. Cool.

    For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously to combine.

    Combine kale and Brussel sprouts, then arrange cucumber slices on top followed by the “Crackerjack” peanuts and marinated mushrooms, drizzle with dressing.*

    Recipe Notes

    I like Spanish peanuts best. If using, then gently rub in a clean kitchen towel to remove the skins. Add extra prep time if shelling your own peanuts.

    “Crackerjack” peanuts can be stored in an airtight jar for several days and are great for snacking. The date paste coating may soften a little, especially in humid conditions.

    The dressing stores well in the fridge for several days. I like adding the turmeric for eye-pleasing color. A few dashes goes a long way as the color intensifies slightly over time.

    My favorite way to serve salads is to prepare the base and set out toppings and dressing separately. That way, any leftovers will stay fresh.

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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.

     

    three-ingredient cinnamon toast (sugar & oil-free, vegan)

    100_1693On this last day of March I’m making a last ditch effort to post a new recipe before we turn the calendar to April. Although it’s been rather quiet here at brownberry tales,  on my side of the screen, it’s been business, and busy-ness, as usual which has led to the starting, but not finishing two other posts.

    Every once and awhile I hit a meal planning slump (such a depressing, clunky word, right?). But honestly, it’s challenging to maintain enthusiasm when planning meals for six palettes that don’t always agree on what tastes good, especially when it comes to plant-based recipes. As a high achiever who loves her family, I want all my peeps to enjoy what they are eating.

    Since inspiration was lacking from traditional dinner recipes, last night, I turned to breakfast. Inspiration found!

    cinnamon toast

    The recipe I’m sharing today is not the one I served last night (pancakes), but it is the recipe I used for a topping. After whipping it up, it reminded me of the cinnamon-sugar topping I used to put on toast. I still have vivid memories of toasting a piece of bread, slathering in with butter, then sprinkling on the cinnamon-sugar mix. Yum! But not so great for the teeth or the body.

    In this version, date paste replaces the sugar and the pecans make an excellent butter substitute. The cinnamon got to stay. 😉

    CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the cinnamon toast recipe

    3-ingredient Cinnamon Toast

    100_16951/2 c. pecans
    1/4 c. date paste
    1/4-1/2 tsp. cinnamon*

    serving size: 3-4 pieces of toast

    Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until the oils release in the pecans and the mixture begins to clump together and becomes spreadable. This may take 3-5 minutes. Spread on toast and store any leftovers in the fridge.

    Recipe Notes

    • I used 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon
    • My favorite bread is the Ezekiel 4:9 Bread by Food for Life because they use sprouted whole grains, but use gluten-free bread if needed
    • Bring any leftovers to room temperature before using.

    vegan oatmeal cookies, fruit-sweetened (gluten-free option)

    100_9170As I shared before I left on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel when I returned…if the work I was doing before would mean all that much after working to provide a home for a family.

    And though I am finding it hard to be back (and not just because of the snow and the cold), I am realizing that the work the Lord has for me to do here does matter…just in a different way. I’m grateful for the work I do have here and it’s keeping me moving forward instead of stuck with longing to return.

    Before getting down to business, though, I want to share a couple pictures from the trip to capture the change God wrought for a family. The one on the left is of the one-room home they lived in, smaller than many garages in North America and devoid of running water. The photo on the right is of the family in front of the home we helped build complete with a full bathroom and separate bedrooms and living spaces. What’s hard to capture on “film” or in words, though, is the joy and excitement the family and team felt over this move to a new home.

    vargas family houseAnd if I lived in the neighborhood, I might welcome these new neighbors with a batch of cookies. But since I’m here and they’re there, I will do the next best thing and share one of my favorite cookie recipes with you.

    oatmeal cookie recipe The inspiration for this recipe came from here at Oh She Glows. I had almost given up on oatmeal cookies because it’s hard to approximate the buttery, butterscotch undertones when eliminating butter and brown sugar. It was a joy to discover that toasted pecans are an excellent substitute.

    Because I have substituted fruit sweeteners and date paste for the sugars, these cookies have a different taste and texture from the traditional oatmeal cookie, but that doesn’t stop them from disappearing when served to a crowd! Also, feel free to add in your favorite mix-ins (raw cacoa nibs can sub for dairy-free chocolate chips if you want to keep the cookies sugar free).

    CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the vegan oatmeal cookie recipe

    vegan oatmeal cookies, fruit-sweetened

    Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

    Cook Time: 20-24 minutes

    Yield: approximately 2 dozen cookies

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/4 c. pecans
    • 1/2 c. walnuts
    • 2 c. oats, gluten free if needed
    • 3/4 c. date paste
    • 1/4 c. coconut flour
    • 1/2 c. brown rice flour
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon
    • 2 scoops 100% pure stevia
    • 1/2 – 3/4 c. mix-ins, if using
    • 1/4 c. white grape juice concentrate
    • 1/4 c. apple juice concentrate
    • 1/4 c. coconut oil
    • 2 tsp. vanilla

    Mix-in Suggestions

    • Dairy-free chocolate chips (if you don’t mind adding in a little sugar)
    • Raw cacao nibs
    • Unsweetened dried coconut
    • Raisins
    • Unsweetened dried cherries
    • Apple-juice sweetened dried cranberries

    Instructions

    Heat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Lightly toast pecans and walnuts (see this post for a tip on toasting nuts), then combine with oats and date paste in a food processor. Blend until the nuts, oats and dates resemble a coarse crumb, then pour into a large mixing bowl.

    Add flours, baking soda, cinnamon and stevia to the bowl and stir until thoroughly combined.

    In a small saucepan, warm the juice concentrates, oil and vanilla until the oil melts then add to the dry ingredients with any mix-ins you’d like to add. Stir to combine and the mixture holds together when pressed between your fingers.

    To form cookies, roll into a ball in your hands, then gently press flat onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The cookies don’t spread, so you can place them close together.

    Bake for 20-24 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly browned. Cool at least 10-15 minutes before removing from pan to help the cookies set. Store in an airtight container.

    Recipe Notes

    You can use all pecans if you’d like, but I toss in some walnuts because they are a little cheaper, but it’s best to have mostly pecans because of the butter undertones they provide.

    You can use all brown rice flour or any combination of your favorite flour, though the texture may vary. I like adding in the coconut flour because of the additional sweetness it provides.

    If you have a hard time find white grape juice concentrate like I do, see this post for making your own fruit juice concentrates.

    I bought my stevia at Trader Joe’s and it comes with its own scoop. Be sure the stevia you are using is 100% pure as many stevia products have additives and other sweeteners included in the ingredients.

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