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.

 

 

Print
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.

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.

O Canada cherry berry creamsicles (vegan, sugar free)

Every year I tell myself I will plan ahead and get my holiday-related posts up before the actual day.
Ahem!

But inevitably, I leave inspiration to strike at the last minute. 

(For those of you who don’t know me, I live in the US and am now a citizen but I was born in Canada.)

I came across this idea on Pinterest, and had to try it while dreaming up my own recipe.

I was so excited how these Cherry Berry Creamsicles turned out! They were easy to make and are packed with whole fruit and are dairy and sugar free.

If you want a quick video tip that comes with making these, leave a comment with your email address.

There’s also lots of fun and inspiration happening daily on my Facebook page…www.facebook.com/wildberrycoach. I would love to have you join me there for conversation!

CHERRY BERRY CREAMSICLES

1.5 cups frozen cherries

1.5 cups frozen strawberries

1 T white grape juice (optional)

3 bananas, sliced into rounds and frozen

1 15 oz can full fat coconut milk.

1 tsp. vanilla

1. Bring cherries and one cup of strawberries to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add white grape juice if using. Add to a food processor with the remaining strawberries and blend until smooth. Let cool then add a large spoonful to the bottom of each Popsicle mold. Freeze.

2. Rinse food processor bowl and add frozen bananas, coconut milk and vanilla. Blend until smooth.

3. Take Popsicle mold out of freezer and add 2-3 spoonfuls of banana-coconut mixture. Pop back in freezer for 20-30 minutes.

4. Add remaining cherry strawberry mixture to top off the Popsicle molds and insert stick.

5. Freeze until frozen solid.

6. To release Popsicle from mold, run under warm water. 

6-ingredient chocolate earth truffles (vegan, gluten free, sugar free, raw option)

chocolate earth trufflesAs promised yesterday, here is an Earth Day-inspired recipe that is simple to make and a way to satisfy the sweet tooth without any added sugar (unless you want to add a little).

I came across this recipe at the Whole Foods Market recipe site, but made it over so that it didn’t contain sugar. I always love when I find recipes that are easily sweetened by fruit…recipes that leave you feeling good about what you ate instead of weighed down and sluggish.

You might want to double this recipe if you have children or are bringing this to share because they don’t stay on the plate for very long.

If you’re curious why I recommend buying fair-trade cocoa powder, read this post.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the Chocolate Earth Truffles recipe

6-ingredient chocolate earth truffles

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

Chill Time:  1 hour

Makes: 12-15

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup date paste
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably fair trade
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup cacao nibs (or dairy free chocolate chips)
  • 1/3-1/2 cups unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut

Instructions

In a food processor, add peanut butter, date paste and cocoa powder and blend until all the ingredients are well combined.

Spoon mixture into a large bowl and add raisins and cacao nibs or chocolate chips. Stir until thoroughly combined.

Place mix in the fridge for about one hour to firm up.

Scoop out spoonfuls of truffle mix and form 1” balls.

Roll balls in shredded/flaked coconut.

Recipe Notes

Store in an air tight container in the fridge. Will keep for about 2-3 days if properly stored.

You also could roll the truffles in finely ground walnuts, pecans or almonds.

To make these raw, use raw peanut butter

Powered by Recipage

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.

Powered by Recipage

national day of peanut butter // january 24

I’m not sure why we need a national day dedicated to, well, anything, or why January 24 was selected as the day in which to celebrate peanut butter, but it’s fun so we’ll go with it.

While many countries don’t get the North American affinity for this spread and it’s potential to cause highly allergenic reactions, you have to admit this is one versatile condiment! I’m hard pressed to think of another that can comfortably pull up a seat at the breakfast, lunch and dinner table and stick around for dessert and snack time.

In college a friend and I had a theory that peanut butter went with pretty much anything. So we put the theory to the test.

We were not disappointed.

The most surprising discovery? Peanut butter + green pepper. Weird, but it works.

So in honor of National Peanut Butter Day, here’s a mini round-up of four recipes with peanut butter as the star:

ants on a log
snack time: ants on a log
100_2516
beverage: peanut butter milkshakes

 

calico brownies
dessert: calico brownies
peanut butter banana jumblelaya
snack time: peanut butter banana jumblelaya

 

Next week, I’ll post one of my favorite recipes with a peanut butter-based sauce that pairs well with Asian cuisine and that I use most often on a crunchy raw salad.

What are your favorite peanut butter based recipes? Favorite peanut butter memories from childhood? And…crunchy or creamy?

 

peanut butter banana milkshake (vegan, no added sugar)

pbmilkshakes Shakes and smoothies are such a “thing” these days.

(Almost) every time I see a shake or smoothie recipe posted on my favorite food blogs or on the pages of a magazine, I think, “I should try that.”

Yet, I rarely make it past this shake.100_2516It tastes rich and unwholesome but really is made from a few simple good-for-you ingredients with no dairy or sugar in sight and was inspired by this recipe over at Healthy. Happy. Life.

Enough said. With summer is in full swing and school starting in less that one month for us, I’m keeping this post short and sweet…

Print
peanut butter banana milkshake (dairy free, no added sugar)

Smooth and creamy, this shake is a perfect combination of salty and sweet.

Course: Beverage, Breakfast, Snack
Servings: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 banana, pre-sliced & frozen
  • 3 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • dashes cinnamon
  • 1/2-3/4 cup unsweetened, dairy-free milk
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender, starting with ½ cup of almond milk. Blend until smooth, adding more milk as needed to produce a thick but pourable shake.


Recipe Notes

I love using unsweetened almond milk for this, but suspect it would be yummy with unsweetened coconut milk too! For a peanut free version, try walnuts. To keep the recipe raw, use a raw nut butter.

lemon squares (vegan, low sugar, gluten free)

lemon squaresI think one of the hardest things to do when you change the way you eat is to stop indulging in your memory of the foods you used to enjoy. It’s hard to convince the brain that the sugar/dairy/meat-laden dish once inhaled without second thought will now cause your body to launch a revolt.

I have a few food memories that are hard to short circuit. One of them is of the lemon squares my husband whipped up one dreary afternoon – made with extra lemon juice. I almost swoon at the memory.

100_1796Tempting as it is to consider making a conventional batch of lemon squares to satisfy my lemon cravings, the sugar content alone scratches it off the list. You can read a little about my decision to cut back on sugar here.

Thankfully, the plant-based, low sugar lemon curd recipe I posted earlier this month is an excellent substitute for the traditional lemon square filling. It’s complemented by a gluten free, coconut crust, inspired by this recipe. And the icing sugar? It’s actually a dusting of coconut flour.

lemon square collageWhat is your favorite lemon dish? What foods do you have a hard time resisting based on the memory alone?

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the lemon squares recipe

lemon squares (vegan, low sugar, gluten free)

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

Cook Time: 15-17 minutes

Serves: 16 squares

Ingredients

    for the Crust & Topping

    • 1 c. shredded, unsweetened coconut
    • 1 c. almond flour
    • ½ tsp. baking soda
    • 1 scoop 100% pure stevia
    • ¼ c. melted coconut oil
    • 1 tsp. coconut nectar or agave
    • ½ tsp. vanilla
    • Coconut flour (for dusting)

    for the Filling

    • ¾ c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • Zest from one organic lemon (optional)
    • ½ c. white grape juice
    • 3 T coconut nectar or agave
    • 2 scoops 100% pure stevia
    • 5 T organic cornstarch
    • ¼ tsp. salt
    • 1 T vegan butter
    • Cream from 1 can full fat coconut milk
    • Scant 1/8 tsp turmeric (optional)

    Instructions

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

    Using your hands, mix all ingredients for the macaroon crust together in a bowl.

    Pour crust into a greased 8”x8” glass baking dish and press crust firmly to compact it together.

    Bake for 10-12 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Cool.

    While crust is baking, combine juices, zest if using, sweeteners, cornstarch and salt in a sauce pan. Whisk constantly over high heat until mixtures begins to thicken. Don’t worry if it takes on a lumpy texture, step 2 will smooth it out!

    Immediately turn off heat and whisk in butter and coconut cream until smooth.

    Add turmeric for a brighter lemony color.

    Cool slightly, then pour over crust.

    Recipe Notes

    The more you press the crust, the better it will hold together after baking.

    Use a pizza cutter to give a nice clean cut to the squares.

    I love this recipe for the lemon curd because even if your mixture goes lumpy in step one, adding the coconut cream and butter and giving it a good hard whisk seems to correct it back to smooth and silky.

    *It’s best to use organic lemons if you want to add the zest because of the high pesticide content in the rind, however if you’re just using the juice and organic lemons are out of your budget, regular lemons will do.

    Make sure the stevia you use is 100% pure as many stevia products have additives including added sweeteners. I get mine at Trader Joe’s and it comes with its own tiny scoop.

    Organic cornstarch, while on the pricey side is best because of GMOs in nonorganic corn.

    I use Thai Kitchen’s full fat coconut milk because the coconut cream is often already separated from the liquid. However, if the cream hasn’t consolidated on its own (you can tell by giving the can a gentle shake, refrigerate it overnight upside down.

    I found adding a little turmeric enhances the visual appeal of the curd since the white grape juice and coconut nectar or agave produce a beige-colored curd.

    Refrigerate to set, then use a sieve to dust with coconut flour.

    Powered by Recipage

    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.

    Powered by Recipage

     

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

     

    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.

    Powered by Recipage