sunshine bliss balls (vegan, dairy free, gluten free, no added sugar)

 

It’s funny, but often I get my recipe inspiration when I have an event or theme to work with. Probably because the possibilities are endless when it comes to dreaming up recipes and it’s one way of narrowing things down. LOL

I created these Sunshine Bliss Balls as I was preparing to head to Cincinnati a few weeks ago for a Bible Study Fellowhship leaders retreat. If you’re not familiar with BSF, it’s an international Bible study program and one that has been an ah-mazing resource for me and thousands of others around the world.

Anyway…

Whenever I travel away from home, I always prepare myself by packing “survival” foods because I’ve learned that most places are at a loss of how to accommodate a vegan diet in a way the stretches beyond a salad. Now, I never mind eating salads (see my last post), but when I’m paying for it, I want something more than I can easily make at home…and for much cheaper.

So I’ve learned that if I want to balance my diet, I need to supplement what is available with what I can bring.

One of the ways I do that is with snacks. Especially energy balls. Like these Sunshine Bliss Balls.

 

 

The beauty of an energy ball is they are extremely portable, typically contain a good mix of carbs, fats and protein and can satisfy a sweet tooth, snackish craving without any added sugar or empty calories.

This recipe took it’s inspiration from a date-orange slice recipe that my mom found years ago when we lived in England. I wanted to replicate the tanginess but take it in a different direction as well. Like adding fresh turmeric which is inflammatory and an antioxidant.

In these Sunshine Bliss Balls you will find:

  • dates
  • dried mango
  • dried apricots
  • unsweetened shredded coconut
  • almond butter
  • sesame seeds
  • fresh turmeric
  • orange juice

They are a little on the stickier side, so you definitely want to coat them in the unsweetened shredded coconut and keeping them in the fridge is a plus (although they can hold up at room temp). If you make them to travel, packing them in a sturdy container is essential.

Okay, ready for the recipe? Here you go!

Sunshine Bliss Balls
Total Time
10 mins
 

When you need a bright boost of macro- and micro-nutrients on the go, these Sunshine Bliss Balls are just the things.

Course: Dessert, Snack
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dried mango
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 1 cup medjool dates*
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated turmeric
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1 T sesame seeds
  • 1/16 tsp sea salt
Instructions
  1. If the mango, apricots or dates are on the dry side, briefly soak them in warm water to soften them. Drain, then add them to a food processor or strong blender along with the remaining ingredients and blend until thoroughly combined. You will scrape the bowl a few times to ensure easy mixing.

  2. Spoon out enough mixture to form 1" balls. Since the "batter" is sticky, have a bowl of water next to you to lightly dampen your hands as you roll each ball.

  3. Roll each bliss ball into unsweetened shredded coconut and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES

I highly recommend buying only dried fruit that is free from sulfur, additives and sugar.

It's best to buy Medjool dates with the pits still in them as they are more moist than the pre-pitted kind. Obviously, you'll need to remove those pits before soaking/blending. 😉

 

 

 

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

  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • Happily, Aldi has been carrying Medjool dates lately, but you can also find them here.

 

 

 

 

easy weeknight meal: sweet potatoes with cheesy pistachio dust (vegan, gluten free)

 

As a food blogger, it can be tempting for me to post oodles of complicated, fancy recipes that have a big wow factor. Because those are the things that get a lot of splash and attention.

But, that’s not reality.

As a mom of four and business owner two times over, I don’t have time most days for complicated and fancy. I’m guessing you don’t either.

Which is why I’m sharing more of a meal idea than a “recipe” with you today. It’s an easy weeknight meal that is uncomplicated, but tasty. Simple, but satisfying. Light on ingredients but packed with the nutrients your body needs to fuel itself for all the things you do.

That’s the beauty of an easy weeknight meal, isn’t it?

First we start with a sweet potato. Packed with vitamins, fiber, potassium, sweet potatoes are one of my favorite comfort foods. I like to prepare them either by baking them whole or cutting them in half and placing cut side down on a baking sheet to get a be-you-ti-ful carmelization, like you see with the sweet potatoes in the picture above.

Next comes a side of salad. Here’s where you can find the dressing and basic to a chop salad that frequently makes an appearance on our table. It’s one the kids like, especially since I let them customize their toppings. Just ignore the picture…clearly, I’ve been working on my photography skills.

To amp up the protein and keep this meal from being ho-hum, I whipped up and added some cheesy pistachio dust (dairy free, of course) to both the potato and the salad. You’ll find the recipe for that below.

 

 

If you’re pressed for time during the week, you can prep much of this meal ahead of time over the weekend by pre-baking the sweet potatoes and mixing up the pistachio dust and salad dressing. I don’t recommend prepping the veggies ahead (unless you’re having them the next day) since they start to lose some of their nutrients after being cut. Instead, chop them up while you’re warming the sweet potatoes (I always do this in the oven, as I ixnayed the microwave for food years ago).

So there you have it! An easy weeknight meal that can be partially prepped ahead of time or simple enough to come together even in a pinch.

 

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.

 

 

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

  • Click here for my favorite food processor for the cheesy pistachio dust

rainbow plate with roasted chickpeas and citrus garlic tahini sauce (vegan, gluten free)

 

As a food blogger, I want to believe that everyone will absolutely love what I create and share. One hundred percent. All the time.

This, of course, is not realistic…as my family frequently reminds me.

Take this rainbow plate, for example. Yum, right?!

Except if you don’t like red peppers, sweet potato, chickpeas, kale and/or eggplant, roasted, seasoned or dressed but not disguised in a soup or sauce. Since I happen to love all these veggies, this is a plate I want to dive into on repeat. I was hoping my family would want to do the same.

My youngest, however, “didn’t like that dinner” and it was like pulling teeth to get my other three to finish (they ate their favorite veggies first, but that is different for each of them)). Even my husband didn’t give it glowing reviews, because, well, right now I’m the only die-hard veggie lover in my family.

But despite the ho-hum, yuck reviews from my dearest ones, I’m still sharing this rainbow plate because I loved it and I know there are other veggie-lovers out there that will love it too.

It’s simple to make and balanced with protein from the chickpeas plus it gives you all the vitamins and antioxidants your body is really craving. It’s simply dressed with a citrus garlic tahini sauce (more protein +tang) and the veggies could be roasted up on the weekend to prep for a busy week ahead.

If you absolutely dislike one or more of the veggies I’ve included on this plate, just switch it up for a different vegetable of the same color. Because that’s the beauty of cooking and recipe sharing.

 

rainbow plate with roasted chickpeas
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

An easy, delicious way to "eat all the colors," this rainbow plate combines roasted veggies with raw kale to give you all the nutrients and is dressed with a tangy garlic tahini sauce.

Course: Entree, Main Course
Servings: 2 people
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
For the Rainbow Plate
  • 1-2 red pepper, cut in strips
  • 2 large sweet potato, cubed
  • 2 15-oz can chickpeas
  • kale, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 medium eggplant, diced
  • 2 tsp avocado oil
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper
For the Citrus Garlic-Tahini Dressing
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast
Instructions
For the veggies:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 as you prepare the veggies. Add sweet potato and eggplant cubes to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare the chickpeas by combining them in a bowl with the seasonings and toss to coat well. Spread on a baking sheet.

  3. When the sweet potatoes have cooked for 15 minutes, remove from oven and rotate for even cooking. Add the eggplant and red peppers to the baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired and return to the oven for another 25-30 minutes or until all the veggies are tender and roasted.

  4. At the same time, add the pan of chickpeas to a different rack in the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes or until they are slightly crispy. It's helpful to stir them a couple times during baking for even crisping.

For the dressing:
  1. While the veggies are roasting, mix all the dressing ingredients in a blender or small food processor, blending until thoroughly combined. Dressing can be stored in an air tight jar in the fridge for one week.

To assemble the rainbow plate:
  1. Add veggies and chickpeas in rainbow order to each plate, using as much kale as desired. Drizzle dressing over each serving.

 

chia cherry goji berry energy bites (vegan, gluten free, paleo)

 

Whether you need a quick pick-me-up as you’re on the go or a little something to hold those sugar cravings at bay, these chia cherry goji berry energy bites are just the thing. Fortunately, they are much easier to whip up than they are to say (LOL) with just seven ingredients.

Since the name is kinds of a mouthful, I decided to shorten it to “Bing-Go Bites” for the bing cherries and goji berries. So much easier – and fun! – to say.

I created this recipe while I was packing for our mission trip to the Dominican Republic last month. I wanted something that would travel well, include both healthy servings of plant protein and fruit and provide extra nutritional benefits like antioxidants (cacao nibs, goji berries and cherries) and omega-3 fatty acids (chia seeds). Oh, and free of added sugars of course.

That sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it?

I had been dreaming up energy bites like this for awhile but hadn’t pinned myself to actually pull something together and what better time than the day you have to leave the country? Let me tell you, I was praying these would turn out the way I had imagined since I left myself zero time to test multiple batches. So grateful God answered that prayer with a speedy “yes.”

 

 

 

Let me tell you, I’m extra grateful I had these chia cherry goji berry energy bites (a.k.a. Bing-Go bites) on hand as we encountered a two hour wait to get through the airport in Santo Domingo and the virus I ended up coming down with was starting to kick into gear. They got the stamp of approval from other team members too.

If you try these, or the other recipes on my site, I would love to hear your feedback too! Good and not-so-good. Your comments are extremely helpful as I continue to both develop and improve on the recipes I share with you.

chia cherry goji berry (Bing-Go) bites
Total Time
15 mins
 

Whether you need a quick pick-me-up as you're on the go or a little something to hold those sugar cravings at bay, these chia cherry goji berry energy bites are just the thing.

Course: Dessert, Snack
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1 cup date paste*
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 T chia
  • 1 T goji berries
  • 1 t cacoa nibs
  • 1/4 cup dried bing cherries
Instructions
  1. Add first four ingredients to a food processor and mix until thoroughly combined and smooth. Add the goji berries, cacao nibs and dried cherries and pulse until just combined.

  2. Scoop out mixture with a spoon and roll in your hands to form 1" balls. Place in an airtight container. Should be eaten within 1-2 days if stored in the cupboard or 5-7 days in the fridge.

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 used the Navitas brand of cacao nibs which I bought online at vitacost.com. But you also can find them here.
  • I found the dried Bing cherries at Trader Joe’s. You can get them online here if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you. Make sure they are free of added sugar and sulfur!
  • The goji berries were from the bulk section at Whole Foods, but you can get them online here.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Mocha Hazelnut Torte

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe Notes

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

 

 

 

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

  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • Date paste: I usually buy mine at a local Mediterranean/middle eastern store. If you don’t have one near by, you can make your own using Medjool dates (see Recipe Notes) Happily, Aldi has been carrying Medjool dates lately, but you can also find them here.
  • Cocoa powder: for fair trade cocoa powder which helps support farmers at fair wages, Equal Exchange is an excellent brand with a very rich cocoa flavor. I got mine at Whole Foods, but you can also find it online here.
  • Trader Joe’s coconut cold-brew coffee concentrate can also be found online here.
  • Pure stevia: It’s critical to use 100% pure stevia with no additives or fillers (see this post). I get mine at Trader Joe’s, but try the NOW BetterStevia™ Organic Zero Calorie Powdered Sweetener — 1 oz brand here. Even though it appears pricey, a little goes a looong way, and my container lasted me for several years! This link will save you $5 on your order…comment or message me if you want to know which products I stock up on to get the free shipping

south-of-the-border party dip (vegan, oil free, added sugar free)

 

I could happily eat Mexican-style foods most days of the week. It’s one of the few cuisines that easily adapts to a plant-based diet without extraordinary effort or feeling like something is missing. Meat- and cheese-lovers might disagree, but as a former meat- and cheese-lover, this is my story and I’m sticking to it.

While this dip is made for the party scene, I also love it as a main, side or lunch any day of the week. It’s best when eaten within the first day, but can hold up in the fridge for a couple of days, although the avocado isn’t too happy about that.

This south-of-the-border party dip was inspired by one shared at a friend’s, but I “beefed” the recipe up with the addition of chickpeas plus a couple south-of-the-border ingredients: jalapenos and jicama.

 

 

 

If you’ve never tried jicama (pronounced hee-cama), it’s a root vegetable that has a pleasant crunchy texture and the flavor reminds me of apples, although not as sweet or pungent. To prepare it, all you do is peel it and slice as desired – for this recipe, I diced it. See the “Shop the Recipe” guide under the recipe for where you can find it.

This is a recipe where you can play with the ratios of ingredients and choose what to include and what to leave out, but of course, I recommend trying the whole kit and caboodle first as suggested in the recipe below. Since most of my family like foods on the mild side, I kept the jalapeno peppers to a minimum – really just enough to hint at some heat, but if you like things spicy, you’ll want to toss in more.

 

South-of-the-Border Party Dip
Prep Time
15 mins
 

A hearty, refreshing dip that is easy to pull together especially for large gatherings or when you want to whip up a quick meal.

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican
Ingredients
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 12-14 green onions, diced
  • 1-1.5 cups corn kernals
  • 1-1.5 cups diced cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 avocados, diced
  • 1 cup, packed cilantro
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, diced fine (optional)
  • 3/4-1 cup jicama, diced (optional)
Dressing Ingredients
  • 2-3 T veggie stock
  • 1-2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. With the exception of the avocado, add all the dip ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly to combine. Add the avocado just before serving, coating it with extra lime juice to slow the browning.

  2. Combine the dressing ingredients, pour over the dip and stir to coat.

Serve with organic tortilla chips or combine it with lettuce for a hearty salad.

 

 

 

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

  • I used Eden Organics black beans and chickpeas for this recipe. I love that they are unsalted! If you can’t find them in your local store, you can get them here.
  • I always buy my corn organically because of GMOs in conventional corn. I get mine in bulk at BJs (a wholesale club), but Trader Joe’s also carries it. You also could look for the Woodstock brand in your local grocery store if they cater to an organic market. If you aren’t a member of BJs and want to check it out, use this link to sign up for a BJs membership and we’ll both get $25!
  • I bought my jicama at Whole Foods, but you could also look for it at Mexican grocery stores or larger grocery stores with an expanded selection of fruits and veggies may carry it.