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!

 

Print
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!

 

 

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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.
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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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skillet pot pie (gluten free option)

100_1058Every year the  Dairy Farmers of Canada release a free calendar featuring recipes starring one or more dairy products. The Milk Calendar is a fixture on my parents’ fridge. Even though they no longer eat dairy. But it’s an endearing tradition and I always look forward to flipping through it.

While I cringe at the propaganda that continually tries to convince the public that eating dairy is a good and essential thing to do (it’s not), a few of the calendar’s recipes can be adapted to suit a vegan diet. One of the recipes my mum tried years ago was the Milk Calendar’s Turkey Pot Pie. It was an instant hit in our family.

I’ve been making the same recipe for years for my own family, although I had taken out the turkey even before changing my diet. Once I eliminated dairy from diet, I further modified the recipe to incorporate plant-based milk and butter.

Traditionally, I’ve made this recipe in a casserole dish, but decided to change things up and make it in one of our cast iron skillets.

No skillet? No worries. Simply cook in a regular pot, then transfer the filling to a casserole dish and top with the crust. It’s as easy as…pie.

spp

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the Skillet Pot Pie Recipe

Skillet Pot Pie

Prep Time: 30-45 minutes

Cook Time: 45-55 minutes

Keywords: bake saute entree casserole gluten-free nut-free vegan sugar-free potato carrot peas mushroom

    For the Filling

    • 2 cups diced organic potatoes*
    • 2 cups sliced carrots
    • 1 medium-small onion, minced
    • 1 large garlic clove, minced
    • 1 cup diced mushrooms
    • 1/4 red pepper, finely minced
    • 1 cup peas
    • 1 cup organic corn
    • 1 tsp tapioca flour or organic cornstarch
    • scant 1/4 cup flour of your choice, gluten free if needed*
    • 1/2 cup unsalted veggie stock
    • 1 cup unsweetened dairy-free milk*
    • 1/2-3/4 cup water
    • 1/2 tsp. thyme
    • 1/2-1 tsp salt
    • dashes of pepper and turmeric

    For the Crust

    • 1 cup flour of your choice, gluten free if needed*
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 T parsley
    • 1/2 c. of unsweetened dairy-free milk, chilled*
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/3 c. organic dairy-free butter, chilled*
    • 1/2 tsp. xantham gum if using gluten-free flour
    *see Recipe Notes for details

    Instructions

    For the Filling

    Par boil diced/chopping potatoes and carrots until just fork tender. Par boiling saved cooking time and ensures the potatoes and carrots will cook properly.

    Meanwhile, in the skillet, saute onion and garlic in a little veggie stock until onions begin to soften. Add the mushrooms and red pepper and saute until the vegetables are tender. Add more stock as needed to prevent the liquid from boiling away.

    Stir in tapioca and flour until thoroughly mixed, then pour in stock, milk and water and bring to a boil while stirring frequently to prevent the flour from sticking to the bottom of the skillet.

    Once the mixture boils, add thyme, salt, pepper and turmeric and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Cool the filling, then add potatoes, carrots, peas and corn.

    For the Crust

    Mix together the flour, baking powder, parsley and salt. Cut in chilled butter until the mixture has crumbs the size of peas. Pour in milk and gently stir to combine. Drop by the spoonful over the filling.

    To Bake

    Place skillet in an oven warmed to 375 degrees and bake 45-55 minutes or until the filling is warmed through and the crust is baked. To prevent the crust from burning, you might need to cover the skillet loosely with foil for the last 10-15 minutes of baking. Placing a large baking sheet on a rack below the skillet is recommended to catch any drips from the filling as it likes to bubble over the pan.

    Recipe Notes

    Using organic vegetables is always best, especially for the potatoes (due to pesticides) and corn (because of GMO). If using soy-based dairy substitutes, it’s best to use organic because of GMO.

    I found cooling the filling mixture before adding the potatoes, carrots, peas and corn helps the peas retain a bright green color instead of turning an unappealing grayish green.

    For the filling, I used organic brown rice flour and unsweetened organic soy milk. For the crust, I used equal parts organic brown rice flour and whole wheat pastry flour, unsweetened organic soy milk and Smart Balance organic dairy-free whipped buttery spread.

    Since the crust is unfussy (more of a biscuit, really), feel free to experiment with your favorite blend of flour. However, its best to add xantham gum if going completely gluten free.

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