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

 

 

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

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

Cue the holidays.

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

So, what to do?

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

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

 

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green kiwi smoothie

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Now for that updates mini pumpkin pies recipe…

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES:

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

jam roll (vegan, added sugar free, nut free)

 

Growing up, I always knew pie meant one thing…jam roll.

I’m not sure where the tradition started, but I remember my English grandmother and my mom making them  – often using strawberry or raspberry jam as the filling. It’s a completely genius way to use up scraps of pastry left over from pastry making and there’s something so right about warm jam between a crispy layer of pastry.

Here’s how it’s done.

 

 

1. Reform your pastry scraps into a ball and roll out to 1/8″-1/4″ thick.

2. Spread a thin layer of jam over the pastry bringing it almost to the edges. To keep it added sugar free, use only jam made with 100% fruit. I used Crofter’s wild blueberry jam here.

3. Fold one of the long side over to the middle.

4. Repeat with the other long side.

5. Then fold both short ends over and press to seal.

6. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is a light golden brown.

7. Let the jam roll cool slightly before slicing and serving…preferably with a cup of tea.

 

I would love to hear back from you on this…have you made jam rolls from left over pastry scraps before? Or do you have another brilliant method that’s become a tradition in your family? Tell us in the comments!

 

 

mini pumpkin pies with maple coconut whip (vegan, dairy free, nut free, added sugar free option)

 

Aren’t these the cutest? Teeny pumpkin pies just waiting to be popped into your mouth. Pumpkin pie made without any added sugars and allowing only a hint of it in the coconut whip.

Funny thing, though, until I came up with this recipe, I wasn’t a pumpkin pie fan. Never baked one. Never wanted to. It’s a texture thing.

With this recipe, the texture (thankfully) changes by pulling out the milk, eggs and sugar and replacing it with whole fruits. It also keeps the filling added sugar free which means you’re never going to regret that “one last piece.” So, yay, for a healthy makeover too!

 

 

Besides those two pumpkin pie victories, I think my biggest cause for celebration was the pastry crust. As I shared here, I’m normally a crisp person because of my pie crust struggles. But this crust came together beautifully with the combination of whole grain spelt flour and Earth Balance vegan buttery spread, plus keeping everything chilled. (BTW you’ll definitely want to come back here early Wednesday for a recipe idea using leftover pie crust dough.)

You could easily bake the pumpkin pie shells ahead of time – even freeze them a few weeks in advance – and the filling is perfect for making a day or two ahead of time to let the flavors of the spices fully develop. My personal preference is to let each person add their own dollop of coconut whip along with a dash of nutmeg, or leave it off completely.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES:

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

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

snack to school week: imperfect fruit cups

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I debated about sharing this recipe with you because, well, it didn’t go exactly according to plan.

It was the first time I was trying out the vegan alternative to gelatin and because our last few weeks were crazy busy, I didn’t leave time to practice with it before wanting to share the recipe with you. It certainly tastes fine, but it didn’t hold up the way I had hoped. In fact, a few of them fell apart.

However, I think there’s a lesson in this which is why I’m sharing the recipe anyway. Because as moms with access to an overwhelming number of ideas beautifully styled, captured and shared online, we can feel like our own efforts are not good enough when they turn out less-than-perfect. Which makes us feel less than.

And I think this message gets filtered down to our children.

This is why I’m sharing my less-than-perfect first attempt with this recipe (and what I might try next time) because I want to live believing that my attempts to delight and surprise my children are good enough even when they don’t look that way on the surface.

 

Delighting and surprising my children is exactly what I had in mind when I decided to try the vegan version of “jello” fruit cups since it’s a rare treat around here. Vegan “jello” uses agar agar (which comes from seaweed) instead of the animal-based gelatin typically found on store shelves. If you want to learn more about how animal-based gelatin is made, here’s the low down from organicauthority.com.

 

 

The other advantage of making your own “jello” fruit cups is the ability to control the sugar content by using 100% fruit juice. For this recipe, I chose a cranberry, raspberry, blackberry blend.

 

I think there were a few contributing factors to these falling apart once I removed them from the muffin tin:

  1. I used frozen raspberries instead of fresh which increased the water content. Therefore, I recommend using fresh fruit for these.
  2. I probably needed more agar agar than recommended because I used berries (which affects the geling abilities) and I wanted these to pop out of a muffin tin instead of staying in a dish.
  3. It took me a few attempts to figure out how to free them from the tin without destroying them, and go figure, it was gravity that came to the rescue.

 

Print
imperfect fruit cups
Prep Time
5 hrs
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
5 hrs 10 mins
 

These "imperfect" vegan fruit cups subtract added sugar and animal-based gelatin and multiply fun.

Course: Snack
Servings: 15
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 4 cups 100% fruit juice of your choice
  • 4-6 tbsp agar agar
  • 1/2 cup fresh fruit (apple, pear, banana, berries, oranges, kiwi)
Instructions
  1. Grease a muffin tin very well with coconut oil. Set aside.

  2. Pour the fruit juice into a large saucepan and sprinkle in the agar agar*. If you plan to add berries, oranges or kiwi, you will need to use 6 T of agar agar. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

  3. Using a ladle, carefully pour the liquid into each muffin cup, leaving enough room to add the fruit without the liquid spilling outside the cups.

  4. Add a few pieces of fruit to each cup, then place muffin tin on a jelly roll pan (to catch any spills), and put in the refrigerator for several hours or until set.

  5. To remove fruit cups from the tin, carefully run a knife around the sides of each portion to loosen. Then, over the jelly roll pan, invert the muffin tin upside down at about a 30 degree angle. One by one, run the knife around the side of each fruit cup. Gravity to help the cup to slide out of the tin and onto the pan. You'll want to rotate the muffin tin as you do this so that the fruit cups you are loosening are closest to the jelly roll tin. Use a spatula to scoop up each fruit cup and carefully place in a storage container. If stacking them in one container, separate each layer with a piece of parchment paper. Store in the fridge.

Recipe Notes

*I used agar agar flakes. You may need to adjust the quantity if using agar agar powder or bars - simply follow those package directions. Not all fruits are compatible with agar agar. To learn more about this, visit this link.

 

(contains affiliate link which helps fund this website but at no cost to you)

  • I found my package of agar agar flakes at Whole Foods Market in the Asian food section. Natural food and Asian grocery stores also may carry it, or you can find the flakes here and the powder here.

snack to school week :: more spinach trees! (nut free, sugar free, vegan)

As I was dreaming up this week of recipes for you, I had several goals in mind: the recipes had to be quick and easy to prepare, offered healthier, more nutrient-dense alternatives to typical kid-geared snacks and had an element of fun to entice tiny palettes.

When it comes to fruits and sweeter veggies like carrots, this isn’t so hard. But greens like spinach are another matter.

Which is why I’m so excited to share this recipe with you! I’m mildly obsessed with it and cannot believe I hadn’t thought of it before. It’s ridiculously easy, free of nuts, can also be make seed-free and takes an already healthy condiment to a new level.

Meet the “More Spinach Trees” snack.

You have two options for mixing up the spinach hummus dip. Either you can finely chop the spinach and stir it into the hummus for a leafy look.

Or place the hummus and spinach in a food processor and give it a whirl until the spinach is thoroughly incorporated and turns the hummus a light green color. While I love homemade hummus (you can find my favorite recipe here), I usually buy mine because it’s a time saver for me.

To assemble as the More Spinach Trees, slice some cucumber, spread on the spinach hummus dip and add a pretzel rod trunk. If you’re sending this to school, you can package each element separately and let your child assemble on their own. While it’s healthiest to leave the pretzel rods out all together, keep them in if it encourages your child to try the spinach hummus dip.

While I find it hard to notice a difference in taste or even texture when I’ve added the spinach, suspicious children may still balk at trying this (one of mine did). If that’s the case, start out with smaller amount and gradually increase it over time as they adjust to the new color.

If you try this, I would love to hear your feedback! Did your children like it? Or not?

 

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More Spinach Trees!

A fun and easy way to boost the nutrients in an already healthy snack and sneak some extra greens into your child's diet...and your own too!

Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup regular hummus of your choice
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed spinach
  • cucumbers, sliced
  • pretzel rods
Instructions
  1. For the "leafy" spinach hummus dip, finely chop the spinach and stir it into the hummus. For the blended green hummus, add the hummus and spinach to a food processor and blend the spinach breaks down and turns the hummus to a light green color.

  2. To assemble the "trees," spread the hummus on each slice of cucumber and place on a tray. Add a pretzel rod "trunk."

Recipe Notes

For pickier eaters, you may need to start off with smaller quantity of spinach and gradually work your way up. The spinach doesn't noticeably affect the taste or texture of the hummus, but the different appearance can cause little ones to be suspicious. 😉

One of the best tips for helping children accept vegetables and new flavors is one I encountered in a vegetarian cookbook several years ago: chop the veggies into smaller child bite-sited pieces. I’ve found I like doing this for myself too! For this dip, finely chop the spinach if you’re going to stir it in vs. blending it.

 

(contains affiliate links)

  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • I bought my pretzel rods at Trader Joe’s, but here’s a brand I like even better!
  • My go-to brand of hummus is made by Sabra which many grocery stores carry.

 

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

    lemon curd (vegan, reduced sugar)

    lemon curdtextScones are one of the desserts my mum makes if company is coming for lunch or in the afternoon and usually she serves them with jam. But on occasion she would treat us to lemon curd to accompany the scones. Perhaps it is because we had it so rarely that I enjoy it so thoroughly.

    Given the use of eggs and lots of sugar, lemon curd was something I didn’t think I would be eating again after switching to a plant-based diet several years ago and drastically cutting back on my sugar intake (including unrefined sugars) last year.
    100_2352Lemon curd is something I associate with my mum and with England and with special occasions…which makes this a good follow up to Mother’s Day and this post.

    But when my mom made a lemon meringue pie using a plant-based lemon filling, it got me thinking that perhaps it was possible to recreate a plant-based lemon curd. After doing some research and experimenting, I finally arrived at this recipe.

    I was able to reduce the sugar by using white grape juice and adding less than 1/4 cup of liquid sweetener. I usually use coconut nectar since it carries a low glycemic rating, which means the body absorbs it more slowly than other forms of sugar. You can find it for a good price here at Vitacost (I recommend stocking up to save on shipping). The organic cornstarch (find it here at Abe’s Market) and coconut cream help thicken it.

    lemon curdprocess
    left: curd before adding coconut cream & non-dairy butter right: after adding coconut cream & non-dairy butter

    CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the lemon curd recipe

    lemon curd (vegan, reduced sugar)

    Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

    Cook Time: 5-7 minutes

    Makes: about 2.5 cups

    Ingredients

    • 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

    In a sauce pan, combine juices, zest if using, sweeteners, cornstarch and salt. 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 and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

    Recipe Notes

    I love this recipe 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.

    **I like using coconut nectar because of its low glycemic rating. I buy mine through Vitacost – clicking this link gives me credit to their Refer-a-Friend program.

    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. You can get it through Abe’s Market, but natural foods stores also may carry it.

    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.

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    sweet potato & lentil soup (vegan, oil-free)

    2009-01-19 17.49.37The first vegan cookbook I ever purchased was Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson*. It was during the season in my life that my oldest son likes to refer to as “the time when we weren’t eating healthy.” I refer to it as the time when I didn’t realize the benefits of eating a plant-based diet.

    But the Lord knew He would bring me to this place, so He gradually encouraged me to go meat-free on more than just Monday. I started by exploring vegan and vegetarian cookbooks in our local library until I stumbled upon Vegan Planet*.

    One of my favorite recipes from the book is Robin’s “Indian-spiced Lentil Soup” on page 78.

    Although soups are most often thought of in the fall and winter, I make them year round. Especially when spring shows its chillier side.
    100_1753

    100_1772

    100_1770

    100_1757And I think this soup is especially spring-like with the bright addition of cilantro, an herb that flourishes in cooler temperatures.

    2009-01-19 17.12.30Spring, summer, fall, winter, here is my version of this sweet potato lentil soup.

    swplentilsoup CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the sweet potato lentil soup recipe

    sweet potato lentil soup

    Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

    Cook Time: 60-70 minutes

    Ingredients (6-8)

    • 1 small onion, diced
    • 1 celery rib, chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 small sweet potato, peeled & diced
    • 1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
    • 1 tsp. ground ginger
    • 1 tsp. ground cumin
    • 1 tsp ground coriander
    • 1 ½ cups dried brown lentils
    • 6 cups water
    • ½ cup cilantro leaves, minced
    • ½-3/4 tsp. salt
    • Dashes of pepper

    Instructions

    In a stock pot, sauté onions, celery and garlic in a little water until onion is translucent (about 5 minutes)

    Add sweet potatoes and sauté 5 minutes more.

    Add water, tomatoes and seasonings except the cilantro. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 50 to 55 minutes until the lentils and sweet potato are cooked through.

    Add cilantro and cook 10 minutes more.

    Recipe Notes

    As with most soups, this one tastes even better the second day when the flavors have fully developed.

    This soup freezes well, so make some extra and keep on hand when you need a meal in a pinch.

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

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    oven-baked sweet potato chips + guacamole (vegan, oil-free)

    2009-01-18 19.13.25I grew up in a home where we ate quite a variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables. But somehow the avocado eluded us. And guacamole? The first time I tried it I was in my late twenties.

    It was love-at-first-bite.

    guacamole collage But chips, guac’s side kick, are rather low on the healthy eating spectrum, sprouted, organic, GMO-free or not. And despite their salty, crunchy tastiness, I’ve been looking beyond the vegan label to examine what I’m actually putting into my body.  Because eating a plant-based diet doesn’t necessarily = a healthy diet.

    So when I want a healthier compadre for my guacamole, I round up some sweet potatoes and put them to work. According to WebMD, sweet potatoes are full of calcium, potassium and vitamins A & C.sweet potato rounds collageBoth recipes are simple to prepare and contain a small handful of ingredients.

    But before we get to the recipes, I wondered…are there any foods or dishes that somehow eluded you in childhood that you discovered as an adult?

    CLICK TO PRINT A PDF of the guacamole recipe
    CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the oven baked sweet potato chips recipe

    oven baked sweet potato chips & guacamole (oil free, vegan)

    Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

    Cook Time: 45-60 minutes

    Keywords: bake raw appetizer snack side gluten-free nut-free oil free paleo soy-free sugar-free vegan vegetarian garlic avocado cilantro sweet potato Cinco de Mayo Mexican

    Ingredients

      For the Sweet Potato Chips

      • Sweet potatoes
      • Salt
      • Chili powder
      • Cumin

      For the Guacamole

      • 1 avocado
      • 1- 1½ tsp. fresh lime juice
      • 1-2 T cilantro
      • 1 small garlic clove, minced
      • 1 tsp. cumin
      • 1/8 tsp. salt
      • Freshly ground pepper

      Instructions

      For the Sweet Potato Chips

      Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

      Meanwhile, peel sweet potatoes, then slice into rounds about ¼” thick.

      Place rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with seasonings to your taste.

      Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hours, turning at least once until potatoes are cooked through.

      For the Guacamole

      Peel the avocado, remove pit and mash.

      Add remaining ingredients to the avocado and stir thoroughly.

      Best if served immediately.

      Recipe Notes

      Plan to prepare approximately 1-2 sweet potatoes per person depending on the size of the potato.

      Sweet potato chips are best when freshly cooked, but can be stored in the fridge and then reheated

      Avocados are ripe when their skins are black and they yield gently to the touch.

      A fork or potato masher work well to mash the avocado.

      Sometimes I add in diced onion and/or finely diced tomatoes to mix things up a bit.

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