easier-than-pie apple crisp (no added sugar, vegan, soy free, dairy free)

 

I never was much of a pie person. Unlike pizza where I could eat just the crust, pie crust left me cold. And making it? My results were rarely worth the effort. Which is why crisps are more my speed.

Easier to pull together and capped with a sweet, flavorful topping…mmmm. Yes. Please.

My favorite way to make this apple crisp also makes it virtually foolproof because you can control your chunky-to-sauce ratio and turn out the perfect-for-you apple crisp every time. Personally, I like things a little more on the saucy side.

For the topping, I swapped out the traditional brown sugar and butter for dates (in the form of date paste) and pecans. Much healthier options and still distinctly sweet too. The oats were allowed to stay (you can make these certified gluten free if need be).

While I’ve shared before that I hesitate to label any of my recipes kid friendly (because they like to buck trends), this is a recipe that all of my children enjoy. And because it’s free of any added sugars, I have no problem if they want to eat it for a snack or even for breakfast.

The apple crisp filling is one “ingredient” where I don’t measure because it’s kind of hard to mess up. The only way you can really ruin the filling is by using too much cinnamon. Feel free to let your hair down and not worry about getting it perfect. Good grief, cooking should be fun, not stressful and there are some recipes (like these) where I love to encourage you to feel confident in straying from a strict recipe! When you try this recipe for yourself the first time, go easy on the cinnamon – tasting it before adding more.

 

Print
easier-than-pie apple crisp
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

This apple crisp is extremely easy to make and, with managing the sweetness without added sugars, is perfect as a dessert, snack or even breakfast!

Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
For the filling
  • 2 per person apples (organic is best)
  • dashes cinnamon
For the crust
  • 3/4 cup date paste
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 cup whole rolled oats, organic is best
Instructions
For the filling:
  1. Peel and core apples* and roughly chop. Add to a large saucepan along with enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until apples begin to break down. A potato masher can help with this. For a chunkier filling, leave more apples in tact in bite-sized pieces. For more sauce, mash more apples up. Sprinkle with dashes of cinnamon to taste.

For the topping:
  1. While the apples are cooking, add all topping ingredients to a food process or blender and blend until it becomes crumbly.

For the crisp:
  1. Add filling to a casserole or glass baking dish and sprinkle on the topping. You can stop here and eat it as is, or, place in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes for a slightly firmer topping.


Recipe Notes

*RECIPE NOTES:  Using a mix of green or tart apples with sweeter ones yields the most flavorful filling       *        If you can't find date paste, you can make your own by soaking 3/4 cup of Medjool dates in warm water for 1-2 hours and then blending until smooth. In this case, it's best to buy Medjool dates with the pits still in them and simply remove the pits just before using.       *       Extra topping can be stored in the fridge for about a week. Sprinkle it over raw fruit or add to oatmeal...or eat it by the handful like I sometimes do!

 

 

 

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  • 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.

 

 

german chocolate cake (vegan, no added sugar, soy free)

 

Happy Birthday…to me!

Yep, it’s my birthday today and I’m celebrating by sharing this german chocolate cake recipe with you.

But first…if you’ve been checking regularly with me, you might have noticed it was awfully silent here last week. It’s for a good reason, I promise you, and I’ll be revealing more later this week (eek! excited!). My newsletter tribe already got a bit of sneak peek. If you also want to be among the first to hear exciting news and never miss a recipe, sign up for the newsletter here. I also share a little more content and personal stories there too!

Right. Back to the cake.

Before I made the switch to a vegan, low/no added sugar diet, german chocolate cake topped my list as a favorite birthday cake. It was one I thought was crossed off my list forever since the traditional frosting uses evaporated milk and eggs and is packed with sugar.

Then I discovered that if I combined dates with three basic ingredients. it produced a frosting that closely approximates the original but far surpasses it nutritionally. Insert celebration with confetti here.

photo @pixabay.com

 

The german chocolate cake itself is a modification of my chocolate zucchini muffin recipe…which means these also work perfectly as cupcakes!

And here’s an interesting bit of trivia…when I first heard of this cake, I thought “german” meant it was a cake that originated in Germany by some inspired baker. However, it actually refers to the last name of an English-American chocolatier, Samuel German, who invented a certain kind of dark baking chocolate. So, really, the cake should be German’s chocolate cake.

Print
German Chocolate Cake
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 

This classic cake gets a healthy makeover by eliminating both the added sugar and dairy. Instead, dates, pecans and coconut form the decadent frosting and the cake itself gets a nutritional boost from shredded zucchini.

Course: Dessert
Ingredients
Dry Ingredients
  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 scoops 100% pure stevia*
Wet Ingredients
  • 2 small ripe/slightly underripe banana
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond coconut milk
  • 2 flax eggs 2 T ground flax seed + 4 T water
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup date paste*
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
Frosting
  • 15-20 Medjool dates with pits (remove pits before mixing)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
Instructions
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9" cake pans well (coconut oil is recommended). On a piece of parchment paper, use one of the cake pans to trace two circles in pencil. Cut out the circles and place one (pencil-mark down) in each cake pan. 

  2. Mix up your flax egg and set aside. In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients and mix to thoroughly combine.

  3. In a food processor or high speed blender, add all wet ingredients EXCEPT the zucchini and apple cider vinegar. Blend until well-combined and very smooth then add to the dry ingredients. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet until combined.
  4. Gently stir the batter as you sprinkle in the zucchini a little at a time and then add the apple cider vinegar and gently mix again. Spoon into prepared batter into the pans and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  5. When finished baking, leave in the cake pans for 10-15 minutes, then loosen with a knife and remove from the pans and place on a cooling rack. Store cake in a covered container for 1-2 days or refrigerated for 3-4 days.

Recipe Notes

*Recipe Notes Be sure to use 100% pure stevia If you can't find date paste, you can make your own by soaking 3/4 cup of Medjool dates in warm water for 1-2 hours and then blending until smooth. In this case, it's best to buy Medjool dates with the pits still in them and simply remove the pits just before using. I recommend using spelt flour and unsweetened almond coconut milk as it's why I used and results may vary with other flours or dairy-free milks although feel free to experiment Unless you don't mind a slight banana flavor to the cake, I recommend using a small perfectly ripe or just under-ripe banana.

 

 

 

  •  Click here for my favorite food processor
  • I got my organic spelt flour (GMO free!) from the bulk section at Whole Foods, or you can find it here.
  • Target and many other grocery stores carry the unsweetened almond coconut milk, but you also can get it here.
  • Pure stevia: It’s critical to use 100% pure stevia with no additives or fillers. I get mine at Trader Joe’s, but try the NOW BetterStevia™ Organic Zero Calorie Powdered Sweetener — 1 oz brand here. Even though it appears pricey, a little goes a looong way, and my container lasted me for several years! This link will save you $5 on your order…comment or message me if you want to know which products I stock up on to get the free shipping
  • I usually buy my almond butter from Trader Joe’s, but click here for another option.
  • Date paste: I usually buy mine at a local Mediterranean/middle eastern store. If you don’t have one near by, you can make your own using Medjool dates (see Recipe Notes) Happily, Aldi has been carrying Medjool dates lately, but you can also find them here.
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut: If you have a Whole Foods or natural foods store near by, check the bulk section! Or get it here.
  • Pecans: I buy mine at BJs (a wholesale club) or you can find them here. 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!

 

 

Chop Salad with Pecan Parmesan and Caesar Dressing

chop saladThere’s just something that feels so right about eating a colorful bowl of salad. Agree?

And something rustic yet subtly sophisticated about the name, “chop salad.” Throw in a salty, savory topping and a garlic-infused dressing, and that’s a two forks up in my book.

I’m sharing this recipe with my Sugar Pretox Challengers, and couldn’t resist sharing it with you as well. It comes together easily and is made with ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry or fridge.

The pecan parmesan is inspired by the recipe in Angela’s  Oh She Glows Cookbook. Watch those pecans when you toast them (a must for this recipe!). See this post for a tip on toasting nuts quickly and usually without burning them. Unless you step away to check email, wash a few dishes, referee an argument…let’s just say, I’ve been there before. 😉

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the Chop Salad recipe

chop salad with pecan parmesan and caesar dressing

Prep Time: 25

Serves: 4

 

Ingredients

    For the Pecan Parmesan

    • 1 c. pecans
    • 4 tsp. nutritional yeast
    • 3 tsp. olive oil
    • ¼ tsp salt

    For the Caesar Dressing

    • ½ c. olive oil
    • 1 tsp. lemon juice
    • ¼ heaping tsp of ground mustard
    • ¼ heaping tsp. salt
    • dashes freshly ground pepper
    • 1-2 garlic cloves

    For the Chop Salad

    • Romaine lettuce, kale and/or spinach
    • Carrots
    • Cucumber
    • Celery
    • Snap peas
    • Alfalfa sprouts

    Instructions

    For the Pecan Parmesan

    Add pecans to a large dry saucepan or fry pan. Toast for 2-3 minutes over high heat stirring frequently, until fragrant and lightly toasted. Watch closely as the pecans can burn easily!

    Add toasted pecans, nutritional yeast, olive oil and salt to a food processor or blender and process until finely chopped.

    For the Caesar Dressing

    Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until fully emulsified. Leftover dressing can be stored in an air tight jar for several days in the fridge.

    For the Salad

    Wash and prepare all salad ingredients: kale and/or romaine lettuce or spinach, carrots, cherry tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, snap peas, cucumbers.

    Over each serving, sprinkle pecan Parmesan and drizzle on salad dressing

    Recipe Notes

    The dressing and pecan parmesan keep well for several days if stored properly in an airtight jar in the fridge.

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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.

    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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