Spring and Easter Sweets and Treats!

A few things I enjoy most about Spring are: more daylight, warmer weather, fruit trees and flowers in bloom, and Easter.  Whether it is Easter or the wonders of Spring that you celebrate with your loved ones at this time of year, I want to share a few of my favorite sweets and treats that have been proven to please everyone, vegans and non-vegans alike!

The first dessert is my husband’s favorite.  It is reminiscent of a New York-style cheesecake– my Vanilla Bean “Cheese”cake with Mixed Berry Compote.  It looks sinfully delicious; however, there is nothing sinful about it.  Unlike the original, cholesterol-ridden version of this “cheese”cake, my version is vegan, gluten-free, and raw– it doesn’t contain any cholesterol and its powerful vitamins, minerals and enzymes still remain intact.  Instead of eating empty calories, we get a healthy handful of nuts, berries, and raw coconut nectar.

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Another favorite of mine is my Nutty Creamy Chocolate Cake.  My non-vegan friends are awestruck when they take a bite into this silky smooth piece of deliciousness– they cannot believe there is not one drop of dairy in this luscious, creamy cake.  I have been told many times that this tastes like a decadent truffle cake.  At some point, I may even change the name to “Chocolate Truffle Cake” since it is so fitting.

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These Dreamy Creamy Vegan Berry and Vanilla “Cheese”cake Tartlets are the size of cupcakes, and they are even better than cupcakes.  The combination of the vanilla and the berry cream with the sweet date and nut crust in these tartlets is incredible.  I gave these as gifts to some friends who aren’t vegan, and they raved about how amazingly delicious they are.
photo-117As you can probably tell from my favorite sweets so far, raw vegan cashew “cheese”cakes, are high up on my list.  I have yet to meet one person who doesn’t appreciate the silky smooth, decadent, and delicious vegan “cheese”cake!  This next recipe is basically a raw vegan cashew-pistachio “cheese”cake with a whisper of rose and kiss of cardamom.  I made this beauty, filled with popular Middle Eastern flavors: rose, pistachio, and cardamom– for my in-laws who are Persian-American.  They not only were impressed by the aesthetics, but loved the flavors and textures.  I call this a Creamy Pistachio Rose Dreamcake.

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I’m a big lover of chocolate, so of course, I need to add a chocolate brownie to my list of favorites.  These are my favorite Black Bean Brownies.  If you make them for your loved ones, play the guessing game.  Have them try your vegan and gluten-free brownie first, then tell them to guess what the secret ingredient is!  Best served chilled as a stand-alone treat or served with a scoop of vanilla ice “cream” for brownie a la mode.
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My next favorite are Raw Goji-, Cranberry, and Coconut Truffles.  They are the quickest to make, and they go fast–either in your fridge at home (by you) or displayed in front of a crowd of guests.  These truffles are chewy with the perfect amount of sweetness from coconut, coconut nectar, cranberries and goji berries.  I am shocked that the pickiest of eaters will pick one of these up and go back for seconds and thirds.  These are great to give out as gifts, too, packaged in recycled jars, tied with pretty ribbon.

 

 

Thin Mint Cookies are loved by all.  My friends and family, and my readers who have made them for their families have told me they are even better than the original Girl Scout version.  Within the snappy chocolate coating lays a crisp chocolate mint cookie.  They are minty fresh.  If you and your loved ones enjoy mint and chocolate, you will be in heaven with these cookies!  

 

My Yayfair Chocolate Candy are a delight, and are a lot of fun to make, too.  This is my vegan version of what used to be one of my favorite nuts and chews candies from See’s Candy Store– the Mayfair candy.  This recipe tastes like the real thing, only it’s not bad for you.  No cholesterol or refined sugar.  It’s simply chocolate candy with dried cherry, walnuts, hemp seeds and vegan date “caramel.”  It’s raw and such a wonderful, guilt-free treat!          IMG_6522

Last but not least, everyone’s favorite, the classic Chocolate Chip Cookie or Chocolate Chai Cookie.  These are easy to make and they are divine.  Amazingly, the texture of these cookies is soft, like a Keebler soft-batch cookie. The key ingredients are the garbanzo flour and coconut sugar– the combination of the two helps achieve its soft, chewy texture.  I love the flavor of the Chocolate Chai Cookie and must warn you that they are addicting.  Since they are so popular among my readers and within my circle of friends and family, I usually give these cookies as gifts.

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I hope this post has given you some good ideas for what to cook up this weekend!  If you haven’t tried any of these sweets and treats, a good time to try them is now!

I love seeing your My Eclectic Kitchen recreations!  Please continue to tag #myeclectickitchen and @yvonne_deliciously_vegan on Instagram, or tag ‘My Eclectic Kitchen’ on Facebook when you post photos of your re-creations!  Who knows, I may feature your post on Instagram and Facebook!

One last thing, if you are interesting in an Instagram shout-out, don’t forget to enter my Instagram Shout-out Contest!  Ends this Friday, April 18th.  Simply:

1) repost any of my photos

2) follow @yvonne_deliciously_vegan and tag #YvonnesShoutoutComp

I hope you are having a wonderful week so far!

In Love and Health,

Yvonne

 

 

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Almond, Cherry, and Chocolate Biscotti

Photo Credit: Miranda Rivera

Photo Credit: Miranda Rivera

When a fellow vegan, Justine from England, requested that I create a gluten-free vegan biscotti recipe, I asked if she had any preferences or wanted anything specific in the recipe.  Justine proceeded to tell me that she desired chocolate chips.  So in developing this recipe, I knew I had to somehow incorporate chocolate chips.  Since I already have chocolate chips in so many of my dessert recipes I decided to change it up a bit.

I searched my pantry for inspiration.  The first thing I discovered is that I did not have anise extract, which the dominant flavor traditionally found in biscotti.  I did, however, have almond and vanilla extract.  I decided to make my own version of biscotti with a dominant almond flavor. To make things more exciting, I added a zing with lemon zest and a deep, sweet flavor of dried cherries.  Once twice-baked and cooled, I decided to give them a little dip in chocolate and they turned out quite nice, if I do say so myself.

I made two batches—one with coconut sugar and one with Stevia.  The coconut sugar turned the biscotti brown and the biscotti with Stevia retained a nice creamy, golden color.  Although I do like the creamy color of the Stevia version, the coconut sugar biscotti in my humble opinion tasted better.  The quality of the cookie dough was much easier to work with as well.  Please note, since there are nuts and cranberries in the dough, some of pieces that are cut prior to baking the biscotti the second time may crumble a little.  No worries though.  Just pop those broken pieces in your mouth, chew and savor the flavor.

Since I am no longer a coffee drinker, I honestly did not think enjoying a biscotti was still possible.  Boy, was I wrong.  They simply are crispy cookies dipped in a bit of chocolate.  Now, who doesn’t like that?

Feel free to try this recipe and make an ice “cream” biscotti sandwich, enjoy it with coffee or tea, or eat it all by its lonesome.  Biscotti can also be a perfect edible gift for your family and friends.

 

 Almond, Cherry and Chocolate Biscotti

Makes 14 – 15 cookies

Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

¼ cup coconut oil, melted

1 ½ tbsp flax meal

4 ½ tbsp filtered water

½ cup coconut palm sugar

zest from half a lemon

1 tsp almond extract

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 2/3 oat flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp xanthan gum

¼ cup slivered almonds

1/3 heaping dried cherries

¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 tbsp coconut oil, melted

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

3. In a medium bowl, beat together ¼ cup coconut oil, flax meal, filtered water, coconut sugar, lemon zest, almond and vanilla extracts until well-blended.

4. In a small bowl, combine and mix together flour, baking powder, and xanthan gum.

5. Stir into wet mixture to form a heavy dough.

6. Add almonds and cherries and combine well.

7. On the lined baking sheet, form into a log as long as the cookie sheet. Press down to ½ inch thickness. Bake for 25-27 minutes.

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8. Remove from the baking sheet and cook on a rack. When cookies are cool enough to handle, slice crosswise with a serrated knife into ½ inch slices.  Since there are almonds and cranberries, they may crumble a bit.

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9. Place slices cut side up on backing sheet. Bake for additional 7 minutes on each side.  Cookie slices should be lightly toasted.

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10. Allow cookies to sit on the baking sheet for at least 3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

11. Make sure the cookies are fully cooled before dipping them in chocolate.  When the cookies are cooled, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

12. Melt 1 tbsp of coconut oil and the chocolate in a bowl over a double boiler by bringing a pot with 2 cups of water to a simmer and placing the bowl of coconut oil and chocolate on top of the pot, stirring constantly until it melts. Turn off the heat once it is almost fully melted. Wipe off any water from the bottom of the bowl and do not put any water in the melted chocolate or it will seize.

13. Dust off crumbs from the biscotti and either dip the biscotti and/or use a spoon to coat the bottom of the biscotti.  Place the dipped biscotti on the lined baking sheet, and place it in the refrigerator to set. Remove from the refrigerator once the chocolate is set and store in an airtight container.

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Enjoy!

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Chunky, Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts, Pecans and Coconut

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Looking for a vegan and gluten-free cookie recipe that’s hearty, easy to make, and won’t leave you feeling guilty for popping 3 or 4 cookies in your mouth? Well, you are in for a lucky treat!  My chunky, chewy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with walnuts, pecans, and coconut will most definitely do the trick!

This marvelous cookie contains no oil, refined sugars, or flours.  Rather, it is packed with fiber, protein, and omega-3s!  You will love the texture of the oats, the crunch from the pecans and walnuts, the slight sweetness of the apple and coconut, and the punch of sweetness and creaminess from the chocolate chips.  These are truly heavenly. I hope you love them as much as I do!

 

Chunky, Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts, Pecans and Coconut

Time: 25 minutes

Makes 16 cookies

V, GF, DF

 

Ingredients

2/3 cup rolled oats (gluten-free)

2/3 cup oat flour (gluten-free)

1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp coconut sugar

1/3 cup shredded coconut

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp fine sea salt

1/8 tsp xanthan gum

2 heaping tbsp pecans, roughly chopped

2 heaping tbsp walnuts, roughly chopped

1/3 cup semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips

¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce

1tbsp almond butter

½ tbsp flax meal

1 ½ tbsp filtered water

1 tsp vanilla extract (no alcohol)

 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

2. In a small bowl, mix together apple sauce, almond butter, flax meal, filtered water and vanilla extract. Mix well and set aside.

3. In a medium-large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and mix.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine.

5. Scoop out balls onto a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper or a silpat mat, using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop or by measuring out 2 tbsp balls. Flatten the tops of the cookies with your hand or a spatula.

6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden. Allow them to sit on the baking sheet for at least 2 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy!

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Chickpea Fritters with Cucumber Dill Sauce

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There are times when I am in a big rush and need to make something quick, yummy, and high-in-protein to serve alongside a big dinner salad.  On one of these days, I came up with these delightful, little chickpea fritters.

On the days when I am totally averse to frying, I use a griddle to make both sides of my fritters golden and then finish them off in the oven.  On the days when I am short on time, I will fry these babies up in a shallow, hot oil bath.  The result is crispy and extra scrumptious.

You can enjoy them with a big salad, cucumbers, or in pita bread with cucumber dill sauce!

My chickpea fritters are easy-to-make, satisfying, and most definitely delicious!  If you are ever pressed for time or expecting visitors, make these!  Your friends and family will be glad you did!

 

Chickpea Fritters

Servings: 2-3

Makes 9 2-inch in diameter fritters

Prep Time: 20-30 minutes

V, GF, DF, NF

 

Ingredients

1 tbsp flax meal

3 tbsp filtered water

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

½ cup green onion, sliced

½ cup cilantro, chopped

1 ½ tbsp poblano chile pepper (or substitute jalapeno pepper)

½ cup oat flour (gluten-free)

½ tsp sea salt

½ tsp ground cumin

sunflower or grapeseed oil for pan frying

 

Directions

1. In a medium-sized bowl, add chickpeas. Mash the chickpeas with a potato masher, keeping in mind that it’s okay to keep some chickpeas whole since it’ll add nice texture to the patties.

2. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl, except for the oil.  Using your hands or a large fork, thoroughly mix and combine all of the ingredients together.

3. a) Heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat and add enough oil to create a shallow bath to fry the fritters in.  Once the oil reaches 350 degrees, pan fry 2-inch in diameter patties until golden on each side, about 4-5 minutes, flipping once. Drain oil from the patties by placing a paper towel on a plate and folding it once. After frying, place patties on the paper towel.

b) Alternatively, form 9 2-inch patties and cook them on a griddle, sprayed with coconut cooking spray until golden brown on both sides.  Place the patties on a lined baking sheet and finish them off in a pre-heated 350 degree F oven for about 15 -20 minutes.

4. Serve with Cucumber Dill Sauce (recipe follows), salad and sliced cucumbers.

 

Cucumber Dill Sauce

Ingredients

½ cup cashews, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained

¼ cup filtered water

1 tbsp lemon juice

¼ cup cucumber, chopped

1 tsp dill, chopped

1/2 tsp garlic, chopped

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

¼ sea salt

Directions

Place all ingredients into blender, and blend on high until smooth. If the mixture is too thick to blend, add some filtered water, 1 tbsp at a time. Serve with fritters as a dipping sauce or to dress salad and cucumbers.

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Chocolate Candy With Dried Cherry, Walnut, Hemp Seeds and Vegan Caramel

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In the United States, there is a popular candy store called See’s Candies, which can pretty much be found in any busy shopping mall.  Growing up, my parents would receive many boxes of See’s Candies Assorted Nuts and Chews chocolates for the holidays, hide them, and every so often take a box out for all their six children to enjoy.

Looking back, I can see how being the youngest in my family could have shaped my taste in chocolate candy, specifically See’s Candies chocolates. My sisters, older and bigger than me, would move swiftly toward the chocolate box and strategically choose candies of their choice leaving me with the undesirable ones.  This explains my exuberant passion for the candies that my sisters considered revolting.  For example, just this past holiday season, I noticed that my two favorite candies from See’s Candies happened to be the ones that were left in the box and untouched–Scotchmallows and Mayfair chocolates.  The Scotchmallows are “a layer of caramel with a layer of honey marshmallow covered in rich, dark chocolate.”   The Mayfair chocolates are “creamy soft center with walnuts, cherries and vanilla covered in smooth milk chocolate.”  I don’t quite understand why my sisters find those two flavors undesirable.   To me, they are awfully delicious and fun to eat!  In my pre-vegan days, I would stop in at See’s Candies just to buy one piece of either the Scotchmallow or Mayfair chocolate.  So good!

Most recently, I went to the mall and when I walked past See’s Candies I was reminded of my beloved Mayfair candy.  Since See’s Candies does not offer a vegan variety, I decided to create my own version.  I’m calling it Yayfair because my name starts with a ‘Y’ and I like the word “yay!”   This recipe tastes like the real thing, only it’s not bad for you.  No cholesterol or refined sugar.  It’s simply chocolate candy with dried cherry, walnuts, hemp seeds and vegan date “caramel.”  It’s raw and such a nice, guilt-free treat!

Here’s the recipe. I hope you enjoy it!

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Yayfair Chocolate Candy

Makes 9 – 10 candies

V, GF, GFV, ND, R

Ingredients

Filling:

4 large and soft medjool dates (if not soft, soak in filtered water overnight in the refrigerator and drain the water), pitted

1  1/2 tablespoon almond milk

1/2 tsp almond extract (or vanilla extract, no alcohol)

pinch fine sea salt

1/2 cup dried cherries

1 cup walnuts

2 tbsp hemp seeds

Coating:

7 tbsp cacao powder

3 tbsp coconut oil, melted

3 tbsp cocoa butter, melted

1 tbsp maple syrup

4 drops liquid stevia Stevia and more, as needed

 

Directions

1. Place the dates, almond milk, sea salt, and almond extract (or vanilla extract) in the food processor. Process until smoothish, somewhat like caramel. Taste the mixture. Adjust the almond (or vanilla flavor), if you wish.

2. To the food processor, add the walnuts, dried cherries and hemp seeds and pulse a few times. You will still want texture from the nuts and cherries, so be careful not to over-process.

3. a) Scoop mixture into a silicone ice cube tray, adding just enough of the mixture to each mold to make a cube with equal sides. Flatten and level the top with your fingers.

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b) Alternatively, if you don’t have a silicone ice cube tray, line a loaf (bread) pan with parchment, using cooking spray to keep the parchment in place. Add the mixture to half of the pan and flatten, smooth out the top.

4. Place the candies in the freezer until frozen, about 3-4 hours or overnight.

If you are placing the candies in a loaf pan, remove from the freezer after 30 minutes and cut into 9 – 1  1/2 inch cubes, or however many cubes you wish.   Place back in the freezer to freeze completely.

5. When the candies are almost frozen, make the chocolate coating. In a small bowl, mix together all of the coating ingredients and adjust sweetness by either adding more stevia or maple syrup.

6. Prepare for coating the candies with chocolate:

a) Line a small sheet tray (1/4 sheet tray) with parchment paper.

b) Take out a fork and a large spoon to assist you with coating the candies with chocolate.

c) Remove the candies from the freezer and quickly punch out the candies from the silicone ice cube mold.  Alternatively, remove the cubes from the bread pan and parchment.

Note: When you start coating the candies, you will need to move quickly since the frozen candy will freeze the chocolate almost immediately.

7. If you’re right-handed, hold the fork in your left hand (opposite if you’re a lefty). Place the candy on the fork. Hold the spoon with your left hand. Quickly dunk the bottom of the candy in the chocolate. Wipe the bottom with the back of the spoon and very quickly, spoon chocolate all over to coat the candy. Remember, to work quickly or you will see layers of chocolate coating. Quickly, place the candy on the lined sheet pan and sprinkle hemp seeds lightly on top of the candy before the chocolate sets. Repeat until you are done coating the candies with chocolate. If the coating chocolate in the bowl starts to set, gently heat it so it’s easier to work with. If you run out of chocolate, make a little more.

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8. Store in refrigerator to set and until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

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Vanilla Bean “Cheese”cake with Mixed Berry Compote

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Of all the desserts I make, my husband says this is his favorite.  That’s how I know this recipe for vanilla bean “cheese”cake with a mixed berry compote is definitely a winner!

I can honestly say that after indulging in a slice of this vegan “cheese”cake, I felt no guilt.   Perhaps, this may be due to my active lifestyle or maybe it’s because this cheesecake is vegan and raw– it doesn’t contain any cholesterol and its powerful vitamins, minerals and enzymes still remain intact.

Instead of eating empty calories, we get a healthy handful of nuts, berries, and raw coconut nectar.  There is coconut oil in the recipe, which is high in fat.  However, coconut oil does not contain cholesterol.  The oil comes in the form of medium-chain triglcerides (or MCTs), which differ from types of fat consumed from both plant and animal sources, long-chain triglycerides (or LCTs).

“MCTs are easily digested, absorbed, and utilized in the body because their molecules are smaller       than those from LCTs. This means that unlike other fats, they require less energy and fewer enzymes to break them down for digestion. They are an excellent choice of fat for active people and athletes as MCTs digest immediately to produce energy and stimulate metabolism. They are also ideal for those who suffer from digestive disorders and are often given in hospitals to provide nourishment for critically ill people who have trouble digesting fat.” -Sarah Britton

That said, if we eat well throughout the day and exercise a few times a week, this is a perfect dinner dessert!

I hope you love it as much as we do!

Vanilla Bean “Cheese”cake with Mixed Berry Compote

Servings 8
Time 1 day
V, GF, DF, R

Ingredients

Crust:
1/2 C raw almonds (pecan or walnuts will also work)
1/2 C soft Medjool dates
¼ tsp sea salt

Filling:
1 ½ C raw cashews, soaked for at least 3 hours, overnight is best
2 lemons, juiced
seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1/3 C raw coconut oil, melted
1/3 C raw coconut nectar (or maple syrup if you can’t find this)

Mixed Berry Compote:
1 1/2 C frozen organic berries: blueberries, blackberries, raspberries
2 tbsp coconut sugar
Stevia, to taste

Directions

1. Place nuts and dates in the food processor with sea salt and pulse to chop until they are to your desired fineness. You’ll want a finer crust than a chunky one. Test the crust by spooning out a small amount of mixture and rolling it in your hands. If the ingredients hold together, your crust is perfect. If you don’t feel it’s holding together, try to mix the mixture with your hands until it comes together.  Scoop out crust mixture into a 6″ spring-form pan (if you don’t have a spring-form pan, use a 6 inch cake round, lined with plastic wrap), and press firmly, making sure that the edges are well packed and that the base is relatively even throughout.

2. If coconut oil is solid, place oil in a small saucepan on low heat until it comes to a liquid state.

3. Place all filling ingredients in a blender and blend on high until very smooth (this may take a couple minutes).

4. Pour the filling out onto the crust and smooth with a spatula. Place in freezer until solid, about 3 hours.

5. To serve, remove from freezer 30 minutes prior to eating. Run a smooth, sharp knife under hot water and cut into slices. Serve on its own or with a berry compote! Store leftovers in the freezer.

Compote:

Option 1: If you want to enjoy the compote raw, mix together sugar and the berries.  Allow the berries to defrost. Sweeten with stevia or more sugar to taste.

Option 2: If you don’t mind heating the berries and want a more syrupy compote, like we enjoy, place the frozen berries and sugar in a small sauce pot on medium heat. Bring it to a boil for about 5-7 minutes, stirring every minute until it thickens a bit.  Remove from heat. Allow it to sit or pour the compote into a bowl and in the refrigerator to cool for about 5 minutes.  As it cools, it will thicken. Sweeten to taste with a little more sugar or stevia, if you so desire.

When ready to serve, top the “cheese”cake with a few spoonfuls of compote.  Enjoy!

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Quinoa Meatballs!

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Who doesn’t like a good meatball?  Well I’ve always been a big fan of them– on top of my spaghetti, in my meatball subs, and even in my movies (“Wedding Singer”).  They are just so good!  I’ve tested a bunch of vegan and gluten-free meatball recipes, but for a while, I wasn’t a fan of any of them.  One day, though, I serendipitously came up with an idea for a new meatball while I was making veggie burgers. I thought to myself, ‘hey- this mixture would make a mean meatball’.  The next day, I made the veggie patty recipe again, and instead of forming patties, I formed them into meatballs.  They were perfect!  I love their sturdy texture, they hold up in my sauce quite nicely, they taste good and they are also packed with lots of protein, fiber and warming foods.  With a good marinara, these meatballs are a winner! (Also, you can use this mixture to make burger patties, too!)

Quinoa Meatballs

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Servings about 40 meatballs

V. GF, GFV, DF, SF, SRF, CFNF, NF

 

Ingredients

2 cups water

1 cup quinoa

3 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 onion, finely chopped

1/4 red pepper, finely chopped

3/4 poblano chile pepper, deseeded and destemmed, finely chopped (can sub with 4 jalapenos)

3 cups spinach, finely chopped

2 stalks of celery, finely minced

2 small carrots, peeled and minced

1.5 tsp celtic or Himalayan sea salt

1 tbsp of cumin

1/4 tsp + cayenne pepper

1 cup oat flour

 

Directions

1. Cook, drain and cool quinoa in filtered water.  Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. In a large saute pan, add onion, garlic, bell pepper, and pasilla pepper, celery, and carrot and cook Cook until onions are translucent.  You do not need any oil to saute this mixture since the water from the onions and other veggies will seep out help cook the rest of the veggies.

3. Add the salt, pepper, cumin, spinach and quinoa. Stir well and cook for an additional 3 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and add oat flour.  Stir well until everything starts to bind together and the mixture cools.  If it doesn’t bind together right away, add filtered water, a tablespoon at a time, at most 3-4 tablespoons.

4. Using your hands (I recommend using gloves, or just have a slice of lime handy afterward because the hot peppers can burn your hands. Rubbing your hands with lime will help alleviate any burning), form the mixture into about 2 tbsp of mixture per meatball.

5. Heat a large pan (I recommend cooking on a non-stick pan) to a high temperature to prevent sticking and coat with 1 tablespoon of oil or non-stick cooking spray (I use coconut cooking spray).  Brown all sides of the meatball.  Alternatively, brown them in shallow bath of oil on medium heat and remove when browned.  Drain on a paper towel.

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6. Either add into your cooked marinara sauce, top your pasta, or stuff your sandwich with meatballs.  Enjoy with zucchini (raw) noodles, pasta, or in a sandwich!

FYI, this mixture can also be used to make burger patties! I usually make a few patties to freeze or to enjoy the next day. :)

 

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Stuffed Mushrooms

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In my home, mushrooms are a kitchen staple.  I love them for their heartiness and meaty texture.  Whether I use them in stir-fries, on top of my pizzas, in soups, as burger buns, or as caps to stuff, mushrooms are always the highlight of my meals.

Did you know that mushrooms must be cooked in order to receive their nutritional benefits?  This is because their cell walls aren’t digestible unless exposed to heat.  Not to worry, mushrooms magically retain nutrients when grilled or stir-fried.  I like eating them for their Vitamin D content– about 1 cup of chopped portobellos gives you 400 IUs of vitamin D!  I also eat a lot in one serving because for every 1 1/2 cup of mushrooms there is 3 grams of protein.  Additionally, eating them regularly has been linked to lower the risk of breast (good for me) and prostate cancers (good for my husband) as they are rich in disease-fighting phytochemicals.  In shiitake, portobello, oyster and reishi mushrooms, a polysaccharide molecule called lentinan helps strengthen the immune system.  Even more, mushrooms provide vitamin C, iron, selenium, copper and as much potassium as a medium-sized banana. All this said, mushrooms are an understated superfood!

Even before I was vegan/gluten-free, I loved ordering stuffed mushrooms at restaurants.  Now that I am vegan/gluten-free, it’s odd and a little disappointing to me that I can’t find stuffed mushrooms on my local vegan restaurants’ menus.  So I brought it on myself to create a stuffed mushroom recipe that’s very pleasing to the palate.  They are vegan, gluten-free, soy-free and such a cinch to make!

These stuffed mushrooms are always a hit with my husband and my extended family.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

 

Stuffed Mushrooms

Prep Time: 35 – 40 minutes

Serves 2 to 4

V, GF, GFV, SF, DF

 

Ingredients

6 medium fresh portabello mushrooms (or 12 small, bite-sized mushrooms)

1/4 cup onion, chopped

1 tbsp garlic, minced

3/4 cup cashews, chopped finely

1/4 tsp lemon juice

2 tbsp filtered water

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/16 – 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, depending on your desired level of heat

1/8 tsp sea salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare a 7″X10″ baking pan by spraying it with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Using a damp cloth, clean off dirt from the mushrooms.

3. Break off the stems and chop them finely.

4. Heat a saute pan and add the onions, garlic, and mushrooms. No oil is necessary since the liquid from the onions and mushrooms’ will seep out when heated and will cook them.  Cook until the onions are translucent.

5. Remove the pan from heat and add the cashews, lemon juice, filtered water, sea salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.  Mix very well and season with more salt, if needed.

6. Spoon the filling into the mushroom caps.  Place stuffed mushroom caps into the greased baking pan.  Bake for 27-33 minutes, until liquid puddles form beneath the mushroom caps. (If you use the bite-sized mushrooms, bake for about 20-25 minutes).

Enjoy!

 

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Creamy Pistachio Rose Dreamcake

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I would have to say that one of my favorite vegan desserts are the raw vegan cashew “cheese”cakes.  They are silky smooth, decadent, and oh-so delicious!  This next recipe is basically a raw vegan cashew-pistachio “cheese”cake with a whisper of rose and kiss of cardamom.  Since these cakes are quite rich, I make them in a 6″ cake pan and then cut them into eighths.  Each eighth slice is a perfect portion (for me, at least)– not too much or too little, just right!  The raw cake is packed with live enzymes, which nutritionist Kimberly Snyder states, “are proteins that catalyze hundreds of different processes in the body.  This includes breaking down fats, enhancing mental capacity, purifying the blood, and renewing aging skin.”

Since the flavors of pistachio, rose, and cardamom are common in Persian desserts, it was fitting that I took this treat over to my Persian/Iranian-American in-laws for one of our weekly family dinners.  And, let me tell  you, it was a hit.  They absolutely loved it!

I hope you enjoy it as much they do.  It is divine!

 

Creamy Pistachio Rose Dreamcake

Serves 8

Prep Time: 1 day

DF, V, GF, GFV, SF, R

Ingredients

Crust:

1 cup pistachios

2 1/2 tbsp coconut nectar

1/2 tsp cardamom, ground

pinch of salt

Filling:

1 cup cashews, soaked in filtered water in the refrigerator overnight

1/2 cup pistachios, soaked in filtered water in the refrigerator overnight

1/3 cup coconut nectar

1/8 tsp 100% stevia powder, optional

1 tbsp rose water

1/3 cup filtered water

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

Directions

1. If you don’t have a 6″ spring-form pan, line a 6 inch round cake pan with plastic wrap, using 2 pieces.

2. Place all of the crust’s ingredients into the processor and pulse to chop until you reach your desired fineness.  You want a finer crust than a chunky one.  Test the crust by spooning out a small amount of mixture and rolling it in your hands. If the ingredients hold together, your crust is perfect. If you don’t feel it’s holding together, try to mix the mixture with your hands until it comes together.  Scoop out the crust mixture into the 6″ pan and press firmly, making sure that the edges are well packed and that the base is relatively even throughout.

3. If coconut oil is solid, place the oil in a small saucepan on low heat until it comes to a liquid state.

4. In your most powerful blender, place all of filling ingredients and blend on high until very smooth.  This make take a couple minutes. Taste the filling and sweeten to taste. Add either a little more coconut nectar or stevia.

5. Pour the mixture out onto the crust and smooth it evenly with an offset spatula or silicone spatula.  Place in freezer until solid for at least 3-4 hours.

6. To serve, remove from the freezer, removing any plastic, 30 minutes prior to eating and top with raspberries.  Run a smooth, sharp knife under hot water and cut into slices.

If you happen to have leftovers, store in the freezer.  Also, for a lighter colored cake, use blonde coconut nectar.

Enjoy!

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Oriental Cabbage Salad

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While perusing the ready-made food section at Whole Foods Market, I spotted an aesthetically pleasing salad that I wanted to take home with me.  However, after reading the salad’s ingredients and discovering that agave nectar is one of them, I changed my mind and decided to make my own crunchy cabbage salad at home.

Have I ever mentioned that I never cook with agave nectar?   It is heated while processed so it is not truly raw.  It also has a low glycemic index, but actually contains more fructose than high fructose corn syrup!  No, thank you!

My sweeteners of choice are as follows:

1) Stevia, a natural, no-calorie sweetener which is made from the leaves of a plant, and

2) Raw coconut nectar for its low glycemic index and because it contains much less fructose (about 20%) than agave (which can contain up to 90% fructose).  Coconut sugar contains 12 of the B vitamins, including riboflavin, thiamine, pyridoxine, biotin, nicotinic acid, pyridoxal and inositol.  It also has minerals including calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, phosphorus and boron. Although coconut sugar has many benefits, it should be eaten sparingly.  It is high in calories and you would have to eat a large amount of it to satisfy your need for the nutritional benefits.  However, when you do enjoy your sugar switching from regular processed white sugar to coconut palm sugar is a good idea.   It could prevent blood sugar crashes that make us hungry and may lead to weight gain due to coconut sugar’s low glycemic index and lower fructose level.

Back to the cabbage salad (at Whole Foods it’s called “Cabbage Crunch”).  This is my vegan and gluten-free version of Chinese chicken salad or Oriental chicken salad.  It may not be the healthiest as it contains healthy fats and low fructose/low GI sugars, but it contains a lot of sesame seeds and tahini that are packed with essential minerals, manganese, copper, iron, phosphorus and calcium and Vitamin E.  This recipe also includes almonds, which are high in protein and fiber.  I use coconut vinegar in this salad because I personally feel that it tastes much better than apple cider vinegar, plus coconut vinegar has more nutrients—17 amino acids, minerals, vitamin C, broad-spectrum B vitamins, and has a nearly neutral pH.

I hope you enjoy this refreshing and delicious salad along with all of its benefits!

 

Oriental Cabbage Salad

DF, V, GF, GFV, SF, NF, R

Prep Time 10 minutes

Servings 2-4

Ingredients

Salad:

4 cups green cabbage, shredded

1/2 cup green onion, chopped

1/4 cup sesame seeds (toasted sesame seeds is optional)

1/2 cup slivered almonds

Dressing:

3 tbsp coconut vinegar (can substitute with apple cider vinegar)

1 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tbsp tahini

1/2 tbsp filtered water

1 1/2 tbsp coconut palm sugar

2 drops stevia (or 1/2 tsp more coconut palm sugar)

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions

1. In a large bowl, add the shredded cabbage, green onion, sesame seeds and slivered almonds. Toss. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk together to combine.

3. Pour dressing over the cabbage salad and toss well to coat.

4. Chill or serve on salad plates and enjoy!

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