Browse Category by Dessert
Dessert, Main Dishes, Salads, Sides, Uncategorized

Anti-Valentine’s Day: Let’s Celebrate

I’m not stoked about Valentine’s Day this year. Not because I’m single and bitter, but because it’s one of those Hallmark holidays that creates unnecessary anxiety. Plus, there’s usually way too much sugar involved…so it can’t be healthy on a physical level either. The solution? A festive Anti-Valentine’s Day party with a healthy menu that contains no added sugar, celebrated with friends or family, or a significant other if you have one. So let’s get started.

The Basics, aka Necessary Components for an Anti-Valentine’s Menu:

1. Bitter

Think bitter lettuce i.e. radicchio, endive, escarole, and chicory. Also, lettuces/greens that are considered weeds i.e. dandelion and other wild greens. If serving cocktails, you can’t go wrong with the stiff and bitter Old Fashioned– further reading: this article by Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark of the Cooking Channel food-travel series Tripping Out with Alie & Georgia.

2. Sour

Lemon is a must to accompany at least one dish.

3. Broken Heart

Artichoke hearts or heart of palm (broken or chopped, slivered, sliced, crushed, etc).

4. Skewered

This component is versatile; it can work in a dessert, entree or appetizer. For dessert, try strawberries or other red fruits that look like hearts, skewered on a stick… or with chocolate fondue. For an appetizer or entrée, vegan cheese fondue or veggie kabobs.

5. Blackened or Charred

For an entrée, try portabella mushroom steaks or blackened jerk seitan. I know seitan isn’t paleo, but it’s low carb…and in the context of hating on consumerism and stereotypical ideas about love– I couldn’t resist mentioning a word that bears such a close resemblance to “Satan”.

6. Bleeding

Blood oranges. Sangria (from the Spanish word sangre, which literally means blood). Blood-red heirloom tomatoes.

Having envisioned what would be the necessary components of a anti-valentine’s menu, I searched the web for stand-out vegan recipes that fit the criteria.

Anti-Valentine’s Day Menu

Starter

Burnt Sage and Blackberry Sangria (with bourbon) by Elana of Stir and Strain
burnt-sage-blackberry-sangria Continue Reading

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Dessert, Snacks

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SUGAR COOKIE: From the Pilgrims to the New Frontier

heart healthy sugar cookies

heart healthy sugar cookies

The famous and celebrated sugar cookie is hardly a new innovation. A simple go-to baked good that required few ingredients, in North America it became especially popular in the 1930s as the quintessential cookie to leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve along with a glass of milk. Its history dates back much further however– according to historians the concept originated in Germany and was brought to Pennsylvania by German settlers in the 1700s. Now referred to as the “Nazareth Cookie”, this rich, crumbly, cane sugar-sweetened cookie was a surefire hit with other settlers and it spread across the nation to ultimately become as deeply rooted in American culture as meatloaf and green bean casserole. And unlike pineapple upside-down cake or Jello salad, it didn’t fall by the wayside after the 1970s. Continue Reading

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Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert

Chia, Hemp & Almond Banana Pancakes

Chia Hemp Almond Banana Pancakes
These Chia, Hemp & Almond Banana Pancakes are almost too good to be true.  Flourless and gluten-free, this recipe is also soy free and contains no added sugar.  The natural sweetness of the bananas, enhanced with stevia extract, give these Chia, Hemp & Almond Banana Pancakes the perfect amount of sweetness without the empty calories.  Each serving (1 pancake) boasts 12g protein, 10g fiber, 600mg potassium–with only 5g sugar.

This recipe utilizes a “cereal” by the Nature’s Path brand ‘Qi’a Superfood’ made with only 5 ingredients (chia seeds, buckwheat groats, hemp seeds, dried cranberries, and slivered almonds–all organic, gluten-free and vegan).  I was pacing around kitchen this morning trying to think of what could be used as a gluten-free, paleo flour that wouldn’t require a trip to the store.  As I contemplated whether to use oats or almonds, I noticed the bag of chia-hemp-buckwheat cereal–and realized I’d stumbled upon the perfect prototype for this delicious and nutrient-dense Chia, Hemp & Almond Banana Pancakes Recipe. Continue Reading

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Breakfast, Dessert, Sides, Snacks

Orange-Ginger Creamsicle Smoothie

orange ginger creamsicle smoothie
When I was growing up, my favorite grab-and-go breakfast & snack was an orange creamsicle-flavored Yoplait yogurt cup. I remember thinking it was a healthy choice because the fat content was low and as far as I knew, yogurt was a health food. Over the years after first becoming vegan, I have periodically tried new varieties of non-dairy “yogurt” (such as soy, almond, and coconut). Never once have I come across “orange-creamsicle” or “orange-cream” flavored non-dairy yogurt. So while this Orange-Ginger Creamsicle Smoothie does not contain probiotics, the ginger provides comparable digestive benefits. With an extra dose of antioxidants from the raspberries to protect against free radicals, this vitamin-rich concoction is the perfect way to supercharge your morning or afternoon. The fiber and potassium of the banana will keep you feeling full and energized, and the ginger will combat headaches and digestive issues that sometimes accompany a hectic workday. Continue Reading

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Dessert

Dinner at Gomier’s in Punta Gorda, Belize

Gomier's Restaurant in Punta Gorda

While in Punta Gorda, Belize (referred to locally as “PG”), I was introduced to Gomier’s Restaurant. I went for dinner with my mom while we were staying at Hickatee Cottages (Ian and Kate, who own and run Hickatee, recommended that we try it). We were very impressed with the curried tofu vegetable and barbecue tofu plates we ordered (we ended up sharing because they were both equally delicious). We ended up chatting with Gomier (owner & chef) about the origin of the restaurant and philosophy behind it, and learned about the tofu-making lessons he offers to community members and tourists. I was excited to learn more and write a piece for paleoveganista.com, so we set up an interview for later in the week.

I will post the full review & article soon! In the meantime, here’s a preview: Tofu cheesecake garnished with dragonfruit and soursop ice cream…

Tofu Cheesecake with Soursop Ice Cream

…because when it comes to delicious vegan treats made from scratch, with all ingredients sourced from within a 5 mile radius (if not from the adjacent garden or nearby fruit trees), “dessert first” is a no-brainer.

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Breakfast, Dessert, Snacks

Apple Banana Fauxtmeal with Flax

Apple Banana Fauxtmeal
This recipe makes an excellent “fauxtmeal”. Whether you enjoy it at home or pack it in a thermos, this grain-free oatmeal alternative is just as comforting as the real thing. Packed with potassium from the banana and Omega-3’s from the flax, this breakfast is the perfect morning fuel. Warming and slightly sweet with a hint of tartness, it is a sure-fire winner in terms of taste. Keep away the winter blues with this hearty first meal–providing your apple a’ day and cayenne pepper to boot!

Quick and easy to prepare, this fauxtmeal can be made with or without a food processor.

Apple Banana Fauxtmeal with Flax

Ingredients

1 ripe banana
1 organic pink lady apple (or similar variety), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup silken tofu
1/4 cup soy milk or almond milk
2 Tbsp ground flax seeds / flax meal
1 Tbsp whole flax seeds
1 Tbsp almond butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp raisins or chopped dates (optional)
A sprinkling of cayenne pepper to taste

Method

In a food processor or with a fork, mash the banana with the ground flax seeds/flax meal, cinnamon, silken tofu, and soy/almond milk. Warm on the stove or microwave and top with chopped apple, flax seeds, raisins/dates and cayenne pepper.

Hint: Try it as a snack, or a healthy dessert recipe!

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Breakfast, Dessert, Snacks

Banana nut and seed bars

Gluten free and vegan banan nut and seed bars

Seeds are one of my favorite foods, especially in homemade trail mix with banana chips and almonds. I’ve been meaning to try more recipes involving flax “eggs” and paleo-friendly flours like coconut and almond. While brainstorming recipe ideas this morning, I thought about my experience working on a permaculture farm in Ecuador–which brought back fond memories of the simple yet satisfying oatmeal we would prepare and enjoy following our morning chores. Even more delightful with sliced mini bananas, that bowl of oatmeal was truly something to look forward to–the perfect way to relax and fuel before each workday.

Thinking about bananas brought me back to Panajachel, Guatemala, where I lived for six months last spring. One of my favorite local foods was banana bread, traditionally made sin grasa or without fat–in this case without eggs, oil, or butter. I later learned that vegetable oil was sometimes used (I was often suspicious of this) but was relieved to know the decadent texture wasn’t in fact chicken grease leftover from that day’s almuerzo. I bought banana bread semi-regularly from a 7-year old girl and her 5-year-old sister who would always assure me that their mother had made it and that it was very healthy because it contained no sugar or fat.

With thoughts of trail mix, oatmeal, and banana bread, I decided to create a recipe that incorporates all three. Sunflower seeds and almonds (or in this case almond butter) with ground sesame and flax seeds, combined with bananas, rolled oats, oat bran, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and a pinch of sea salt. To make the recipe a bit more paleo friendly, I cut down on the amount of oats I’d initially planned to use and substituted coconut flour.

High in protein and without added sugar, these bars are perfect for breakfast–or an afternoon snack, pick-me-up, you name it. They’re portable; easy to bring to work or school and great for road trips. The combination of flax seeds and almonds provides a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids to fuel your brain and help you stay balanced throughout the day.

Banana Nut & Seed Bars

Ingredients

sesame seeds

4 Tbsp almond butter
1 cup raw hulled sesame seeds
2 cups water
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup whole flax seeds

Sunflower Seeds in Bulkbrown flax seeds

3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
stevia to taste (optional)
1 pinch sea salt

Method

Preheat oven to 325° F. Begin by grinding sesame seeds with 1/2 cup water in a food processor or high-speed blender. Once the seeds are ground to a paste, add the almond butter, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract, stevia (depending on desired amount of sweetness, add between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract or 2 packets stevia crystals) and two of the bananas. Continue to blend, adding more water if necessary. Meanwhile, boil 1 cup water. Once water is boiled, pour into a coffee mug and stir in flax seeds to make the flax “egg”. Set aside.

Remove pitcher from blender or food processor and pour contents into a mixing bowl. Add oats, oat bran and coconut flour, stirring constantly. Add the flax egg and continue to stir until thoroughly mixed. The consistency should be like cake batter, but thicker. Pour into a lightly greased square baking dish and top with thinly sliced banana. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Delicious fresh out of the oven but just as satisfying the second or third day (they will stay fresh up to a week sealed in a ziplock bag or tupperware container) served chilled or warmed in a toaster oven.

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Breakfast, Dessert, Snacks

Fauxtmeal Cookies with Stevia-Sweetened Dark Chocolate

Vegan Gluten Free Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ironically, since quitting grains it’s been much harder for me to give up “healthy” sweets (like oatmeal cookies). I was never much a fan of “vegan desserts” in the conventional sense. I have always disliked cake; I would eat the frosting and leave the other part behind (or pawn it off to my younger brother). Vegan chocolate cake? Whatever, I could take it or leave it. But oatmeal cookies? Now that’s another story. In high school I worked in the bakery & juice bar department at the local natural foods store. Of all the delicious vegan treats we served, my favorite was the peanut butter-banana-raspberry-Rice Dream-protein powder smoothie, followed by (at a close second) the vegan gluten-free oatmeal raisin cookies. They were amazing. Best cookie I’ve ever tasted. Upon experiencing an intense feeling of nostalgia, I decided to re-create the favored cookies of my youth. I don’t remember the recipe specifically, but I do know that it involved rice flour (for which I substituted almond flour…and freshly ground flax meal for the oats). I also omitted raisins and went with (sugar free, stevia-sweetened) chocolate chunks instead (I don’t know about you, but when it comes to giving in to dessert cravings I choose chocolate over dried fruit every time). And come to think of it, I always picked out the raisins anyway. Continue Reading

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Breakfast, Dessert, Snacks

High protein breakfast parfait

Gluten-free and vegan parfait with granola and bananas

I’m a huge fan of granola but most store-bought brands send me into sugar overdrive (followed by a very inconvenient “comedown” and crash around 3pm). Despite the fact that oats are a whole grain, complex carbohydrate and not the “instant release” type, I need something with a bit more protein [and a lot less sugar] to make it through the day. Enter the high-protein breakfast parfait. Made with silken tofu and sweetened with banana, it contains no added sugar (apart from the granola garnish). The rest is pure protein (nuts and seeds)…and chocolate–which contains theobromine, a natural mood booster! (just thought I’d point that out, to justify eating chocolate for breakfast). The optional soy yogurt adds a dose of healthy probiotics to aid in digestion and boost immune function. And now, the recipe:

High Protein Breakfast Parfait

(makes 2-3 servings)

Ingredients

1 package silken tofu
1 banana
1 cup plain soy yogurt (optional)
1/3 cup unsweetened dutch-process cocoa or raw cacao powder
1/4 cup vanilla-almond granola (or your favorite flavor)
1/3 cup raw, shelled pumpkin seeds and/or sunflower seeds
1/3 cup raw cashew pieces or crushed whole cashews
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt (optional)

Method

In a blender or food processor, add the tofu, soy yogurt (optional), and banana. Blend for a minute, or until mixture is churning and smooth. Add the cocoa powder, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and salt. Blend on a low setting or pulse (if using a food processor) until smooth.

In a parfait glass, create layers with nuts and seeds (and a sprinkling of granola, to taste).

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Dessert, Uncategorized

Guiltless Pumpkin Pie

gluten-free-vegan-pumpkin-pie

Made with real pumpkin puree and no added sugar, this pie is only 60 calories per slice.  Packed with vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium, pumpkin helps to boost the immune system and maintain heart health.  Made with chickpea and coconut flours, the crust is a good source of protein, iron, and essential amino acids. Not only is this pie gluten free, soy free, and low fat–it’s also good for you!

Pumpkin Pie

Crust

3/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 Tbsp cornstarch + 2 tsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/16 tsp salt
1 packet stevia crystals or 1/16 tsp pure stevia extract
3 Tbsp water

Filling

2 cups fresh baked pumpkin puree or 1 (16 oz) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp cornstarch + 2 Tbsp water
1/2 cup almond milk
2 packets stevia crystals or 1/8 tsp pure stevia extract

Combine all ingredients for filling in a mixing bowl or food processor. Mix well. Sample the filling to gauge the sweetness. If a sweeter filling is desired, add more stevia to taste. It’s easy to get “stevia-happy” with this recipe; add more in small (1/4 packet or 1/32 tsp pure extract) increments, taste-testing after each.

Add filling to pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until the crust is slightly golden and filling turns a darker shade of orange around the edges. Let stand for 2 hours before serving.

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