Lemon Coconut Energy Bites

These lemony little gems were dreamed up out of necessity. I had three lemons in the fridge that needed to be used before I left for Victoria for five days. I had been meaning to try a raw lemon bar recipe with them, but I never got around to it. As lemon bars aren’t really portable I knew I had to save that recipe for another time. So I decided to use most of the same ingredients that would have gone into the lemon bars (lemon juice, coconut, oats, and dates) to make some energy bites for my trip.

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I have to say that I am very happy with how these turned out! Bright lemon flavour, a hint of coconut and nuttiness, and a natural sweetness from the dates and coconut. These lemony little bites of chewy goodness are perfect for travel and on-the-go snacks. Or you may just want to stand by the fridge and scarf a few down! Don’t worry, that’s okay too.

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Collage, lemon bars 1

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Lemon Coconut Energy Bites (Yields 32 small squares)
1 1/2 cups oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup sliced/slivered/chopped almonds (raw or blanched)
Zest of 2 lemons
1 1/2 cups pitted dates (20-25 dates)
Juice of 3 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
Optional: 1/4 cup vanilla or berry flavoured protein powder (I like Vega One)

Notes:
If your dates aren’t soft then you should let them sit in a bowl of hot/warm water for at least 15 minutes before using.
I prefer to cut these into small squares because they pack easily into storage containers and I can choose the size of my snack better, however you could also make larger bars, or roll the dough into small balls. Totally up to you.
For gluten-free, just make sure your oats and protein powder are gluten-free.
For nut-free, use sunflower seeds or more oats, in place of the almonds.

Add the oats, coconut, almonds, lemon zest, and protein powder (if using) to a large bowl of a food processor and pulse until it is at your desired consistency: less if you like a chewier bar with larger pieces, or more if you’d like a finer texture.
Add the dates and process until they are in small pieces and mixed up with the other ingredients.
Add the lemon juice and process until everything is thoroughly mixed and clumping together. It may be crumbly, but should stick together when pressed.
Line a baking dish with parchment paper. I use a 11″x7″ pan, but the size doesn’t really matter as long as it is at least 8″x8″. Dump the mixture into the lined pan and press down until the top is relatively flat and even. With a sharp knife, cut into small squares or bars. Place the pan in the fridge for at least an hour, then transfer the squares or bars into an airtight container. Store in the fridge or freezer.
The energy bites will soften a bit when at room temperature, but they shouldn’t fall apart. Enjoy!

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I’ve shared this post with Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays (8/27/13), Allergy Free Wednesday (8/28/13)Gluten-Free Wednesdays (8/28/13)Raw Food Thursday (8/29/13), Healthy Vegan Friday, Wellness Weekends (8/29-9/2/13), Gluten Free Friday #55.

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Dark Chocolate S’mores Brownies

I just got home yesterday from a lovely week of camping with the family. It’s really amazing what a road trip, a change of scenery (forest!), and some campfire time can do! Even with the lack of sleep over the past week and a few too many treats, I’ve come back feeling really energized and eager to get some things done I’ve been putting off.

Anyway, all those nights sitting around the campfire watching my family enjoying s’mores (while I happily sipped my tea and munched on Oreos or dark chocolate), reminded me of this recipe for Dark Chocolate S’mores Brownies that I made a few months ago. I’ve never really liked marshmallows or s’mores but when I received a bag of Dandies in a package from the Canadian Vegan Food Swap, I was curious to try out some recipes with them, and this is one of the things I came up with.

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With a few tweaks, I used this Dark Chocolate Brownie recipe as the base for my brownies. I knew the addition of chocolate chips, marshmallows, and cookies would mean a lot of sugar, so I wanted to start with a brownie base that was on the healthier side. These ones are quite low in sugar for a brownie, use whole grain flour, and are oil free. Even if you don’t wish to make S’mores Brownies (though really, why wouldn’t you?) I’d still recommend trying this brownie recipe.

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Dark Chocolate S’mores Brownies
1 tbsp ground chia seeds (or ground flax)
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup Sucanat (or organic brown sugar)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cups cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
1 cup vegan marshmallows (I used Dandies)
1/2 cup crushed vegan graham crackers or ginger snaps

Preheat your oven to 375°F and lightly grease a 9’x13′ pan.
In a small dish combine the ground chia with the warm water and set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, applesauce, milk, vanilla, and vinegar.
In a separate bowl stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and sea salt.
Whisk the chia mixture into the wet ingredients.
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, then stir in the chocolate chips.
Pour about 3/4 of the batter into your prepared pan.
Spread the marshmallows out over the top of the batter, then sprinkle on the crushed cookies.
Drop the remaining batter on top of the cookies and marshmallows, one teaspoon at a time.
Place in oven and bake for 16-20 minutes. Cut the brownies into squares before they are fully cool, otherwise it will be difficult to cut through the marshmallow. I cut mine into 18 pieces.

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These brownies are best enjoyed warm, so that the chocolate chips and the marshmallows are a bit gooey. Enjoy!

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These Dark Chocolate S’mores Brownies were a huge hit. The brownies are super chocolatey, dense, and moist, without being too sweet and the toppings sent them over the top. I had a hard time not eating the whole tray in about 2 days, and when I shared with Jem (just so I wouldn’t eat them all) she loved them. Apparently she had “a brownie experience”!

I’ve shared this post with Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays (6/11/13).

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Frosted Blueberry Cake, Wheat-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Almond Chia Pudding

Smoked Tofu Benedict with Mushrooms and Arugula

Last month I posted about the Frosted Blueberry Cake I made for my sisters’ birthday. What I didn’t mention, is that I also made a birthday breakfast for my sister Jem, her fiancé Dan, and myself, as it somehow turned out that we all had the morning off work. Jem loves eggs benedict and will happily eat tofu, so I decided it would be the perfect occasion to try out some vegan ‘eggs’ benedict. I’ve never liked hollandaise sauce, but I had Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s recipe for Hollandaise Sauce (from The Vegan Table) on hand for just such an occasion.

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Our Smoked Tofu Benedict consisted of whole wheat english muffins, arugula, sautéed mushrooms, sautéed slices of Soyganic Smoked Tofu, and Hollandaise Sauce. Dan doesn’t like mushrooms, so had his without.

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Smoked Tofu Benedict with Mushrooms and Arugula
Whole wheat english muffins
Baby arugula
Cremini (or white) mushrooms
Fresh ground black pepper
Smoked tofu (We love Soyganic)
Braggs Liquid Aminos
Hollandaise Sauce

First, slice mushrooms and tofu. I cut the block of tofu in half across the widest side, then cut each piece into 4 slices.
Cut english muffins in half.
Set out all of the ingredients for the hollandaise sauce and set oven to warm (just enough ensure everything stays warm until you are ready to serve).
Make hollandaise sauce and keep covered on the stove at the lowest heat, or place pot in oven to keep warm.
Heat two pans over medium heat. Place mushrooms and a splash of water in one pan and the tofu slices in the other.
If you need to do more than one round of english muffins in the toaster, start now. Place toasted ones on a plate in the oven, until the mushrooms and tofu are done.
Cook mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add fresh ground black pepper if desired.
Cook the tofu slices just a few minutes on each side, until warmed and a little browned. Turn off heat, add a splash of Braggs Liquid Aminos, and move slices around in it.
Assemble your Tofu Benedict, according to the photos below, making sure to stir the hollandaise well before serving.
Enjoy!

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I was super pleased that this breakfast turned out exactly as I’d hoped and I would absolutely make it again. We all thoroughly enjoyed it! The flavours of the smoked tofu, peppery arugula, earthy mushrooms, and hollandaise complemented each other quite well.

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I was also really surprised by how much I like the Hollandaise Sauce. I’m not sure how it compares to non-vegan hollandaise, as I don’t remember what that tastes like, but it was really delicious. I used unsweetened almond milk, and Soy-Free Earth Balance in the recipe.

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This was definitely not the healthiest breakfast, but compared to a standard eggs benedict, WAY better! Not something I’d make all the time but perfect for a weekend brunch or special occasion. Also, pretty easy to make gluten free: just use gluten free bread or bun in place of the english muffin and ensure your smoked tofu is gluten free.

Sidenote: You may have noticed Jem’s name popping up a lot in the past few months, and its because as of January, we are now living in the same house again. It’s so nice to have someone around that’s willing to eat my vegan food and join me in my cooking and baking adventures, so I’ve been taking full advantage. 🙂

I’ve shared this with Healthy Vegan Friday #44 and Slightly Indulgent Tuesday (6/11/13).

Have you made a memorable vegan meal for a special occasion?

Have you tried any vegan benedict recipes?

Frosted Blueberry Cake: MMAZ #30

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For this week’s Meatless Monday from A-Z the mission is to cook a recipe that features blueberries. I haven’t made any of the recipes yet from last week’s Create with Blueberries linkup, but I did make this gorgeous Frosted Blueberry Cake from Healthy Happy Life.

For the past couple of years I’ve volunteered to make the birthday cakes (one for each sister) for my sisters’ birthday. Birthdays are a great excuse to try out a sweeter-than-usual dessert that I’ve been eyeing, and doing the baking, guarantees I’ll actually be able to eat something come dessert time. This year I couldn’t pass up Jem’s request for this Frosted Blueberry Cake.

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What I really love about this cake is that the actual cake is not too sweet, and pretty darn healthy. The flax, oats, applesauce, blueberries, and walnuts do the double duty of making the cake taste great, and providing some actual nutrients, instead of just empty calories. Without the frosting, this cake is more like a snack-cake than a true dessert, but as soon as you add the amazing coconut frosting, it is elevated to a beautiful dessert, perfect for any occasion. And the frosting really is amazing!

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I did make a couple of minor changes to the original recipe:
– I used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour. I rarely even buy all purpose flour anymore, and I’m always pleased with the results I get using whole wheat flour. As usual, when substituting whole wheat flour, I just had to add an extra little splash of nondairy milk when mixing the wet and dry together.
– I used ground flaxseeds.
– I choose to use coconut sugar.
– I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk in place of the soy milk.
– I couldn’t find any fresh blueberries, so I used frozen blueberries in the cake, and fresh raspberries for decorating.

In regards to the options listed in the original recipe, I used almond extract, I didn’t use any cinnamon, and I used walnuts.

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We really enjoyed this cake, and I will absolutely be using both the cake recipe and the frosting recipe again!

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I’ve shared this post with Slightly Indulgent Tuesday 4/23/13.

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Title, Blueberry Oat Scones

Dark Chocolate Cranberry Tart

Dark Chocolate Cranberry Tart

Dark Chocolate Cranberry Tart

Vegan MoFo 2012 Post #7

In my Thanksgiving post on Sunday I mentioned that I was making a Dark Chocolate Cranberry Tart as my contribution to our family dinner’s dessert. I couldn’t have been happier with the way it turned out. This is a super rich dessert: perfect for a special occasion when there are lots of people to share it with. The combination of a nutty crumbly crust, creamy dark chocolate ganache, and tart cranberry sauce makes this a dessert worth savouring, sharing, and remembering!

The inspiration for this dessert came from this Fresh Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart. This tart from Sweet Sugar Beanis not a vegan recipe, but I really liked the idea of pairing dark chocolate ganache with fresh berries, so I added it to my inspiration pile when I came across it this summer. I’ve also been experimenting with making small batches of berry sauces using chia seeds as a binder and I knew if made thicker, this could work great as the fruit part of the tart.

As soon as I started seeing fresh cranberries in our local grocery store, the idea for this Dark Chocolate Cranberry Tart came together. While this would probably work equally well with any other berry, using cranberries makes this a perfect seasonal fall and winter dessert: perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Plus I have a major soft spot for all things cranberry!

Please don’t be intimidated by the three different things you need to make for this recipe. Each one has 5 ingredients or less, is simple and quick to make. Plus all three can be made ahead of time, so there is no need to feel rushed. I made the crust one day, the cranberry sauce the next, and then made the chocolate ganache and assembled the tart the morning before our Thanksgiving dinner.

Dark Chocolate Cranberry Tart (makes 1 10-inch pie)

No-Bake Date Nut Crust
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup sliced almonds
6 tsp ground chia seeds
15 dates (3/4-1 cup), pitted
1/4 tsp salt

Place pecans and almonds in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Add the ground chia, dates, and salt and process until thoroughly combined. The mixture should start clumping together. Press mixture into a lightly greased 9 or 10 inch pie or tart pan. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble tart.

Cranberry Sauce
3 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp organic maple syrup
3 tbsp ground chia seeds*
*If you can’t find ground chia seeds, whole chia seeds can be ground up in a coffee or spice grinder.

Combine all ingredients in a pot or saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low heat, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring a couple of times. You want at least half of the cranberries to pop, but not all of them. Remove from heat, stir well, and let cool until ready to assemble tart.

Dark Chocolate Ganache
3 cups roughly chopped vegan dark chocolate*
1 15 ounce can light coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
*I used 2 1/2 cups 72% chocolate and 1/2 cup unsweetened chocolate, but feel free to choose your percentage according to how dark you like your chocolate. While I personally would have used darker chocolate if making this just for myself, I had to keep the tastes of my family in mind. Also remember that the darker the chocolate, the less sweet your tart will be. 

Place chopped chocolate in a large heat-safe bowl. In a pot, bring coconut milk to a boil, remove from heat, and pour over top of the chopped chocolate. Let this sit for 5 minutes, then add vanilla and stir for 1-2 minutes, until smooth and glossy. Immediately pour chocolate into prepared crust. Place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours, until chocolate is cooled and no longer liquid.

Once chocolate is cooled and set, spread the cranberry sauce evenly over the top. Keep in the refrigerator until serving. The tart will be difficult to cut if the chocolate warms up. Enjoy!

How do you like the photo collages? I made them through PicMonkey. Fast, easy, free photo collages and editing, with tonnes of options!

This post has been submitted to this week’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and Healthy Vegan Friday #46. Perhaps its a little more than ‘slightly’ indulgent, but certainly a lot healthier than it could be!

You May Also Enjoy:
Chocolate Vega Macaroons, Blueberry Coconut Crumble Bars, or Peach Cornmeal Cake

Peach Cornmeal Cake

This Peach Cornmeal Cake is simple, quick, and delicious. A great way to highlight fresh local peaches at the height of their season. Honestly, the hardest part is peeling and cutting up the peaches, but I’m sure you will do just fine. You definitely don’t need perfectly diced peaches for this.

This is a cake, but it isn’t too sweet. You might want to add more sugar if you like quite sweet desserts, but I enjoy the natural sweetness that comes from the peaches here. The cornmeal gives this a fantastic texture: a bit crisp on the outside, and perfectly moist on the inside. This is the best cornmeal cake I’ve tried, and it would make a great base for highlighting other fruit.

Peach Cornmeal Cake
Adapted from Vanilla & Spice.

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk
1 tbsp white vinegar
3/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups peeled and diced peaches (about 3 small/medium peaches)

Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease 9″ pan. In a small bowl, stir together the non-dairy milk and vinegar. Set aside to curdle while you prepare the other ingredients. It should look like the second photo, when you use it.

In a large bowl stir together the cornmeal, flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the sugars, oil, vanilla, and milk-vinegar mixture. Pour this liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed together.

Gently fold in diced peaches. Pour into prepared pan and place in warmed oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the cake is coming away from the edges of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out dry.

Let the cake cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before inverting onto a plate or wire rack. Let cool completely before slicing. I don’t suggest keeping this cake fully covered with a lid or plastic wrap, as it will get quite mushy in the centre.

Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this Peach Cornmeal Cake as much as I did!

Sorry for the sporadic posting, but I think this will be my last post before October 1st. I’m participating in the Vegan Month Of Food for the first time this year, and am going to use my free time this week to try to prepare a bit.

This recipe has been submitted to October 1st’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesday hosted by Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.

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Pineapple Coconut Bread, Chai Spiced Zucchini Bread, or Almond Joy Cookie Bars