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.

What I Ate Wednesday #112 – Oatmeal Love

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For this week’s What I Ate Wednesday post I’m going to share with you my recent oatmeal adventures. There have been a lot of cold mornings in the past couple months and I recently started making my oatmeal in the microwave, which on early mornings feels a lot easier than on the stove (plus it doesn’t leave me with a pot to wash). So, lots of oatmeal lately!

I hope this provides you with some inspiration for your next bowl of oatmeal. Enjoy!

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Sucanat & cinnamon oatmeal with (1) natural peanut butter unsweetened coconut, and home-made dried cranberries and (2) natural peanut butter, cocoa powder, and raw cacao nibs.

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3) 1/2c oats cooked with 1c water, 1tbsp sucanat, 1/4tsp cinnamon, 1/4tsp ground coriander, and 1/2tsp vanilla. Topped with 1/4 serving Vanilla Chai Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer, 2 cut up dried figs, and slivered almonds.
4) 1/2c oats cooked with 1c water, 1tbsp Nature’s Path Cranberry Vanilla Qi’a Cereal, 1tbsp sucanat, and 1tbsp cocoa powder. Topped with natural peanut butter and 1 cut up dried fig.

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5) 1/2c oats cooked with 1c water, 1tbsp ground chia seeds, 1tbsp sucanat, 1/2tsp cinnamon, and 2 chopped dried figs. Topped with hemp hearts and pumpkin seed butter.
6) 1/2c oats cooked with 1c water, 1tsp chia seeds, 1tbsp maple syrup, 1/2tsp molasses, and 1/2tsp cinnamon. Topped with slivered almonds, home-made dried cranberries, and unsweetened coconut.

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And, I know its not oatmeal, but I had this yesterday evening and it was fantastic. I will definitely be using brown rice like this again!
Leftover cooked long grain brown rice, unsweetened almond milk, cinnamon, and sucanat, heated in the microwave. Yum!

What I Ate Wednesday #112

Thanks for stopping by!

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This post was also shared with Healthy Vegan Friday #34. Go check it out!

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Smoothies of 2013: Part 1

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Tropical Pineapple Coconut Oat Cups

What I Ate Wednesday #109: Salad Love

For today’s What I Ate Wednesday post I’m going to share with you some delicious salads I’ve eaten in January and February 2013. After a very long time without eating any salads, they are back in my life and I am loving them. I’ve basically just been making sure that I have salad greens of some sort on hand, and then I throw in most of what I have on hand to throw in.

For me, a main event salad (as opposed to a side-dish salad) needs a lot more than raw veggies. It needs hearty vegetables (cooked yam, roasted squash, sautéed mushrooms), grains (quinoa, whole wheat couscous), or vegan protein (lentils, nuts, tofu). And for me, the best way to assure that I’ll happily scarf down the whole big bowl of salad is to include something spicy, balanced with a tangy acidic dressing. As you’ll notice from the descriptions below, my favourite dressing lately has been just a combination of lime or lemon juice and Vega Antioxidant Omega Oil Blend (which I’m gonna write as ‘Vega Oil’ for the rest of this post). Also, when in doubt, avocado will make any and every salad better!

I hope this provides you with some salad-making inspiration! Enjoy!

Collage, Salad Love 1

Left to right:
1) Romaine, spinach, red pepper, and cucumber tossed with lime juice & Vega Oil. Mushrooms and Soyganic Smoked Tofu cooked with leftover marinade from Veganomicon’s Hot Sauce Glazed Tempeh. Plus avocado and black pepper. This was seriously the BEST salad ever! I actually made the exact same salad the next day!
2) Romaine, spinach, cucumber, pickled jalapeño, roasted butternut squash, whole wheat couscous, cranberry orange vinaigrette, and black pepper.
3) Romaine, spinach, orange pepper, and cucumber tossed with lime juice and Vega Oil. Soyganic Smoked Tofu sautéed with soy sauce and Sriracha. Avocado. I swear all that other stuff is under all that avocado and tofu!

Collage, Salad Love 2

Left to right:
4) Lentil Taco Salad 1 – Romaine, cucumber, and red pepper tossed with lime juice and Vega Oil. Lentil Taco Filling*. This was so good I took the exact same salad to work 3 days in a row!
5) Lentil Taco Salad 2 – Romaine, cucumber, and red pepper tossed with lime juice and Vega Oil. Lentil Taco Filling and Daiya Jalapeño Garlic Havarti.
6) Cooked quinoa, red pepper, yellow pepper, a cut up Curried Chickpea Quinoa Burger* (a variation on this one), lime juice, Vega Oil, black pepper.

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Left to right:
7) Green leaf lettuce, fresh mint, cucumber, red pepper, a kiwi, lime juice, Vega Oil, 2  warm cut-up Gardein Chipotle Lime Crispy Fingers.
8) Cooked quinoa, cucumber, red pepper, fresh mint, 1 cut-up Gardein 7 Grain Crispy Tender, lemon juice, Vega Oil, black pepper.
9) Green leaf lettuce, spring mix, red pepper, lemon juice, Vega Oil, avocado, sliced almonds, Black Pepper Mushrooms*.

*Recipes coming soon.

Follow this link to check out the rest of What I Ate Wednesday #109.

This post has been linked up to Healthy Vegan Friday #31. Go check it out!

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What are your favourite salad toppings and/or your favourite salad dressing?

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Ginger Snap Oatmeal with Instant Cranberry Sauce

I have another oatmeal recipe for you and this one tastes like a ginger snap! It’s full of spicy ginger, warming nutmeg and cloves, and that distinctive molasses flavour. This oatmeal is great on its own, or even better topped with my Instant Cranberry Sauce. The sweet tartness of the cranberries pairs beautifully with the flavours of the oatmeal. Perfect for a cool fall or winter morning!

Ginger Snap Oatmeal
2 cups water
1/2 cup pumpkin puree or unsweetened applesauce
1 cup rolled oats
3 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp ground flax
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp molasses
1/3 cup slivered almonds
2 tbsp Sucanat, coconut sugar, or cane sugar (optional)

On the stove, bring water to a boil in a pot. Stir in all of the other ingredients, except for the molasses, almonds, and sugar (if using). Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until oats are cooked and the liquid is absorbed. Turn off heat. Stir molasses, almonds, and sugar (if using) into the oatmeal. Serve topped with Instant Cranberry Sauce. Enjoy!

Instant Cranberry Sauce (Yields 1 cup)
2 cups frozen cranberries
2 tbsp maple syrup

Place frozen berries in a microwave-safe dish (I use a liquid measuring cup). Defrost berries in a microwave, about 90 seconds, until berries squish when pressed. Stir cranberries with a fork until at least half of them are broken and have released their liquid. Stir in maple syrup.

You May Also Enjoy:
Apple Fig Oatmeal, Sugar-Free Blueberry Sauce, Dark Chocolate Cranberry Tart

October Vegan Food Swap Reveal

Vegan MoFo 2012 Post #18

For this month’s Canadian Vegan Food Swap (hosted by Meshell of Meshell In Your City) I was paired up to send a package to Katie from Not Just Granola and to receive a package from Chris at And Mommy Makes 3. This was actually the second time that Chris and I were paired up like this. She also sent me a great package of goodies for July’s Food Swap.

This month I received the following:

Raw Aura Sprouted Teriyaki Almonds: I tried some of these right away, as I was in need of a snack. They are really good! The teriyaki is just the right blend of sweet and savoury!

Dandies Classic Vanilla Air-Puffed Marshmallows: I’ve never been a huge marshmallow fan, but I do love rice crispy treats, so I’ll probably be making some of those. I am looking forward to seeing how these compare to standard marshmallows.
Update: These were pretty good in hot cocoa, and fantastic in my Dark Chocolate S’mores Brownies! I don’t think I’ll ever want marshmallows on their own, but in baked goods they can be pretty awesome.

Blue Monkey Coconut Chips: These are completely new to me and I’m very intrigued my them. I’m loving all things coconut, so I’m sure I will enjoy these.
Update:
I just tried these coconut chips and they are awesome! Crunchy and sweet and totally addictive!

Hot Huck’s Lean Veggie Ground: This TVP-based product is also totally new to me and I’ve actually never tried TVP (textured vegetable protein) before. I’m already dreaming of making taco filling with this!

All in all this was another great food swap experience. Thanks again Chris for all the great stuff!

Chocolate Almond Chia Pudding

Vegan MoFo 2012 Post #15

Yes! Chocolate and almond again! Apparently I don’t get tired of this combination.

This Chocolate Almond Chia Pudding is quick to throw together, tastes like a great chocolate dessert, but is healthy enough to be eaten for breakfast. As documented in this WIAW post, I actually did eat it for breakfast one day mixed with some Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal and covered in blueberry sauce (recipes coming at some point, I promise).

This chia pudding uses ground chia seeds, because I don’t really like the texture of the whole seeds. If you like the texture of tapioca pudding, you’d probably be fine using the whole seeds, you just may have to adjust the measurements a little bit.

Also, I decided on chocolate and almond because I had some unsweetened chocolate almond milk on hand, but any non-dairy milk would work.

Chocolate Almond Chia Pudding (Yields 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup ground chia seeds
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp carob powder
Pinch of sea salt
1 1/4 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk
1/4 tsp almond extract
10 drops liquid stevia

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients and stir well. Cover and place in fridge for at least an hour to thicken. Stir once more before serving. I like to garnish my pudding with something like nuts or coconut, to add some texture. Enjoy!

Nutritional Info for 1/4 cup (using Unsweetened Chocolate Almond Breeze): 68 calories, 9g carbs, 4g (healthy) fats, 4g protein, 1g sugar, 46mg sodium.

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This has been submitted to Healthy Vegan Friday #14.

You May Also Enjoy:
Chocolate Almond Porridge
Almond Joy Cookie Bars
Chocolate Vega Macaroons

Cinnamon Power Granola

Vegan MoFo 2012 Post #11

With the exception of changing up the protein powder (sometimes I use Natural or Vanilla Chai Vega One instead of hemp protein powder), spices, and fruit, this is my go-to granola. In addition to oats and almonds, it is packed with almost every kind of seed you could think of. Lots of goodness to give you some vegan super powers, or at least power you through your day!

Please don’t be scared away by the dark colour of this granola (it’s from the molasses) or the long list of ingredients. This recipe literally takes less than 5 minutes to mix together, and then you can put it in the oven and do something else for an hour. Like dream of eating your crunchy delicious Cinnamon Power Granola!

Also, while the idea of all the different seeds is to pack in lots of different nutrients, if you are missing one or two, just sub in whatever you do have.

Cinnamon Power Granola (adapted from Sacha Inchi Baked Apple Cinnamon Cereal from Brendan Brazier’s Whole Foods to Thrive)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup hemp protein powder
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground stevia
1/8 cup unsweetened applesauce or apple juice
1/4 cup molasses
2 tbsp hemp or flax oil
1 cup fresh fruit (I’ve tried diced apple, peaches, pears, apricots and fresh blueberries and they’ve all been great. As you can see in the photos, I used a combination of peach and apricot this time.)

Preheat oven to 250° and lightly grease a large baking sheet. In a small bowl or measuring cup combine the stevia, applesauce, molasses, and oil. Set aside. Combine all other ingredients in a large bowl. Pour liquid mixture into bowl and stir with a fork until everything is moistened and clumping together. Bake for 60 minutes (1 hour), mixing up the granola halfway through. Remove from oven and allow to cool before breaking up any large chunks of granola and transferring to a sealed container. Stored in the fridge, this granola will last for at least a week, and probably longer but I’ve never had it last that long. Enjoy!

I enjoy my granola on its own or with some non-dairy milk. Sometimes I mix it half and half with whichever variety of Nature’s Path flake cereal I have on hand. Want a treat? Sprinkle your Cinnamon Power Granola over your favourite vegan ice cream or pudding!

A 1/2 cup serving of Cinnamon Power Granola has roughly 240 calories, 21g carbs, 14g fat (don’t worry its all healthy fats), 9g protein, and 8g sugar.

This post has been shared on Healthy Vegan Friday #34.

You May Also Enjoy:
Apple Fig Oatmeal, Peach Blueberry Crisp, Peanut Butter Porridge

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

Chocolate and Almonds: Two Ways

In the past week, without even realizing it, I have made two different things which both focus on the flavours of chocolate and almonds.

First up is Chocolate Almond Porridge. You’d never know it from the two chocolate and nut-butter porridges on this blog (check out my Peanut Butter Porridge), but for a long time the only oatmeal I ever made was totally focused on dates, apples, and almonds (I will post this recipe next time I make it). I made this one morning when I was in need of a treat. It is rich and chocolatey, not too sweet, and has three incarnations of almond. Its hard not to love a breakfast that feels like dessert, but is actually really good for you. I was more than happy to eat this 3 mornings in a row.

Chocolate Almond Porridge
1 cup large flake oats
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/8 cup ground flax
1/8 cup wheat bran
1/8 cup ground almonds (almond flour)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 – 1/2 cup coconut (or brown) sugar (depending on your prefered sweetness level)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp carob powder
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Combine all ingredients, except the last four, to a medium-sized pot. Heat on medium until water has started to absorb and mixture is starting to bubble. Now stir in the sliced almonds, sugar, cocoa, and carob powders until well combined. Turn heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is fully absorbed and the oats are cooked, about 10 minutes longer. Enjoy!

I like mine with some non-dairy milk poured over.

Next up are Almond Joy Cookie Bars from Peas and Thank You. I used the recipe from the book, which is a little different from this version online, doubled it, and altered it a bit. To minimize confusion I’m going to write my version here.

Almond Joy Cookie Bars
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground almonds (almond flour)
1 cup large flake oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup vegan mini dark chocolate chips
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
1 cup natural almond butter (the only ingredient is almonds)
1 cup non-dairy milk
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° and lightly grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. In a large bowl combine flours, oats, coconut, almonds, chocolate chips, baking soda, and salt. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the sugars, almond butter (you might need to heat it up a bit to soften it), milk, and extracts.

Pour wet mixture into dry and stir until just combined. Spread batter into your prepared pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool before cutting into bars. Enjoy!