Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Raw Lemon Bars

I used to love classic lemon bars.  You know, the ones with the super tart lemon curd filling, shortbread crust, and dusting of powdered sugar on top?  I remember making some when I was in high school with my Mom and I thought they were one of the most delicious things ever.  None of that fake store bought lemon juice stuff, the real lemon juice, my Mom always insisted.  She made pretty good key lime pies too. I inherited my love of all things tart from her.  Not too much sugar in her citrus desserts, but plenty of juice and flavor.  

I was dreaming about those lemon bars the other day at work, because one of my coworkers was making lemon cookies, and they smelled amazing.  I decided that I needed to make a revamped version of lemon bars, free of dairy, refined sugar and eggs.  I ended up making a pretty easy to make and simple recipe which I know you can all appreciate.

The bars were made creamy from the coconut butter I used in the filling, and I added plenty of tart lemon and zest for a flavor explosion in your mouth!  I kept the crust simple, just one of my classic raw cheesecake crusts so the lemon filling could shine.  Lastly I topped off the bars with a dusting of coconut "powdered sugar" because how could I not?  I was looking to recreate the classic after all. They were amazing!  Tart and sweet, and perfectly balanced. I shared some with my Mom and she loved them as well, stating right away that they had the perfect amount of lemon.  Which made me happy.

Raw Lemon Bars 
Makes 12

1 cups finely shredded dried coconut
1 cup sprouted buckwheat groats (or additional shredded coconut)
1/2 cup soft medjool dates, pitted
1/4 tsp himalayan salt
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed

1 1/2 cups raw coconut butter (NOT oil) warmed to liquid
3/4 cup filtered water
3/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp organic lemon zest
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp raw coconut nectar or maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch sea salt

coconut powdered sugar* (optional)

For the crust, combine all ingredients in the food processor and process until small crumbs and starting to hold together.
Press into an 8x8 inch (or 9x9 inch if you want the bars thinner) pan lined with foil or parchment and oiled with coconut oil (for easy removal).  Set aside in the freezer.
For the filling, whisk together all ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. Spread out over the prepared crust, and dust with coconut powdered sugar (I like to put it in a fine meshed strainer and tap it over the top of the bars).
Place in the freezer to set, about 30 minutes.  Cut into bars and serve!
Store any extra bars in the refrigerator.

*Buzz 1/4 cup finely shredded dried coconut in a high speed blender for about 15 seconds until it is powder.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Vegan Maple Oatmeal Walnut Pear Scones

I work in a deli, and my coworker often bakes scones. They all smell amazing, and I think they are my favorite thing to have sitting next to me on the cooling rack because the heavenly aroma they give off makes me happy.  I used to make a lot of scones at home, but sadly, it has been a while since that last batch.

 I haven't baked scones in years actually, and I figured it was about time I revamped my old recipe and healthified it to fit my standards. Because they were sounding so good to me! So, one night last week when I wanted something warm from the oven, scones it was!  I have been wanting to try scones made with oat flour in place of regular flour and coconut oil in place of the butter for a while, so now was my chance.  Would they behave like my other scones did in the oven? Or would the coconut oil melt too much?

Turns out they baked up beautifully!  I ended up making pear scones, since I had a lovely perfectly ripe pear sitting on my counter.  I added in oats for substance, walnuts for crunch and maple just because I love the scent of it with oats and fruit.  These smelled amazing while baking and tasted even better.  I think they may even be more delicious than my old scones!

Vegan Maple Oatmeal Walnut Pear Scones
Makes 8

2 cups plus 2 Tbsp gluten free oat flour
1 cup gluten free rolled oats
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, cut into chunks
1 cup cold full fat orgainc canned coconut milk (whisked until smooth if chunky)
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp maple extract
2 medium sized ripe, organic pears cut into chunks
1/2 cup raw walnuts, coarsely chopped
coconut milk for topping
coconut sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425 with the rack set at the middle position. Line a baking sheet with parchment. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Cut in the coconut oil with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture starts to clump into pea sized pieces. In a small bowl, stir the vanilla and maple extract into the coconut milk. Add the coconut milk to the dough, and stir a few times, but do not overmix. The dough should hold together when squeezed, but still be clumpy. fold in pears and walnuts until evenly distributed. place dough on a floured work surface, and shape into a 4 inch wide log. Use a bench scraper to cut into trianges. There should be about 8. Place scones on the prepared baking sheet, reshaping slightly if necessary. Brush the tops lightly with the coconut milk, and sprinkle with coconut sugar. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown (after about 15 minutes you may need to reshape with 2 bench scrapers if the scones are spreading, then place back in the oven). Cool on a wire rack.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Raw Strawberry Oat Breakfast Bars

When I was a kid, it was hard for my Mother to get me to eat breakfast on school days.  I usually didn't want anything, and I ended up going to school with a Nutrigrain bar or something similar since I hated cereal.  Not the most nutritious and zero protein in those things, but I don't blame my Mother who tried to get me to eat better things but I refused.  As I got older, I realized the importance of breakfast when I joined sports in high school and I needed to fuel myself more.  My breakfast of choice by the time I graduated was a big bowl of warm oatmeal with nut butter.  That did not change for 10 years! Every day I ate the same thing.  It filled me up and kept me going!  I switch it up more, and have things like smoothie bowls and chia porridge, but I do still love my oatmeal. 

Some people think oatmeal is too tedious to cook in the morning though.  Which is where overnight oats can be awesome...or these bars I recently made for my breakfast challenged boyfriend who works early often and forgets to eat before hand.  I couldn't have him going to work hungry, so I made something with all of the goodness of oatmeal, plus nutrient rich seeds and sweet strawberries to make it extra delicious.  They taste wonderful as well.  Think oatmeal with the flavors of peanut butter and jelly sandwich thanks to the strawberries.  I chose peanut butter because it is Eric's favorite, but feel free to use whichever nut butter you prefer. Make these on the weekend, and you will have breakfast all week no fuss!

Raw Strawberry Oat Breakfast Bars
Makes 6

3/4 cup pitted, soft medjool dates
1/2 cup mashed banana
1/4 cup raw jungle peanut butter or raw almond butter
1/4 tsp sea salt
3 Tbsp chia seeds
3 Tbsp hemp seeds
3 Tbsp ground flaxseed
2 cups raw rolled oats (or gluten free rolled oats)
1 cup dried strawberries

In a food processor, combine the dates, banana, almond butter, sea salt and process until smooth. Add the seeds and one cup of the oats and pulse until combined.
Remove to a bowl, and stir in the remaining cup of oats, and the strawberries.
Spread the mixture out on a lined dehydrator tray about an inch thick in a square.
Dehydrate for 4 hours, then cut into 6 bars, separate a little and continue to dehydrate for 4 more hours until not sticky, and firm but still a little soft in the centers.  Store in the refrigerator.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Raw Chocolate Blood Orange Caramel Cheesecake with Lavender

I am obsessed with blood oranges lately.  They are seriously the most beautiful citrus fruit I have ever seen, and their flavor is the perfect balance of tart and sweet.  I have been buying them by the bagful for a few weeks now since they became available here, and I am savoring every juicy orange slowly. I have been snacking on them, but I have also been using them to create delicious desserts as well.   

Last weekend I made a Vegan Chocolate Blood Orange Layer Cake, and it was wonderful. I loved the flavor combination so much I decided to use it again.  I hope you all don't mind me being a little redundant, but these two desserts each sing their own song despite having some of the same flavors.

 So this second blood orange chocolate dessert was a chocolate cheesecake.  Not just blood oranges and chocolate though.  I added a touch of lavender, and some raw blood orange caramel as well.  Although I am a vanilla girl, I have been craving lots of chocolate lately for some reason.  Nothing wrong with that...makes me create lots of delicious things for you chocoholics out there!  Let me tell you, the combination of chocolate, blood oranges, lavender and caramel is out of this world.

Combine that with cheesecake and you have a winner.  I admit I am a bit biased, being that cheesecake is my favorite dessert, but I think anyone could appreciate this if they were to taste it themselves.  I wish I could invite you all over to my house so you could try it too, but since I can't I feel it is only fair that I share the recipe in case you want to make it.  Good news, no fancy decoration skills required here, simply sweet blood orange slices, which are so beautiful, that is all the cake needs.

Raw Chocolate Blood Orange Caramel Cheesecake with Lavender
Makes one 6 inch cake

2/3 cup raw sprouted buckwheat groats (or additional coconut)
1/3 cup ground flaxseed
3/4 cup dried finely shredded coconut
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
10-12 soft medjool dates, pitted and chopped (if they are not soft, soak them in water until they are and drain them well)

Blood Orange Caramel:
1 cup medjool dates, pitted (soaked in filtered water for 30 minutes if not soft, then drained)
2 Tbsp raw pecan butter
3 Tbsp 
raw coconut nectar, maple syrup or raw honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt

1Tbsp blood orange zest
1/4 cup blood orange 

4 cups young coconut meat*
2 Tbsp blood orange zest
1/2 cup blood orange juice
a few drops DoTerra lavender essential oil (optional, or other food grade essential oil)
2/3 cup raw coconut nectar, raw agave nectar or raw honey
1/2  teaspoon sea salt
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract and seeds from half a vanilla bean
2/3 cup raw coconut butter (warmed to liquid)
1/2 cup raw cacao powder

Blood orange slices
dried lavender flowers

Lightly coat a 6 inch spring form removable bottom pan with coconut oil. 
To prepare the crust, process flax, coconut, buckwheat and sea salt in a food processor until fine crumbs, then add the dates and process until the mixture holds together when squeezed between your fingers (if not holding together, add more dates). 
Firmly press crust into the bottom of the prepared pan, and set aside.
To make the caramel, combine all ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor until smooth.  Set aside.
To make the filling, in a high speed blender or food processor, combine coconut meat, orange zest and juice, lavender oil, coconut nectar, sea salt, and vanilla and blend until smooth and creamy. With the processor running, add the coconut butter and process for a minute until blended.  Add the cacao powder and blend until smooth.
To assemble cheesecake, pour 1/3 of the filling into the pan over the crust, then drop some of the caramel by the heaping tsp over that, and swirl with a knife, Pour half of the remaining filling over that, then drop more of the caramel by the tsp over that and swirl with a knife.  Pour the remaining filling over that, then more of the caramel by the tsp, and swirl with a knife. Place in the freezer for about 4 hours to firm up. Decorate the top of the cake with the blood orange slices and lavender flowers. Store in the fridge.

*If you do not have access to young coconut meat, you can substitute 4 cups raw cashews soaked for 4 hours and drained.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Vegan German Chocolate Cookies

A lot of times when I decide to make things, it is on a whim.  That was how it was last Friday when I decided to bake a batch of cookies.  I have been on a cookie baking kick lately, not sure why since cookies were never my favorite dessert in the past, but they have become sort of a weekly thing at my house in the last few months. Most likely because I am able to make them healthier than I used to, they are vegan and they usually taste wonderful.  I had a little problem though last time. I was going to make some red velvet cookies, and use beets in them, but they were not blending up well. I only had one large beet and it was all chunky and not smooth like I wanted for cookie dough, and not quite large enough to work well in the Vitamix so...I ditched that idea and then decided screw red velvet cookies, I want chocolate cookies.  Not chocolate chip cookies though, German chocolate cookies!  

That is how random I am, and how it works out sometimes. I don't give up, just change it up.  I am happy I decided to make German chocolate cookies too, because they turned out awesome!  I admit these were not a recipe I had made before, I actually took one of my old recipes and changed the dough quite a bit, but I was pleasantly surprised when it worked! They had the perfect texture, tasted amazing, and were just what I had pictured in my head.

The dough was amazing, how could it not be with a cacao base, coconut, crunchy walnuts and decadent dark chocolate.  I could have eaten it as it was, and I did with some, but the dough that made it into cookies was wonderful warm from the oven.  They smelled like heavenly brownies. Dare I say, they tasted better than traditional dairy and flour cookies.  Thanks to the coconut sugar which has a wonderful caramel flavor and the coconut oil to make them a little rich.  These are the type of cookies you bring to a potluck with people who are used to traditional food, let them try it and tell you how good it is, then tell them it was vegan.  Hey, you might just catch their attention!

Vegan German Chocolate Cookies
Makes 16 large cookies

2 Tbsp ground flax seed
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp filtered water
1 cup virgin coconut oil, warmed to liquid
1 1/2 cups coconut sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup cacao powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups gluten free oat flour

3/4 cup coconut flakes
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chunks

In a small bowl, whisk together the flax seed and filtered water.  Set aside in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, coconut oil with sugar and mix until well combined. 
Mix in the vanilla extract and flax mixture until well combined. 
Add the cacao powder, baking soda and salt then the oat flour, a cup at a time, mixing between each addition, until well combined. 
Mix in the coconut flakes, walnuts, and chocolate chunks. Place in the fridge while you heat the oven.
To bake, Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll balls into about 2 inch balls, and place on prepared cookie sheets a couple inches apart (refrigerate unused dough while baking the other trays).  Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until puffed and just starting to brown slightly.  Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool.  Repeat with remaining cookies and let cool completely. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Raw Carrot Chevre Flatbreads

 I find inspiration for delicious things to create from many different places.  Often times, I will see something on pinterest, or in a magazine and I will think to myself, I can veganize that!  Or, those flavors would be wonderful together in something completely different.  Well I recently was out to dinner with my family and I had this wonderful carrot salad.  it had hints of spice, and little bit tangy lemony dressing.  It was supposed to be topped off with goat cheese, but I ordered mine without it since I don't do dairy.  It was amazing though!  I then decided that I wanted to do something with those same flavors, and even include some non-dairy chevre. I wanted something that could be a full meal too, so I decided on flatbreads.  For the flatbreads themself, I made a seeded base, that I use for crackers, mostly composed of flax seeds, but this time I included some Sprout Living Simple Signature Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder to give these a protein boost and make them a full meal.  Before you go thinking it sounds weird to put protein powder in a savory dish, this protein powder is perfect for savory because it is just pumpkin seeds!

I made some coconut chevre to top them, which is what I have been making lately instead of nut chevre.  I even add probiotics to give it a delicious tang so it tastes like the real thing, and it is good for your insides.  I topped off the flatbreads and chevre with some flavorful seeds, lemon dressed carrots and baby kale.  These were delicious!  Not only that, they were satisfying and I loved them as much as I love my raw pizza, but they seemed like less work.  

Raw Carrot Chevre Flatbreads
Makes 9

Coconut Chevre:
1 cup young coconut meat
1/3 cup coconut water
3/4 cup coconut butter (not oil)
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 tsp powdered probiotics

1 cup ground flaxseeds
3/4 cup whole flaxseeds
4 scoops Sprout Living Simple Signature Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 3/4 cups filtered water

1 large organic carrot
2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
sea salt
cumin seeds
coriander seeds
zest of one large organic lemon
red pepper flakes
fresh organic baby kale

For the chevre, combine all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth.
Pour into a container with a lid, and set in a warm place overnight. 
Once it has become tangy in flavor, place in the refrigerator to chill completely.
For the crust, whisk together all ingredients in a large bowl until well blended, then spread out on a lined dehydrator tray in a big square about 1/8 inch thick.
Dehydrate at 115F for 2 hours, then score into 9 squares with a knife.  Continue to dehydrate until completely dry, about 22 more hours.
Peel the carrots into strips with a vegetable peeler. Toss in a bowl with the olive oil, lemon juice and a little sea salt.
To assemble the flatbreads, spread some of the chevre onto each flatbread, sprinkle with a little of the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes and lemon zest. 
Top with the carrots, making sure they are drained well, then top with a little of the kale.
Serve immediately!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Citrus Cacao Butter Lip Balm

I go through a lot of lip products.  When I was in high school I had the nickname "glossy" because I always had many different lip products on me at any given time, and my lips always had to be moisturized.  I am not quite as obsessive about it now, but soft lips are still important to me.  None of that chapped lip nonsense. I am way more picky about what I put on my lips than I used to be also, I only use natural lip products.  Since I learned that most commercial lip products contain things like preservatives, chemicals and heavy metals (just to name a few).  Although there are some great natural lip product brands out there, I love making my own lip balm. I have been making a lot of sweets with raw cacao butter lately, and they were all amazing, but what I have been really dying to make with it is lip balm.  

I had made some lip balm around the Holidays, but it did not contain cacao butter, and so I wanted to make a new formula and give it a go with it included.  I made a simple combination of cacao butter, coconut oil, and almond oil with some of my favorite citrus essential oils like lemon, orange and grapefruit.  It turned out awesome, and whenever I use it I feel happy because it smells like chocolate and citrus truffles or something dessert-like of that nature. I think anyone would be happy to kiss lips wearing this.  Also, I have been using it on the dry parts of my hands as well and it is a wonderful deep moisturizer for my cracked skin.  This recipe takes almost no hands on time at all, I just popped my cacao butter and coconut oil in the dehydrator while I was working on other stuff until it melted, then whisked the ingredients together and put it in the tins.

Citrus Cacao Butter Lip Balm
Makes 14

3 Tbsp raw coconut oil, warmed to liquid
2 Tbsp raw cacao butter, warmed to liquid
2 tsp sweet almond oil
5 drops sweet orange essential oil
5 drops grapefruit essential oil
2 drops lemon essential oil

14 small lip gloss tins or containers with lids

Whisk together all ingredients in a glass measuring cup with a pour spout until well combined.  Pour into desired containers and allow to set until hard, about 3 hours (if you wish to speed it up, place them in the refrigerator).