3-Ingredient Date Caramel Sauce

This creamy date caramel sauce is made with just dates, plant-based milk, and a tiny pinch of salt. A pourable sauce to drizzle all over apples, oatmeal, cinnamon rolls, or add to any autumnal dessert.

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Apple season is upon us and there’s no better way to enjoy apples than sprinkled with cinnamon and dipped in date caramel sauce.

This caramel sauce is silky smooth, not sticky or chewy like traditional caramel, so it’s much easier on your teeth, and with no added sugar, it’s a healthier alternative too.

The best part is that you can make this with only three ingredients:

Dates, vanilla plant-based milk, and a tiny pinch of salt (optional). That’s it!

For a pourable sauce, use 1 cup of plant milk, or for a thicker caramel use 1/2 cup. I prefer the thinner sauce because it’s easier to drizzle it all over everything, and that’s mainly how I like to use it.

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Here are few of the ways I’ve been using this date caramel sauce:

  • as a dip for sliced apples and pears

  • on top of oatmeal, baked oatmeal bars, or in overnight oats

  • drizzled all over homemade cinnamon rolls or apple pie

  • blended with apples to make a caramel apple smoothie

  • add some to granola

  • swirl into the batter of your next cinnamon loaf or cake

  • stir into your morning coffee or tea for a refined sugar-free sweetener

  • blend with frozen bananas and apples to make caramel apple nice cream

This recipe makes about 12 oz of sauce. This will keep fresh for up to 10 days in a sealed jar in the fridge.

If you try this out, let me know what you use it on and leave a comment below!


Vanilla Peach Coconut Butter Scones [Vegan & Oil-free!]

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These delicious peach scones are made with whole grain spelt flour, coconut butter, and vanilla. They're just the right amount of lightly sweet, crumbly, and buttery, with no oil or refined sugar needed!

Coconut butter is simply coconut meat that has been blended. None of the fiber has been removed and nothing about it is refined, unlike coconut oil, which is much more heavily processed. Coconut butter still contains all of the fiber, minerals, and vitamins found in coconuts. 

These scones are sweetened with unprocessed raw coconut sugar as well as being naturally sweet from the addition of ripe juicy peaches.

It's rare that I use peaches in baking because around here they usually get eaten raw as soon as they're ripe, but some of the peaches we've been getting just aren't quite as good as the others when eaten fresh, so I chose to save them and use them for baking instead as the baking process makes them even sweeter.  

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These scones are so easy to make, with a very simple ingredient list and such a quick baking time that you can start making these now and be enjoying the most delicious scones in under 30 minutes! 

First, preheat your oven to 425F, then mix together the dry ingredients. Slice in the soft coconut butter using a pastry dough mixer or a fork until the coconut butter is broken into smaller than pea sized pieces. Mix the wet ingredients together in a bowl, then add the wet mixture and the peaches to the dry ingredients and mix using a utensil at first and then your fingertips to mix the dough for up to 2 minutes. 

Sculpt the dough ball into a circle that's 8 inches wide and 1 inch thick. Slice it into 8 wedges using a serrated bread knife or floss. Transfer the wedges to a parchment lined baking pan and bake for 10-15 minutes.  Check on them after 10 minutes and watch carefully so you can remove from the oven as soon as the edges turn lightly golden brown (I left mine in maybe 1 or 2 minutes too long so my edges are a little darker than what you're looking for). 

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack for a few minutes. Then serve plain or with more coconut butter, nut butter, jam, or other toppings of your choosing. I always like keeping these scones plain because I find it makes them easier to take on the go, and I think these taste so good already without any toppings needed!

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I have started posting my recipe videos on our YouTube channel again!

We started our YouTube channel when we were traveling to Hawaii in 2016 and wanted to make some home videos to preserve some memories of our trip, then quickly it turned into an Airstream channel when we moved into our travel trailer and documented our travels across the US from NYC all the way to Seattle. Now that we're here, I'm finally all settled in and ready to film all of the recipe videos I've been wanting to make but didn't quite have the space to film when we were living in the Airstream. 

I plan on filming many more videos for my recipes and posting them on our channel and on my blog from here on out. Making a video for each and every new recipe, as well as going back and filming videos for some of my old favorite recipes here on my blog is no simple task, but I know how much it helps me to have a video to reference for other recipes that I follow, so hopefully you find them helpful too! 

If peaches are already going out of season where you are, feel free to use defrosted frozen peaches, canned peaches, or even another kind of fruit if you want. 

Let me know what you think of these scones if you try them out!


Seasonal Cherry & Apricot Nut Crumble With Vanilla Almond Cream [with raw option!]

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Early summer produce is finally here so it's the perfect time for cherries and apricots here in the Pacific Northwest. This week our CSA box was full of the most delicious fresh local fruits and we found ourselves with a dozen apricots and six pounds of beautiful fresh local cherries. 

It didn't take long before most of the cherries were devoured and since the remaining cherries and apricots were starting to soften a bit, I decided I'd use the rest of them to make a warm cherry and apricot compote filling with a raw nut & date crumble topping. 

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With all of this fruit in season lately, I've been loving the combination of fresh fruit with different kinds of chopped raw nuts and whipped nut creams. When the fruit had first arrived, I was enjoying the fruit on it's own as well as with almond cream and nut crumbles on top, inspired by this recipe, by Laura of The First Mess. But as the fruit I was using became a little more soft and overripe, I decided to make warm, delicately cooked, bowls of syrupy cherries and apricots, while still keeping the date and nut crumble and the almond cream fully raw.

I mainly chose to keep the nuts raw to avoid the formation of a compound called acrylamide.

In looking at research on nuts, they have been shown to form the compound acrylamide when baked at high temperatures (above 265 degrees F) which causes oxidative stress leading to cellular apoptosis, which can age us and raise disease risk. The length of baking time doesn't seem to be a factor, but keeping the temperature low is what's most important.

Just to avoid this process all together I like to keep the nuts completely raw, but if you prefer a warm nut topping, you can bake these for about 40 minutes at 250 degrees F, and avoid too much damage to the nuts. 

Raw nuts and seeds are actually some of the healthiest whole foods we can eat.

Nuts and seeds contain: LDL cholesterol-lowering phytosterols, circulation-promoting arginine (an amino acid), minerals, including potassium, calcium, magnesium, and selenium, and antioxidants, including flavonoids, resveratrol, tocopherols (vitamin E), and carotenoids.

Nuts and seeds also promote heart health. Eating five or more servings of nuts per week is estimated to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 35 percent. 

While it's important not to go overboard, even with raw nuts, adding them to fresh fruit and greens in small amounts helps to boost absorption of nutrients, making them healthier together than when enjoyed on their own.

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Making the Vanilla Almond Cream:

The first step is to make the raw vanilla almond cream. You'll need to soak your almonds overnight or for at least 8 hours, before draining, rinsing, and then blending them with the water, vanilla, maple syrup, and pinch of salt. Scoop the cream into a jar or container and store it in the fridge until cooled. 

If you don't like seeing little brown specks in your almond cream, you can blanch the almonds first and then run them under cold water to remove the skins, but I find it doesn't make any difference in the taste or texture of the cream and I don't mind seeing some specks. 

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There are a couple of different ways you can make this crumble. If your fruit is very fresh and at perfect ripeness, you can keep this dish completely raw, like in the original recipe, but if your fruit is overripe and a little soft, I'd recommend the cooked option.

In the cooked option I keep the nuts completely raw and add them on at the very end along with the pre-made chilled vanilla almond cream. Or if you want the nut topping a little warm, it can be baked with the crumbles on at a very low temperature (250°F). 

Raw Option:

Filling: Slice in half the cherries and apricots and remove the pits, then slice the apricots into thin wedges. Place the raw fresh fruit in a bowl and refrigerate while you make the crumble topping.  

Raw nut crumble: In a food processor, combine the walnuts, almonds, pecans, dates, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon, until broken into large crumbs and with the dates evenly dispersed and finely chopped. 

Assembly: Scoop the sliced fruit into individual bowls and top with the nut and date crumble and a dollop of cold vanilla almond cream. 

Cooked Option:

Filling: Slice in half the cherries and apricots and remove the pits, then slice the apricots into thin wedges. Place fruit in a bowl and add in the lemon juice and coconut sugar. Stir together your starch slurry in a small bowl. Heat a saucepan over medium heat and once the pan is warm add in the fruit mixture. Bring to a gentle boil then reduce heat to a simmer and add in the starch slurry, stirring as it thickens. Simmer on low heat for 3-4 minutes, when the fruit softens but before it starts to go too mushy. 

Raw nut crumble: In a food processor, combine the walnuts, almonds, pecans, dates, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon, until broken into large crumbs and with the dates evenly dispersed and finely chopped. 

Assembly: Scoop the cooked fruit filling into individual bowls if serving right away, or into an 8x8 baking dish to serve it later. Top with the raw nut and date crumble and serve with a dollop of the chilled vanilla almond cream. If you choose the baking dish option you can make the crumble ahead of time and then refrigerate it before baking it with the nut topping on for 40 minutes at 250°F, or 20 minutes at 350°F, but make sure to leave the raw nut crumble off and add it on after it's done baking. Add the chilled cream just before serving.

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5-Ingredient Matcha Coconut Crispy Bars [Refined Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan]

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These crispy matcha coconut bars contain only FIVE ingredients and require almost no cooking! The only part of the recipe that comes close to cooking is softening the coconut butter, which can be done on the stovetop but it will also soften up in just 20-30 seconds in the microwave. 

Next you simply mix all of the remaining ingredients together in a bowl and then press the mixture into a dish. Let it cool in the fridge for at least an hour, then slice and serve. It doesn't get any easier than this!

Here are the 5 ingredients you'll need:

  • coconut butter
  • maple syrup
  • vanilla extract
  • matcha powder (optional)
  • brown crisped rice cereal, preferably one-ingredient and sugar free

While I wouldn't consider coconut butter to be a health food and it's definitely more of a special occasion sort of treat, I still consider it to be a healthier alternative to coconut oil. 

One tablespoon of coconut butter provides 2 grams of fiber as well as small amounts of potassium, magnesium, and iron. Meanwhile, coconut oil has had everything good removed including all of the fiber and micronutrients so you're left with 100% refined saturated fat. Coconut butter is much closer to being in its whole food form and still provides some nutrients, so I feel comfortable using it on rare occasions and especially when cooking for others who enjoy a rich dessert or are curious to try vegan food.

Recipe below!

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Pumpkin Hot Cocoa [Sugar-Free, Low-Fat, Vegan]

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There's nothing better on a cold day than a thick and creamy cup of hot chocolate. As a kid, I specifically remember having two different types. There was the powdered one that came in a pouch with tiny dehydrated mini marshmallows that always came out watery and lumpy no matter how much you stirred, and then there was the traditional kind of hot chocolate that was so heavy and thick that I could hardly ever finish a whole cup. I set out to replicate the more traditional thicker one, but in a way that makes it healthy enough to drink every day.

For me, this means no sugar and no heavy coconut cream. To make this beverage sweet without sugar, I used soft dates which add the perfect amount of sweet caramel flavor in an unrefined whole food package.

The magical thickening ingredient in this recipe is canned pumpkin puree. Not only does pumpkin make this beverage extra creamy, but it also has loads of fiber and nutrients. This makes for a wonderfully creamy and smooth texture without having to use as many heavy, high-fat ingredients. 

To make this hot chocolate extra rich I sometimes add just a teaspoon of nut butter. It isn't really necessary at all, though I do find it helps to cover up the earthy flavor of the ashwagandha root powder which I've been adding in lately, but you totally can skip that ingredient if you don't have it/don't want it. 

I've never been one to buy into the hype around "superfoods" or ayurvedic herbs and supplements, but I decided to try ashwagandha when I heard about its ability to balance hormones. There's just not enough research to say for sure that it actually does anything, but as someone who has been on and off hormonal contraceptives many times throughout my early 20s, I decided to give it a try and see for myself if I notice any differences. I'll report back if I do! 

This hot chocolate becomes so frothy from the blending process that it almost reminds me of a latte, but with much less effort than actually frothing and steaming the milk. It's as easy as throwing everything in a blender and pressing a button. I usually heat it up in a mug in the microwave to save dishes, but if you prefer to use the stovetop to heat it up that's definitely another good option. 

For an extra-decadent dessert version, I like to top it off with some vegan whipped cream (the kind I use is made from rice milk) and an extra pinch of cinnamon. Even without the whip, it's still such a delicious cozy drink on its own. It's a deliciously healthy and nutrient-rich way to warm up and relax on a cold wintery day. 

Recipe video & written recipe below!




Chocolate Cherry Pudding Pie Tarts

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Chocolate and cherries have been one of my favorite pairings lately. These mini pie tarts are so full of chocolatey fruity goodness, all while keeping things healthy with whole plant food ingredients. These are oil-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, grain-free, dairy-free, and egg-free. The magic fluffy binding ingredient at work here is actually baked sweet potato. You won't even know it's in there, but it's the backbone of this recipe providing structure and texture to the pie filling. 

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I first heard about the idea of chocolate sweet potato pudding from this recipe by The Vegan 8 and I was so amazed by how the sweet potato made a pudding consistency when blended. I kept experimenting with this idea, adding various flavors with fruits and firming up the texture with starch to make a pie filling.  The result was these decadent, yet still super healthy mini chocolate cherry pie tarts. 

Although cherries aren't in season at the moment, frozen cherries work just fine in this recipe. Just make sure to thaw and then drain them first. Cherries make the tarts extra sweet, which makes it possible to add less sugar form of maple syrup, and the best part is that they're a whole food which actually provides dietary fiber.

Thanks to this fiber, even though we are adding more sugar in the form of fruit, we are actually blunting the insulin response. If you were to eat the same meal without berries, it would cause a greater insulin spike than if you included berries in your meal. Another benefit of adding fruit, is that the polyphenols and phytonutrients can actually block some of the uptake of sugar by the cells that line our intestines. So there's some more reasons to eat lots of fruit if you needed some!

This recipe makes enough for two 4-inch diameter mini tart baking cups, but if you increase the recipe portion size and cooking time, this could make a full-sized pie.

The crust is just about as simple as it gets- made from almond flour, maple syrup, and a pinch of salt. Stir until it becomes clumpy and holds together when pressed, then press into a silicone or otherwise non-stick pie tart pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and then bake the crust on it's own for about 10 minutes. Then allow to cool slightly, add the pie filling and bake for 15 more minutes, or longer if making a full-sized pie. 

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You could make a bunch of mini pies or even one big pie to share at holiday parties or to gift to friends, everyone will be amazed that these are actually healthy and made with sweet potato. It's the best feeling to eat delicious pie and feel still good during and after eating!

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Chocolate Peppermint Mini Cakes [Raw, Vegan, Oil-Free, Refined Sugar-Free]

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These mini chocolate peppermint cakes are so delicious, you'd never guess they're actually good for you! And I don't just mean that they're not bad for you, I mean they are actually good for you. There's even spinach in there! Though I promise you can't taste it. Maybe don't tell anyone until after they're done eating, just to maintain the element of surprise. 

This recipe is super simple. The bottom chocolate layer is made from walnuts, oats, cacao, and dates- that's it! The top layers are mainly made of cashews and maple syrup, and while the layers look different, they're actually basically the same, except half of the filling is colored green from a few baby spinach leaves and the other half is left white. 

All you need is a good blender and a silicone muffin tin, and you're ready to go. No baking required! These mini cakes go in the freezer for a couple hours until they're solid, then you just let them thaw for a few minutes and enjoy! 

They taste like frozen peppermint patties and have a wonderful fluffy and creamy texture. They also store nicely in the freezer for easy access. I'm one of those people who will get a craving for something, and then once I finally have it I'm over it for a while, so that works out really well with these mini cakes because I can enjoy one and then keep the leftovers in the freezer for the next time a chocolate-peppermint craving strikes. 

I hope you enjoy the recipe!


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Lemon & Pomegranate Chia Seed Pudding


Chia seed pudding is one of my favorite make-ahead breakfast recipes. I can't believe it's taken me this long to get a chia pudding recipe on my blog because it's something I've been making for years in various ways with all sorts of flavors from chocolate to matcha green tea, but the best chia pudding flavor in my opinion is lemon. I love tart fruits in sweet recipes, and fortunately it's pomegranate season here! I found the most beautiful pomegranate at the grocery store this weekend and knew right away that this week I'd be combining it with some creamy lemon pudding. 

Chia seeds are full of healthy omega 3 fats which are vital to our long term health. I try to make sure to eat at least a tablespoon of flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, or walnuts everyday as all of them are amazing sources of these important ALA fatty acid chains. A lot of people think they need to eat fish to get the long-chain EPA-DHA, and while fish will provide that, they also bioaccumulate heavy metals and carcinogens which accumulate in our bodies overtime and cause disease. Fish are also inflammatory and high in cholesterol which causes damage to our arteries.

Our own bodies are actually able to convert short-chain ALA, like that in chia seeds, into long chain EPA-DHA. While the conversion rate is small, it is enough and will still provide all of the protective benefits. Another fish-free option for getting those long chain fatty acids directly is by getting it from where the fish get it; via micro algae. There are vegan algae-based supplements, which you could take as a precaution, but I haven't had any issues getting in enough healthy seeds so the only supplement I take currently is a B12, which I think everyone should take, vegan or not. 

Chia seeds are best when they've had enough time to soak, over 8 hours is recommended, so I like to prepare it in the evening before I go to bed. Even if you just combine the chia seeds and plant milk and leave the rest of the ingredients for the morning, that's all you need to do. Then when you wake up you'll find the chia seeds have soaked up all the milk and become jelly-like. Add in the pomegranate seeds, vegan yogurt, maple syrup, lemon juice and zest and you have breakfast ready to go. I love making these in 16 oz mason jars as they keep well in the fridge for a couple days and are perfect for taking on the go. This recipe makes enough for two 16 oz jars.  

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think of it by leaving a comment down below!

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Peanut Butter & Jelly Bread [Oil-Free, Refined-Sugar Free]


This peanut butter bread loaf is refined sugar free, sweetened with maple syrup and coconut sugar, and it contains no oil. While it's not a health food, it's a really fun and easy recipe, it travels well, and makes a great treat to share with others. 

Peanut butter and jelly bread has been getting us through some strenuous days of manual labor out on our new property clearing a few invasive blackberry bushes. After six months of searching for land to purchase and build our first home, we finally closed on a 7 acre parcel of forest here in Washington state. It's a beautiful property covered with ferns and pine trees and we think it will be just the right place to build our small cabin and learn how to grow our own food. 

For now, we've been practicing with a few potted plants around our Airstream and seeing what we can learn about the process. We mostly have flowers and succulents along with a tomato plant that has five green tomatoes ripening currently. 

 taken during the eclipse here in Seattle (92% coverage) 

taken during the eclipse here in Seattle (92% coverage) 

This peanut butter and jelly bread is so easy to make, all you need is two bowls and a 9 x 9 inch baking pan or loaf pan. Most of the ingredients are common household items and require very little preparation other than mixing and dumping into a pan. If you make this now, in less than an hour you'll have a delicious fresh sliced bread to enjoy all week!

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The addition of the dried blueberries adds a fruity jelly flavor, but feel free to omit for plain peanut butter bread. For other variations, try adding chopped nuts, raisins, or vegan chocolate chips. Dial down on the coconut sugar for sandwich bread or add more coconut sugar for a sweeter loaf. Slice and store in the fridge covered for up to one week. 

 

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Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble [Vegan, Oil-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free]

Rhubarbs are in season here in Washington and while strawberries are not quite there yet, I decided to jump the gun and try experimenting with a strawberry-rhubarb crumble anyway... or is it a crisp? I'm going with crumble because crisp reminds me too much of apples and this tastes more like a crumble-pie than anything. 

I used half fresh, half frozen strawberries for this recipe, but I recommend using all fresh strawberries especially if you can find them organic and in season. If you're reading this in June that should be much easier, but until then frozen, thawed strawberries will definitely work. Just make sure to thaw them first and drain out the water. 

First, you make the strawberry rhubarb filling.

Then mix the topping ingredients and sprinkle it over the filling in an even layer.

It's not quite the most traditional strawberry rhubarb pie, but it's much healthier as it doesn't contain any refined flours or sugars and still makes a delicious pie-like treat!

 

Strawberry-rhubarb Crumble [vegan, Oil-free, Refined Sugar-free]