raw peppermint oreos for a christmas vegan cookie swap!

it doesn’t get much better that being given an excuse to consume more desserts and sweets than normal and this is one of the best parts of the holiday season. baking galore, taste-testing those handmade gifts, potlucks and more-often-than-usual “treating myself” at cafes and restaurants.

in order to make sure i don’t go completely off the back end and abandon the healthy lifestyle i love so much, i try to make sure at least some of these goodies are handmade by me! even better? when a lovely, thoughtful and brilliant blogger brings 25 bloggers together to share 25 cookie recipes that completely fit the bill. 

i am honoured to be participating for the second year in kristy’s vegan cookie swap party. this year i offer up raw peppermint oreos!

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and don't forget to check out last year's contribution: these delicious nutmeg logs

head on over to keepin’ it kind now to get the recipe and check out all the other delicious cookies!

raw (and healthy!) cranberry bliss bars

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i don’t know about you guys, but november 1 officially starts the beginning of the holiday season for me. this means i can start listening to christmas music (michael buble i’m looking at you), watching christmas movies (oh hey there love actually and home alone), decorating the house and whipping up christmas-themed treats and meals. gingerbread spiced smoothies, chocolate-peppermint desserts, savoury stuffing-style pilaffs, egg nog-esque beverages and lets not forget the amazing mulled wines and hot apple ciders!

not only that but i start basically giving my money away on anything christmas themed- from clothes that would be great for a holiday party, to decorations and trinkets i don’t need, ANY christmas themed treat/beverage in the cafes…honestly, i am a retailers dream. 

and it is one of those retailers that inspired today’s treat! i’m sure most of you know who i’m referencing- they launch the red cups on november 2, and suddenly christmas is in the air. peppermint mochas, gingerbread lattes, nanaimo bars, snowman cookies an of course, the cranberry bliss bar. NONE of which is healthy (or vegan mind you). 

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so of course i set about to recreate one of these treats in my own home! because i refuse to miss out on all this holiday cheer! not to mention, while each one of these items sounds pretty delicious, i happen to know they are each cloyingly sweet, likely to set your teeth on edge and blood sugar soaring. i might have a sweet tooth, but i prefer my sweets on the not-so-sweet side.

these are raw, so no-baking required (yay!) and are packed with good for you ingredients like nuts and coconut to make sure you get a healthy dose of fats and fibre with your treat. i used fruit-juice sweetened cranberries too, to lessen your exposure to refined sugars. finally, i topped it all off with a cashew-based, cream cheese-esque icing. talk about decadent!

i actually made these for the first time last year but missed the boat on posting them for the christmas season. but a friend who tried them said they tasted better than the original version. i’ll take that as a win! and i apologize for making you wait almost a year for the recipe…but hopefully you’ll make them, take one bite and all will be forgiven ;)

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make them listening to some michael buble christmas music please and then enjoy snuggled beneath a blanket watching love actually. it’s just the right thing to do.

raw vegan cranberry bliss bars (vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, grain-free, paleo, raw)

 

Ingredients (~12-16 bars)

base:

  • 1 cup nuts (I used almonds and hazelnuts)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup dates
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (fruit-juice sweetened)
  • splash vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

icing:

  • 1/2 cup cashews (soaked)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp coconut nectar
  • squeeze lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • dried cranberries, chopped for topping

Instructions

add the nuts to your food processor and process until you get a fine meal. add the rest of the dry base ingredients and pulse a couple times to mix. then add in the date and cranberries and process until a sticky dough forms. press into a plastic wrap-lined pan and put in the fridge while you make the icing.

add your soaked cashew nuts and the rest of the icing ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. smooth over top of the bars. sprinkle on chopped cranberries to decorate and then put back in the fridge to let the icing firm up. store in the fridge or freezer until just before serving or the icing with get melty and soft again. these freeze well, so you can make them ahead of time!

 

 

mango pudding cups

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The weather in Toronto the past couple days (and for the next couple) freaks me out. And not in a good way.

Sure, the heat has been turned up and we’ve been granted another week of hot weather, summer clothing and cool drinks. We can push the thoughts of winter a little further into our minds and soak up the warmth of the sun as we lounge in the parks and linger on patios. The part of me that’s always cold LOVED this!

But guys, it’s just not meant to be this way. I don’t know about you, but thoughts of climate change, global warming and environmental destruction keep me up at night. I remember taking courses in school discussing the social evolution of humans and how we are programmed to consume. That coupled with a class on the science of climate change was enough to buy me 4 months of sleepless nights. The weather this week has been a reminder of how scary what we are doing to this world is. Were the temperatures Toronto experienced 100% due to our changing climate? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s these little blips, little nudges to the gut that really remind why I went vegan in the first place.

I don’t like being reminded of these global crises but I do welcome the renewed passion and inspiration it brings. I went vegan because I believe in compassion. Compassion is a big word that I believe encompasses many things:

Compassion for animals

Compassion for my body and my health

Compassion for the environment

and Compassion for all others (think food politics and the benefits of living in a cleaner, greener world!)

Eating a vegan, plant-based diet isn’t the absolute solution and goodness knows it has it’s own problems. I love knowing though that my food choices at each meal promote compassion and reduce suffering. Each choice we make has the potential to do good or cause harm. Let’s try and remember this as we bask in the final rays of the summer.

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And with that, here is a bright and sunny recipe to celebrate the last (well hopefully) of the summer sun. I was inspired by these Snack Pack Vegan Cheesecakes by Lisa at Vegan Culinary Crusade. I loved the layers, the portability, the adorable presentation and just had to make a version of my own! I opted to use mango and strawberries to match the sunny weather, but any fruit could be used!

These cups are loaded with healthy fats and fresh fruit and would make a wonderful snack or dessert any time of day.

So let’s remember our responsibilities to each other and this wonderful planet we live on and celebrate compassion while we eat delicious mango pudding cups shall we?

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Mango Pudding Cups (Vegan, Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Paleo, Raw, SCD option)

Ingredients (4-6 snack cups)

Fruit Bottom:

  • 2 large strawberries, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped mango

Filling:

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 3/4 cup chopped mango
  • 3 tbsp almond milk
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/16 tsp nutmeg

Crumble Topping:

  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 2 tbsp coconut flakes
  • 1 tbsp liquid sweetener

Instructions

Muddle with a mortar and pestle or roughly puree in a mini food processor.

Grind cashews until a fine powder in a mini food processor , then add in the rest of the ingredients except coconut oil and process until smooth. Then add in the melted coconut oil and process until incorporated.

Process almond and coconut flakes until finely ground then add in the sweetener and pulse until you get a crumble that sticks together.

Layer it up! Start with putting a couple spoonfuls of the fruit in the bottom of each of your jars. Then layer on the filling and finally top with the crumble topping. You will probably have more crumble topping than you need so save the extra to top a smoothie with!

berry coconutty cookies

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I cannot believe it is already September. September is when the leaves start changing, the wind get brisker, apples become cheap and even more delicious and scarves become a necessary fashion piece. It’s also the month I’ll be celebrating my 25th (eesh), saying goodbye to a good friend, working intense hours and starting school again. It’s a month filled with responsibilities and change. But it also happens to be my favourite month.

September is like a second new year. A time to revisit goals and intentions and go at them with renewed vigour. It’s a second chance to do and be better. That’s something I’ve always found incredible comforting and exhilarating at the same time.

To send off the summer I thought I’d share on more recipe with summer berries. They are here a little while longer and we need to make the most of this precious time. There will be months to eat apples, root vegetables and potatoes coming up. Let’s not start too soon!

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These cookies are raw so are made in a dehydrator but the dehydrating step is totally optional. These are just as delicious when chilled in the fridge. They have a mild coconut flavour with the sweet tartness of berries and some sultry notes coming from the vanilla. The smell of these as they dehydrate is intoxicating! And let’s face it- they are super pretty ;)

These include almonds and coconut for a good dose of healthy fats, calcium and fibre and delicious berries for loads of vitamin C and antioxidants. I used a small amount of raw honey to add sweetness, but coconut nectar or maple syrup could be used as well. Finally I used a little maqui powder for a little superfood kick and colour, but that is totally optional!

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Berry Coconutty Cookies (Vegan, Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Paleo, SCD, Raw)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup berries (I used 1/2 blueberries, 1/2 raspberries)
  • 3 tbsp coconut flour
  • 2 tbsp raw honey (or coconut nectar or maple syrup for pure vegan)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp maqui powder (optional)

Instructions

Grind almonds and coconut flakes in a food processor till small. Add in the rest of the ingredients and process until it forms a batter that sticks together. Take about a tablespoon out at a time and roll into a ball then flatten with your hands onto your dehydrator sheets.

Dehydrate at 105 for 8 or more hours, depending on how soft you want the centers (6 hours and the cookies were just hard on the outside but soft and gooey on the inside, 8 hours and they were a little harder, just how I wanted them)

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What summer produce are you going to miss most? Berries and all the fruit are mine for SURE.

What about fall are you most excited about? The food, weather, everything? Since it’s my favourite season- everything! The cool air, pumpkin flavoured treats, the colours of the leaves. There’s nothing I don’t love (except maybe what inevitably follows it…)

virtual vegan potluck- coconut lime layered bars

Yay, I’m so excited to be blogging today, because it’s one of my most favourite events! The Virtual Vegan Potluck!

Hello to new readers and loyal followers alike! Welcome to the veggie nook. This is my little corner of the world where I talk about all things food, nutrition and health while pursuing an education in Holistic Nutrition. I believe healthy eating can be delicious and fun and it is the goal of my blog to show you all just how true that is!

For those of you who don’t know, The Virtual Vegan Potluck is the brain child of Annie over at An Unrefined Vegan. A HUUUUGE shout out to her and of course to Somer and Jason who have helped organize the last two! The VVP is an event where food bloggers from all over the world sign up to bring a vegan dish and then we all share it and post it at the exact same time! You can follow all the dishes like a big chain too, kind of like walking down a buffet line. At the bottom of my post you’ll see links to go to the previous blogger in line and the one after. Definitely visit all the blogs if you can!

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For this potluck, I’m sharing a dessert, my favourite thing to make. I don’t know why I like making desserts so much, maybe it’s because they just feel so special!

The inspiration for this dish came from the Nanaimo bar. A treat usually made around christmas that features chocolate layers with a cream filling, sometimes mint too. But I wanted to “summer-ize” this treat and maybe even take away the chocolate. I know, I know, why on earth would I want to do that??? Well my friends, the result is amazing I assure you!

In this treat I used almonds, coconut flake and coconut oil to form the base, with avocado, coconut oil, banana and lime to form the “cream” filling. The lime tastes so bright next to all the coconut! And the final layer, which would normally be pure chocolate, I decided to go with coconut in it’s finest decadent form- coconut butter. The creaminess is offset by the freshness of the flavours and the colours are just perfect for spring!

Nutrition-wise, this dessert is a powerhouse as well! Tons of fiber, healthy fats and not too much sweetener. This is a satisfying, decadent yet healthful treat that I know you’ll all love!

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Coconut Lime Layered Bars (Vegan, Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Paleo, SCD)

 

 

Ingredients (12 bars)

Base

  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp sweetener
  • pinch sea salt

Filling

  • 2 small avocados, peeled and pitted
  • juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 1/3 cup raw coconut nectar
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 banana, divided- 1/2 of it sliced thinly

Top

  • 1/3 cup coconut butter
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

Instructions

Add all of the crust ingredients to your food processor, and process until a "dough" forms. Press this into a plastic wrap-lined loaf pan (I used 9×5) and put in the fridge while you make the filling.

Next, add all the filling ingredients except the melted coconut oil and 1/2 the banana to your processor and process until smooth. Next, with the processor running, pour in the melted coconut oil until incorporated. Pour this on top of your base and smooth the top with a spatula. Place the remaining sliced banana on top of this layer, pressing them into the filling to create a flat surface. Put this in the fridge while you prepare the final layer.

Over very low heat, in a small dish melt together the coconut butter and coconut oil until runny then pour over the filling. Put in the fridge to harden for about an hour. It is helpful at this point to take it out and cut it in the pan, then put it back in to continue hardening for a couple hours. When ready to serve use the plastic wrap to remove from the pan.

Store in the fridge or freezer.

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Now make sure you continue on in the potluck!

To visit the dish after mine at The Little Green House, click below.

Go Forward

To visit the dish before mine at Sift, Stir & Savour, click below.

Go Back

Or, go to the BEGINNING :)

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the potluck!

I'm also sharing these at Raw Foods Thursdays and Wellness Weekends!