date caramel (vegan, gluten free, no added sugar)

One of the hardest things I ever did was take on a three-month sugar detox several years ago. It took me more than a year to work up the courage to see it through, but once I finished it, I knew I never wanted to go back to my sugar-seeking ways.

Except the thought of not enjoying desserts again, especially for special occasions, was a bit of downer. Thankfully, I’ve learned that kicking the added sugar habit does not mean you can never treat yo’self.

In fact, it’s the opposite with recipes like this date caramel!

This no-added sugar alternative to traditional caramel sauce has the extra benefit of plant-protein (from the almonds) and copper, magnesium, manganese, vitamin B6, niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin found in the dates. So rich and creamy but without the empty calories and energy rush…or crash. I could happily eat an entire jar in one sitting.

The key to this recipe is buying Medjool dates with the pits still in them (you’ll remove the pits before blending, of course). You may need to adjust the salt content depending on whether you’re using salted or unsalted almond butter and your personal preference (I used salted).

 

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  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • I usually buy my almond butter from Trader Joe’s, but click here for another option.
  • Happily, Aldi has been carrying Medjool dates lately, but you can also find them here.

 

 

Date Caramel
Prep Time
10 mins
 

Rich and creamy and loaded with nutrients and plant-protein, this date caramel easily comes together to satisfy your sweet tooth, but without giving you a sugar crash.

Course: Dessert, Snack
Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup almond butter
  • 6-8 Medjool dates
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp (scant) salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Instructions
  1. Pit the dates and then add all ingredients to a food processor or high speed blender. Blend until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy, adjusting salt to taste. For a thinner sauce, add more almond milk.

Recipe Notes

Store in an airtight jar in the fridge.

5-ingredient key lime pie bites (vegan, sugar free)

One of the most frutrating things about changing your diet is relearning how to cook. The substitutes for the ingredients you used to rely on (sugar, white flour, eggs, dairy, meat etc.), don’t behave in the same way. In the first three months that I spent eating a plant-based diet, I was brought almost to tears several times because the kitchen suddenly felt like a foreign place.

Which makes the victory all the (sugar-free) sweeter when I hit on the right mix of ingredients the first time I make up a recipe. And judging by how quickly these little bites disappeared with our small group from church, I’d say these were a BIG hit.

If you have Lime Vitality Essential oil, I’d use that to give them a limey kick, but freshly squeezed lime juice will work too. They can be served naked or with a coconut coating. 

Last thing before I share the recipe…on Monday, I’m doing a clean eating challenge with a “Big Game” theme. It features a six day meal plan (including this recipe) of foods you might find at a “Big Game” party, but with a healthier twist. Comment if you’d like in on the challenge which I run through a private Facebook group (or you can request to join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1359914420746043/)


Key Lime Pie Bites 
1⁄2 cup cashews
1 c date paste
3 drops of lime vitality essential oil or 1-2 tsp of lime juice
3⁄4 c large flake, unsweetened coconut
Shredded coconut (optional)

Put all ingredients except the shredded coconut in a blender or food processor and blend until the mixture is very smooth. Roll into bite-sized balls. If desired, roll in shredded coconut. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to one week.

oatmeal raisin cookie dough bites, vegan + sugar free


First up: The winner of the Oh She Glows Everyday cookbook by Angela Liddon was Quinn. Aaaand, I just got word that she received it today!

Now something for everyone…this recipe for oatmeal raisin cookie dough bites. I think it was actually one of Angela’s cookie recipes that I was trying a few years ago, when I discovered how toasted pecans have the same buttery butterscotch flavor as oatmeal raisin cookies (ORC). In a traditional ORC, it’s the brown sugar and butter that give it that homey flavor.
I love finding simple, easy and no-sugar ways to make tasty desserts and snacks and this one checks off each of those boxes. Plus it has been kid- and crowd-approved.

So without further ado, here you go:

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bites

2 c. pecans, toasted*
1 c. date paste
1 1/4 c. rolled oats, organic if possible
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c. shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 c. raisins

Place pecans in a food processor  and blend until nuts are crumbly. Add remaining ingredients, except the raisins, and blend until well combined and the “dough” holds together when pressed between your fingers. Pour into a mixing bowl, add raisins and “knead” in with your hands (it’s easier than a spoon ;)). Form dough into balls that are about 1″ in diameter. Can be stored in an airtight container for several days.

Recipe Notes

This recipe can be cut in half for a smaller amount or for only 1-2 people. If you have a larger family or a crowd, I suggest keeping the ingredient amounts as is.

*See this post for a quick and easy way to toast nuts.

 

 

 

 

6-ingredient chocolate earth truffles (vegan, gluten free, sugar free, raw option)

chocolate earth trufflesAs promised yesterday, here is an Earth Day-inspired recipe that is simple to make and a way to satisfy the sweet tooth without any added sugar (unless you want to add a little).

I came across this recipe at the Whole Foods Market recipe site, but made it over so that it didn’t contain sugar. I always love when I find recipes that are easily sweetened by fruit…recipes that leave you feeling good about what you ate instead of weighed down and sluggish.

You might want to double this recipe if you have children or are bringing this to share because they don’t stay on the plate for very long.

If you’re curious why I recommend buying fair-trade cocoa powder, read this post.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the Chocolate Earth Truffles recipe

6-ingredient chocolate earth truffles

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

Chill Time:  1 hour

Makes: 12-15

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup date paste
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably fair trade
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup cacao nibs (or dairy free chocolate chips)
  • 1/3-1/2 cups unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut

Instructions

In a food processor, add peanut butter, date paste and cocoa powder and blend until all the ingredients are well combined.

Spoon mixture into a large bowl and add raisins and cacao nibs or chocolate chips. Stir until thoroughly combined.

Place mix in the fridge for about one hour to firm up.

Scoop out spoonfuls of truffle mix and form 1” balls.

Roll balls in shredded/flaked coconut.

Recipe Notes

Store in an air tight container in the fridge. Will keep for about 2-3 days if properly stored.

You also could roll the truffles in finely ground walnuts, pecans or almonds.

To make these raw, use raw peanut butter

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throw back thursday go to snack // ants on a log

ants on a log
ants on a log = celery + peanut butter + raisins

Grow up in North America and peanut butter is almost synonymous with childhood. Except, perhaps, if you are severely allergic to it.

Perhaps it is not surprising then that one of the snack I fondly remember my mum making for us as children is the classically simple, “Ants on a Log.” The genius of combining these three ingredients harkens back to the 1950s (I couldn’t help looking up its history) and I am forever grateful.

Picture 003
my two youngest at the beach in 2013 (because it’s fun to look back at the little years)

As I shared here, my husband looked forward to coaching little league from the time our children were babies. Me? I looked forward to the day they were p.b. + celery ready so I could make them this snack.

And whether it’s because of its name or portability, it’s also one of my favorite foods to pack for a picnic.

017_15A
My two oldest when they were little circa summer 2006. Though they weren’t eating ants on a log here, we were enjoying a picnic in Stratford, ON

I recommend using organic celery since conventional celery is on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list and spreading it with all natural, no sugar added peanut butter (the raisins add a natural sweetness).

So tell me, what is your favorite snack from childhood? Do you still eat it today? What are your favorite plant-based foods to pack on a picnic?

100_0732

 

peanut butter banana milkshake (vegan, no added sugar)

pbmilkshakes Shakes and smoothies are such a “thing” these days.

(Almost) every time I see a shake or smoothie recipe posted on my favorite food blogs or on the pages of a magazine, I think, “I should try that.”

Yet, I rarely make it past this shake.100_2516It tastes rich and unwholesome but really is made from a few simple good-for-you ingredients with no dairy or sugar in sight and was inspired by this recipe over at Healthy. Happy. Life.

Enough said. With summer is in full swing and school starting in less that one month for us, I’m keeping this post short and sweet…

peanut butter banana milkshake (dairy free, no added sugar)

Smooth and creamy, this shake is a perfect combination of salty and sweet.

Course: Beverage, Breakfast, Snack
Servings: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 banana, pre-sliced & frozen
  • 3 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • dashes cinnamon
  • 1/2-3/4 cup unsweetened, dairy-free milk
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender, starting with ½ cup of almond milk. Blend until smooth, adding more milk as needed to produce a thick but pourable shake.


Recipe Notes

I love using unsweetened almond milk for this, but suspect it would be yummy with unsweetened coconut milk too! For a peanut free version, try walnuts. To keep the recipe raw, use a raw nut butter.

three-ingredient cinnamon toast (sugar & oil-free, vegan)

100_1693On this last day of March I’m making a last ditch effort to post a new recipe before we turn the calendar to April. Although it’s been rather quiet here at brownberry tales,  on my side of the screen, it’s been business, and busy-ness, as usual which has led to the starting, but not finishing two other posts.

Every once and awhile I hit a meal planning slump (such a depressing, clunky word, right?). But honestly, it’s challenging to maintain enthusiasm when planning meals for six palettes that don’t always agree on what tastes good, especially when it comes to plant-based recipes. As a high achiever who loves her family, I want all my peeps to enjoy what they are eating.

Since inspiration was lacking from traditional dinner recipes, last night, I turned to breakfast. Inspiration found!

cinnamon toast

The recipe I’m sharing today is not the one I served last night (pancakes), but it is the recipe I used for a topping. After whipping it up, it reminded me of the cinnamon-sugar topping I used to put on toast. I still have vivid memories of toasting a piece of bread, slathering in with butter, then sprinkling on the cinnamon-sugar mix. Yum! But not so great for the teeth or the body.

In this version, date paste replaces the sugar and the pecans make an excellent butter substitute. The cinnamon got to stay. 😉

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the cinnamon toast recipe

3-ingredient Cinnamon Toast

100_16951/2 c. pecans
1/4 c. date paste
1/4-1/2 tsp. cinnamon*

serving size: 3-4 pieces of toast

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until the oils release in the pecans and the mixture begins to clump together and becomes spreadable. This may take 3-5 minutes. Spread on toast and store any leftovers in the fridge.

Recipe Notes

  • I used 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon
  • My favorite bread is the Ezekiel 4:9 Bread by Food for Life because they use sprouted whole grains, but use gluten-free bread if needed
  • Bring any leftovers to room temperature before using.