Fresh Berry Tart

This berry tart is fantastic!  A tasty, crumbly nut crust, cashew date cream and fresh berries.  That’s it!  Its quick, easy and makes a great dinner party or potluck dessert with plenty of “WOW!” factor.  Want to take it to the next level?  A vegan lemon curd beneath the berries would be out of this world!

Vegan Berry TartNutty Tart Crust

3/4 cup roasted, unsalted nuts (you can use pecans, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, whatever you like)

3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

1/4 cup light, neutral oil (grape seed oil is like canola, without the GMO risk) see note after directions

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Process the dry ingredients (nuts, oats, flour and cinnamon) in a food processor until it becomes a coarse meal.  Transfer to a bowl and mix in the oil and syrup.
  3. Press the crust mixture firmly into a 9″-10″ tart pan or pie plate.
  4. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack

Note: Melted coconut oil could be used in place of the oil mentioned in the tart crust, but I would advise against it, only because it will harden at room temp and become solid as a rock once refrigerated!  This may make eating (let alone slicing) the crust a bit of a challenge.

Date Sweetened Cashew Cream

1/2 cup raw cashews (if you have time, soak them in water for 1-2 hours prior, then rinse well).

2-3 Tablespoons dates (double check for pits!)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place cashews in a blender pitcher.  Add enough fresh water to just cover the nuts.  Add dates and vanilla, blend until it becomes a smooth cream.  Scrape into a small bowl and set aside.  Can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator.

Once the tart shell is cooled, we can assemble this baby!  

Spread and even layer of your sweetened cashew cream over the bottom of the completely cooled tart shell.  Rinse and pat dry the berries, then arrange on top of the cashew cream any way you fancy.  I started from the center and made concentric circles with some berries I had left over from the night before.  You could use different fruits like kiwi, or mango for more color and variety.  Have fun and get creative!

When you are ready to serve, get ready to hear the “Oooh”s and “Ahhh”s!  Slice, serve and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Low-Fat Cherry Almond Scones

My original recipe for “Scones, Perfected!” was posted last year at http://yournutritionista.blogspot.com/2010/05/sconesperfected-cherry-almond-scones.html  It has been a favorite around here for a long time.  This week I made a batch to say thanks to my husband and kids for making my Mother’s Day so special.  After I got them into the oven, I realized that the Earth Balance (butter substitute) was still in the refrigerator!  Doh!  When they came out I was half expecting them to be more like biscotti, but to our delight and surprise, then turned out great!  They were lighter and still retained a great texture.  We all liked them better than the original!   If you prefer a more flakey and rich scone, then stick with the old recipe.  If you want to save yourself about 150 calories per scone, then omit the Earth Balance, and cut them a little smaller so that you end up with 12 instead of 8.

NOTE: There is still some fat due to the cashew cream, which is used instead of heavy cream.  Not only is cashew cream void of  the saturated fat and cholesterol in dairy cream, it is full of fiber, minerals and phytonutrients you cannot find in dairy products.  Cashew cream is a cinch to make.  Just take 1 cup of raw cashews and cover with fresh water.  You can let them soak overnight or, if you don’t have time, just for a few minutes while you prep other ingredients.  Drain the soaking water off the cashews and place in a blender along with enough fresh water to just cover the nuts.  Blend on high until the mixture is smooth and creamy, like a thick cream.  Add more or less water depending upon the consistency you are looking for.  For this recipe we are looking for it to resemble a thick cream.   Measure out 1 cup to use for the scones.  Save the rest for another use.  You can use it anywhere you would normally use cream.  It’s great over berries, just add a little vanilla extract. YUM-MY!

Here is the updated, lighter scone recipe.  Hope you like it!  Oh, and don’t forget the vanilla glaze.  It gives the scones just the right amount of sweetness.

Ingredients: (yields 12 scones)

SCONES:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

2 tablespoons raw sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup cashew cream (see note above)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 handful chopped dried cherries

1 handful chopped slivered almonds

GLAZE: 

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons soymilk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 tablespoons melted Earth Balance margarine

Directions:

SCONES:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  A wire whisk does a great job at mixing dry ingredients.
  3. Add cherries and almonds.  Stir to combine and create a well in the center of the mixture.
  4. Combine extracts and cashew cream and pour the wet mixture into the well of the dry ingredients.
  5. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine well, but do not over stir.
  6. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and form into a slab that is about 3-4 inches wide and 16-18 inches long.
  7. Cut in half, crosswise, then cut each half into 3 equal pieces.  Now cut each piece (roughly a square shape) diagonally, leaving you with 12 triangles.  Place your scones on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

GLAZE:

Tip #1: Whip this up while the scones are in the oven to save yourself some time.  This glaze is SO easy-peasy and really makes the scones the perfect level of sweetness.  

Tip #2: If you are making a variation like cranberry orange or blueberry lemon, you can citru-fy your glaze by just adding some zest and juice (enough to substitute for the soymilk), of either an orange, lemon or lime.  

Tip #3: Save yourself on the cleanup by placing a piece of wax or parchment paper underneath the wire rack that your scones will be cooling on.  Now you can drizzle your glaze right onto the cooling scones, without making a mess of your kitchen counter!

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar in soymilk (or juice and zest) and vanilla with a wire whisk.
  2. Add the melted Earth Balance and continue to whisk out the lumps.  Now drizzle on the scones.
  3. What did I tell you, easy peasy!

Strawberry Rhubarb Upside-down Cobbler

Our kids and I had a great time strawberry picking with friends yesterday.  Before we left the farm stand, I spotted a box of beautiful, ruby-red rhubarb.  My mind went immediately to “rhubarb…strawberries…COBBLER!”  Not to mention the fact that rhubarb is so nutrient rich (and becomes more so, once it’s cooked)!  Low on the glycemic index, 14% protein, and high in fiber, vitamin C,  vitamin K, calcium and potassium, rhubarb is super-star.  Not to mention the fact that 1 cup is only 25 Calories!

The kids and I out in the field, picking our strawberries.

Strawberries are no nutritional slouch either.  These sweet red beauties are high in folate (nature’s form of folic acid), fiber, vitamin C and manganese.  And when the sweetness of strawberries collides with the tartness of rhubarb, you have a winning result!

In this cobbler, I used no eggs, oil, butter or margarine, so there are no added calories from fat.  We love our oats around here, so there are a lot of them in the cobbler.

Technically this is more of an “upside down” cobbler because of the fact that the fruit is poured over the cobbler, versus plopping mounds of the topping over the fruit, which makes for a “cobblestone” appearance – thus the name.

The perfect addition for this was a little dollop of cashew cream that has been sweetened with dates.  I had my taste testers (ages 2 and 5) try out a spoonful, and they kept coming back for more.  That’s always a good sign.

Enjoy the fleeting days of spring and pick up some fresh (or frozen would work too) strawberries and rhubarb and see what you come up with!

Strawberry Rhubarb Upside-down Cobbler

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 4 stalks rhubarb, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup evaporated cane juice (more or less, depending on how sweet your berries are)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons potato starch (could substitute cornstarch)
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Soda
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups non-dairy milk
  • 6 Tablespoons maple syrup or agave

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine berries, rhubarb, evaporated cane juice and starch in a large bowl.  Toss to combine and set aside (at room temp) for about 30 min, or while you preheat the oven and prep your cobbler.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Time to prep your cobbler!  In a large mixing bowl, dump in your dry ingredients (flour, oats, cinnamon and baking soda).  Stir to combine, then add remaining ingredients to the party. (milk substitute, sweetener and vanilla).  Mix until everything is well incorporated.
  3. Pour cobbler mixture into a 9×13 pan that is either non-stick or lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Use the back of a wooden spoon  to make sure the batter covers the bottom of the pan evenly.  Add  the berries and rhubarb and spread out evenly.  Don’t be afraid to smoosh the fruit down a little into the batter.  
  4. Bake for about 45 minutes or until golden and bubbly (center shouldn’t look too wet).
Sweet Cashew Cream
This stuff is a great little treat, and makes a dessert just a little more special.  It even dresses up plain ol’ fruit to make it more of a special treat.  The unsweetened version of this is a great substitute for dairy cream in anything from scones, to creamy soups or even ice cream, just leave out the vanilla and dates.
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • water
  • 8-10 deglet noor dates (the smaller ones)
  • capful of vanilla extract
DIRECTIONS
  1. If you have time, cover the cashews with water and let them soak a while (1 hour up to overnight).  Then drain and rinse before making the cream.  If you don’t have time for this step, don’t worry about it.  
  2. Place cashews and enough fresh water to almost cover the nuts in a blender pitcher, then add the dates and vanilla.  Blend until completely smooth.  High powered blenders like a VitaMix are GREAT at this, but any regular blender should be able to handle the job.
  3. Place a dollop on top of your serving  of cobbler and voila!  Dig in!