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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yummy Nutty “Truffle” Bites

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Well, the big V day will be here before we know it. (Valentine’s Day that is, Feb.14th)  Why not show your sweetheart how much you care by giving him/her a sweet treat that is actually GOOD for their heart.  These do pack a bit of a calorie punch (with all of those nuts), but they also pack in fiber, calcium, vitamin E and other nutrients that you can’t get with candy.

The ones pictured here were actually made by my (almost) 9 year old son this morning. He wanted to bring something to school for snack that was going to fill him up, give him energy and not take forever to eat.  There is playing that needs to be done at recess too, you know!  These worked out great; way better than a granola bar and easy enough for a child to make.  Can’t get much better than that!

They also provide a great opportunity to get creative.  Not a fan of almonds? Fine, try pistachios.  Love dried blueberries?  Go ahead, throw them in the mix! Have fun with it! The original recipe that gave us the foundation for these was found in Chef AJ’s book Unprocessed.  But we have since made  some of our own changes.  Enjoy!

YUMMY NUTTY TRUFFLE BITES

INGREDIENTS

about 2 Tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup raw almonds

1/4 cup raw walnuts

1/4 cup almond butter

1/3 cup pitted dates

1/4 cup dried cherries or dried apricots (or a little bit of both!)

1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Place the coconut in a small dish  and set aside Place all ingredients (except the coconut) in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse for a while, until everything is chopped pretty finely and sticks together well.  Take a tablespoon at a time of the mixture and roll into a tight ball (If they are not compact, they’ll fall apart easily.).  Roll the balls in the coconut and place in an airtight container.  That’s it!  Store in the refrigerator or just dole them out right then and there.  Enjoy!

Melon Banana Split!

Here’s a fun, healthy alternative to the traditional banana split. Works well as a dessert, or a snack.  Feel free to experiment with different types of melon (watermelon, honeydew, etc.) and toppings too!

1 banana, cut in 1/2 lengthwise
Melon, seeded and scooped into balls with an ice cream or cookie scoop
nuts, chopped
fresh mint
unsweetened flaked coconut
drizzle with honey or agave nectar

Enjoy!

Oatmeal Chocolate Cherry Pecan Cookies

Holy cow are these cookies good!  If you love lots of chocolatey-oaty, sweet and crunchy goodness then this is the cookie for you.  It is also a great back-to-school treat you can share with the kids, without any guilt since the only things these little gems lack are eggs, butter, oil and soy.  To make them wheat-free, try substituting the whole wheat pastry flour with oat or barley flour.  These also freeze very well, so why not make a double batch and freeze some to enjoy later!  

A Helpful Note: The dough is a lot easier to manage if you can let it chill in the fridge for about an hour or so before baking, but this isn’t necessary.  Here I use applesauce and prune puree (baby food prunes).  If you only have one of the two on hand, it’s no problem.  Just as long as you end up with 1 cup of fruit puree, whether in the form of applesauce, prunes or a combo.  Mashed bananas may also work in a pinch, though I haven’t tested that substitution yet.  

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce 
  • 1/2 cup prune puree or baby food prunes 
  • 3 Tablespoons ground flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 cup sucanat or light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup evaporated can juice or raw sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  •  2 1/2 -3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 1 cup non-dairy chocolate chips, or roughly chopped vegan dark chocolate
  • 1 cup raw pecans, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees farenheit.  Place oven racks at 2nd and 5th positions.
  2. Combine water, flaxmeal, applesauce, prune puree and sugars in a large bowl and beat well.  Beat in vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, wheat germ, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Gradually add dry mixture to wet ingredients and stir until well combined.
  4. With a wooden spoon, stir in oats, cherries, chocolate and nuts.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight, if desired.
  6. Drop by large spoonfuls onto a parchment covered baking sheet.  Press to flatten slightly.
  7. Bake 10-12 minutes.  Rotate baking sheets half way into baking time.  Rotate 180 degrees and switch racks that the baking sheets are on, to insure even baking.
  8. Cool on baking sheet for 5-10 min., then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling…if you can wait that long.  🙂

Coconut Date Nut Balls

These little treasures come from one of my favorite books on plant-based nutrition. Disease Proof Your Child by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. really helped me understand how to live a plant-based whole food diet and be sure that the kids are getting everything they need.  Coconut Date Nut Balls (or rolls, depending upon how you shape them) are so easy and delicious, not to mention nutritious (as far as sweets go).  There is no added sugar here.  All of the sweetness comes from the natural sugars found in the dates.  Try tucking them into little paper candy wrappers for a real special treat.

Ingredients

1 cup dates, finely chopped – If you have the time, try soaking the dates in water for  few hours or overnight to make them softer.  Be sure to drain well before using. 

scant 1/4 cup each of the following, finely chopped 

  • raw cashews
  • raw walnuts
  • raw almonds
  • raw sunflower seeds

¼ cup unsweetened coconut

Directions

Place ingredients in a large bowl and use clean hands to knead the ingredients together.  Roll into walnut-sized balls and arrange on a plate.  Store in the refrigerator, in an air-tight container, until ready to eat.


Teff Flour Peanut Butter Cookies

Teff is one of the smallest grains in the world, and also one of the most nutritious.  It is gluten-free and a good source of fiber, protein, calcium and iron.  In Ethiopia, teff flour is used to make injera bread, which is a staple there.

The fact that teff grains are so small makes it very difficult to mill into teff flour.  You can find it though.  Bob’s Red Mill (www.bobsredmill.com) makes a whole grain teff flour that can be found in health food stores.  Teff flour is also gluten-free and makes a great alternative to regular flour.

I picked some up and decided to give it a try.  Here’s what I came up with.  This recipe is actually adapted from one taken right off the back of the teff flour package.  I eliminated the oil and substituted applesauce.  Mashed ripe banana would probably be a tasty oil substitute here, too.   If peanuts (or nuts in general) are out of the question because of an allergy or sensitivity, try using sunflower seed butter instead.  

Ingredients :

  • 1 1/2 cup whole grain teff flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup peanut butter (or sunflower seed butter)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.  Set aside
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients well. (You can use a hand mixer, food processor or even a blender for this part.)
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until well combined.
  5. Roll dough into balls the size of a tablespoon and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Slightly flatten with a fork, using the tines to make a criss-cross pattern.
  7. Bake for 13-15 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.

(yields 2 dozen cookies)