Carrot Bars-Vegan and Gluten-Free with no refined sugars

This weekend I was in a meal making frenzy. The weather is cool enough now to use our oven, so I was taking full advantage of that. Plus, I was trying to clean out our fridge without throwing anything away. I am a big repurposer, and I suppose that goes for my food as well. We have an apple tree in our backyard that has produced so many apples. My mom has been canning all last week, making pretty much anything with “apple” in the name: apple butter, apple pie-filling, applesauce, etc. She has so many jars made, that she wanted me to make something that used applesauce. Applesauce is a great replacement for sugar or butter in a recipe because it adds moistness and natural sweetness. I also wanted to use up a zucchini we had, which adds additional moistness, plus sneaking some veggies in!

So with zucchini and applesauce at hand, I decided to make a carrot bar recipe that I found. The recipe (found here) calls for sugar, which I decided to omit, as well as making some other minor alternations. The end product was very moist and was just the right amount of sweetness (all natural too might I add). These bars are perfect for breakfast, snack or just on-the-go!

Here are the some health benefits of the ingredients:

  • Zucchini-The fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium found in this vegetable is good for lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Applesauce-A better alternative than butter or sugar, applesauce contains fiber and vitamin C.
  • Carrot-Full of fiber, vitamin C and A, Beta-Carotene, carrots improve eye and skin health, aid in digestion, and reduce the risk of cancer.
  • Cinnamon-Loaded with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, cinnamon can help protect against cancers and reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Oats-Gaining nutritional benefits such as manganese, selenium, phosphorus, fiber, magnesium, and zinc, they are a healthier option than processed white flour, which removes these minerals.
  • Walnuts-Due to it’s special mix of vitamin E, folate, melatonin, omega-3 fats, and antioxidants, studies have shown that walnuts may support brain health. Now there’s a smart idea.

So let’s get baking these good for you bars! Apologies for no pretty picture of the bars…that’s the downfall to baking at night, you don’t get the best pictures!

Carrot Bars

(makes 18 bars)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 2 cups sugar-free applesauce
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup crushed walnuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the shredded carrot, zucchini, applesauce, vanilla extract and maple syrup. Mix well.
  3. After the wet ingredients are mixed thoroughly, add in the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
  4. Spread the mixture in a 9×13 pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until baked thoroughly.
  5. Let cool for five minutes before slicing into 1 1/2″ x 3″ bars.

Note: Keep in a refrigerator to extend the shelf life of these moist babies! I kept them just on my counter wrapped in foil and within only a few days, they started to mold.

Raw Carrot Cake for One

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So this weekend my family is celebrating our September birthdays. Not only is my birthday one that is being celebrated, but my mother and cousin also share birthdays in this month. Being the only Vegan in the family, I will need to be providing my own dessert, since most cakes use egg and dairy (as well as sugar, white bleached flour and all these other ‘not really so good for you’ ingredients).

I actually don’t mind making my own dessert. In fact, I am super excited to make a vegan cake! I wanted to make something raw since it is still a little too warm here for actual baking. I found these tiny creme brulee dishes that were the perfect size for a single dessert portion. How adorable, I get my own birthday cake all to myself! Wanting to use up some carrots from our garden, I thought, “Carrot Cake”! It was super quick to whip up, and I can’t wait to try it tomorrow! Here is the breakdown of all the lovely benefits of this nutritious and delicious dessert:

  • Carrots-We all know carrots have a lot of vitamin A, but aside from that (which is great for skin and eye health), carrots also have vitamins C, B6, K, E, B2, B3, and B1. They have wonderful anti-cancerous properties through their antioxidants and unique phytonutrients.
  • Walnuts-Nuts are a good source of healthy omega-3 fats, which are important for brain and heart health. They also have these powerful and unique antioxidants that may prevent chemically induced liver damage. Walnuts have also been linked to helping with weight control and reducing diabetes.
  • Cinnamon-This amazing spice is chalked full of wonderful benefits. Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties. When we are inflamed, our bodies have a difficult time fighting infections and repairing tissue damage. It is also the cause of diseases such as arthritis. Cinnamon is this powerful fighting spice, which has been linked to reduce the risk of such medical issues like certain bacterial and fungal infections, and lowering high blood sugar.
  • Nutmeg-Like Cinnamon, Nutmeg has helped treat inflammation. It also helps with digestion problems such as diarrhea, constipation and bloating.

Oh and did I mention that all you really need is a blender? Let’s get started!

Raw Carrot Cake for One

(makes 1 personal cake)

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Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 tbsp walnuts
  • 2-3 dried dates or figs

Carrot Cake

  • 1 carrot, washed and chopped into 1″ thick slices
  • 2-3 tbsp water or milk of your choice (soy, almond, coconut)
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp oats
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Directions

  1. In blender, blend dried dates/figs with the walnuts until a fine paste-like substance is produced.
  2. Using a spoon, scoop out the mixture and with your hands, mold into the bottom of the creme brulee cup (or other small dish).
  3. Combine the carrot slices, vanilla, water/milk, oats, maple syrup and spices to the blender and blend until a well-mixed substance is created.
  4. Scoop out the mixture on top of the crust and set in the fridge to firm for about 1-2 hours.
  5. Garnish with chopped/crushed walnuts and enjoy!

As a side note, I tend to just throw stuff together, not really following a recipe. My tastes maybe different from yours, or your mixture may turn out a little runnier or more dense than mine. If your mixture is quite runny, add more oats or carrots. If your mixture is more dense, add more water/milk. Not sweet enough? Add more maple syrup or honey according to your tastes! IMG_5901

Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Power Bites

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So I have been trying this whole vegan thing recently as well as omitting sugars from my diet…processed sugars at least. I am a woman, and I do have a sweet tooth. Even though I have a taste for sweets, I want to enjoy them in healthy ways. One thing that I have been really enjoying is making different flavor dessert bites. They are made with natural ingredients and are typically raw and vegan. I start off with dates as the substance that binds the balls together, and add in a variety of other ingredients such as nuts and fruits. They are fun to experiment with.

When I share recipes, I like to do my research on the ingredients to find out the health benefits behind them. This bit of information furthers my interests in clean eating, knowing that I am making good decisions for my body.  A few days ago I decided to throw these babies together, Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Power Bites. They only have four ingredients and are so simple to make. Instead of cocoa powder for the chocolaty goodness, I added chocolate protein powder, which gives me an extra dose to add to my total intake for the day. It is recommended that the average woman have around 46 grams of protein a day, while the average man should get 56 grams. The other three main ingredients all have health benefits as well. Dates have so many amazing health benefits. They are high in fiber and are a natural laxative. They also are high in iron, making them good for someone who is suffering from anemia. Since they are high in natural sugars, they give a quick burst of energy, giving the “power” to these bites. The craisins provide more fiber and add to the sweetness factor of these bites. Lastly, the pistachios have antioxidant properties in them. They are also full of protein and good fats, as well as having a lot of copper, which aids in the absorption of iron from foods. A side note: I did not realize that when choosing these ingredients, that they were not only the perfect combo in taste, but in health benefits as well! This is a high fiber, high protein, high energy snack that is great for people with anemia. I should have really called them “Poopy Protein Power Anemia Bites”, but that just doesn’t roll off the tongue very nicely now does it?

Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Power Bites

(makes 8-10 bites)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup roasted pistachios
  • 1/4 cup craisins
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (if you are going vegan, here is a good brand)

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Directions

1. Add 1 cup dates to a blender and pulse until the dates become tiny bits

2. Add 1/2 cup pistachios and pulse until chopped.

3. If the substance is too hard, add a dash (around 1/2 tbsp or less) of liquid such as almond milk, coconut creamer, soy milk, or water to the mixture. You don’t want it too runny, or else the balls won’t hold their shape.

4. Mix in the protein powder.

5. Scoop out around 1-2 tbsp of the mixture. Take a few craisins and add to the mix. Roll into a bite-sized ball.

6. Repeat the previous step until all the dough is used up.

7. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before enjoying!

Cocoa Cookies with Creamy Cashew Filling

So a few posts ago, I talked about healthy eating and how it is equally as important to your over all well-being as spirituality and your mindset. For a while now, I’ve been eating clean, which means that I have been cutting out processed foods. I’ve been eating a lot more foods found in nature, such as fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Eating clean, organic, unprocessed foods has helped in my overall health and mood. I have more energy. When I used to eat a lot of processed food or simple carbs, I felt so lethargic afterwards. Food is fuel for your body, so it doesn’t really run that well when you give it junk food. Clean, healthy eating has also helped in my physical appearance. No not like that! But my nails have grown longer, my hair, shinier, my skin clearer…who needs drugs and products when you have healthy natural food?! Another topic.

Any-who, since I am very health conscious now, I eat clean and natural foods. I try to eat organic and vegan when I can, but I also recognize the health benefits in foods such as salmon and greek yogurt. But like I said, when I can, I try to make alternative swaps for foods such as cow’s milk for almond milk. I also like trying vegan recipes. For a while now, I have wanted to make a vegan dessert. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, but I hate how addicting and unhealthy processed sugar is. Did you know that it’s 8x more addicting than cocaine? So since removing sugar, I have found ways to please my sweet tooth. I have switched to natural sweeteners such as honey and agave. I’ve also been dying to make some vegan desserts, a lot of which call for dates, which my mom so graciously bought today at the store.

With said dates, and a bunch of other natural yummy ingredients, I decided to make these cocoa cookies with creamy cashew filling. At first, I was using a recipe found here.

But when making them, I had trouble with my cookie forming abilities. I just decided to make mine into different shape and omit the tops, but the recipe is virtually the same thing.

Cocoa Cookies with Creamy Cashew Filling

Makes 10-12 cookies

Ingredients

Cookie

  • 1-1 1/4 cup of pitted dates
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

Cashew Cream

  • 1/2 cup of raw cashews
  • 2 tbsp liquid coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp natural maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Here is my arsenal

  1. Process dates, rolled oats and cocoa powder in a blender or food processor until finely blended.
  2. Using the date/oat paste, form 10-12 balls on a roll of parchment paper.
  3. With each ball, cover with parchment paper and roll with a rolling-pin to flatten out the spheres.
  4. Next, round the edges of each flattened ball in to make a cup for the cashew filling.
  5. Repeat for each ball until you have a plate that looks like this:
  6. For the filling, in a food processor or blender, blend the cashews, vanilla, maple syrup and coconut oil until you get a creamy consistency.
  7. Scoop a dab of filling into each of the cookie cups.
  8. Get yourself a cold class of almond milk and enjoy!