Vegan Apple Crisp

I have noticed that my 12-year-old son has been eating a lot more food lately. He seems to constantly be hungry and often comes home from school and tucks in to a pile of food and then is ready to eat again at dinner. AND he told me that I’m not packing enough food for his lunch – it must be a growth spurt! My husband reassures me that this is part and parcel of raising a pre-teen boy and he reminisced about how he and his older brother would come home from school as teenagers and devour foot-long hotdogs, sandwiches and frozen pizzas and then whip up a dessert of apples, brown sugar, oatmeal and mounds of butter in the microwave to top things off. And that was all before dinner!

I want to make sure that my children are eating as much healthy food as possible when they are at home (hotdogs- yuck!) so I try to keep fruits, veggies and nuts on hand for snacking. I also talk to them about food and the best choices for getting filling and nutritious protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

But that chat with my hubby got me thinking about a hearty dessert. So I set about veganizing his apple crisp recipe to retain the flavor, decrease the sugar and eliminate the butter (and skip the microwave). This apple crisp is filling, warm, gooey and comforting. I recommend eating it soon after it comes out of the oven and is still warm – perhaps with a scoop of vanilla coconut or almond milk ice cream. Just be quick – a growing boy might devour it before you even get a taste!

Vegan Apple Crisp (adapted from Vegan Lunch Box, Jennifer McCann)

apple crisp 1

1/2 cup golden brown sugar
2/3 cup spelt flour (plus 2 tbsp. for tossing with apples)
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
6 tbsp. melted coconut oil (plus a bit more for greasing the pan)
8-10 apples, peeled and sliced thin
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. maple sugar

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 9 x 9 square cake pan with coconut oil.

To make the topping – mix brown sugar, flour, oats, nuts, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a medium bowl. Add the coconut oil and mix well until combined. Set aside.

Toss the sliced apples together with the lemon juice, maple sugar and 2 tbsp. of oat flour. Put the apples on the bottom of the cake pan.

Top evenly with the topping.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the apples are cooked and softened and the topping is golden brown.

Enjoy!

apple crisp 2

Homemade Easter Chocolates

Tis the season to throw open our windows (unless of course you live in Burlington, Ontario and then it’s still too darn cold), enjoy the tulip bulbs beginning to shoot through the soil (but hopefully not before our next frost or late season snowfall) and to  purchase our Easter Hams (well if you are a vegan that really doesn’t add up). But wait – there’s always chocolate right?! Yep – definitely chocolate.

easter 2

The inspiration for this recipe started when I picked up some cute little silicone daisy trays at the Bulk Barn and I was fondly remembering the homemade chocolates my mom used to make when my sister and I were kids. Just out of curiosity I decided to take a peek at what exactly those meltable chocolate wafers (that are often used to make chocolates) are made out of- and I was more than a little freaked out. This is the actual ingredient list for the Blue Chocolate Molding Wafers:

Sugar, hydrogenated palm kernel and cottonseed oils, nonfat dry milk powder, milk, glyceryl lacto esters of fatty acids, soy lecithin added as an emulsifier, artificial colour, salt, artificial flavour.

Yeesh! So I decided to make my own homemade chocolate and still retain the yumminess factor to celebrate this festive Easter season.

easter 3

Not to brag but these little chocolate flowers were tasty. Fudgier than store-bought chocolates but still melt-in-your mouth smooth and rich. And the best part is they are made with all-natural ingredients that won’t clog up our bodies or the bodies of our little bunnies with toxins and dyes. So this of course means you can be like me and eat at least 4 in one sitting with absolutely no guilt ; )

Happy Easter!

Homemade Easter Chocolates

chocolate 1

4 tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut cream (the thick cream on top when you open a can of full-fat coconut milk)
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. raw cocoa powder
4-6 tbsp. raw agave nectar (depending on desired sweetness – you could also use maple syrup or liquid stevia if preferred)
Pinch of fine grade sea salt

Melt coconut oil over low heat. Add vanilla, coconut cream, cocoa, agave and salt. Stir to combine.

Spoon chocolate into *molds and place them in the freezer for 2 hours or overnight. Gently pop out and serve. Store in the freezer because they will melt at room temperature (I’m actually thinking one or two of these babies melted in a cup of non-dairy milk would also make a killer hot chocolate!)

Enjoy.

* Note: I used silicone molds for these chocolates and they worked well but I think paper cups or parchment paper would work too although there is a risk of the chocolate sticking to the paper.

Delectable Vegan Carrot Cake with Cream “Cheeze” Icing

When I was a child we went out for dinner quite a bit. My dad likes to joke that my mom’s favourite thing to make for dinner is reservations…and it’s quite true.  And I can relate – the apple certainly doesn’t fall far from the tree in this case!

In our family we love our desserts and we were always excited to check out the dessert menu at our restaurant of choice. No matter how many chocolate brownies or pecan pies or caramel sundaes were on the menu, my mom was famous for consistently ordering the carrot cake.

“Huh?! Carrot cake?!” my sister and I would scoff. How on earth could something made with carrots ever be even remotely as yummy as piles of chocolate or a mountain of ice cream? But she was unwavering in her choice despite our good-natured ribbing.

carrot cake - carrot pic

I have to admit that as my taste buds matured I did develop an affinity for a good old-fashioned carrot cake every now and again. But don’t let the name fool you – despite a helping of nutritious carrots most conventional carrot cakes are made with tons of butter, refined sugar and eggs.

So I set out to veganize this dessert – cream cheese icing and all. And the end result was pretty darn awesome if I do say so myself. I subbed out the butter and eggs for coconut oil and unsweetened apple sauce, the refined sugar for maple sugar and I used gluten-free flour in place of regular AP flour and a ridiculously moist and delicious dessert was born.

The kids liked it plain but the frosting takes it to the next level (although I did use 2 cups of organic powdered sugar in the frosting so it’s not as nutritionally sound as the cake itself). You could also add raisins and/or nuts if you like additions to your cake but I made mine without to avoid watching the kids pick the “bits” out of their dessert.

So after all this time, I finally get it….carrot cake rocks! This one is for you mom!

Vegan Carrot Cake with Cream “Cheeze” Frosting (adapted from Peas And Thank You, Sarah Matheny)

carrot cake on plate

Carrot Cake
8 carrots, steamed and pureed
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup soy milk
1  cup maple sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free AP Baking Flour
1/2 tsp xanthum gum
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup raisins or chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 8 x 8 square cake pan with coconut oil.

In a large bowl, cream together pureed carrots, coconut oil, applesauce, milk, sugar and vanilla with an electric hand mixer on low until well blended.

In a smaller bowl, combine flour, xanthum gum, baking powder, soda, salt and spices. Add a little at a time to the wet mixture until batter is smooth. Fold in raisins or nuts if desired.

Spread mixture in a pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.

carrot cake in pan

Cream Cheeze Icing
3 tbsp coconut oil at room temperature
4 ounces of Toffuti Better Than Cream Cheese
2 cups organic powdered sugar (or icing sugar)

Whip ingredients together with a hand mixer. Frost cake when it is completely cool. Store any uneaten cake and frosting in the fridge. Enjoy!

carrot cake icing