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Guilt-free Sweet Potato Chocolate Brownies : gluten-free, grain-free, vegan, refined sugar free

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Desserts…. everyone’s favourite part of the meal. A delicious sweet treat that we just can’t get enough of! ;)

But why does it have to be so guilt-filled? 
I myself remember the days I used to say “Oh I wish I didn’t eat that!” and I remember the sick feeling of bloating and sugary overkill that I was left with me very soon after I devoured into something way too sweet and in the end just-not-that-good!

Perhaps that evil dessert took care of my sweet-tooth craving but left me traumatized with the aftermath. But I had my “fix” and I was happy! For a sugar-addict once-upon-a-time, I knew no difference and just really needed my sugary high!!

Since those early 20′s I’ve learned my lesson. And I’ve paid for my cravings with my health struggles enough to really understand the difference between desserts : “To die for!” and desserts : “To LIVE for!” 

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Now, I still devour in amazing desserts… the difference is that I choose the better options! Pure ingredients that are fully natural and organic are key in enjoying the sweet side of life (and not feeling sick after!)
Omitting the ‘bad’ stuff like artificial flavours, toxic colours (think Easter cupcakes and cookies now!), added preservatives, added artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers and let’s not forget GMO ingredients – have no place in the delicious desserts I make for myself and my family.

Let’s also remove the heaviness of dairy and eggs, and the bloating effects of gluten, and refined sugar – and what do you get?
You still get a stunning dessert that’s pure and decadent…. like these Chocolate Brownies – that are completely Guilt-Free and actually good for you! ;)

Can this be possible? Trust me!!! These Chocolate Brownies are amazing – a real treat to Live for!!! Rich, chocolatey, moist, decadent with one crazy amazing secret ingredient ~ Sweet Potatoes! (Trust me!)

GUILT-FREE SWEET POTATO CHOCOLATE BROWNIES 
GLUTEN-FREE, GRAIN-FREE, VEGAN

Ingredients :

2 1/2 cups sweet potato puree (1-2 large potatoes)
2 cups medjool dates, pitted
1/2 cup agave nectar or honey
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
1/3 cup cocoa 
3/4 cups buckwheat flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or natural rum extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cups chopped dark chocolate squares (72% or higher) or dark vegan chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions : 

First, wash, peel, chop and boil a large sweet potato (or two or four – might as well make dinner ;)) until fully cooked. Strain and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350F and line a square 8 x 8″ baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.

In the meantime, in a food processor, process the dates and add in the sweetener of choice, milk, cocoa, buckwheat flour, potato starch, vanilla or rum extract, salt and process for form a smooth paste. You may need to turn off the food processor and scrape down the sides of the mixer to get all the ingredients combined well. Turn off machine and transfer the batter onto a large bowl so it’s easier to work from. Stir in chopped chocolate and walnuts by hand.

Pour mixture into the pan and bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes. 
Once it’s baked, remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving, if warm brownies are preferred.
These brownies are best when chilled so it’s great to make them one day ahead and served them from the refrigerator. 
They also cut better and are less crumbly if they have a chance to set for a longer time.

Top with a little sprinkle of organic powdered sugar…. and Enjoy ~ guilt-free!!! ;)

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These Guilt-free Chocolate Sweet Potato Brownies are exceptionally amazing! I made these at our recent family get together and everyone went nuts for them!
What was fun is that they could not guess the main ingredient of these which is the sweet potato puree – and when I told them….. wow! No one believed me ;)

When you try this recipe – no one will believe you there’s Sweet Potatoes in these Chocolate Brownies! But trust me ;)

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I love playing with unexpected ingredients and making delicious recipes that are actually good for you!!!

And you know that saying….. “Life is short, eat dessert first!” Well, life will be even shorter if you eat crappy food!

So might as well, give your body something that you know is good for you and is also delicious!!

As for eating dessert first, heck, these are so ‘healthy’ that yes, I think they can be devoured for breakfast ;) I know I had one… or two, oh who’s counting ;)

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I hope you enjoy this recipe very soon!

I can’t wait to make these Guilt-free Chocolate Sweet Potato Brownies again very soon – I’m thinking it will definitely be one of my desserts at our Easter dinner table ;) I might need to make a double batch – these things will go quick, I know it ;)

Enjoy!!!

 

Pure Ella 

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Walnut Banana Bread : gluten-free and vegan + easy!

Pure-Ella-Gluten-free-vegan-Walnut-Banana-Bread

I love making a delicious treat for my family that’s healthier than what’s out there, I know what’s in it, and I can choose top quality ingredients! For ‘specialty’ desserts like this in bake shops you’d be spending a fortune, but baking at home is a lot less expensive, plus you really get a quality piece of cake or two! ;) If allergies are a concern – this is one way to avoid them and still enjoy life to the fullest! (nuts are in this recipe – but those could be entirely omitted for a nut-free cake, of course! ;))

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If you’re excited to start the journey of gluten-free and vegan baking – do not fear! 
Whether you need to go with gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free ingredients due to Celiac, allergies or lifestyle decisions – baking should still be fun and not complicated – and best of all Delicious!!! ;)

Making Banana Bread is quite possibly the easiest gluten-free and vegan baked dessert you can imagine! (that and my Sweet Potato Brownies that will be coming to the site soon! ;))

Now here’s how to make an easy Gluten-free and Vegan Walnut Banana Bread :

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Walnut Banana Bread : gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free/ vegan

Ingredients :

2 tablespoons ground flax
6 tablespoons warm water

1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon baking soda, aluminum free
pinch of fine sea salt 
3/4 raw cane sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted but not hot
2 small very ripe bananas (total of 1 cup smashed)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cups chopped walnuts

Directions :

Preheat oven to 350F. And line a 6×9″ baking dish with parchment paper. Grease the top with extra coconut oil.

In a small bowl, mix ground flax seeds with warm water and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, baking powder and mix to combine.
In another bowl, smash the bananas and measure out 1 cup.
Add in all the liquid ingredients, including the ground flax ‘egg’ and sugar to the bananas and mix well.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix well. 
Add in the chopped walnuts and smooth the top.
Top with extra walnut pieces if preferred.

Bake at 350F for about 50 minutes or until golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out dry and clean.
Allow to cool for about 30 minutes before cutting into it – I know – - the hardest part!! Enjoy!

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We love making Banana Bread around here! It is so good, moist and tasty! And it’s really fool-proof! 
The ingredients are clean and natural and the end result comes out to be a lovely classic-tasting Banana Bread that you know and love – only better! ;)

If you’ve got little hands around as excited to make a Banana Bread as you are ~ don’t forget to involve them in the process! My daughter loves smashing bananas – I think that’s why our Banana Bread tastes so amazing, like no other!! ;)

This is a great dessert to make the night before and serve the next day. Or make in advance long enough so that you allow time to let it cool. My daughter could not resist the amazing smell in our kitchen and waiting 20 minutes was too long…. ;)

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 Whether you’re on a specific diet or not, it’s great to make healthier food choices. And choosing better ingredients that are naturally gluten-free and dairy and egg free, is fantastic for your health. By now, we don’t have a single grain of wheat flour or white sugar in our home, and the ingredients we do stock up are at about 90% organic and 100% natural (unprocessed, foods with no preservatives, artificial flavours or colours etc. )

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Cooking and baking from scratch is pure joy that brings warmth and smiles to the table…. and sitting down to a beautiful moist Walnut Banana Bread with your favourite people is just the best way to spend an evening… I think ;)

We enjoyed the last of this Walnut Banana Bread and another version when my sister and her boyfriend came over a little while ago (see it on Instagram)…. we ate over 1/2 of this one so quick that I needed to make another one immediately or else it wouldn’t be enough to feed a crowd! Yes, this cake is so good that you might as well double up on your ingredients and make two! ;)

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PS. If you haven’t heard yet, Pure Ella is in the running for Best Food Blog Awards by Saveur Magazine! And today is the LAST DAY TO VOTE!!! This is huge my friends!!! ;) And if you like what you see here… I would love your support with a VOTE in the category of Best Family Cooking Blog!!! Every vote is much appreciated! You have until April 9th to cast your vote. Click HERE to go to the voting page, register first and cast your vote on the big red button under PURE ELLA!!! Love you all!!! 

Pure Ella 

If you’re new to Pure Ella, please sign up for email updates and join me elsewhere: 
 
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Blueberry + Pomegranate Chia Oats Breakfast Parfaits

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Let’s talk breakfast!
You know, that most-important-meal-of-the-day! We all know it’s important and yet we still rush through the mornings and carelessly shove something into our mouths…. if anything at all…. A poor quality breakfast as well as skipping breakfast is the worst way to start the day! Time to prioritize our nourishment and the way to do it is with a healthy breakfast!!!

The secrets to a good breakfast is a little planning and knowledge of what your body actually needs in the mornings!

I think these Blueberry + Pomegranate Chia Oats Breakfast Parfaits are not only amazingly delicious – but they created with pure and natural ingredients and very healthy with amazing health benefits of antioxidants, essential fatty acids, magnesium, manganese, calcium and lots of protein! 

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These Breakfast Parfaits are so delicious and do pack in everything your body needs!

I have been soaking, not cooking oats for years now. It’s true that more nutrition stays intact within the oats if you only soak them and not cook them. But unless you are really overcooking them, the difference is quite small. However, soaking the oats : making overnight oatmeal, is a great, quick and easy method to prepare them. One thing is that you’re getting one dish dirty, you’re not waiting by the stove, risking the chance of burning your oats etc. 

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Making overnight oats is a seasonal ritual for me.

I find naturally Spring and Summer call for a more refreshing breakfast that can be cool in temperatures. Fall and Winter seasons call for cooked hot breakfasts, like my Apple and Cinnamon Nutrimeal – so naturally I don’t want my breakfast cold during those months! We should aim to keep our breakfast close to our body temperature as much as possible, that is to not stress the digestive tract and our organs to suddenly deal with cold temperatures that enter our bodies.

For this reason too, when we make smoothies in the morning, I don’t put ice in them or frozen fruit and try to keep the fruit at room temperature, by leaving them on the counter the night before.

But let’s get back to making the perfect overnight chia oats!

Chia seeds are an amazing superfood that you should be eating everyday. They like to be soaked before digesting or else you should be drinking a lot of water when you eat them.

When you combine chia seeds with any liquid, a gooey mixture forms – this is often added too my recipes instead of an egg – it is referred to as a chia egg! It actually helps to bind other ingredients together like an egg would when baking. We are not baking these oats, but combined with hemp milk or other non-dairy milk and oats in this case, the texture created resembles a pudding consistency. Yummy! It is thick and rich in consistency and very healthy and filling.

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BLUEBERRY + POMEGRANATE CHIA OATS BREAKFAST PARFAITS |
healthy, gluten-free and vegan

Prep time : 5 minutes (+ overnight refrigeration)
Serves 2

Ingredients :

1/2 cup certified gluten free oatmeal (quick cooking or 
2 tablespoons chia seeds, whole seeds or ground
1 cup hemp milk or other non-dairy milk
Optional : 1-2 teaspoons of natural sweetener or stevia

1/4 cup fresh pomegranate arils
1/4 cup fresh blueberries
1 ripe banana

Directions : 

The night before, in a bowl, mason jar or air tight container, mix in oats, chia seeds and milk together. Seal the jar, container or cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for the whole night.

In the morning, layer in a glass or mason jar with fruit in between. Enjoy!

Additional sweetener is not recommended if you will be adding fresh fruit to it in the morning. As you don’t want your breakfast overly sweet. There’s already carbs in the oatmeal and the fruit – carbs are sugar in the body – ends up being too much of a good thing! If you’re used to sweet breakfasts, try adding about 1 teaspoon of agave, maple syrup or raw honey and then slowly reducing the amount over time. If you want a 0 calorie + 0 carbohydrate sweetener, a little Stevia is a great choice to try with this recipe.

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Why is this a great food combination for breakfast you are wondering?

First, you are keeping every ingredient completely natural, organic and raw. This is a clean-food breakfast at its’ best. You’re not cooking any nutrition away and each ingredient is packed with amazing nutrition :

Health benefits of Oatmeal : 

- high in fibre
- low calorie
- high levels of protein
- stabilizes blood sugar and reduces risk of diabetes
- lowers cholesterol
- is gluten-free safe (if purchased with a “Certified Gluten-Free” label
- protects against breakfast and heart disease
- contains antioxidants beneficial for heart health
- enhances immune response to diseases

Health benefits of Chia Seeds :

- help to combat diabetes as it slows down digestion
- high levels of fibre
- loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids – makes them great for brain health!
- high in calcium – strengthens teeth and bones
- high in manganese – this mineral helps your body get proper nuttition from other foods
- helps tissue growth and repair due to phosphorus
- packed in protein 
- filling and curbs hunger
- improves blood pressure and heart health

Health benefits of Hemp milk : 

- high in calcium and phosphorus for healthy bones and teeth
- Vitamins B : riboflavin and thiamin and B-12
- adequate serving of Vitamin D, about 25 percent of daily value per serving
- high in magnesium – great for muscles and nerves support
- unsweetened hemp milk is low in sugar and carbohydrates

 

For all these health benefits of oats, chia seeds and hemp milk that’s why I love combining these 3 ingredients for a very healthy breakfast!

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Adding fresh fruit is great because it adds freshness, sweetness and excitement to your Breakfast Parfaits! Any fruit combination is great.

It’s early spring here and we don’t have any local fruit ready ~ so adding a wintery pomegranate with the promise of summer blueberries makes this a nice combination for the Spring season….

Together, the slight tartness of pomegranate arils and the sweetness of blueberries are amazing! One of my favourite fruit combinations for sure… but feel free to use any combination of berries, slices of banana. Try to keep the fruit to chia oat mixture to equal ratio or have even less fruit than chia oats.

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Got Kids?

My 6 year old loves these chia oats or overnight oats! I scoop about 1/2 of the portion and add it to her morning organic cereal – and top with extra hemp milk. She likes the parfait but with more sugar added – and I don’t want her to eat too much sugar in the morning – so as a compromise, she still gets the same ingredients but served differently ;)

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With a little planning the night before, less than 5 minutes, you can enjoy a great and healthy breakfast the next day.

You can also make enough to last for up to 3 days! Just triple the chia oats ingredients and store in an air tight container in the refrigerator. In the morning, mix with any fruit you have on hand – and that’s it! you have a very nutritious and delicious breakfast in no time!! ;)

Have you made overnight oats/ chia oats before? What are your favourite fruit or toppings you like?

 
PS. If you haven’t heard yet, Pure Ella is in the running for Best Food Blog Awards by Saveur Magazine! This is huge my friends!!! ;) And if you like what you see here… I would love your support with a VOTE in the category of Best Family Cooking Blog!!! Every vote is much appreciated! You have until April 9th to cast your vote. Click HERE to go to the voting page, register first and cast your vote on the big red button under PURE ELLA!!! Love you all!!! 

Pure Ella 

If you’re new to Pure Ella, please sign up for email updates and join me elsewhere: 
 
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Quinoa + Chickpea Burgers : gluten-free and vegan

Pure-Ella-Quinoa-Chickpea-Burgers-vegan-gluten-free

I have a few exciting go-to recipes up my sleeve that I always turn to. These Quinoa + Chickpea Burgers are one of them!

By now I don’t even refer to my recipe and could do these with my eyes closed ;)

Best of all everyone loves them – the 6 year old and the carnivore husband! I also love them because they are so easy and quick to make! They could be a meal on one of the busiest nights or part of a leisurely weekend feast – everyone seems impressed at every occasion ;) They are versatile and burst with flavour! So good!!! ;) If you’re ready to make something healthier for your family and introduce more gluten free and vegan/ vegetarian meals – this is going to be your favourite recipe ;)

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Quinoa + Chickpea Burgers | gluten-free and vegan

Serves 4  |  Prep time : 15 minutes (with pre-cooked chickpeas and quinoa) 

Ingredients :

1 small onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 cup rinsed and drained chickpeas from a can (or pre-cooked)
3/4 cup cooked quinoa (great to use leftovers)
1/2 red bell pepper
bunch of fresh cilantro or fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chickpea flour + extra 3 tablespoons for coating
1-2 teaspoons of sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 – 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
grape seed oil for cooking

Directions :

In a large cast iron pan, drizzle in a little grape seed oil and fry the onion and garlic until slightly golden but not burned. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Dice the red pepper into small pieces, chop the cilantro; and set aside.

In a food processor, process the chickpeas until they turn to a  slightly textured paste, be sure to turn off the food processor and scrape down the sides to get all the chickpeas ground up. Transfer into a large bowl.

Add all the ingredients, including the sauteed onion and garlic, in the bowl and mix to combine. Season to your liking (because everything is cooked you can taste the mixture and adjust seasoning.)

(If you do have kids, I would omit the cayenne pepper entirely as most kids are not into spicy foods. Or divide the batch into two and season them differently for kiddos and adults.)

Take a large plate and sprinkle a few tablespoons of chickpea flour on it. Scoop some of the mixture onto your hands and shape into a ball, the size of a golf ball, and then press gently to make a patty. Drop into the chickpea flour to coat evenly. If too much flour sticks to the patty then gently dust it off with your fingers or a pastry brush. You should have a very light coating all over the patties/ burgers.

Reheat that same large cast iron pan to medium heat. Drizzle in a little more oil and place the patties in to fry. Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side until the bottom is nicely browned.

Serve with a big salad for a healthy lunch or dinner. Or with cut up veggies on the side for kids. Makes a great party small-plates or potluck party dish! Enjoy!

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These come together in no-time! Really ;) If you have pre-cooked quinoa on hand and a can of chickpeas – it’s less than 15 minutes to make them!

It’s great if you use leftover quinoa from the night before or cook more, use up the 3/4 cup and reserve the rest for another recipe the next day. These also freeze well for up to 1-2 months if you place a little parchment paper in between them and place in an air tight container.

What I love about them the most is that they are a win every time. It’s the flavour combination that makes them so tasty. I like it when everyone’s happy at the dinner table ;)

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I’m seeing so many of my friends want to eat less wheat and meat! I think the news is spreading that these two food choices are just not that healthy for you!

Even if your diet is not 100% committed to a gluten-free and vegan living – it’s great to include meatless and wheat free meals that are so good-for-you. And if you get stuck on recipes – it’s nice to start with healthy delicious recipes like these Quinoa Chickpea Burgers! ;)

Both quinoa and chickpeas are a great source of protein! So if you’re thinking where you will get enough protein – these take care of that for you. And they are loaded with other health benefits too, low glycemic + they are very filling ;)

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PS. If you haven’t heard yet, Pure Ella is in the running for Best Food Blog Awards by Saveur Magazine! This is huge people!!! ;) And if you like what you see here… I would love your support with a VOTE in the category of Best Family Cooking Blog!!! Every vote is much appreciated! Click HERE to go to the voting page, register first and cast your vote on the big red button under PURE ELLA!!! Love you all!!! 

Pure Ella 

If you’re new to Pure Ella, please sign up for email updates and join me elsewhere: 
 
Facebook  //  Pinterest  //  Twitter  // Instagram @pure_ella
 
 

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2 Ingredient Pomegranate Pudding : gluten-free, vegan, quick and easy

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Here’s a fun little sweet something that you will enjoy making and eating up so quick – you’ll be licking the bowl clean!

It’s a very simple, easy to do, 2 Ingredient Pomegranate Pudding!!! Yes, this is serious stuff!!
This is a dessert with minimal effort but with bold wild flavour and it’s a hit at our house!

My daughter begs for this pudding…. and it’s so nice to have this little vibrant gem up my sleeve whenever she has a little bit of a sweet tooth after dinner ~ I spend 5 minutes in the kitchen and in return I get oodles and oodles of hugs and kisses and “you’re-the-best-mommy-ever” endless sayings – this is Pure Love!!! 

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2 Ingredient Pomegranate Pudding  : gluten-free, vegan, quick and easy to make

Ingredients :

2 cups (500 ml) of pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

optional : 1 tablespoon of natural sweetener of choice

Directions :

In a small pot, heat 1 1/2 of the juice slowly until hot but not boiling. 

Pour the remainder of the cold juice, 1/2 cup, into a mug.

Stir in the arrowroot powder until completely dissolved.

Pour in the juice with arrowroot powder very slowly into the pot with hot pomegranate juice while stirring the pot continuously.

Continue stirring once all the starchy juice is poured in, for another minute or two. Allow the temperature to rise again until it reaches a simmer but not a boil. 

Remove from heat immediately. Transfer the pudding into another dish to cool quicker or set aside until it reaches room temperature.

Serve at room temperature, slightly warm on a cooler day… and chilled on a hot day! Don’t forget to top with fresh pomegranate arils! Enjoy!!

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It’s that simple. And yes, it’s that delicious!!!

We don’t stock our pantry with sweets…. I like to make something once in a while, especially on the weekends. But otherwise we’re left to fresh fruit and the occasional little dark chocolate or dried fruit.

But… once a while, it’s nice to make something that is divine on one of those mundane days where you just want a little extra happiness…. this Pomegranate Pudding is a simple little serving of happiness…. ;) 

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I hope you enjoy this easy pudding recipe! Keep in mind this is super allergy-friendly! A pudding that’s dairy-free, vegan, gluten-free, with no sugar added (just the sweetness of the juice) and it’s so delicious!!!

I know what you’re thinking…. “Can I use any juice for this?” The answer is pretty awesome – Yes! Well, almost! You need a very rich juice to create a delicious fruit pudding. I wouldn’t recommend apple or pear juice but something with more zing would be great – like mango, or passionfruit or blackberry – go with a bold taste of the juice and you’ll get a bold yummy pudding! Just be sure to choose an all-natural, quality, organic juice whenever possible and be sure it has no preservatives or artificial flavours, colours or sweeteners – these are dangerous toxins that sometimes are really hidden from the front label (read the ingredient list please!)

Let me know how you like this recipe…. and what juice are you thinking of making it with? 

PS. If you haven’t heard yet, Pure Ella is in the running for Best Food Blog Awards by Saveur Magazine! This is huge people!!! ;) And if you like what you see here… I would love your support with a VOTE in the category of Best Family Cooking Blog!!! Every vote is much appreciated! Click HERE to go to the voting page, register first and cast your vote on the big red button under PURE ELLA!!! Love you all!!! 

Pure Ella 

If you’re new to Pure Ella, please sign up for email updates and join me elsewhere: 
 
Facebook  //  Pinterest  //  Twitter  // Instagram @pure_ella
 
 

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