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Sugar-free Raw Nutella Mini Tarts : healthy, no-bake, gluten-free, vegan, paleo



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Hello Nutella lovers! 

I think it’s pretty accurate to assume we all know Nutella! That delicious hazelnut chocolate spread that you want to scoop up with a spoon straight from the jar….??? Yes, but do you? Do you really want to gulp down 5 tablespoons of refined sugar in one go? Usually these instant decisions come with regret right after. And NOTHING tastes as good as healthy feels. So, do yourself a favour, just remove that jar of Nutella from your shopping cart next time you’re at the grocery store and send your farewells… because you have better, more delicious hazelnut + chocolate things to look forward to… like these Raw Nutella (inspired) Mini Tarts. 

Sure thing I was a Nutella junkie! I was a sugar addict since my teens and throughout my twenties. I ate sugar like I breathed air. I couldn’t function without it and didn’t. I had some junky candy bar strapped onto me either in my bag or my desk drawer at all times! It wasn’t until I got very very sick and I looked for ways to heal from my illness that I finally put two and two together. Sugar = Illness (sooner or later).

A few years later, sugar-detoxed and healthy and happy again, I am loving desserts and loving life again. The biggest lessons I’ve learned is that you can eat great food and amazing desserts – you just need to learn to see the bad apples. Learning to switch up a few things and make things taste amazing while nourishing not ruining your body.

Sugar not only messes up your health, but body shape too, not to mention your energy level, skin health and emotional health. That doesn’t sound so sweet anymore, does it?

But here’s the thing, you can eat dessert and sugar – but in it’s unrefined form. That’s the key. Our bodies can tolerate real healthy sugar sources, just not the bad stuff. What’s even more exciting is that there are sweetener options with health benefits! 

Simply put, just learn to make healthier dessert decision. You can’t have it all… but you can have the better stuff! (You don’t want it all anyway, trust me!) You deserve better! Treat yourself to quality stuff – you and your body deserve it!! ;)



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Sugar-free Raw Nutella Mini Tarts :
healthy, gluten-free, vegan and paleo

Equipment needed : food processor, pan for roasting, cupcake molds are great but not necessary*
Makes 12-15 tarts. (exact quantity depends on the size you make)

Base Ingredients :

1 cup hazelnuts + 1/4 cup extra for topping
1 cup medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1/8 teaspoon of himalayan pink salt or fine-textured sea salt (optional)

Filling Ingredients :

1/2 cup cashews
1/4 cup hazelnut (or almond) spread 
1/2 cup (or more) pure maple syrup, yacon syrup or pure liquid honey
3 tablespoons of cacao powder

How to make Sugar-free Raw Nutella Mini Tarts :

1. Soak the cashews in warm water while you gather the rest of the ingredients and prepare the base.
2. For best results, dry roast the hazelnuts on a pan for 3-4 minutes, stirring often and being careful not to burn them. Transfer the hazelnuts onto a plate lined with a kitchen towel (a dark colour preferably) and rub them to remove most of the skins. 
3. Add all of the hazelnuts into a food processor and grind until small crumbs form. (Turn off the food processor and remove 3-4 tablespoons of ground up hazelnuts for topping). Add in the dates, cacao powder and pinch of salt and continue processing until a sticky ‘dough’ forms. Remove from the food processor, roll up into a ball, cover in clear plastic, or an airtight container and place in the refrigerator while you make up the filling. (you don’t even need to clean the food processor yet)
To make the filling :
4. Rinse and strain the cashews well. Place in the food processor and grind until smooth, about 5 minutes. Add in the hazelnut spread, liquid sweetener of choice and cacao powder and continue mixing until well combined, about 3 minutes. 

To assemble the Raw Nutella Mini Tarts :

5. You can use mini tart molds (like shown in these photos) but you could also use a cupcake baking pan or not even use a mold.
If using tart molds, rub the bottom with a little liquid coconut oil so they come out freely.
*If not using any molds, simply shape the ‘dough’ into golf-sized balls then press your thumbs into the centre to make up a well. Shape the sides evenly around and press gently down onto a flat surface to create a base so they don’t fall over. Shape all the bases and place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to keep them firm. (you may warm up the ‘dough’ too much while shaping them with your hands and they may become too soft and delicate).

6. Remove from the freezer, and the molds (you can use a toothpick to help them lift off, if need be). Add the filling to the centres. Top with reserved ground up hazelnuts and place in an airtight container and in the refrigerator until serving time. Enjoy! ;)



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No jar of zero-nutrition Nutella was actually used in this recipe – only real, delicious nutrient-dense ingredients that taste AMAZING (hazelnutty & chocolatey) and are actually good for you were!! Desserts can be fun and actually nutritious! Enjoy!!

 



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Cinnamon & Spice Almond Truffles : no-bake, gluten-free, vegan, paleo



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Who doesn’t love dessert!? I have always had a sweet-tooth for scrumptious desserts and my day wasn’t complete until I had a little something to satisfy those insane sweet cravings…

But here’s the thing, my guilty pleasures were always it : guilty!
My thoughts behind every dessert were that I wished I didn’t eat that or I wished this didn’t make me feel sick right after!

Sugar overconsumption isn’t just a problem, it’s a health crisis of the 21st century. 
If you are fighting your own cravings on a daily basis, then listen up…

It took me an illness to wake up, don’t let it be an illness for you to wake up also!

Here’s the thing, you can enjoy delicious desserts!
What’s the secret?

There’s a few things, which I will share more of soon, but first let’s chat about these Cinnamon & Spice Almond Truffles, yes??

 Guilt-free desserts aren’t only possible – they are encouraged ;)



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Cinnamon & Spice Almond Truffles : no-bake, gluten-free, vegan, paleo

Ingredients :

3/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup pecans
3/4 – 1 cup medjool dates, pitted
2 tablespoons cacao powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

Coating : 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon mix with 1 tablespoon of fine raw organic cane sugar (optional*).

Directions :

In a food processor, grind the nuts until small crumbs form, add the dates and the rest of the ingredients. Mix to combine well. Test the ‘dough’ if it sticks in your hands. If it doesn’t add 1-2 teaspoons water.
Shape into golf-size balls. To coat, mix the cinnamon and sugar (if using) on a plate. Roll the balls to coat all over. Place in the refrigerator to firm up for 30 minutes or longer before serving. (You really can eat them right away, I know you will want to! They will just be a little softer if you eat right away). :) Enjoy!!

*The raw cane sugar is optional, ground cinnamon will work nicely too. What I like here though is the sparkle the truffles have. They literally look like they’re coated in glitter from the sugar on the outside, making them extra pretty for the Holiday season. Mixing it with cinnamon cuts down the sugar use while they still look sparkly and jazzed up.

Organic raw cane sugar really is better than white sugar – it’s not highly processed. I still get terrible headaches when I eat just a little bit of white sugar, with the raw cane sugar – I don’t! (that’s just one example) It’s worth the splurge!



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Great desserts that satisfy your sweet tooth but don’t make you sick can happen! 

It’s not about about depriving yourself, but rather learning about healthier options; healthier ingredients that benefit rather than harm your body.

I wanted to share this message as a reminder now because the Holiday Season is coming up. And we know where that leads to…. a little overindulgence here and there will tease you left and right. If you don’t prepare yourself mentally and literally (with homemade treats that you know the ingredients of) than your sugar cravings will take over. And too much of that sweet stuff will just leave you craving more – those tastebuds will never be satisfied anymore. Plus the white highly processed stuff leads to huge health problems, sugar literally feeds illnesses, cancer among them.

So, not to be a party pooper, but just being prepared, knowing your limits will leave you satisfied and happy with the choices you make. Not only will you be healthier, but sugar triggers other things we don’t always connect together: like headaches (I used to suffer from intense piercing headaches in my 20s just when my sugar addiction was at its worse – after I made some health changes and removed sugar from my life, I haven’t had a single headache for years). Plus you become less irritable, your mood-swings balance out (if you get any, which is a common problem with sugar overconsumption, because sugar spikes your blood sugar then drops it like it’s hot!), your skin even looks healthier, and you have more energy (surprisingly) as it’s taxing for your digestive system to deal with all that *crap* – it naturally drains you. And of course, with every healthy dessert (and meal) decision you make you’re preventing a wide range of health problems that are just waiting to be fuelled by empty-carb, junk food.

Here’s the good part! You don’t have to deprive yourself! Enjoy the sweet side of life!



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Here’s a tip from me for the holiday season.

Make your own desserts! That way, you know what you’re eating, you control the amount of sweetener – you can also make the decision to buy unprocessed healthier versions, like raw organic cane sugar, fruit-sweetened desserts, or use a zero calorie natural sweetener like Stevia. To take things further, you choose to buy organic and can easily avoid preservatives, artificial flavours and colours which are such toxins linked to cancer and many health problems.

Bring your own desserts to house parties to share with your friends and family and for you to have a ‘safe’ treat that you can rely on… it will satisfy your sweet-tooth and make you happy without the guilt! ;) Best part is, it’s just so good to share homemade treats. Homemade is more special and tastes better too because it has that secret ingredient in there ~ it’s made with love.

Do tell… What are some of your tips for the holidays when it comes to the sweet stuff???!!!



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Squash & Quinoa Stuffed Yellow Peppers : healthy, gluten-free and vegan recipe



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 It can get cold and bitter out there, so the promise of a warm and cozy kitchen oozing with amazing smells is pure heaven right about now.

When it comes to cooking seasonally, I pull inspirations from seasonal vegetables and flavours, but I also pull ideas from the beautiful outdoors – the vibrant colours of yellow and orange in the leaves falling outside. It’s breathtakingly beautiful. 

I pay attention, Mother Nature, to the beauty that you bring each season – and I thank you!

The golden, yellow and orange leaves swinging and dancing outside in the November air are my inspiration for this beautiful dish with the colours and flavours of autumn.



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Squash & Quinoa Stuffed Peppers : healthy, gluten-free and vegan recipe 

Ingredients :

6 orange or yellow sweet peppers

1 cup quinoa

1 can of lentils

1/2 medium butternut squash, diced into small cubes

2 cups spinach, roughly chopped

1 stalk of celery, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 large carrot, diced

3 stems of fresh thyme

1 tsp fresh oregano

1 tbsp sea salt 

fresh cracked black pepper

oil for cooking

1 cup boiling water 

Directions : 

Choose peppers that have an even shape and a flatter bottom. Preheat the oven to 300 F. 

1. Wash and dry a butternut squash, cut it in half lengthwise, place cut side down on parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. (Note: this recipe only uses 1/2 of the squash. But I like to bake the whole squash and keep for another dish – perhaps a Butternut Squash Leek Puree?)

2. Clean, dry and deseed the peppers by cutting the top part only. Cut enough to use as a decorative lid and cut so 

you have a good fit. If the base of the peppers is uneven and they don’t stand straight, trim a small 

section off to create a standing base (be careful not to cut too much so the filling doesn’t fall through). Rub with olive oil. 

Place on a baking dish and bake the empty peppers, covered, in the oven for 20-30 minutes.

3. Cook quinoa as per directions on package.

4.  In a large sauce pan, drizzled with olive oil, saute the onion, carrots, celery and squash until softened.

5. Add a little boiling water, stir and cover to cook over medium low heat for about 10 minutes longer.

6. Add in chopped spinach and cooked and strained quinoa. Mix all well and set aside. (you can make this ahead and store in the fridge).

7. Remove the peppers from the oven and set them aside.

8. Remove the squash from the oven. Let cool so it can be handled and cut 1/2 of the squash into small cubes. Add the cubed squash into the filling and mix to combine.

9. Fill the peppers with the quinoa and squash stuffing and set on a baking dish.

10. Return to the oven and continue to bake for another 20 minutes covered. Remove and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Top with fresh thyme leaves and serve. Enjoy!



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Spiced Cinnamon Creamy Almond Milk (egg-free) Nog



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 This crisp fall air brings in a yearning for extra warming things…. sweaters, scarves, hats and hugs… 

The chill in the air, crispness of yellow, orange and red leaves underfoot makes it all so magical. I like to pause and watch the leaves dance their way down to the ground…  I like to breathe in the soothing smells of autumn – the cold is here to stay and that’s ok. I’m ready ;)

No matter how cold it gets, there’s one favourite part of this season – the coming home…

Coming home to a warm mug of spiced nog is perfection. Making it from scratch with simple ingredients that are naturally gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free is even better. Making it in a pinch while your hands are still warming up – is good too…. but the best part is holding a mug of fragrant spiced cinnamon creamy goodness that fills you up with warmth and joy. Say yes to the season of comfort and joy…. ;)

Spiced Cinnamon Creamy Almond Milk Egg-free Nog

gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free nog recipe 

Ingredients :

2 cups of almond milk, divided
2 teaspoons of arrowroot or tapioca starch
3-4 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
Optional : 1-2 shots of Amaretto liqueur

Directions :

In a small pot, bring 1 1/2 cups of almond milk to a simmer on medium heat.

In the meantime, mix all the ingredients with the remaining 1/2 cup of COLD almond milk (or other non-dairy milk).
Slowly, pour the cold mixture into the simmering pot with milk, stirring/ whisking continuously.

Keep it over the heat for a few minutes, while stirring until the milk thickens up. Don’t let it boil but keep at a simmer. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Prepare a large mug (or two smaller ones) and fill with the Spiced Cinnamon Nog, adjust spices and sweetness if needed and top with extra sprinkling of cinnamon. For those special occasions or more of a festive spirit, add in the Amaretto Liqueur ~ oh my!!!! Enjoy!



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This is a concoction I enjoy throughout the year really… it’s not only my cold day ritual, but also a bed-time or calming ritual.

Spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves have incredible health boosting properties, among them : antibacterial, anti-fungal, great for improving heart health and blood health. As well as cholesterol lowering. These spices are super-spices really! You really must include them in your diet on a regular basis – this season is really the best time to do it in baked goods, morning porridge or this delicious dairy and egg-free nog ;) 

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Maple Pecan Pumpkin Spice Mini Cakes with So Delicious : gluten-free and vegan



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Fall is such a wonderful time for getting warm and cozy at home with your close ones and celebrating togetherness…

It’s a good time to slow down and enjoy the little things, a hot cup of tea, a slurpy hot soup, warm blankets and wool socks… and family… my dear sweet family. Good thing there’s a great Holiday to help us do just that.

The meaning of Thanksgiving is to appreciate what you have and to notice and acknowledge these good things. To focus on the positive and most meaningful things in your life.

This Thanksgiving (which is coming up on Monday, October 13th in Canada), I am especially so thankful for all these good things in my life right now…

Just a few years ago, my life was falling apart completely due to health problems, depression, and constant struggling in every department of my life. Honestly, for years it was hard to find a single thing I could be thankful for. Life was hard and unfair to me. I felt so alone and it seemed like no one understood me…

But I kept going, one day at a time, holding onto hope and a little magic of kale! :)
It’s amazing to see how your life can change if you just stay hopeful and positive and believe in yourself.

Today, I am seeing how my perseverance and hard work is paying of…. I am thankful for so much in my life.

This year, I became a mother of two darling girls.
What a gift this has been… Not only to grow my family and bring another beautiful little person to this world, but it also is a gift of my health continuing to do well, that I could have another baby.
For years, I struggled accepting that I most likely won’t have any more babies. It was hard.

I am also thankful for my family who have always been there for me.
I have the best sisters who are my best friends. I don’t know how life would be without them in my life.

My husband, who has stuck by my for the last crazy 18 years!!!

And me, myself and I, for pushing through with a dream, passion and renewed strength…
I feel so lucky to have readers and friends through this blog. If I inspire just one person to live healthier and happier today, my mission feels complete.

 

Of course the best part of being thankful and appreciative of the people around you is the moment you can sit back and enjoy some good conversation and warmth of your close ones…

Our favourite way to enjoy eachother is over a great dessert in front of us… these Maple Pecan Pumpkin Spice Mini Cakes are SO cute and delicious! These mini cakes are made entirely with gluten-free flours, vegan ingredients and lots of love!



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Maple Pecan Pumpkin Spice Mini Cakes | gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free/ vegan and refined sugar free

Ingredients for mini cakes :
  • 2 tablespoons chia (mixed with 6 tablespoons warm water)
  • 3/4 cup rice flour
  • 1/4 cup garbanzo/ chickpea flour
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot or tapioca starch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup Pumpkin Spice So Delicious Coconut Milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup grape seed oil
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce

.

Ingredients for carmelized pecans :
  • 3/4 cups pecans, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

.

Directions :

First, make the chia ‘egg’* by mixing ground chia with water, and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and set aside. In another bowl, combine all the wet ingredients and set aside. Pour liquids into dry ingredients and stir to combine well. Set aside for about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F and grease and flour a mini-cake pan, or cupcake pan**. 

Pour mixture into wells and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, remove from pan and set out on a wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Cover them with a clean kitchen towel so they don’t dry out.

Before serving, scoop the Maple Syrup Carmelized Pecans on top and enjoy!

 

 * a chia egg isn’t only an egg replacer. It also helps gluten-free flour mixes to bind better in baked goods. Plus chia seeds add an amazing health boost, making desserts healthier.

** if you’re baking these in a cupcake baking pan, your time will probably be a little longer, 25-30 minutes. Look for an even rising of the cupcakes and a nice dark golden colour at the sides.

 

 



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At our Thanksgiving, we love a big feast and great desserts to follow.

We take turns hosting the dinner and it’s been quite nice the last few years as my family merges with my husband’s family on a regular basis. These dinners can get quite large in size and it can be quite a task to cook and prepare everything.

So our tradition for a while has been to get all the ladies in the family to bring a homemade dessert.

It’s quite nice to tap into these old traditions of baking and sharing your deliciousness with others. Not everyone is a skilled baker in our family, but all the ladies still participate with something, even simple cookies make a delicious addition to our dessert table.

What’s great about home made desserts is that you know your ingredients list, can choose healthier recipes and options, can cater to allergies or dietary preferences, and are always best when made with love.

When a few desserts show up at the table, it is fun to chat over something special. It’s appreciated more when it’s homemade. The host, this year my father-in-law, is always also thankful as it’s one less thing for him to worry about. In the end everyone is happy and it’s a great way to enjoy eachother more over ;)

Isn’t this what Thanksgiving is all about? Family, appreciation and enjoying the good things in life ~ like these mini cakes ;)



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I wish you all our Canadian friends a very happy Thanksgiving!

Do share, what is your Thanksgiving tradition in your family?

Get in the Fall spirit with So Delicious over on their facebook page for more fun recipes, tips and contests.



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