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Carrot Cake Brownies with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting : healthy, gluten-free, grain-free and vegan



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Hello my friends!

I think the Easter Holiday always brings in a little craving for something with carrots! Does it not? I guess we have to thank all the bunnies for this inspiration…. and I don’t mind at all, neither does my family ;)

This year I knew I had to make something with carrots for our Easter dessert table – but everyone wanted brownies in my family…. so a new idea was born that I could make everything with the flavour of a Carrot Cake but with the richness and moistness of Brownies! So this is the result of what I ended up making – Carrot Cake Brownies – the biggest highlight of our dinner! I had no idea they would be so popular with my family but everyone cleaned off the serving dish in no time. (No leftovers even! You know it’s good stuff when there’s not a crumb left in sight…. maybe it was the Easter bunny?? ;)


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Carrot Cake Brownies : healthy, gluten free, vegan and refined sugar free

Ingredients :

1 1/2 cups organic sweet potato puree
1 1/2 cups medjool dates (about 15 dates)
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cups buckwheat flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup grated organic carrots
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup fresh pineapple, chopped fine
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped

Directions :

First clean and peel about 2 large sweet potatoes, dice them into chunks and boil until fully cooked. Strain and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking pan, about 8″x 8″ with parchment paper.

Meanwhile, peel and grate about 2 medium carrots and set aside. 

In a food processor, process the pitted dates until a smooth paste forms. If your food processor does better with a little liquid, process them with the maple syrup until completely incorporated and smooth. 

You can continue mixing in all the ingredients (except the last 4) in the food processor or you can move the date paste into a mixing bowl and continue mixing all the ingredients with a wooden spoon in the bowl. (I only processed the dates and then had my daughter combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl – this was so much fun!)

Combine all the ingredients and mix throughly. Scoop into the baking pan and even out the top with the back of the spoon.

Bake at 350F for about 45-50 minutes. Once baked, move onto a cooking rack and allow to fully cool  before topping with the Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting. (great to bake it one day beforehand)

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting : dairy and egg free/ vegan and gluten-free

Ingredients :

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
1/2 cup organic coconut margarine
1/3 cup organic powdered sugar
1/3 cup powdered stevia
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions :

First, soak the raw cashews for at least two hours at room temperature or in the refrigerator if overnight. Rinse and strain them well before working with them.

In a food processor, process the raw cashews until fine crumbs form, about 5 minutes. Add in all the rest of the ingredients and continue mixing until a very smooth paste forms, another 5 more minutes. Be sure to turn off the machine and scrape down the sides to incorporate all the ingredients into the smooth paste.

Scoop the Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting on the already cooled Carrot Cake Brownies. Serve and enjoy! 

This cake stays fresh for up to 3 days (if it lasts this long). Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.



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Carrots are such a gem when you think about it! Ok, I know that carrots aren’t up there in the superfood category – but why not? They are loaded with so much goodness – Vitamin A and C and beta carotene – a real ‘beauty’ food too as all these nutrients are great for the skin! And there are the Sweet Potatoes – which are also loaded with beta carotene, are low glycemic and are very healthy.

Seriously, can these ingredients not get any better? I think not! The this really tastes amazing! You would have to try it to believe it ;) My family who are not on any special diets or restrictions enjoyed this cake so much! They could not believe these delicious Carrot Cake Brownies were so healthy, gluten-free, grain-free, egg-free and dairy-free!



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I hope you enjoy these Carrot Cake Brownies very soon! It was so great to see non-vegan and non-gluten-free folks enjoy these so much! 
That’s what I love about vegan and gluten-free baking, everyone enjoys the goodies and they all feel good about what they eat! Everyone’s happy at the end ;)

 

Pure Ella 

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Healthy Rice Crispies Treats : all-natural, gluten-free and vegan



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We have just made the cutest little desserts ~ fantastic for even a 4 year old to make!

Rice Krispies Quares are were pretty good! But knowing a little more about nutrition and what’s lurking in our products in grocery stores – I was not going to give this treat to my daughter! No-Way!!!

But I still think you can’t remove all sweets and desserts from your children ~ life would just not be fun! Right? 

The way to do it right is to treat them with healthier alternatives. All-natural, organic, naturally sweetened with no preservatives, added artificial flavours or colours. If you keep it ‘clean’ – it tastes great, it is healthier, and the kiddos are super happy!

So being totally inspired by Rice Krispies Squares, I thought it would be great to create healthier version of this famous treat! My and my little helper took the idea further and added a cute effect by shaping them into Spring shapes with the help of some spring-inspired cookie cutters. 


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HEALTHY RICE CRISPIES TREATS

gluten free, dairy free, vegan, healthier recipe

Ingredients :
  • 3 tbsp coconut butter
  • 1 package (about 4 cups) of vegan, all-natural marshmallows (you can purchase in health food stores)
  • 6 cups Nature’s Path Crispy Rice organic cereal
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

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Directions : 

Prep all the cutest cookie cutters in the house by laying them on wax paper or cutting board. In a large saucepan, melt the coconut butter over low heat. Add the marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract and mix gently. Add Crispy Rice Cereal and stir until it’s all well coated.

They need to be shaped right away as they will harden very quickly. If you do involve children in this fun process (and please do), check that the batch of the marshmallow rice mix isn’t hot but warm enough to shape. Get the children to squeeze into the cookie cutter shapes. Leave for a few minutes to harden and remove cookie cutters.

So easy, quick and fun….. oh and so delicious…. oh and healthier too than your original Rice Krispies Squares recipe!


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This is a super sweet recipe to make for a playdate with other moms or for dad, aunts, cousins to make with the kiddos and to serve for Mom on Mother’s Day (hint hint)!

I love it when delicious snacks are made healthier
~ and don’t suffer on taste!

By simply swapping the butter for coconut oil, getting better quality marshmallows that are all natural and going with a simple pure and organic rice cereal…. we created super yummy + healthy snacks. The cute effect with the cookie cutters is just a bonus ~ they do taste better when they’re so cute ;)

Plus it made my daughter smile eat to eat from the moment she started pressing the mixture into the cookie cutters till when the last crumb was gone! She snacked in between, got all sticky and dirty! And it was just the best fun ever!! ;)

What are your favourite treat you like to do with kids?

Pure Ella 

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sweet seedlings with chocolate dirt : an earth day dessert



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Hello earthlings! In celebration of Earth Day coming up on April 22nd, I have a cute treat for you all! These are Sweet Seedlings from the Earth we made as an Earth Day treat! Who said you can’t eat dirt!? Crazy delicious dirt that is! The treats were so fun to make with my own little earth-loving seedling herself. So if you do have little growing sprouts around, do include them in this earth-day inspired dessert. Here’s what to do:


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SWEET SEEDLINGS FROM THE EARTH RECIPE : vegan, gluten-free, with nut-free option

Ingredients :
  • dark chocolate (we like 72% as it’s naturally dairy free and has less sugar)
  • a choice of textured snacks and baking ingredients : we used:
    hemp hearts (from hemphearts.com)
    coconut flakes (unsweetened)
    slivered almonds
    pretzel sticks (can be gluten-free)
  • fresh mint leaves for your seedlings

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Great alternatives would be : sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, goji berries, all kinds of chopped nuts : walnuts, pine, hazelnut ~ you could go nuts here ;) (see a note below about school safe options)
One thing to remember is that you need a fine grind ingredient such as the hemp hearts and some larger pieced for texture.

Directions :

Rinse and gently dry off your mint leaves with paper towel and set aside. You can store your mint leaves in a cup with water in your refrigerator for longer freshness. (being careful that the leaves don’t touch the water, so you may need to remove some of the leaves)

Melt the chocolate (I place mine in a bowl over a pot with boiling water- it does the trick pretty well – we then use the same bowl to mix our ingredients (so we don’t waste any chocolate! ;) For mixing, invite some children if you have any around. I had one and she did a pretty good job including the taste testing (ps. I did replace the spoon once she licked it off (although it was clean to my eyes) ;)

Scoop a spoonful of your chocolatey dirt onto parchment paper and  shape into circles. Check below as to when the best time is to add your mint leaves as they will wilt if left for too long.

 

Adding Seedlings (Mint)

You will use the tops of your mint plants for the seedlings. Cut about 1.5-2″ down from the top (look for a natural leaf burst and cut so the shape looks even and resembles a seedling).

Serving in 30-60 minutes : Insert the stem of the mint plant (making sure it’s dry) into the centre of the chocolate earth, while still soft. Place into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to set or longer – up to an hour. Serve immediately.

Serving next day : Use a toothpick to poke a hole through the chocolate earth and place in the refrigerator without the mint plants in them. You may want to re-poke them a few hours later so the still-soft chocolate won’t fill in the hole. Next day, just before serving, insert the mint leaf tops (stems dried off from the water).


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School Safe Alternatives

Not all schools allow almonds, even though almonds are technically not considered nuts. An almond is the seed (pit) of a drupe, which is a fruit much like a peach. Nuts are hard-shelled fruit that have an indehiscent seed, meaning it doesn’t split open or separate at maturity to release seeds. To be safe, check with your school’s policy about almonds if you want to bring them to school. If you can’t use almonds, other options such as sunflower or pumpkin seeds, goji berries, sesame seeds etc. would also be great.


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This doesn’t have to be a ‘cute’ snack for kids. Make a beautiful presentation for grown ups and they will sprout with excitement!


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Hope you like this Earth-Day treat! Never thought you could be drooling over some dirt, did you now?

Have a beautiful Earth Week my friends!

“Be good to the earth and she will be good to you.”

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spiced apple muffins : gluten-free & vegan

These are some of the goodies that are coming out of our oven lately. I don’t think there’s anything more comforting than having a  delicious batch of muffins in the oven (or something just as satisfying – although I don’t know what? ) as a hardy and healthy snack in these cooler (cozier) months. That scent of apples and spices slowly filling the house is unbearable…. making your stomach ache and mouth water at the thought of the deliciousness that awaits…







As you can tell, we like muffins around here. (or at least me and my daughter does – the husband – not  And why not? They’re healthier, especially these with no cholesterol, good fats, filled with fibre and nutrients. They’re easy to combine, and fun to dopple into the muffin pans (yes, dopple – did I just make up a word?) my little 4 year old always likes to help with that. And best of all, they’re quick to bake – therefore, making them have a quick turn-around-time to enjoy.

Spiced Apple Muffins

{gluten-free and vegan recipe}

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prep the muffin tins. I suggest using muffin papers (baking cups), otherwise you can grease it.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup of buckwheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup of organic raw or brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon medium grind sea salt (if you use fine, use 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder OR 2 tsp baking soda with 3 tsp apple cider vinegar (pour the apple cider over the baking soda – mix it and let it bubble up and add to the mix)
  • 2 tbsp of ground flax + 4 tbsp of warm water, mix and let stand for 2 minutes (this is a great all-natural substitute for 2 eggs or 2 teaspoons of egg replacer – for vegans or for people with sensitivity to the egg replacer or if you just don’t have eggs around ;)
  • 1/3 cup of coconut oil (melted)
  • 1/2 cup of apple sauce (or 1 apple peeled and cooked in 1/4 cup of water, mushed with a fork or blended)
  • 3/4 cup of finely chopped apples (wash, and core the apples first, then cut them into small pieces)
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Directions : Mix all ingredients until well blended, then stir in the apples. Let it sit for a few minutes so the binding ingredients absorb, mix again and scoop into a muffin pan and bake for about 25 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean when poked in the middle of the muffin.

Allow to cool slightly and enjoy with a warm cup of vanilla flavoured almond milk with a dash of cinnamon stirred in – yum! And don’t forget to include the kids to help you ;)







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baking traditions

The Holidays have zoomed by ever so quickly this year – or I should say last year. My goodness, see what I mean?  Well, there is a few things I want to share with you that is very special to us. One is a little baking session with the girls in our family. Well, at least it used to be girls – now we have a handsome little guy to help us bring some magic ingredients. I think the magic ingredients that the kids do bring each time is LOVE.






This time, the number got quite small, my little sister is living in Cambodia volunteering, my mom had to work, and the other ladies in our family don’t participate in our family traditions unfortunately. Between my sister and I, we had 4 recipes we wanted to pull off. Only 2 got done that evening. Which is still huge efforts with little kids making us work harder ;) We stayed over and enjoyed some morning tea with a few favourite cookies.






Here are the Recipes:

Folded Angels (traditional recipe)

Ingredients: 1.5 cups shortening, 1 sp sour cream, 1 packet of yeast, 1 egg yolk, 3 cups of all purpose flour, 1/2 cup icing sugar for icing, 1/2 cup of plum butter.
Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the yeast with the sour cream and leave in a warm place for about an hour. Mix the shortening, yolk, flour to combine. Add the sour cream with the yeast. Combine well to form a dough like texture (use more flour if you need to). Roll out the dough to about 1/8 inches and cut into squares. You can eyeball the size of the squares but we do them about 2 1/2 inches. (you can lightly draw out the squares on the rolled out dough and plan out how many can fit) To form the angels: cut the square corners inwards but not right to centre. Add a small spoon of plum butter into centre. Fold the top two inner corners into the centre (to make the head) press into the plum butter, and two corners from the sides to make the hands – press gently into the plum butter, enough so they stick or else they will open up when baking. Bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on what size your squares end up). Makes about 3 dozen cookies.







Gingerbread Cookies (gluten-free and vegan)

Ingredients: 2 3/4 cups gluten-free all purpose baking flour, 2 tablespoons ground ginger, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds, 1/4 cup water, 3/4 cup coconut oil, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup unsulphured molasses, 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together gluten-free flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl, whisk together flax seeds and water until it becomes slightly sticky. In a third bowl (or in my case I used a blender), mix coconut oil, maple syrup, molasses and applesauce. Incorporate the flax mixture into the third bowl. Once fully mixed, slowly add the flour until it is thoroughly incorporated. Drop the dough by teaspoon onto an ungreased cookie tray. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool and serve. Makes two dozen cookies.

Our tradition may sound like we’ve done it for ages, but really the first time we thought of baking together was when my Gabriella was 4 months old and it was her 1st Christmas. I felt stuck at home and my sisters thought it would be fun to come over and bake. We kept saying, how come we’ve never done this before? We have to do this every year!…. and a tradition was born.

Do you have any family traditions that you do over the Holidays? Please share, and if you’ve written about it (it doesn’t have to be baking) leave a link in the comments below ;)

Have a lovely day.



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