Vegan Salted Caramel Date Truffles

Hey there! I’m really excited to share with you my first attempt ever at a hands-only video. I decided to revamp/revisit one of my old favorite recipes from my ebook, with a slightly modified recipe, new photos (the old ones were meh), and a brand new video!

Now I should disclaimer this by saying I KNOW I’m new to video and that I have improvements to make. But, I thought I’d give it a whirl. Only up from here, right?

salted-caramel-date-truffles.jpg

These are easy to prepare, no-bake, and free of all major allergens. And they got that delicious salty/sweet thang going on that I so enjoy. I hope you make them and enjoy them too! I am ob.sessed.

Vegan Salted Caramel Truffles with SUnbutter

Vegan Salted Caramel Date Truffles

Prep Time:  30 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes, but need at least 1 hour to freeze
Servings: 6-8 truffles

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces pitted dried dates
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seed butter, plus an additional 3-4 tablespoons (divided)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate or dairy-free chocolate chips
  • sea salt
  • hot water

Method:

  1. Soak dried pitted dates in hot water for at least 10 minutes, until softened.
  2. Drain dates. Transfer to a food processor. Add vanilla. Process until smooth.
  3. Transfer date mixture to a bowl. Add 1/4 cup sunflower seed butter. Mix well.
  4. Roll dough into balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Freeze for 20 minutes.
  6. Add an additional dollop of sunflower seed butter.
  7. Freeze for 20 minutes.
  8. Melt chocolate in 30-60 second increments in the microwave until melted. This should take about 90 seconds total.
  9. Dip each dough ball into melted chocolate and return to baking sheet. You may also use a spoon to cover the ball.
  10. Freeze for 20 minutes.
  11. Enjoy. Store in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container or bag.

Simple Seed Bars

All I really want in life is NUTS and SEEDS. Do you feel me?

 Simple Seed Bars. Vegan && Gluten-free. Four ingredients!

There are so many puns that can be made when it comes to one of my favorite categories of foods, but for real I really am obsessed with nuts of all kinds. I always start to say my favorite and it results in me being like, “Probably cashew. And walnuts. Oh and obviously almonds. Peanuts for the peanut butter reasons. Did I mention that I love pistachios? Wait, also….” etc.

Simple Seed Bars. Vegan and Gluten-free. Four ingredients.

So when it comes to favorites, I can’t choose one. But I can almost guarantee I’m down to put nuts in my face any time of day any day of the week. They have always been and forever will be a staple snack in my diet, as well as a lovely accompaniment to chocolate, and of course, the breadth of my beloved nut butters.

Simple Seed Bars. Vegan & Gluten-free. Four ingredients.

Whenever I’m looking for a snack bar, I always look for ones with tons of nuts. This is why Kind Bars are my favorite snack bars. What makes me sad is that Kind Bars are expensive. Yes, I buy them anyway, and no I don’t think they are bad for you despite the drama going on with them right now.

Simple Seed Bars. Vegan and Gluten-free. Four ingredients!

Moving on. Last night I set out to make my own nut bars. Except then I burst open my bag of Sunflower Seeds. There was about a cup or so left in the bag that just went all over the place. This was when I decided I should just use the rest of them before they went to poop, salvaged what I could, and set out to make Simple Seed Bars.

Simple Seed Bars. Vegan and Gluten-free. Four ingredients!

The fun thing about these bars is that you can make them two ways: baked or frozen. If you like your nuts raw, simply store them in the freezer. If you like your nuts toasty and want the bars to hold together a bit better for traveling, bake them up for 10-15 minutes. I tried both methods and honestly enjoyed them both. Make a batch and try it both ways if you dare. Or don’t. Do you.

Simple Seed Bars. Vegan & Gluten-free. Four ingredients!

Baked or frozen these babies are crunchy, nutty, and full of satisfying seedy goodness. Sweetened only with dates, they have just enough glucosey goodness to keep your sweet tooth happy without horrifying it the way Quaker Chewy Bars do to mine. These are the perfect, easy, simple snack and when paired with fruit make a brilliant breakfast. And with only four ingredients and minimal prep, they couldn’t be easier. I truly hope you make them. That’s all for now folks, hope to SEE(d) you soon. #punny

Simple Seed Bars. Vegan && Gluten-free. Four ingredients!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes if using freezing method, but need at least 30 minutes if freezing; 10-12 minutes if using baking method
Level: easy makes one 9″ inch pan of Seed Bars, serving about 6 as a snack

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (8 ounces) dried pitted dates, soaked in 2 tablespoons water for 10 minutes
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 3/4 cup nuts of choice (I used a mixture of cashews and pecans, any will work)
  • 3/4 cup raisins (and/or other dried fruit – I added some dried cranberries and cherries as well)

Directions:

1. Soak dates in water until tender, about 10 minutes. If using baking method to prepare, preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a food processor, grind dates until a paste is formed.

3. In a large bowl, combine sunflower seeds, nuts, and dried fruit, Mix well. Add date puree and mix well again until a sticky dough has formed. Press dough into a parchment paper-lined 9″ inch square baking sheet.

4. Cover with an additional piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap and if using freezing method, place in the freezer to set, at least 30 minutes. If baking, place in oven for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden. Allow to cool before enjoying.

If using freezer method, keeps best if stored in freezer or refrigerator; if baking, store in an airtight bag or container.

Homemade Chocolate Coconut Macaroon Larabars

Two non-related thoughts: 1) The holidays are here! 2) Larabars are delicious, but can be expensive. What do these thoughts lead someone like myself to do?! DIY, of course.

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 1.47.00 PM

Tis both the season of giving and eating. I knew I wanted to have an excuse to bake or create something in my kitchen, and thought it would be nice to gift something that’s not super-overly-indulgent, figuring that with the holidays as they are, everyone is drowning in plenty of gluttony and may actually be lusting for a healthy snack in the next few days.

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 1.46.47 PM

So I made some homemade Larabars. Actually, what also inspired me to make these bars is my sister. She LOVES Larabars. So does a toddler I know, who calls them “Spongy Cakes” which is so cute that I almost pass out every time I hear it. Anyways, I’ve wanted to try making homemade Larabars for my sis for a while, and since last night I was angsty and bored and didn’t feel like sitting still, I took pantry inventory and decided to make some and add them to the other food gifts I’m giving. I’m also giving some Chocolate Bark with Figs, Nuts and Sea Salt very similar to this recipe. And some Gingerbread Granola, which I’m planning to also post the recipe for within the hour.

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 1.45.55 PM

I’d like to say I chose to copy the Chocolate Coconut Macaroon flavor of Larabars because it fits so well with the holidays like Haunnukah and blah blah blah and honestly that was a partial deciding factor but if I’m honest, they are kind of a result of what was in the pantry, per usual.

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 1.47.20 PM

These babies have 4 ingredients: Cashews. Dates. Coconut Shreds. Dark Chocolate. That’s it. Plain and simple just like the OG Larabars themselves. They turned out really well and quite similar to a Larabar in texture, flavor, and yumminess. The key is not over-pulsing the nuts or chocolate in your food processor. Leave them a little crumby, just like the real ones.

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 1.46.08 PM

You can even use holiday cookie cutters, and/or wrap them up like wee little gifts if you’d like:

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 1.45.44 PM

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 1.50.34 PM

Make these babies, customize them as you’d like, gift them, or keep them. They’re a perfect yummy high-energy sweet treat to keep your blood sugar stable through the holidays and beyond. Happy holidays and happy eating!

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 1.46.16 PM

 

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes (but require at least 20 minutes to set in fridge)

Level: Easy

makes 8 mini-Larabars or 6 regular sized bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 3 tablespoons dark chocolate chips or 2 oz dark chocolate

Directions:

1. Pulse cashews in food processor until a fine, crumby powder. Make sure you don’t overdo the processing, you don’t want a nutbutter, rather a fine sticky dust. Set aside in a bowl.

2. Pulse chocolate in food processor until chocolate is a similar crumb to the nuts. Add chocolate to bowl with nuts.

3. Place dates and coconut in food processor. Puree until mixture reaches a fine paste. If it’s lumpy, add a small bit of water, 1-3 tablespoons, 1 tablespoon at a time.

4. Take date/coconut paste and add to bowl with nuts and chocolate. Mix with a wooden spoon and/or knead until well combined into a cookie-dough-like ball.

5. Line a small baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Transfer Larabar mixture onto sheet and spread until about 1/4th inch thick. Press with hands to create a smooth surface.

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 1.43.54 PM

6. Allow to set in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes, preferably an hour. Slice and enjoy! 🙂

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 1.45.15 PM

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 1.46.47 PM

Soft Baked Breakfast Bars with Date-Raisin Filling

The other day I did something I haven’t done in quite a while: in a moment of desperation and due to lack of other snacks, I purchased an overpriced Nutrigrain Bar to hold off my hunger pangs until my next meal. My options were few, and for some reason something soft with sweet chewiness in it sounded perfect.

IMG_0355

Next thing that happened: me inhaling and being like “omg yum why did I forget about these for like 8 years?” followed by obsessive craving for something so sweet and soft for days. 

IMG_0338

Fast forward a week, post-crazy travels, and I am in my kitchen, bored, craving these again, and without much in my pantry. Determined,  I bake a soft, oatmeal filled breakfast bake of sorts. To satisfy my desire for the something sweet’n’gooey, I puréed some dates’n’raisins together to make a paste. Jam would also work for these, I simply had none and had roughly a cup of dates and a fresh bag of raisins in the pantry.

IMG_0320

Speaking of raisins, I’m into them lately. When I was in New York this week, they popped up in a lot of unexpected meals, like the protein-packed kale salad from Peacefood, on tartines from LPQ, and in savory pasta dishes. I really enjoyed them. Raisins deserve more street cred. plan to give them some soon in future posts. 

IMG_0352

Back to the bars, I decided that the date-raisin layer was sort of ugly and should be covered. I made the bottom layer of these a bit too thick to add a top layer, so I quickly made a crumb topping, which ended up adding a nice textural contrast to the muffin-like bottom layer and ooey gooey date layer. If you know me, you know I’m really into textural contrasts (which is why if I ever get regular ice cream or froyo I simply must add chocolate and/or nuts as toppings #princessproblems), so this ended up delighting my mouth with an assortment of mouthfeels.

IMG_0360

Besides delicious and soft, these are cinnamony, slightly sweet, and perfect for breakfast or snacks. I dig them. I hope you do too. 

IMG_0350

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Bake Time: 20-25 minutes.

Level: Easy

Ingredients – Soft Baked Layer:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup applesauce (or 2 mashed ripe bananas)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dates (soaked for 10 minutes in water, then drained)
  • 1 cup raisins

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup almond butter, coconut oil, or non-dairy butter at room temperature

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place dates in a small bowl of water and allow to soften, about 10 minutes.

IMG_0297

2.Meanwhile, place rolled oats into a food processor or blender and grind into a powder. This is your oat flour. I like mine less-fine than flour, because I enjoy the oaty texture. Makes it muffin-y. Return to your soaking dates and drain them. Place these aside.

3. Place the oat flour in a bowl with whole wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Whisk until combined. Then add applesauce, almond milk, and vanilla and stir until combined.

IMG_0291

4. In a food processor, grind softened dates and raisins until a thick paste. It will be a bit thicker than jelly. 

5. In a small bowl, combine rolled oats, sugar, and almond butter/coconut oil/non-dairy butter. Using your handles or the back of a fork, mix well and try to evenly disperse fat and sugar throughout the oats. Honestly this works best with your hands. Form crumbs between your thumb and index and middle fingers.  

6. Using a spatula, spread the soft baked layer batter into a well-oiled 9×9 or 8×10 baking pan. Spoon the date-raisin spread in small, tablespoon sized globes all over soft baked layer. Then use a spatula or the back of a knife to spread the date-raisin layer evenly over the soft baked layer. Finally, sprinkle crumb layer all over the date-raisin layer.

IMG_0315

7. Place pan in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until fragrant and a toothpick or fork stuck into the middle of the bar comes out cleanly upon removal. 

IMG_0319

8. Take the bars out of the oven, allow to cool, and enjoy for breakfast every day this week. To preserve freshness, cut into individual bars and store in an airtight container. 

IMG_0352 

Cherry Oatmeal Breakfast Cookie Sandwiches with Healthy Ganache Filling

So. How do you explain this situation: you are standing outside at 6:55am wearing an oversized NYU hoodie and periwinkle blue leggings, accented by mismatched socks peeping through 6-year-old Birkenstocks, with a plate full of breakfast cookies before you, and  your giant camera, simultaneously eating the cookies while taking pictures of them, when suddenly the lawn service guy who is roughly your age comes around with a weed whacker and scares the daylights out of you???

IMG_9763

Answer: you don’t. You do not even try to explain the situation. You and your camera, dangling from your neck, run back inside and feel super awkward. Then you realize 2 minutes later you don’t care and go back outside and continue taking photos in peace, totally ignoring the weed whacking going on within your 4 foot radius. You finish the cookies and you head back inside, settling upon the fact that there is no quality explanation of this behavior, and that life is going to go on as usual because you have delicious breakfast cookies to eat.

IMG_9705

COOKIES FIX EVERYTHING! And these babies are simply scrumptious. It’s no secret that I’m crazy about oatmeal (in fact, my first EVER food-related article was written about a restaurant called OatMeals in NYC) and it’s also no secret that I love cookies. Lastly, it’s kind of fun for me to make baked goods that are normally not-so-nutrious good for you. Like these. Packed with whole grains and fiber, the cookies are great on their own or enhanced with a yogurt-based ganache (easily made vegan or not)- which is honestly as creamy and thick and rich and delicious tasting as any frosting you come across without being so nasty. The cocoa powder adds thickness and chocolatelyness because that’s what cocoa powder does. #foodsciencelessonoftheday

IMG_9737

Overall, these babies make for a satisfying breakfast, snack, or even dessert. They are nice and chewy. And also hearty with chunks of nuts. And sweet, but not too sweet. All things, I personally, look for when I’m in the mood for a specifically healthy-but-sweet-tasting-chewy craving. But most importantly, Millie approves. She even got a lil fiesty begging for these. Look at that sass. She just loves food. So do I. Sometimes, I swear we’re actually related. #family

IMG_9768

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Bake Time: 10-12 minutes

Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • dash of salt
  • 1 cup Soy or Greek yogurt
  • 3-4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or agave (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, place dates in a bowl of water and allow to soften for about 10 minutes.

2. Take one cup rolled oats and whirl in a food processor until a fine powder forms. This is your oat flour. Empty it from the food processor and set aside in a large mixing bowl. Add remaining 1 cup rolled oats.

IMG_9665

3. Place softened dates into the food processor along with the mashed, ripe banana and 1/4 cup of the almonds into the food processor. Blend until a play-dough like paste forms. Remove from the food processor and add to the large mixing bowl with oat mixtures.

4. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt to the large mixing bowl. Mix all until well combined.

5. Chop remaining 1/4 cup almonds and 1/4 cup dried cherries and add to the bowl. Mix again.

IMG_9676

6. Scoop golf-ball sized balls of cookie dough from the bowl onto a nonstick baking sheet. Press the cookies down slightly with your palm to flatten a bit, and bake for about 10-12 minutes, until the oats begin to brown.

IMG_9705

7. Remove cookies from baking sheets and allow to cool completely. While the cookies are cooling, assemble the ganache: mix yogurt, cocoa powder, and sugar to taste in a small bowl. You can play with the amounts of chocolate and sugar you use in the ganache. The more cocoa powder you add, the thicker it will be. You can also make the ganache as sweet as you desire by adding more cocoa powder.

IMG_9715

8. Using a knife, spread 3 tablespoons of the ganache on each cookie. Eat cookie. Or assemble two cookies with some ganache into a nice little healthy cookie sandwich. Or you can dip the cookies straight into a bowl of ganache, basically using the cookie as a vessel for the ganache (it’s really thick and tasty!). The possibilities are endless and delicious! Enjoy.

IMG_9743