Recipe Review: Cauli-power Fettuccine “Alfredo”

As I breifly mentioned in my last post, I’ve made some changes to my diet, which include lowering my daily fat intake. So, when I saw Angela’s recipe for alfredo sauce made with cauliflower come through my in-box, I was all about it!

As luck would have it, Whole Foods had organic cauliflower on sale, so I picked up a couple of heads and Cauli-power Fettuccine Alfredo was moved to the top of the dinner menu.

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I’ve been using corn pasta, or a combo of corn and some other gluten-free grains, and I’ve been pretty happy with the outcome. The taste is good; the texture is good, and I don’t feel all vibratey after eating a big ol’ bowl of pasta like I do when I eat regular semolina pasta. So, for this recipe, I used the pasta I had in the pantry, which was a bag of rigatoncini. I figured that shape and style would work fine with this sauce because of the lines – and I was right. Woot!

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I was a little worried the sauce would come out watery because of my previous attempts at using cauliflower in sauces and soups. (Hello. How do people think mashed cauliflower tastes anything like my beloved mashed potatoes?!) But, surprise surprise, the sauce was super thick and creamy and delicious!

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I ended up adding a little extra nutritional yeast (because I always do), and I waited to add any salt until the individual servings. (I’m making a conscious effort to reduce my sodium intake.) I also skipped the sauteed onions (If you keep them in, please try sauteing them with water, not oil.) and just added granulated garlic and onion powder to the mix. And, I had plain soy milk open already, so I used that for the non-dairy milk. I think using a thicker non-dairy milk like soy or hemp is probably a good idea, although Angela used almond milk.

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I also added some broccoli to my dish. I just tossed in w/ the pasta as it cooked, and eight minutes later, they were both done. Yummy add for no extra work! (Well, except for the little bit of chopping required to get the broccoli florettes off their stems.)

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Other than those few tweaks, I followed the recipe exactly. I even  followed the suggested order of boiling the cauliflower first then making the sauce and letting it sit while I boiled the pasta and broccoli. After I drained the pasta/broccoli mix, I added it back to the hot pan on the still warm burner and poured in the sauce, stirred, and ate!

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I will definitely make this recipe again! One thing I will keep in mind, though, is the sauce really soaks into the pasta as it sits, so the next day, the pasta is a bit mushy, and the sauce is even more bland. I ground on a bit more salt and plowed through my next-day plate, but I kept wishing I’d added some fresh tomatoes or onions or something to brighten it up. (My husband thought adding a little bit of non-dairy milk might help revive things a bit, but I’d already eaten all of the left-overs before he suggested it. Ha!)

 

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – Overt Fat Free

I need to write a post about the current state of my diet, but long story short, I’ve gotten a handle on my moving + holiday eating frenzy and feel like I’m in a good place right now. Basically, I’m eating within a ration of 80% carbohydrates and 10% each fat and protein. And while my diet is high raw, it is not all raw, so it’s not the 80-10-10 of The 80-10-10 Diet – just the ratio.

Back to why we’re here today…I made cookies!

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Yup. Delicious, nutritious, overt-fat-free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies made with only four ingredients (five if you count the optional cinnamon) and sweetened only with fruit. 80-10-10 for the win!

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Overt Fat Free)

2 c old fashioned oats

1/2 c super thick date paste

1 medium banana, mashed (about 1/4 c)

1/4-1/2 c raisins (soaked if dry)

1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

First, make date paste by blending soaked dates. Try not to use any of the date soaking water, so the paste is extra thick and sticky. Then, mash the banana using a fork (or pulse it in a mini-chopper). Don’t blend it because the liquid banana will add liquid to the dough.

Add oats and cinnamon to a bowl. Stir to combine. (Optional: Add a dash of salt.) Add mashed banana and date paste. Stir to combine. Add raisins. Stir to incorporate. [If  dough is too dry, add more date paste.]

Scoop dough onto a parchment or Paraflexx lined dehydrator tray. [I used an ice cream scooper.] Use the back of a spoon to flatter the cookies into desired thickness. Shape edges for prettier cookies (and so no little bits dry and fall off).

Dehydrate at 145F for about 30 minutes to quick set the cookies. Reduce heat and continue to dry at 110F for about 60 minutes. Flip cookies and continue to dry for 60-90 more minutes.

Makes 10 cookies at about 160 calories and 1.5 grams of fat each.

NOTES:

EFA’s: If your diet is a little low on EFA’s (essential fatty acids 3-6-9), try adding a flax “egg” (1 TBSP flax meal + 1-2 TBSP water). You might need to cut back on the date paste if you.

Baking: If you don’t have a dehydrator or don’t feel like using one, you can try baking the cookies. Try a low oven of around 200F and check on the cookies every 5 minutes. I’m guessing it will take somewhere between 5-10 minutes to dry out the cookies. (Be careful; without fat, these cookies will go from not-quite-done to burnt in the blink of an eye.)

Storage: Completely cool the cookies and store in an air tight container. You can probably store these outside of the frig, but I like to keep all of my goodies in the frig. [Remember, glass will help keep baked goods crispy, and plastic will help keep them soft. So, store according to texture preference.]

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Vegan MoFo: My Favorite Thing is…Oat Flour!

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Ok, so my MoFo’ing is off to a slow start. Here we are at day 6, and this is my first real post. At this rate, I won’t get to share very many of my favorite vegan things :-/

Regardless to my pace of posting (posting pace?), I wanted to get this month rolling with one of my very favorite ingredients…oats! And, more specifically, oat flour. Why oat flour versus the whole oat? Sometimes I react to whole oats, specifically oat meal. I use make a point to purchase organic, gluten free rolled oats (or steel cut/oat groats), but sometimes, when I eat oat meal, I almost feel asthmatic. I would probably feel the same if I ate an entire batch of whatever it is I make with the oat flour, but I’m usually able to control myself. Usually 😉

Back on track…Why do I love oat flour so much? It’s crazy versatile! I’ve had great luck substituting it one-for-one for in everything I’ve tried. (Given, I haven’t tried it with every recipe.)  But, I’ve great luck with pancakes, muffins, and…cookies! Yummy, yummy cookies.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/2 c oat flour

1/2 c rolled oats

1 c peanut butter

1 c fruit spread/jelly

1 flax egg (1 TBSP flax meal + 1-2 TBSP water – combine and allow to gel)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking powder

Splash vanilla (about 1 tsp)

Sprinkle salt (if peanut butter is unsalted)

Combine dry ingredients (oat flour, oats, salt, baking soda, baking powder) and stir to combine. (I do this with a fork, but a sifter would work wonderfully. Just add the whole oats secondary.) Add wet ingredients (peanut butter, jelly, vanilla, flax egg). Stir just to combine ingredients. Scoop by large scooper (I used an ice cream scooper.) onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Flatten a little after scooping.

Bake at 350F for about 10-12 minutes. (Check after 8 minutes if your oven runs hot.) Time will depend upon your oven and thickness of cookies. Remove cookies from cookie sheet right away (the oat flour will draw moisture and make the bottom of your cookies soggy), and cool on a wire rack.

My batch of dough made 16 large cookies, but don’t let that stop you from making them; they freeze well and reheat great too!

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Notes:

I thought these cookies are naturally sweet from the sweetness of the whole fruit spread, but if you’re feeding these to people who eat ‘traditional’ cookies, you might want to add a little liquid sweetener or your favorite non-nutritive sweetener. Additionally, if you want to turn these soft, cake-like cookies into muffins, try thinning out the batter with a little non-dairy milk. Mix-ins would be good too! Try crushed peanuts, diced pieces of whole fruit, chocolate chips, etc. Go crazy!

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Review: Beyond Meat

Have you heard of Beyond Meat?

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Beyond Meat is the newest plant-based animal protein replacement to hit the market. It’s a relatively new product (as far as consumer products go) and as recently as this year became available nationwide (after starting on the West coast). Made from a variety of plant-based proteins, Beyond Meat has received high accolades for its resemblance to animal protein in both flavor and texture.

I wasn’t impressed.

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I’m always leery of fake meat products. I chose to adopt a plant-based diet to get away from animal products, so I’m a little freaked out by products that try to imitate the very foods I left behind. Luckily, very few faux meat products resemble their counterparts, so the occasional meat analogue isn’t a big deal (except for a weird McRib type sandwich I refused to eat once because I swore it was real).  Additionally, I’m usually hope very happy with the ingredients lists of most of the processed plant-based meat products; Beyond Meat was not exception.

I was a little excited to see Beyond Meat at the Whole Foods I go to in Dublin, Ohio. I’d heard such great things. And, at just under $6 for four servings (pretty big ones), I thought the value was OK. What I didn’t like were the ingredients. They almost deterred me from purchasing the product. The second ingredient is isolated soy protein. Ugh. (The first ingredient is water.) The package does reassure consumers the soy is non-GMO, which is good, but still, soy protein isolates? Oy! The very thing that gives soy a bad name, and BAM, there is it. Among the remaining list if ingredients (which isn’t short, by the way) is a HUGE chemical I’ve been going out of my way to avoid – titanium dioxide. Seriously? Why is an ingredient in caulking in my food?!?!

Even if this product didn’t contain questionable ingredients, I wouldn’t buy it again. The “Grilled” flavor wasn’t appealing in taste or texture, and barely ate any of it. What a waste.

Save your money and don’t even bother trying Beyond Meat. You can make an amazing meat substitute with tofu – a much less processed soy product. Or, mash up some beans, a binder and a little something to dry everything, and BAM, you’ve got a veggie burger. (I have a few burger recipes on the blog; do a search.)

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Orange Gogi Berry Better Than Newtons

I’m back with another Low Fat Raw Vegan dessert recipe 🙂

Remember my Better Than Newton cookies from last year? No? Well, check them out; they’re delicious! And, they were so well received, I’ve considered selling them. I just need to do the costing and figure out packaging and labels and talk to some people, and, and, and. Sigh. That’s why I’ve only considered it.

Ok, onto this week’s LFRV recipe.

Orange Goji Berry Better Than Newtons

1 1/2 c chopped dates (pitted)

1 1/2 c chopped figs (stemmed)

1/4 c goji berries

2 – 4 TBSP orange juice, fresh squeezed

Start by juicing half of a medium orange. Juice will be roughly 1/4 c. Either put juice aside or use it to soak goji berries if they’re hard.

Add dates, figs and orange juice to bowl of food processor. (If you’re using the orange juice to soak the goji berries, remove the berries from the juice before adding to dates and figs.) Process until coarsely incorporated. Add goji berries and process until mixture forms a ball.

Use a small ice cream scooper to scoop balls of cookie mixture. Place cookie balls on a teflexx dehydrator sheet and flatten to desired thickness. Place teflexx sheet on mesh dehydrator sheet lined tray and dehydrate at 145F for an hour. Reduce heat to 105-110 and dehydrate three more hours. After three hours, cookies should be firm enough to peel off of teflexx sheet. Flip cookies and place onto mesh dehydrator sheet and dehydrate another 3-4 hours. Cookies should be firm to the touch, like an under-done oven-baked cookie. The outside will not be sticky, but the inside will be warm and gooey.

Store cookies in the refrigerator or freezer. Great cold/frozen or warmed in the dehydrator.

My batch made about 9 cookies at about 150 calories each.

I reluctantly shared one of these cookies with a friend, and the first thing she said was, “Wow! These are better than Newtons!”  I. Know!

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Low Fat Raw Vegan Strawberry Cake

Ok. This isn’t really a cake. But is is low fat. And it is vegan. And it does contain strawberries. Lots of strawberries. Yum!

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Low-Fat Raw Vegan Strawberry Cake

1 c (heaping) dried dates, pitted

1 c (heaping) dried figs, stemmed

1 1/2 quarts (about 3 cups) sliced strawberries

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/4 c coconut/palm sugar (optional)

Prep dates by removing  pits, if needed. Prep figs by removing stems. Roughly chop both and place into a food processor. Add juice of half a lemon. Process until pasty. (Mix may begin to form a ball; that’s ok!) Remove date/fig mix from processor and press into a small cake, brownie or pie pan. (Two mini tart pans would probably work too.)

Prep strawberries by washing and stemming all of them. Slice about half of the strawberries into thin slices and place them in a bowl. Top the sliced berries with coconut sugar (or other sweetener), if using. Set aside and allow to macerate for at least 30 minutes. Place the remaining berries in a food processor and pulse until berries become a chunky paste. 

Place processed berries on top of date/fig mix in pan. Refrigerate while remaining berries are macerating – about 30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and top with sliced berries. Return to refrigerator overnight for a more ‘cake’ like texture.

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Notes:

  • This dessert is surprisingly cake like after it sits overnight in the fridge. If you want to cut and serve as a cake, consider doubling the amount of dates/figs.
  • If adding fat is an option, process some shredded coconut or almonds/almond meal with the dates/figs. This will also make the base layer more cake like, and it will allow for cutting and removal of cake pieces from the pan.
  • For a more gel-like middle layer, add chia seeds to the processed berries.
  • My strawberries were very sour. (Strawberry season hasn’t hit my part of the country yet.) If yours are too, you may want to add sweetener to the processed berries as well. Remember, however, the sugar from the macerated berries on top will soak through to the processed layer as the cake sits.
  • For a sugar free cake, use a non-nutritive sweetener like stevia to macerate the berries.
  • If strawberries aren’t your thing, try a different berry or fruit. Blueberries naturally have an abundance of fruit pectin and will naturally gel on their own after they’re processed. If you make a blueberry cake, expect the middle layer to be much more gel-like than the strawberry cake. (Cherries would also make a delicious cake!)

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I love this recipe because it’s 80-10-10 friendly, and it fit nicely into my month of raw challenge. If you’re interested in incorporating more raw foods into your diet, join us for the Raw Fusion Challenge on Facebook. Everyone is welcome, regardless of your dietary choices, but the focus of the group is high-raw vegan.

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Virtual Vegan Potluck #3

I can’t believe it’s that time again…Virtual Vegan Potluck #3 is here!

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For the past two VVP’s, I’ve made desserts. (Click here and here to review my previous VVP posts.)  Surprised, aren’t you? Ha ha ha.  But, this time around, I’m shaking it up a bit, and I’m sharing a main course dish! Woohoo!

Ok, so here’s the deal. I’ve been eating a high-raw vegan diet off and on since last May. And I love it. It makes me feel my best. My heart doesn’t skip as much. My weight stays pretty stable. My energy levels are higher. I sleep better, and the list goes on. But, there are some popular foods in the raw-vegan circles that I’ve yet to embrace. Raw “noodles” is one of them. But, not one to be easily defeated, I keep trying. And this time, I think I got it! I’ve conquered my dislike of the raw noodle! Yes! Bring on the summer cucumbers and zucchinis!

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I’ve shared a recipe or two in the past that has featured raw zucchini noodles, and I’ve eaten and not disliked them, but I’ve never relished in their flavor. But, during my nightly watching of food related YouTube videos (I ❤ YouTube!), I stumbled upon a suggestion to peel the zucchini before using it. Hum…Why haven’t I tried that?! With this also came the revelation that I find the yellow summer squash milder in flavor than the green zucchini squash. A short trip to the store and a little digging for the spiralizer I bought last summer and promptly put in storage, and by golly, I think I got it!

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At the same time, I went ahead and spiralized a large, peeled cucumber, which I then squeezed in a kitchen towel to remove the excess water from the noodles. Success once again!

Both noodles went in the dehydrator for some warming while I made the sauces to cover each.

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First up, the sauce I used with the cucumbers. Sooooo gooood!

Raw Tomato-fredo Sauce (or Raw Tomato-fredo Hummus/Dip/Soup)

1/2 c cashews, soaked

1/2 c tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes)

2 TBSP sun dried tomato powder (Read below to find out how to make your own!)

1/2 lg red bell pepper, diced

Seasonings: salt, pepper, oregano, granulated garlic, onion powder (all to taste)

First, make your sun dried tomato powder by grinding 1/4-1/2 cup frozen sun dried tomatoes in a small food processor or bullet style blender. After the tomatoes become a fine powder, add cashews, tomatoes, and red pepper to blender/food processor bowel and pulse to combine. Add seasonings and processes mixture until desired consistency is reached. (I left mine on the thick side, and it really stood up to the cucumber noodles.)  You might want to strain the resulting mix through a fine mesh strainer; this will enhance the flavor of your sauce and, of course, make it a little thicker 😉

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I loved this sauce on the cucumber noodles. I’m pretty sure I could spiralize three or four cucumbers and toss them with this sauce and call it a salad. I think some ripe olives and maybe some fresh herbs like parsley or a chiffonade of basil would be awesome adds to a cucumber and tomato-fredo noodle salad. Mmmm…

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I can also see myself using this sauce as a raw hummus type dip with raw veggies, spread on a lettuce leave for a raw sandwich or burrito, eaten with a spoon as a raw soup, and tossed with dehydrator warmed veggies for a primavera type dish.

For the second sauce, all I did was marinate some thinly sliced mushrooms in 2 TBSP of tahini and 1 TBSP of extra virgin olive oil. I stored the mix in a zip top bag so I could squish the mixture around a couple of times a day, making sure each ‘shroom was soaking in marinade. Then, I dumped the mushrooms and their marinate onto a plate and heated them in the dehydrator for a little while. Finally, I added the peeled, yellow summer squash noodles, mixed, and ate!

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As I was eating the mushrooms, I kept thinking how good it would be with a little tofu. So I added some 🙂

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Have you ever tried this tofu? I love it!

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All I did was slice the block into four slabs, then stacked the slabs and sliced them into long strips, then cut across the strips to create little blocks of tofu. I didn’t even have to press it! That’s why I love this stuff so much 🙂

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I gobbled up the rest of the noodles and shrooms after I added the tofu. Triple yum!

Thanks for stopping by!  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the VVP participants. Click here to start from the beginning, or click the photos below to work your way forward and/or backward through the VVP chain.

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Spring into Healthier Eating: Peace Salad Party!

First things first…The winner of the Plant Powered 15 by Dreena Burton is Bex of How to Feed a Vegan. Congratulations, Bex!

Now, onto my  next Spring into Healthier Eating review…Peace Salad. Have you heard of this yet? I hadn’t either until I received an email from my only real-life vegan friend (as opposed to my virtual vegan friends – ha!) asking if I wanted to have a Peace Salad party. Um…sure?

Peace Salad is the newest brainchild of raw-food, vegan blogger, Sandy Henson Corso, the owner of  Peaceful Daily and Sandy’s Salad.

In the book, Sandy lists 100 tips for peace. Practiced together, they’re like a salad 🙂

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To celebrate the book, people are hosting Peace Salad parties all over, so we did, too!

Last Saturday night, we gathered a few friends and enjoyed some lively conversation over an abundance of vegan eats and treats. Ok, there were also some vegetarian cupcake there, but they were from a small business down the street, so at least we were supporting local business 😉

Check out this spread!

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Ellen, the hostess of the party, made some of her favorite party foods, including this macaroni salad (from the Forks Over Knives cookbook (I gave her that book as a Christmas gift ;-))) and those crispy apple muffins in the background (from the Everyday Happy Herbivore cookbook).

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Ellen also made her famous bruchetta (with a pesto recipe from The Kind Diet) and this super delicious cheeze dip (made with Teeze, soy cherizo, and spicy tomatoes). We couldn’t stop eating this stuff!

Someone else brought giant vegan cupcakes from a local restaurant, and someone else brought hummus and tabouli from a local artisan.

There was also lots of wine!

I brought a giant pan of raw vegan brownies, using my Brown Batter Bites recipes, and frosted them with chocolate cashew cream (made by blending cashews, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and a little date soaking water – left over from the date paste I used in the Brownie Batter Bites).

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And a bunch of Gabby’s Pizza Bites.

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The mixture was so massive, I had to bust out the beast – my 13 cup Kitchen Aid food processor.

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And I made this giant bowl of Asian Rice Noodle Salad, which got rave reviews!

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Here’s the recipe!

Asian Noodle Salad

1 pkg rice noodles, cooked according to package directions (I used Brown Rice Noodles)

1 sm pkg shelled edamame (about 1 1/2 cups)

1/2 c shredded carrot

1 small bunch scallions, diced on the diagonal (white and green parts)

2-3 TBSP toasted sesame oil (more or less to taste)

1/4  c tamari (more or less to taste)

Cook noodles according to package directions, and allow to cool. Mix noodles, edamame, carrots, and scallions in a bowl. Add sesame oil and tamari and toss to combine. Add more sesame oil and tamari to taste, or after noodle salad sits for a while. (My suggestion is to make this salad ahead, and let it sit in the refrigerator to allow flavors to meld.)

So easy, and soooo good!

I hope you decide to have a Peace Salad party, too. It’s a great excuse to gather your friends and family and share your ideas on peace and happiness while you enjoy some peaceful, vegan goodies. Enjoy!

 

Raw Carrot Cake Cookies

Happy Easter!

I whipped up these tasty little treats earlier this week, and have been enjoying and sharing them for days.

Staying with my theme of using as much left-over almond milk pulp as possible, the base for these cookies is almond pulp. If you don’t have almond pulp, almond meal/flour should work (your dough may require more liquid), and if you can’t have almonds, any nut/seed meal/pulp should work. I don’t know about grain based flours; they’re much denser, so you may have to play with the liquids a bit if you choose to use a base like that. Enjoy!

Raw Carrot Cake Cookies

1 c wet/fresh almond pulp

1 c dry/dehydrated almond pulp

1 large banana

10 regular sized dates, soaked

1/2 c shredded carrot

1/4 c raisins, soaked

1/4 c goji berries, soaked

1/4 c coconut shreds, unsweetened

1/2 c pecan pieces (or other nut)

2 t vanilla powder (or 1 TBSP vanilla extract)

1 t cinnamon

1/4 – 1/2 c water (use the date soak water for more sweetness)

Add almond pulp, banana, dates, cinnamon, vanilla and 1/4 c water to food processor and pulse until combined. (You don’t want to see pieces of banana or date.) Then, either pulse in remaining chunky ingredients or fold in by hand.  Scoop cookie mix onto mesh dehydrator trays, flatten to form a cookie shape, and dehydrate until dry. NOTE: Do not flatten cookies by pressing into the mesh; the dough will squish through to the other side, and your cookies will be stuck on the tray. Lift each cookie and flatten it in your hands or on a solid service.

Dehydrator times will vary: I start the process at 145F for about an hour, then lower to about 110F. My cookies took 4-6 hours at this temp.

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The cookies become much darker as they dry.

If you want to “cook” these cookies in the oven, I’d suggest a lower temperature for a little bit longer time – perhaps 250-300F for 15-20 minutes. You want them dry to the touch and firm in the middle.

Vanilla Cashew Butter Balls

Thanks to everyone who commented for a chance to win the free download for the Vegan Delish app! The winner was LV, who said…

I’m always on the lookout for inspiration in cooking! Sometimes I’m just not very creative.

Congrats! Be on the lookout for more give-a-ways! (There are at least two book reviews/give-a-ways coming, and maybe more!)

Today, I’m sharing another recipe to help use up the never ending supply of almond pulp you probably have hogging valuable space in your freezer. No? Well, I do! I need to dehydrate some SOOOOO bad! That’s a weekend plan 😉 And, bonus, it uses my favorite nut butter…cashew!

Vanilla Cashew Butter Balls

1/4-1/2 c cashew butter, softened

2 TBSP date paste

1/4 c almond meal/flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

Vanilla powder (optional)

Stevia or other additional sweetener (optional)

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix until combined. Scoop into balls and sprinkle with vanilla powder. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Notes:

Cashew Butter: If you’re cashew butter is stiff and/or dry, heat it up. It heats up beautifully and will be nice and creamy again in no time. [Of course, if you can’t eat cashews, don’t have/like cashew butter, use something else :-)]

Vanilla powder: What’s vanilla powder? It’s just just ground vanilla bean and/or pod. It’s a lot stronger than extract, so be cautious before you dump it into something if you’re new to the product.

Optional Sweetener: I gave my mix a little squirt of liquid stevia, but it didn’t make much difference in the sweetness. You might want to try some maple syrup (You may need to increase you almond meal due to the extra liquid.) or some coconut sugar (You might have to loosen the mixture with a tiny splash of non-dairy milk or water to counteract the extra dry ingredient.) I can see these rolled in sugar, too. Yum!

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