Caramel Crunch Bars

photo 1

I love my homemade caramel sauce and I am always trying to come up with new recipes in which to incorporate it. I remember seeing Kelsey Nixon make some kind of caramel bar and did some googling around. This is a vegan take on her Caramelitas. Vegan perfection, attested to by the non-vegans who couldn’t get enough of these bars!

1 cup spelt flour
1 cup oats
3/4 cup vegan sugar (I used Mascobado sugar)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini vegan chocolate chips
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup oil (I used melted coconut oil)
1/2 cup caramel sauce

Preheat the oven to 350. Get a piece of parchment paper ready.

Combine the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Mix with a fork.

Chop the pecans and add to the mix. Add the chips too.

Add the oil and caramel sauce and mix well. It will appear to be crumbly sort of but it will come together when you press it down into the baking dish.

Use a square baking dish (I used my 9×9 brownie pan). Line it with parchment paper and then dump the mixture into the pan. Press it down so it is evenly spread out.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let cool and then cut into bars/squares. Depending on you cut them you will get 16 to 25. Enjoy!

Maple Coconut Cashew Pudding Parfait with Bananas & Homemade Granola


My son is obsessed with fresh coconuts. I am not. I do not own a machete and I am not into hacking one open. But we found one yesterday that had its top cut but it was wrapped up so we could enjoy the water inside the shell without the work! Brilliant.

Anyway, my son left about 1/4 cup of the water and all of the fresh meat. I admittedly have never worked with coconut meat so I had to ask a friend for some suggestions. Coconut milk was number one but I didn’t have enough water to make milk so I decided on pudding which is one of my all time favorite categories of food in and of itself! Then I remembered a little dessert I once had at Le Pain Quotidien and was inspired to make some granola and create this parfait. It is fantastic and will definitely be on the menu next time guests come over. It is sure to impress!

Maple Coconut Cashew Pudding  (makes about 2 cups)
1 cup fresh coconut meat (about 1 coconut)
1/4 cup fresh coconut water
1/4 cup raw cashews
1/2 banana (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder *
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon maple sugar
Pinch fine sea salt

* I use raw vanilla powder from Sunfood. It is one of my most favorite ingredients EVER. It is pure vanilla – no alcohol, no fillers, no preservatives.

Place all ingredients into the Vitamix or blender and let it rip until perfectly smooth. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

Homemade Granola **
1 1/2 cups oats
2 tablespoons flour ^
1/2 cup mixed nuts and seeds (I used walnuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds for this batch)
2 tablespoons raisins
1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil ^^
Pinch of fine sea salt

** This makes more granola than you will need for the parfaits. Store it in an airtight container and enjoy with fresh homemade vegan milk for breakfast or a snack!

^ Use whatever flour you prefer, the idea being that it will help bind the oats together. If you don’t have flour in the house, grind up almonds or oats in the food processor.

^^ To make this oil free, omit the oil and add 2 tablespoons more of maple syrup or other liquid sweetener like coconut palm nectar.

Toss all ingredients together and turn out onto a baking sheet. Bake in a 350 oven for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.

To make the parfaits, place pudding on the bottom of a parfait cup. Add a layer of fresh sliced bananas and granola. Top with another layer of pudding and more bananas and granola. Then top with pudding another kind of fresh fruit like blueberries or strawberries. Enjoy!


Chocolate Chip Brownies (Secret Ingredient: Butternut Squash)


I have been working on a new article for Chickpea Magazine featuring butternut squash as the main ingredient. I have been cooking up a storm creating squash recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert!

Here is one that didn’t make it into the article but is a great way to use butternut squash as a healthy alternative to oil.  And I am using  turbinado (raw) sugar in an effort to use the least processed ingredients in my cooking.

These brownies are rich, fudge-y and perfectly delicious. No one would know there was squash inside!

1 scant cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup vegan sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 flax egg (1 flax egg = 1 tablespoon ground flax + 3 tablespoons water)
1 cup plant milk
1/2 cup butternut squash puree *
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup vegan chocolate chips

* Peel, deseed and cube a butternut squash. Place in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes until easily pierced with a fork. A butternut squash will yield 3 to 4 cups of puree so save the rest for other recipes.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Make the flax egg and set aside.

Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a big bowl. Add the flax egg, vegan milk, squash, vanilla extract and mix well. Add the chips and mix to combine.

Pour into a brownie pan and cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cut into squares. Enjoy!

July 4th Dessert: Red, White & Blue Parfaits


We served our fruit on a platter after our July 4th dinner. Some of us made fruit cones, some dipped the fruit right into the cream and some of us made our own red, white and blue parfaits. You can’t see it but there are strawberries and bananas in there too! A delicious combination.

This is not an exact recipe. Use as much fruit as you need for the amount of people you are serving. The recipe for the cashew cream makes 2 cups and that goes a long way.

RED: Strawberries and Raspberries

WHITE: Bananas and Vanilla Cashew Cream

BLUE: Blueberries

Vanilla Cashew Cream
2 cups cashew (soaked overnight)
1 12/ cups water
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 tablespoon vegan cane sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
The zest of 1 lemon
Pinch salt, to taste

Drain the cashews and then add them, plus the new water, and the rest of the ingredients into the blender or Vitamix and whip until creamy and smooth. Taste and adjust.

Hull the strawberries and cut in half.

* Slice the bananas and sprinkle with a touch of freshly squeezed lemon juice. This will prevent the bananas from browning.

To make parfaits, layer the strawberries and rasberries on the bottom of a parfait dish or wine glass. Next, layer the bananas. Using a ladle, pour the cashew cream over the bananas. Top with blueberries. Enjoy!

Colleen’s Banana Coffee Cake with Chocolate Chip Streusel

Guest post!

My friend Colleen is working really hard to veganize lots of recipes. It is so much fun to go back and forth with her, tweak old recipes and create new ones. When I saw her at pick up today (our children are in the same class), I handed her a big slice of the Chocolate Yogurt Bundt Cake. She handed me this. It is amazing!

1 1/4 cups vegan semisweet chocolate chips (about 8 ounces)
2/3 cup packed vegan golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup vegan sugar
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1 flax egg (1 flax egg = 1 tablespoon ground flax + 3 tablespoons water)
1 1/3 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 3 large)
3 tablespoons oat milk
1/4 cup slivered almonds
Vegan powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 8x8x2 baking pan. (I will use my 9×9 brownie pan when I make these.) Make the flax egg. Mash the bananas

To make the streusel, stir the chocolate chips, brown sugar, and cinnamon in small bowl until well blended. Set aside.

Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar, grapeseed oil, and flax egg in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in mashed bananas and oat milk. Add dry ingredients and blend well.

Spread half of batter (about 2 cups) in prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with half of streusel. Add almonds to remaining streusel. Repeat with remaining batter and streusel.

Bake coffee cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Cool. Sprinkle powder sugar over top of coffee cake. Enjoy!