Apple Bars

Apple Bars

I have been on a dessert rewind re-vamp kick lately – i.e. remembering delicious desserts I enjoyed in my younger years and overhauling them to be healthier! This has proven to be challenging, but very fun and rewarding when I get the recipe right. Let me introduce you to this beloved apple dessert that I hold dear to my heart. I have such fond memories of my Mom making apple bars and perfectly placing the apples on the crust in rows before baking. I remember the heavenly aroma that came from the oven as these beauties baked – the scent of sweet, buttery crust and cinnamon-laden apples danced through the air. (I’m actually drooling recalling this memory…) Those apple bars were delicious, BUT they could have caused a coronary with the amount of butter they contained! This version of apple bars contain much less fat and sugar AND they are allergy-free. The crust is made from whole-grains and along with the apples, these bars contain plenty of fiber! How do they taste? Like an open-faced apple pie! Incredibly DELICIOUS! The whole pan was gone in a few hours…no tummy ache and no guilt here! YUM!

Apple Bars 2

Apple Bars 4

1/2 cup applesauce + 1/4 cup coconut oil (keep the coconut oil at room temperature or cooler)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 flax egg
2 1/4 cups gluten-free flour blend (or flour of choice)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cups apple slices (I like to use a very tart apple such as Granny Smith)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup gluten-free flour blend (or flour of choice)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup organic powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon plant-based milk of choice

Cream applesauce, coconut oil, and coconut sugar together then add flax egg and mix well. Add flour, baking powder, and salt and mix all together. Remove approximately 1/3 of the dough and put aside. Press remaining 2/3 of dough in a parchment-lined or greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake crust at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Meanwhile, combine coconut sugar, flour and cinnamon, then add sliced apples. Coat apples thoroughly. Arrange apples on cooked crust. Crumble remaining 1/3 of dough over apples. Bake another 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. When cooled, mix powdered sugar and vanilla with milk to dribbling consistency. Drizzle icing over bars. Cut and serve.

Banana Coconut Pancakes

Banana Coconut Pancakes 2

Happy Shrove Tuesday! British Pancake Day is in full swing! If any of you need an excuse to eat pancakes, today is your lucky day! I decided to make a bit of a tropical pancake today…probably because I wish I were in a tropical place about now – looking forward to Spring! I decided to use coconut in these pancakes 3 ways – coconut flour, coconut milk, and toasted coconut chips. I added the banana to eliminate the need for eggs, to add in some sweetness, and to give a bit more tropical flavor. If you have ever baked with coconut flour, you know it can be tricky. The key is not to use too much in your recipe and to add in enough liquid so that the final product is not dense. These pancakes turned out perfect! The coconut flavor comes through beautifully balanced with the banana. They have just the right amount of sweetness with a nice, soft texture. I LOVE pancake day! I might need to have my own pancake day every week now! Enjoy!

Banana Coconut Pancakes 3

Banana Coconut Pancakes

1 3/4 cup gluten-free flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon guar gum or xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups coconut milk
2 tablespoons organic agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted (optional)
1 medium banana, mashed

toppings: pure maple syrup mixed with coconut milk, toasted coconut chips

Preheat a griddle to medium/medium-high heat. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, coconut flour, guar gum, baking powder, and salt). In another bowl, mix wet ingredients together (coconut milk, agave nectar, vanilla extract, and banana). *Note: I like to add the coconut oil to the dry ingredients first and mix it in before adding in the rest of the wet ingredients. It incorporates into the batter better. If you don’t want to use oil, you can leave it out. I added it to give an extra bit of coconut flavor! Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until the ingredients are incorporated, but don’t over mix the batter – you don’t want your pancakes too dense! Place 1/4 cup of batter on pre-heated griddle for each pancake. Cook until bubbles form on the top of the pancakes and begin to burst then flip and continue to cook until done on the other side (about 2 minutes on each side). Mix together 1/4 cup pure maple syrup with 2 tablespoons coconut milk and drizzle over the pancakes. Sprinkle some toasted coconut chips on top. Devour these beauties!

Quinoa Fudge Nut Bars

Quinoa Fudge Nut Bars 2

After I made these delicious Date Carmelitas, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself. I am allergic to oats, so of course I didn’t get to try any of the carmelitas for myself – I simply observed my family and friends devour them. I knew they were delicious. So, this got me thinking…what could I use to replace the oats? Ah! Of course! Quinoa flakes to the rescue! I got right to work and started modifying my own recipe to make it allergy-friendly for yours truly! The result? WOW! Incredibly flaky crust with a perfectly fudgy middle and nice textural crunch on top from the pecans. The flavors were spot on. My husband tried one of these and said they were better than my original carmelita recipe that he had swooned over the day before – well, I would say that is a successful recipe modification!

Quinoa Fudge Nut Bars

Growing up, my Mom always made some oatmeal fudge nut bars for special occasions. Oh how I loved these bars! Of course they included tons of butter, sugar, eggs, sweetened condensed milk, etc. – which will add to a host of health problems, but they sure tasted divine! Guess what? These bars rival my Mom’s bars now! YAY! I can now enjoy the flavors with healthier ingredients. My kids will have fond memories of this healthy dessert AND I will feel good about not giving them diabetes, a heart attack, or stroke! Add this dessert to your Valentine’s repertoire – it is true love!

Quinoa Fudge Nut Bars 3


Quinoa Fudge Nut Bars 4

1 cup date caramel

1/2 cup applesauce

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted*

1/4 cup date sugar

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup gluten-free flour

1 cup quinoa flakes

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life brand)*

1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional

*For a no-fat version: use 1/4 cup applesauce instead of coconut oil and mix in 1/2 cup cocoa powder with the date caramel instead of using chocolate chips.

Line a 9×9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine applesauce and coconut oil. Mix well. Add in the sugars and vanilla and mix well. Add in the flour, quinoa flakes, baking soda, and salt. Mix until well combined. Pat 2/3 of quinoa mixture into bottom of pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Pour date caramel over chocolate chips and smooth out with a spatula. The chocolate chips and date caramel will melt together like a “fudge”. Crumble the remaining quinoa mixture over the chocolate chip/caramel layer. Return to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan before placing the pan in the refrigerator to get it nice and cold (about 1 hour). Remove the bars from the pan by lifting out the parchment and cutting into squares. Enjoy!

Banana Nut Donuts with Salted Caramel Glaze

Banana Nut Donuts 2

Banana Nut Donuts 3

I have found myself obsessing over the lovely date caramel that I made last week – eating it on pancakes, waffles, and cereal. So, I decided to make a glaze out of it for another donut recipe! It’s time for another donut! I mean really, when is it NOT time for a donut?!! The month of February is a fun month of desserts and treats, so I want to give you plenty of healthy options that you can make for your family and friends. You will LOVE these donuts! They are perfectly moist and sweet with just the right amount of crunch. I have to admit that I ate four of these right in a row because they are that good! No guilt here. I just wish I had another one of these to nibble on right now! Stay tuned for more healthy, yummy treats coming your way!

Banana Nut Donuts

Banana Nut Donuts 4

1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend of choice
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ceylon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal mixed with 3 tablespoons boiling water (let sit and “gel” for 5 minutes)
1 cup almond milk or other dairy free milk
2 small bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans

*I use a non-stick donut pan, which doesn’t require any greasing. There are several brands on the market.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. In a seperate bowl, mix the flaxseed “egg” mixture, almond milk, mashed bananas, and vanilla. Slowly stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Fold in the chopped pecans. Place about 1/4 cup batter in each donut spot in donut baking pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Cool donuts in pan for 5-10 minutes and remove. Glaze donuts by placing a dollop of caramel glaze on each donut and swirl around making sure to get plenty of glaze on each one!

Salted Caramel Glaze
1 cup date caramel
good dash of sea salt and ceylon cinnamon
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
2 – 4 tablespoons almond or other dairy free milk
Place date caramel in a small saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the rest of the ingredients. Heat through.

Farmhouse Bread

Farmhouse Bread 3

I am always on the lookout for great gluten-free bread recipes. I cannot even begin to tell you how many recipes I have tried and tweaked and fumbled with over the years. I also cannot begin to tell you how many loaves of gluten-free bread I have made and dumped right in the trash! Lots of learning experiences have been had in my kitchen! Gluten-free baking is a science to be sure. I think I have grasped a few bread making techniques that have worked – thank goodness! This bread recipe is one that I have modified a bit through the years and I really like it. One of the reasons I like making this bread is that I get to knead it! Gluten-free bread that you can knead is SO COOL! The chia and psyllium are kind of magic and give just the right textural element. This bread reminds me of a hearty wheat artisan loaf, but without the wheat – obviously. The texture is slightly moist and chewy on the inside with a nice crust on the outside. I love to eat this bread with a hearty soup, or piled high with hummus and veggies, or spread with avocado and sea salt, or toasted with some nut butter and jam…so many possibilities! YUM!

Farmhouse Bread 2

Wet Ingredients:
2 ½ cups warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons grape seed oil or applesauce
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/3 cup chia seed meal
1/3 cup psyllium husk powder

Dry Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend of choice
½ cup millet grits
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt

Place the warm water in a 4-cup glass measuring bowl. (I like to heat my water over the stove in my kettle). Add the yeast and teaspoon of honey, whisk together. Let rest for 10 minutes to activate the yeast. The yeast mixture should get foamy and bubbly. If it doesn’t activate, you need to start over with this step. While the yeast is activating, mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. After the yeast is activated whisk in the grape seed oil or applesauce, maple syrup, chia seed meal, and psyllium husk powder into the water-yeast mixture. Let stand for about 3 minutes to let the chia and psyllium release their gelatinous “magic”. Whisk again and pour the wet ingredients (it really looks like a giant blob of gelatinous substance rather than liquid) into the dry and mix together with a spoon until nice and thick. Knead the dough with your hands in the bowl for a few minutes. Then pour the dough out onto a floured surface to knead. Add in some more flour (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup) until the dough holds together and isn’t super sticky. You do want the dough slightly sticky though!
Form the dough into a ball, place into a large clean bowl, and cover with a damp towel. Place in a warm spot to rise (I like to put the bowl over a pot of warm water and let it rise – see picture below) Let the dough rise for an hour or until doubled in size. Rising time will depend on the temperature around the dough.

Farmhouse Bread Rise
After the dough has risen, place a pizza stone in your oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven, below the pizza stone. (I usually use a 9 x 13-inch pan filled 1/2 of the way full with water).
Punch down the dough and pour onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for about a minute. Then form into a round ball. Place on a square of parchment paper and use a sharp knife to cut a shallow “tic-tac-toe” pattern on the top. Drizzle with a little grape seed oil and sprinkle with poppy seeds, chia seeds, and sesame seeds. Let rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place while the oven and stone are preheating.

Farmhouse Bread
Using a large wooden board or metal spatula, carefully lift the parchment paper with the risen loaf and place it onto the stone in the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 60 minutes before cutting into it. This is very important! The bread is VERY gummy hot out of the oven. Believe me – don’t make the mistake I have made several times wanting a hot piece of bread, only to have a gummy mess on my hands! Once the bread has fully cooled, it is perfect!

(Inspired by: The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen)

Red Lentil Soup

Red Lentil Soup

We are in the throes of winter and I need warmth! I have been running our fireplace and turning up the heat a bit to stay warm. I love to make soups this time of year to warm me from the inside-out. There is something so comforting about a nice bowl of hot soup. Mmmmmm – I love it. This lentil soup is absolutely delicious and fits the ‘comfort’ bill for sure! I love all lentils, but I particularly like red lentils because of their lovely texture – they literally begin to melt into the soup and give a creaminess that is so satisfying. The flavors in this soup are warm, but not too spicy. I recommend making this soup a day ahead of serving it and let the flavors meld together – it is really delicious the next day after making it. Of course this soup is full of fiber and nutrients that keep your body clean, healthy, strong, and WARM! Enjoy!

Red Lentil Soup 3

Red Lentil Soup 4

1 small leek, chopped and cleaned well

1/2 cup diced carrot

1 celery stalk, diced

1 large garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup dried lentils

4 cups vegetable broth

3 large kale leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

In a medium pot over medium heat, add leeks, carrot, celery, garlic, curry powder, sea salt, thyme, rosemary, and black pepper and stir to combine. Add in some vegetable broth to prevent vegetables from sticking to the pan. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Rinse the lentils. Add the lentils, kale, and vegetable broth and stir to combine. Increase heat to bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until lentils are completely softened. Stir in lemon juice. Serve.

(Adapted from Recipe Source: Plant Powered Families)