Pumpkin Pie Squares

Here’s another take on those Sweet Potato pie squares I blogged a couple years ago. This one is lower in sugar and is fat-free as well. But, just as tasty! Makes 9 servings and will keep in the frig for about 5 days (if it lasts that long!).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×9″ square baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside. In a small bowl combine:

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

5 tablespoons warm water

Set aside for a few minutes to form a flax gel. In a food processor bowl, combine:

1 cup pumpkin seeds (or any seed your family likes, even walnuts or pecans if you can have them)

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, etc., whichever you prefer

1 teaspoon date sugar

Process until the mixture forms a fine crumb. Add the flax gel and blend until the mixture forms a dough, about 30 seconds. Pour into the prepared baking dish and using your fingers, a spatula, or the bottom of a measuring cup, press firmly into the pan and up the sides. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together:

4 cups pureed pumpkin (2 15-ounce cans of pumpkin puree)

1/3 cup date sugar (or maple syrup, honey or agave)

3 tablespoons arrowroot

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

dash of salt

Whisk until combined. Pour into the prepared dish and bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool in pan for at least one hour before cutting. I like mine really cold so I cool on the counter for an hour and then in the refrigerator for several hours before I cut into squares. But as you see in the photo, I couldn’t wait that long this time and cut it before it was fully cooled. Once cooled it does stand up like it should! Can be topped with any non-dairy topping or frozen “nice” cream.

Easy No Bake Tiramisu Cookies

I remember as a child my mother would give us mocha in place of cocoa or coffee. Of course, back then, decaffeinated coffee didn’t exist and parents were told caffeine was bad for growing children. Thankfully, it didn’t occur to her that chocolate has as much caffeine as coffee! So she would put a little instant coffee into our cocoa. I must admit to this day, I much prefer mocha to plain cocoa. Now that chocolate is no longer on my menu, I’ve substituted carob in it’s place and I think it works just fine. These are more like a flat fudgy truffle than a cookie. Very quick and easy to make using a food processor. These are the perfect “cookies” to make during the summer when no one wants to turn on their oven.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine:

1 generous cup gluten-free rolled oats

1 tablespoon carob powder (of course you could also use cocoa powder)

1 tablespoon instant coffee or expresso

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup protein powder

2 tablespoons date sugar

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds*

1/4 cup seed or nut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla powder

Blend until the mixture is slightly crumbly and most of the oats are ground along with the whole pumpkin seeds. Slowly pour in the non-dairy milk, about 1-2 tablespoons at a time, until the mixture forms a dough. It should be a little sticky but mostly dry. Scoop out about 1 to 2 tablespoons, depending on how large you’d like the “cookies”, roll into a ball and then flatten in your palm. Place on a sheet of waxed or parchment paper after coating each cookie with a mixture of:

1 tablespoon carob powder

1 tablespoon crushed instant coffee or expresso powder

1 tablespoon date sugar

I mixed the above in a small bowl and then coated each side with the carob mixture by putting the cookie flat into the bowl and then turning it over. The mixture stuck just fine without any pressure. Makes 10-12 depending on size. Remove to a large plate or small baking dish and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. Store in zip-lock bags in the refrigerator.

*I used pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed butter but any type of seed or nut will work – sunflower seed butter and sunflower seeds would be just as good.

Cucumber Boats

It’s getting very hot here in Minnesota, will hit the mid-90s this coming week. I wanted an easy, lighter meal and had seen cucumber boats on-line stuffed with tuna salad. These work best with regular cucumbers but I generally buy either the English or the mini cukes so that’s what I used. If you also use the mini cucumbers, pulse the salad in the food processor for a few seconds to grind it up. It fits in the smaller boats much better that way. Any kind of salad will do – I made some curried chicken salad but tuna would also work.

First thing, prepare the salad:

1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed from the bones and pulsed in the food processor for a few seconds

4 stalks celery, chopped

1/4 to 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (or walnuts if not allergic)

Mix the dressing in a separate bowl:

1 to 2 tablespoons green curry paste

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup vegan mayonnaise (if not allergic to eggs, feel free to use any mayonnaise)

2 teaspoons mustard

1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon sriracha (optional)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon garlic granules

1/4 cup dill pickle relish (optional)

Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture and stir to incorporate. Salad is ready. Next, peel and cut lengthwise:

12 mini cucumbers (probably 2 regular sized cucumbers)

Using a small spoon, remove the seeds to create the “boats”. Fill with the salad and serve. May be garnished with sliced scallions, chopped chives or chopped parsley.

Pumpkin Seed Butter

Lots of us are allergic to nuts so use butters made from seeds instead. I know sunflower butter is very popular along with tahini but I prefer pumpkin seed butter. I find, however, the cost to be almost prohibitive – over $20 for 8 ounces or less. Ridiculous price to pay. So I purchased two pounds of raw pepitas at the store, brought them home and roasted them (place on a large cookie sheet and stick in the oven, set it to 425 degrees and when it comes to temperature, turn off the oven and let the seeds sit in there for about 10 minutes) and then proceeded to make my own pumpkin seed butter which came out quite delicious and creamy, with a little bit of crunch. It’s very simple but it does take awhile because the food processor gets too hot so one has to wait about 10 minutes for it to cool down between each 3-5 minute of processing.

Place in a food processor bowl:

3 cups roasted (or raw if you prefer) pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

Feel free to add a little sea salt if preferred. Process seeds for about 3-5 minutes or until food processor gets hot. Stop and repeat until nuts are creamy, about 6-7 times, scrapping down the sides of the food processor during every rest period. Place in sealed jars and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

FYI, the seeds will start off quite grainy, then become crumbly and clump up in one spot before they get creamy. The longer they’re processed, the creamer and smoother the butter becomes.

Sweet Potato Pie Squares

I ate only one little slice of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving and its one of my favorites so I thought about the pie squares that were so popular in the 70s and 80s, especially those lemon and pumpkin ones and decided to see if I could make an allergy free alternative. Low and behold, no pumpkin in the cupboard but sweet potato puree in excess. And they turned out sooooooo good! Creamy and delicious. I topped the pan with roasted pumpkin seeds which added a nice contrast of textures to the dessert. If desired, of course, pumpkin could be substituted but probably you’d want to add more sweetener and I’d recommend using coconut or date sugar rather than additional liquid.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse until combined into a crumbly texture:

1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour

1/2 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 cup date sugar

1/2 cup vegan margarine or cold olive or avocado oil (it will get thick and turn white when frozen or chilled for a day or two)

When crumbly, press into the bottom of a 9×13″ baking pan. Mix in a medium bowl:

1 can sweet potato puree or 2 cups of mashed sweet potatoes

1/4 cup maple syrup

3/4 cup non-dairy milk (any except soy)

1 tablespoon avocado oil

2 tablespoons corn starch or arrowroot

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/3 cup pumpkin seed protein or any protein powder you have on hand

1/4 to 1/3 cup roasted pumpkin seeds (optional)

Whisk together until combined and smooth. Pour into the prepared pan, sprinkle with the seeds if desired, and bake for 25-30 minutes until set. Chill thoroughly before cutting. Top with a non-dairy whip if desired.

Baked Oats and Pumpkin Puddings

I’ve been looking at all kinds of recipes for baked “oats”. But none of them have actual oatmeal in them, they all use oat flour. So here’s my alternative. I’ve added some quinoa flour and oat protein powder to the mix to increase the protein content of the pudding as well as increasing the sweetener a little because the flour, at least in my opinion, overrides the taste of the pumpkin and spices. I didn’t think of it until after they were in the oven but adding some roasted pepitas would some crunch.

As a reminder for those of you new to my blog, there are a number of allergen-free recipes here to make your Thanksgiving dinner allergen free such as gluten-free gravy (and fat free), string-bean casserole, vegan pumpkin pie, and a delicious mushroom and Italian sausage stuffing (which I made this year with a loaf of that quick and easy oat bread on the blog).

Lightly grease 6, 6-ounce ramekins and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl whisk together:

1 can pumpkin puree

1 cup quinoa flour

3/4 cup oat flour

1/4 cup pumpkin protein powder (or any protein powder you use, vanilla or even chocolate would work)

1/3 to 1/2 cup maple syrup (or honey, coconut nectar, date syrup, etc.)

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup dairy-free milk (any will do but I would advise against using soy)

1/4 cup roasted pepita seeds

1/4 teaspoon of salt

Whisk until smooth then scoop into the ramekins to about 1/2″ from the top. Dust top with more pumpkin pie spice. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15-17 minutes or until set.

Thai “Peanut” Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

My obsession with eggplant has been demolished and replaced with spaghetti squash. Such a versatile vegetable, low in carbs, and good either as a “spaghetti” type vegetable or as a mashed squash. In this instance, it’s used as a spaghetti. And of course, I’ve left out the peanuts and substituted tahini but really any seed or nut butter will work in this recipe. And feel free to adjust the last four ingredients in the sauce to meet your family’s tastes. I used a lot more of the red curry paste because I just didn’t taste it at the prescribed amount.

First, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut in half:

1 small to medium spaghetti squash (size depending on how many you want to feed)

Sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper and place face down on a baking tray. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes or until a knife can be easily inserted into the skin side of the squash. Baking time will depend on the size of the squash. When tender, set aside to cool while you make the sauce.

In a medium size saucepan, combine:

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (if you can have coconut milk, it would work well here)

2/3 cup tahini, sunflower, pepita, or other seed or nut butter

1/4 cup date sugar

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons fish sauce (or soy substitute for vegans)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons red curry paste (I used about 2 tablespoons)

Whisk to combine thoroughly although some heat may be needed to break down the seed or nut butter. Cook over medium high heat until it reaches a boil and then reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a 12″ skillet, heat over medium heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Add:

1/2 cup peas

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Cover and cook until the carrots and peas are tender, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Using a fork, scrap the flesh from the inside of the spaghetti squash from end to end. Add to the skillet with the other vegetables along with 1/2 to 1 cup of the sauce. At this point, add:

1/4 cup chopped parsley (OPTIONAL)

Toss and cook for 2-3 minutes until squash is heated through. Serve with chopped nuts or seeds (I used roasted pumpkin seeds, delicious!). With a small squash as a side dish, serves 4.

This recipe makes about 3 times as much sauce as is needed for the dish. I spooned the remainder into 1 cup canning jars and put them in the freezer.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites

This is a very simple recipe although it’s not quick because of the need to chill the dough before forming the balls. I can’t tell you how delicious these are since I couldn’t eat them – all the non-dairy cream cheeses on the market contain either soy, coconut or are made from a nut milk, none of which I can eat. However, my daughter-in-law tells me they are scrumptious.

In the bowl of a food processor:

22-24 gluten-free pseudo graham crackers (see recipe under Appetizers and Snacks)

Pulse until the crackers are nothing but crumbs. Remove and measure them. The crumbs should measure about 2 cups. Add to the food processor:

8 ounces non-dairy cream cheese (I used the Kite brand and it’s quite soft so I needed to add the full 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs)

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/3 cup fine date sugar

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger)

1 1/2-2 cups pseudo graham cracker crumbs (depending on the softness of the non-dairy cream cheese you use)

Pulse until well blended. The mixture should come together into a cookie dough like consistency. It may be slightly sticky. If so, add a little more cracker crumbs. Remove from the food processor into a medium bowl, cover and chill in the refrigerator for several hours. Line a medium baking tray with parchment or waxed paper and drop dough by tablespoons onto the paper. If the dough is firm enough, just chill again until set. If the dough is still very soft, freeze for 1/2 to 1 hour. At this point, these can be just rolled in ground nuts or seeds or covered with carob or chocolate.

In a double boiler, over not in hot water, melt 16 ounces carob chips (or if chocolate is possible, use whatever brand of chocolate chips you like). I know that many people now use the microwave to melt chocolate but I find it makes it grainy so I don’t recommend it. When the balls are firm and the chips melted, spoon the melted carob over each ball to cover and then sprinkle with ground nuts or seeds (pumpkin seeds would work very well here). Chill again until the carob sets. Place in an airtight tin and keep in the refrigerator (it is after all cheesecake!). Makes 30-36 balls.

FYI: Since my daughter-in-law loves milk chocolate, I used milk chocolate chips when I made these for her. I also tried dipping the balls into the chocolate but found that they began melting into the hot chocolate so I suggested pouring the carob or chocolate over the balls instead of dipping them.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Salad

I often buy a rotisserie chicken, it’s a quick and easy meal. I’m careful of course, all rotisserie chickens are not equal. I read the ingredients until I found one that had no soy, canola, or corn oil. But since I live alone, this chicken always has lots of meat left over. I do so love chicken salad but even that can get boring when always made the same. I’ve added curry powder and made curried chicken salad which is delicious but I recently tried using a sweet and sour dressing, much like one used for coleslaw. Delicious, very easy and tasty at the end of summer when we’re getting tired of the same old salads.

I like to pulse my cooked chicken in my food processor to produce a slightly chunky chicken. Don’t take it to the extent of puree, just a fairly rough chop, almost like cooked ground chicken meat. For 4 servings, dice or pulse:

2 cooked chicken breasts, of medium size

Remove from food processor or cutting board into a bowl. Dice or pulse:

4-5 stalks celery, cleaned and quartered

4-5 scallions, cleaned and quartered

1/2 cup shredded carrots (or diced carrots)

Add to the chicken meat. I also add:

1/2 cup cooked baby peas

Mix these ingredients together. In a separate smaller bowl make the dressing using:

1 cup vegan mayonnaise

1 good dash hot sauce (optional)

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons honey, agave nectar or date syrup

2 tablespoons dill pickle relish (or minced dill pickle)

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the dressing to combine and then add to the meat mixture. Mix well, chill and serve over a bed of mixed greens. Tomatoes and avocado on the side are a nice addition to this meal. I’ll often also garnish my chicken salad with pumpkin seeds or mix into the salad sesame or poppy seeds.

Rice Crispy Bars

This is a rice bar that is carob rather than marshmallow based so it’s much simpler to make. Quick and easy it makes a tasty treat. I cut them, put several into a baggie and put them in the freezer so I can take one out when I really need something sweet.

Prepare an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish by lining it with parchment paper. Into a medium size bowl place:

1/3 cup avocado oil

2/3 cup tahini (thicker rather than thinner tahini) or pumpkin butter (or any seed or nut butter you like)

1/4 cup agave or coconut nectar, date or maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1/4 teaspoon mint extract if a minty flavor is desired)

Whisk together until smooth. Add:

1/2 cup carob powder (or cocoa if you can have it)

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or any other seed or nut chopped that your family enjoys)

1 1/4 cup puffed rice cereal (or any puffed cereal your family likes)*

Stir to combine. (*More or less cereal may be needed depending on the consistency of the butter added.) Spread in the prepared dish and put in the freezer for 1 hour or until it is solid when you lift the parchment paper out of the dish. Slice and enjoy!