Vanilla Sauce for desserts

Here’s a very easy, quick recipe to use instead of whipped toppings.

In a small saucepan combine:

1 cup non-dairy milk

1 tablespoon arrowroot (tapioca or corn starch also work)

1 tablespoon date sugar (agave or coconut nectar, honey, or 1/8 teaspoon monk fruit powder)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla powder)

Whisk over medium high heat for about 2 minutes until mixture thickens. Serve warm or hot. Mixture will thicken as it cools. Store leftover sauce in the refrigerator and reheat before serving.

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.

Black Sesame Seed Cake

My mother used to make a sesame seed cake recipe that she found in the NEW YORK TIMES. She frosted it with chocolate ganache and it was so delicious it never lasted more than one meal in our household. I’ve been searching for years trying to find that original recipe without any success. However, recently I’ve found several gluten-free sesame seed cake recipes, one of which I’ve adapted here. Of course, if you can have eggs, go ahead and substitute back the one egg for the flax gel. This makes one 8×8″ square or round cake so for a two layer cake, double the recipe or make it twice.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8×8″ baking pan. In a medium size mixing bowl combine:

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

3 tablespoons warm water

Whisk together and let sit for approximately 5 minutes until it forms a gel. To it add:

1/2 cup date sugar

1/3 cup Spectrum shortening (or vegan butter or margarine at room temperature)

1/4 cup black sesame seeds (or toasted regular ones if you prefer the taste)

I just used a spoon to mix this cake together but feel free to use a hand mixer. Combine the above until smooth and the shortening is incorporated. Add:

3/4 cup non-dairy milk (minus 1 tablespoon)

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir in the liquid ingredients before adding:

2 cups oat flour (make sure it’s gluten-free)

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (or guar gum)

2 teaspoons baking powder

Stir until all ingredients are combined. Spoon into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Frost with chocolate or carob ganache if desired (see recipe under Sauces, Condiments and Dressings).

Vegan Carrot Spice Cake

I’m updating this recipe. Just spoke with my son and daughter-in-law who said it was good but it wasn’t sweet enough! I admit, I don’t like my desserts as sweet as most people so I’ll adjust the recipe so that those of you who want a sweeter cake can still use this recipe.

I love carrot cake but I love my carrot cake to be more like a spice cake with some carrots in it. So unlike most carrot cakes, I add more spices. If you don’t, feel free to stop with the cinnamon. I was easily able to divide this cake into two bowls and mix some ground walnuts into one bowl (for my son and his family) and some chopped dates and pumpkin seeds into the other for me. This cake only takes one bowl and is fairly easy to mix even for me with 2 rotator cuff tears.

First, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2, 8″ baking pans (I used one square and one round so that I knew which was which!). In a medium-large bowl, combine:

3 tablespoons ground flax

7 tablespoons warm water (1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon)

Whisk to combine and then let sit for 5 minutes or so to form flax gel. When ready add to it:

1/3 cup avocado oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

Whisk or stir to combine and then add:

1 scant cup unsweetened fruit sauce (apple, pear, peach, oh pineapple would be good) [I actually only had 7/8 of a cup and it worked fine]

1/2 to 1 cup date sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Stir or whisk to combine. Add:

3/4 cup non-dairy milk

Stir or whisk to combine (by now the whisk will be having a difficult time so use a hand mixer if necessary). Add:

1 cup grated carrots

1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour

1 cup oat flour

Stir to combine adding another 1/4 cup of non-dairy milk if necessary. Stir in:

1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, feel free to mix it up using chopped pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and/or dates, chopped raisins, cranberries, or dried pineapple also work (Optional)

Spoon the batter equally between the two pans and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (I would actually bake it about 5 minutes more after the toothpick comes out clean). Don’t worry if it’s slightly overbaked since gluten-free baked goods take longer to cook than regular ones, it still comes out fine.

Remove from oven and let cool, on a cooling rack, for 15-20 minutes before removing from pan. Let cool completely before frosting or serving. For faster cooling, place in the refrigerator for about a half hour. Serves 8-12.

Vegan “Cream Cheese” Frosting

One just has to have cream cheese frosting on carrot cake! I’ve tried several nut-free, tofu-free recipes for vegan cream cheese and none of them worked very well until I found this one, delicious! Of course, if you don’t care for sweet potatoes, it may not be your cup of tea. It uses white flesh sweet potatoes which are starchier and not as sweet as the ones we’re used to here in the U.S. They can be called Japanese, Hannah, or Batata.

Wash, peel and dice:

1 large or 2 medium-sized white flesh sweet potatoes

Since we don’t want to add any liquid to the sweet potatoes, it’s very important that they are steamed rather than boiled. Steam until fork tender. Place in a small to medium bowl. Using a potato masher, mash and then measure out 2 cups.

Transfer the 2 cups to another medium bowl (or the same one if it used all the mashed potatoes). Add:

1/3 cup avocado oil

Juice from one lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/8 teaspoon salt

There’s the basic recipe for vegan “cream cheese”. To make it into frosting, whip in using a hand mixer:

1/4 to 1/2 cup maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, etc.

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Will frost two layers of a naked cake (no frosting on the sides).

Vegan “Cream Cheese” Frosting

One just has to have cream cheese frosting on carrot cake! I’ve tried several nut-free, tofu-free recipes for vegan cream cheese and none of them worked very well until I found this one, delicious! Of course, if you don’t care for sweet potatoes, it may not be your cup of tea. It uses white flesh sweet potatoes which are starchier and not as sweet as the ones we’re used to here in the U.S. They can be called Japanese, Hannah, or Batata.

Wash, peel and dice:

2 medium-sized white flesh sweet potatoes

Since we don’t want to add any liquid to the sweet potatoes, it’s very important that they are steamed rather than boiled. Steam until fork tender. Place in a small to medium bowl. Using a potato masher, mash and then measure out 2 cups.

Transfer the 2 cups to another medium bowl (or the same one if it used all the mashed potatoes). Add:

1/3 cup avocado oil (coconut would also work)

Juice from one lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/8 teaspoon salt

There’s the basic recipe for vegan “cream cheese”. To make it into frosting, whip in using a hand mixer:

1/4 to 1/2 cup maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, etc. (or more to taste)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Will frost two layers of a naked cake (no frosting on the sides).

Strawberry Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal cookies are my favorites. I like other cookies but I LOVE oatmeal cookies. Here’s a quick and easy recipe that makes about a dozen and takes 3 times longer to bake then it does to mix together. Delicious, almost like eating a nut butter and jam sandwich on oat bread but even better! Use whatever nut or seed butter your family likes and feel free to use whatever sugar-free jam you have on hand as well. I had strawberry jam so that’s what I used. You can find numerous types of free-dried fruits now on-line or at the grocery store.

In a medium (8 cup bowl) combine:

1 1/2 cups sprouted rolled oats

1/4 cup oat flour

2 1/2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Stir to combine. In a second 3-4 cup small bowl whisk together:

3 tablespoons avocado oil

1/4 cut nut or seed butter (I used tahini)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup sugar-free or low-sugar strawberry jam

1/4 to 1/2 cup crushed freeze-dried strawberries (save some whole ones to press on top of the cookies before baking)

3 tablespoons date syrup (or agave, coconut nectar, maple syrup, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line one large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. Stir whisked wet ingredients into dry ingredients and fold together until mixture is moistened and well mixed. Using a medium (or small for smaller cookies), scoop and drop cookie dough onto the prepared cookie sheet, spaced about 1/2 inch apart and flatten each one with either the back of the scoop or a fork. Press a piece of dried strawberry into the top of each cookie. Bake 10-17 minutes depending on size (cookies should be firm to the touch). Cool for 10-15 minutes before removing cookies to a cooling rack. Cool completely before storing in an air-tight container. They will keep for about a week (not in my household!). They will also freeze in a vacuum sealed bag for up to 3 months. Using my large scoop, I made 10 cookies.

Alternatives:

Use 1/2 cup pear sauce, 1/4 cup cranberries or raisins, and add 1/4 cup date sugar

Use 1/2 cup applesauce, 1/4-1/2 cup crushed dried apples and add 1/4 cup date sugar

Use 1/2 cup peach jam, 1/4-1/2 cup crushed dried peaches

Use 1/2 cup plum jam, 1/4 cup diced dried prunes

Use 1/2 cup of any jam and 1/2 cup carob chips

Use 1/2 cup pineapple jam and 1/4 cup crushed dried bananas or pineapple

Really just about any combination of sauce or jam with dried fruit or chips will work in this recipe. Just be sure to add the extra sweetener if using sauce rather than jam.

Easy and Quick Vegan French Toast

I’ve posted a number of recipes on my blog for pancakes but in reality, I much prefer French toast to pancakes. Difficult to find a pre-made or even a workable recipe for gluten and egg-free bread. I’ve found one that I’ll post next on the blog but in the meantime, if you already have a delicious bread, here’s a way to make it into French toast without the egg. Takes only a few minutes to put together and cook, a few more if you want to bake it rather than fry.

In a shallow bowl (like a soup plate) combine:

1 cup non-dairy milk

1 tablespoon ground flax (or chia would work also)

Let sit for about five minutes so that the flax slightly thickens the milk. Add:

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or other spice that you like such as nutmeg, allspice, etc.)

Whisk to combine. In a 12″ skillet, heat over medium heat:

1 tablespoon oil

As the oil gets hot, soak slices of:

gluten-free, egg-free bread, 4-5 thicker slices

In the milk mixture, being sure to turn them after about 10 seconds in the milk mixture. Add to the skillet as you take them out of the milk. Cook for about 2 minutes per side until golden brown. Sprinkle with date sugar or top with syrup – maple, agave, date, coconut, etc. Makes 2 servings.