Tahini Carob Chip Cookies (dairy-free, gluten-free, refined cane sugar-free, egg free, vegan)

Remember those chewy, nutty peanut butter cookies from our younger days? These are very reminiscent of those but are healthy and so easy with just five ingredients. Feel free to substitute any nut or seed butter you can use such as sunflower or pepitas.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Put in your food processor:

  • 1 cup tahini (or any nut or seed butter), use a thicker tahini rather than a runny thin one or your cookies will not come out chewy
  • 1 cup date sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of aguafava (or 1 egg if you can use eggs)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla

Process until smooth and then remove from food processor into medium bowl and stir in 1/2 to 1 cup of unsweetened carob or chocolate chips. Scoop by tablespoon onto prepared cookie sheet, flatten with fork (or spatula) and bake for 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your cookies. You want them crispy on the outside but chewy in the middle so when the middle is set and the outside browned, they are done. Makes 10-15 cookies.

Nachos (dairy-free, gluten-free, corn-free)

If you love nachos like I do, you’ll like this recipe.  I spent 12 years living in the Phoenix area and our favorites places to eat were the Mexican restaurants.  Now, with my dairy, gluten and corn allergies, I don’t get to eat nachos very often.  I found using this tortilla recipe, that the nachos stay sturdier; with regular flour or corn chips, they can get very soggy after the cheese sauce is added.  These did get a little soft but they still held up and everything didn’t spill off when they were picked up, even the ones on the bottom.  This recipe makes 3 tortillas or about enough a large plate of nachos.  As an appetizer, enough for 6-8 people but as a meal, probably only enough for 1-2.

First make the tortillas.  Combine in a quart bowl:

  • 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour (or another dense flour such as hemp)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • dash (or two) of cumin or chili powder (optional)
  • 3/4 cup cool water

Whisk until all ingredients are combined and mixture is smooth.  Heat an 8″ skillet (non-stick) over medium heat.  When hot pour about 1/3 of the mixture into the skillet and, like a crepe, move pan to let the mixture cover the entire bottom of the pan.  Cook until small bubbles cover most of the tortilla (this will only take 2-4 minutes) and then turn over and cook for another 1-2 minutes.  Repeat for the next two tortillas.  Let cool slightly before cutting into eighths.

Meanwhile get the rest of the nacho ingredients started.  Combine in a small sauce pan:

  • 1 cup shredded non-dairy cheese (I really like the Daiya Classic Combo cheese for this)
  • non-dairy milk of choice just until it almost covers the cheese (about 2/3 of a cup)

Cook over low heat until cheese is completely melted and incorporated into the milk.  Whisk every few minutes.

If you like ground meat on your nachos, cook a quarter to a half pound of ground meat, seasoned with salt, pepper, and chili powder (optional).

Heat 1/4 to 1/2 cup of refried beans in a small skillet with a little oil (or if you want, a minute in the microwave).

You can use store-bought guacamole or make some.  I use a very simple guacamole recipe:

Combine in a food processor:

  • the meat from 2 avocados
  • 1/2 cup prepared salsa
  • juice of 1 lime

Blend until smooth.  I prefer a smooth guacamole but I know some people like it chunky so if a chunky one is preferred, pulse until desired consistency.  Add 1/4 cup pomegranate arils if  you like a little crunch in your guacamole (and they add a nice flavor as well).

These tortillas absorb oil like crazy so I didn’t deep fry them.  Instead, I used my air fryer and placed them in a single layer, air fried them for about 10 minutes or until crispy.  

Then it time to make the nachos.  Start with a layer of chips, cover with meat and/or refried beans, top with cheese sauce and guacamole.  Repeat until chips are all used.  Top with some diced tomatoes and scallions.

Carob Fig “Truffles” (dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan)

I made filled chocolates for over fifty years until a few years ago when I realized that no one in my family or circle of friends could eat them anymore for one reason or another.  So now I cover different flavored Oreos with chocolate for my grandson and my great-nieces.  I have a friend, however, who asked me to please find a recipe for a candy that she can eat that’s healthy but still decadent enough to call candy.  Here’s what I came up with.  Don’t like figs?   Not a problem, use dates (don’t soak them) or prunes instead.  If you use dates, the mixture will be much sweeter.  If the figs or prunes aren’t sweet enough for your family’s taste buds, add a few dates to sweeten it up.

You’ll need:

  • 12 ounces of dried figs (or you can use fig paste or jam made with fresh figs in season; no need to soak those)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup protein powder
  • 1/4 cup carob powder (if you can have chocolate, feel free to use cocoa)
  • 1/4 cup tahini (or if you can have it any nut butter will work)
  • zest of 1/2 an orange
  • juice from 1/2 orange (around 2 tablespoons)
  • pinch of salt
  • hemp hulls, coconut flakes, carob or cocoa powder, toasted sesame seeds, for rolling the truffles in
  • Remove the stems from the figs and put in a bowl, cover with hot water and let soak for around an hour.  Drain and put in a food processor along with the protein powder (start with 1/4 cup), carob powder, tahini, zest and juice, and salt.  Blend until smooth.  If mixture is too wet, add the remaining protein powder.

Scoop out tablespoons full and with wet hands, roll them into balls (I had a small bowl of water next to where I was working so that I could wet my hands as needed).  We want these the size for one to two bites so if a tablespoon is a little big, reduce the amount for each ball.  I would say I used around 2 teaspoons per ball.  Place them on parchment or waxed paper as you roll them out.  It should make between 16 and 24 balls.  Roll each ball in your choice of hemp hulls, coconut flakes, carob or cocoa powder, or toasted sesame seeds.  Refrigerator for up to a week.  

I found these very dense and rich so I could only eat 2 at a time.  And, of course, oh so delicious and gooey.  A great substitute for candy with all that sugar.  Sweet and gooey without any sugar except the one naturally found in the fruit.  

Variations:

  • 12 ounces of prunes instead of figs — these don’t need to be soaked
  • 12 ounces of dried mango — cut into small pieces before soaking and don’t add any additional liquid to the food processor
  • 12 ounces of dried sweet dark cherries — again, no need to soak these but may need a few tablespoons of water to loosen the mixture (I covered these with chocolate ganache)
  • 12 ounces of dried dates, pitted of course — don’t soak them but again they may need a few tablespoons of water if too thick
  • 12 ounces of dried apricots — soak and again, don’t add any liquid to the mixture (I rolled these in ground almonds)

Sweet Potato Hummus (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan)

I love hummus but regular hummus loses all its taste when compared with sweet potato hummus!  Oh it is so good be sure to only make it when you have company to help you eat it or you’ll end up devouring the entire batch yourself in one sitting — it is really that good.  And easy to make with canned sweet potato.

In a food processor or blender:

  • 1  15-ounce can drained chickpeas
  • 1 cup of sweet potato puree
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin oil (or avocado or olive oil)
  • 2 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon papika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Blend until smooth, about 3-5 minutes.  Garnish with scallions — be generous, they add another layer of flavor and go very well with this hummus.  Serve with crackers or raw veggies (I love mine with plantain chips),  pitas or flatbread.

If you’re looking for a healthy snack that your kids along with anybody else will love, try this alternative to sweet potato hummus:

Carob or Chocolate Hummus:  In your food processor, add:

  • 1 15-oumce can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 cup sweet potato puree
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup date syrup, agave or coconut nectar (add more if you want it really sweet)
  • 1/2 cup carob or cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Blend until smooth.

Sugar Cookies (dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, egg-free, vegan)

My son’s favorite Christmas cookie is a decorated sugar cookie.  I haven’t been able to make him any in years but this year will be different (of course I have to find my cookie cutters first!).  This cookie comes out crispy and full of flavor.  My husband says the consistence was a little powdery but making sure the cookies are a little thicker and don’t get too brown took care of that problem.  Makes 2 dozen cookies (approximately).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl whisk together:

  • 1/3 cup agave or coconut nectar
  • 1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk such as hemp or soy
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Let sit for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a food processor blend:

  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1/3 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1/3 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/3 cup arrowroot starch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Blend just until mixed.  Blend in:

  • 1/2 cup shortening such as Spectrum or solid coconut oil, a tablespoon at a time

When combined and mixture is crumbly, add the liquid and blend until well mixed.  Be sure to stir the mixture so that any flour on the bottom of the processor gets blended as well.  For drop cookies, drop by tablespoon onto cookie sheets either lined with parchment paper or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Flatten with your palm or a lightly oiled or silicone spatula.  If rolled cookies are desired, drop the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, place another sheet on top, flatten and wrap.  Refrigerate at least one hour before rolling out and baking.  Bake between 10 and 15 minutes depending on how thin the cookies are or how large.

Orange Sugar Cookies:  Substitute orange juice for the milk and add grated rind of one orange to the dry ingredients.

Strawberry Sugar Cookies:  Reduce brown rice and millet flours to 1/3 cup and add 1/3 cup ground dried strawberries.

Stuffed Mushrooms (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, soy-free, sugar-free)

One of my favorite appetizers is stuffed mushrooms, as long as the main stuffing ingredient isn’t bread crumbs.  That happens a lot, especially in restaurant servings.  These are stuffed with crab but you could substitute any ground meat or no meat at all, simply add more chopped mushroom and perhaps some onion to the mixture.  The recipe makes between 12 and 15 mushrooms depending on the size and how much stuffing you like.

You’ll need:

  • 12-15 medium to large button or baby bella mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 cup crab meat, claw works fine, don’t need lump in this case
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried herbs, depending on personal taste (I use Mrs. Dash mixture but any herbs preferred will work)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded non-dairy cheese of choice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Clean the mushrooms by wiping off the outside and removing the stems.  If they are really dirty, feel free to remove the skins.  I prefer to remove them and take away the filmy outside once cooked.

Place on a small cookie sheet that’s been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Cut off the inside portion of the mushroom stems and dice.  Put avocado oil and diced mushrooms in a saute pan and cook for several minutes.  This is where you could also add some onion or garlic to taste.  Once diced mushrooms (and onions and garlic if added) are soft, remove from heat and stir in crab meat, herbs, and breadcrumbs.

Place 1 tablespoon to 2 tablespoons of the stuffing mixture into each mushroom cap depending on its size.  When all the caps are filled, sprinkle some cheese on each.  Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes until mushrooms are cooked.  You can tell when they are cooked because they’ll shrink and expose more stuffing.

Serve hot.

Shredded Pork Sliders with Cole Slaw (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free)

One of my more recent discoveries, pork sliders are so good as a meal if you eat several or as an appetizer for a party.  People love them.  I made these first last Christmas for a party I went to and they disappeared.  A large pork roast will make 30-36 sliders but for a meal for my husband and I, I use a smaller portion.  Great use of leftover pork roast.

Combine:

  • 1 cup shredded pork (I use my food processor to break up the pork)
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce (such as Organicsville Agave Barbecue Sauce or home-made)

Heat in a skillet for several minutes and place on gluten-free dinner rolls (or if you have a leftover bagel, that works as well).  Top with several tablespoons of cole slaw (see recipe under Soups and Salads).  The cole slaw adds a great crunch to the slider.

Savory or Sweet Seed Crackers (dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, egg-free)

Sometimes the best comfort food is something small, quick and within reach.  These seed crackers fit that need for me since I can’t have anything pre-made like store-bought cookies or crackers.  The savory crackers go well with hummus, guacamole, or other dips and even with some non-dairy cheeses.  The sweet ones are tasty by themselves or with some hemp cream.  And with both of them, you can vary the herbs and seasonings to fit your taste.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

For the savory or sweet crackers, put in your food processor:

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup flaxseeds
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup water

Process until blended and the rice is broken down, adding small amounts of water as needed.  The amount of water used will depend on the moisture in your rice and quinoa. The mixture should have a dough consistency.  Remove half from the processor and form into a ball.  Make a hollow in them middle and add herbs such as:

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dry parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Need herbs into the dough.  Place dough on a piece of greased parchment the size of your baking tray (preferably one without sides so you can slide the rolled out dough onto the sheet easily, before and after baking.  Place a second greased parchment sheet on top and using a rolling pin or heavy can, roll out dough until very thin.  The thinner you can make it, the crispier the crackers after baking.  Place on baking sheet, remove top layer of parchment and bake 20-25 minutes.  Remove from over, flip over (this is always difficult for me and I usually end up with some of the dough underneath so I have to pull it open again but if you’ve cooked it long enough, this is easily accomplished), and cut into cracker sized squares.  Put back into the oven for another 20-30 minutes until crackers are crispy and browned on the edges.  If you have some that are thinner than others (usually the middle of my crackers are slightly thicker), remove the thinner ones and continue cooking the thicker ones until they are dry and crispy.

For the sweet crackers, you should have left half the dough in the food processor.  Return the bowl to the processor and add:

  • 2 tablespoons carob or cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon monk fruit powder
  • 2 tablespoons hemp hulls

Process until well mixed; you shouldn’t need to add more water but if you do, add it by tablespoons being careful not to get mixture too wet.  Remove from processor, and follow rolling and baking directions above.

 

Turkey Bacon wrapped Dates with Sausage (dairy-free, gluten-free)

This is a very quick, delicious appetizer.  These take minutes to make and after you either broil them in the oven, or air fry, the dates get slightly gooey and just envelope the sausage.  The bacon gets crispy which adds the crunch needed to make this the perfect appetizer.  And its very easy to increase or decrease to fit your needs.

You’ll need:

  • 10 medjool dates, pitted
  • 5 slices of turkey bacon, cut in half
  • 1 turkey Italian sausage (or any kind of sausage you like but it should be a little spicy), cooked and cut lengthwise into 5 pieces and then each piece cut in half to fit into the dates.  If you want more sausage in your dates, simply cook a second sausage and cut in bigger pieces.  I cut mine to fit snuggly into the date.
  • 10 toothpicks soaked in water

Slice open each date (remove seed if not pitted).  Insert a piece of the sausage and then wrap with the bacon.  Insert a toothpick so that it holds the ends of the bacon together.  Place each on a greased cookie sheet if you are going to broil them, or onto your air fry tray with the outside edge of the bacon facing downward.  Broil or air fry for 5-7 minutes then turn over and cook for another 5-7 minutes.