Gluten Free, Vegan Twix Bars

I think we can all agree Halloween is the most fun holiday. Everyone gets to dress up, carve pumpkins and eat candy. It does not get better than that. Not to mention we are all still stoked on the seasons changing and all things Fall and pumpkin spice. Hands down the best time of year. For Halloween I usually let my son pick a couple of the items out of his candy bucket to enjoy so he does not feel completely left out, but the truth is he is not allowed to eat junk foods and candy often at all. So, I trade him for organic, healthier treats. This year I made something he would not want to pass up for a trade in, homemade Twix bars! It was really a toss up between Twix and almond butter cups but I wanted to try something new. I am so glad I did, each layer of this faux Twix is flavorful and guilt free if you ask me. These delicious Twix bars are vegan & gluten free and you would never even know it.

Ingredients

Shortbread

  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup of melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup of maple syrup

Caramel

  • 2 cups of pitted dates
  • 5 tablespoons of non dairy milk ( I used almond)
  • Teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt

Chocolate

  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life because they are Non- Gmo, nut free, dairy free, soy free)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and line a 8×8 square pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all your shortbread ingredients well, add mixture to your pan while pressing firmly and evenly to form to the bottom of your pan.
  3. Pop the shortbread into the oven and let bake for 10-12 minutes, until it is golden in color, then let cool.
  4. While the shortbread is cooling down make the date caramel by tossing all ingredients into your blender or food processor blend until it forms a creamy consistency. If you wish for your caramel to be creamier slowly add a little more non dairy milk or water.
  5. Once the caramel is finished, spread a thick, even layer onto your shortbread, then refrigerate for about an hour or until caramel has firmed.
  6. Now time for the best part, the chocolate. Add coconut oil and chocolate chips to a double boiler and melt down the chocolate chips, poor melted chocolate onto into the middle of your square pan onto the shortbread and caramel, smooth and even out. Let cool in the refrigerator for another hour
  7. Once you are ready slice and portion out into individual bars, make sure your knife is nice and warm to help cut through the hardened chocolate. You can do this by running your knife under hot water or warming by holding it over a warm oven burner. Cut down the middle first then cut 6 pieces on each side to make 12 twix bars. Store in refrigerator.
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Coconutty Chocolate Almond Bites

chocolate, coconutty, almond bites
chocolate, coconutty, almond bites

Today is the last day of summer and I am going out with a bang! I was sitting on my balcony enjoying the warmth from the sun on a cool day and thought, the only way this could get better is if I had a snack. So I made one, I was craving something healthy, yet chocolaty and gluten free so it can second as a school snack for my son. I am so thankful I had all the ingredients on hand to make date bites. Between the coconut, almonds and cocoa powder they taste just like an almond joy and the best part is how simple this recipe is. Just three steps, blend, roll, and enjoy. no baking necessary. They are friendly to any diet imaginable being vegan, gluten free, and paleo. If you don’t like chocolate (but who doesn’t like chocolate?) or almonds, maybe you will like these coconut cashew bites.

 

Ingredients **makes about 10**

  • 1 cup of dates
  • 1/2 cup of almonds
  • 3/4 cup of unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon of  sea salt

Instructions

  1. Pulse the almonds to into smaller pieces in a food processor or blender
  2. Add all other ingredients and run on low speed until everything is broken down and your mixture looks more rollable. almost like a thick, sticky paste.
  3. Roll into balls, about  1 to 1 1/2 inches in size or your desired size, this size make 10 bites.
  4. I left half of the batch naked and rolled the other half in shredded coconut. They are good both ways so either mix it up, leave them all naked or if you are a coconut lover roll them all in coconut.

Gluten Free Pita Chips

On the never-ending search for healthy, meat-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and zero waste school lunches that my 8 year old will eat (this alone is a full time job) I came across a method of making pita chips with minimal ingredients and that are really tasty.  Although my son does not have celiac disease or any allergies to wheat, I try to limit his gluten intake due to it causing inflammation.  He has had a couple of surgeries involving his intestines and tends to still be sensitive to certain foods.  So limiting is what works best for us.  On this journey I have found most gluten free alternatives in our grocery store shelves are not any healthier for you. A lot of these products are not organic and have too many ingredients including corn, soy, & rice. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance if your corn and soy is not organic then it is genetically engineered. Most of these products are also high in sugar and processed vegetable oils. Now, I am not saying I don’t purchase a bag of Gluten free pasta every now and again, but read your labels.  Less ingredients, is better.  And always opt for organic!

Tomorrow’s lunch is nothing fancy.  Just a classic cucumber, red onion, and tomato salad with a red wine vinaigrette and pita chips would be a perfect accompaniment to this dish. For these pita chips you need oat flour, non dairy milk (I prefer almond), salt, and garlic powder. We are making our own flour in this recipe so if you have a high powered blender or even a coffee grinder/mill bust it out because this method is super easier and so much cheaper.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1 1/3 cup of non dairy milk (my preference is almond)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • Feel free to add any other herbs or spices of your liking as well.

Instructions

  1. Add 1 cup of oats to your mill, grinder or blender and blend until your owns turn into a find flour consistency and add to a mixing bowl
  2. Toss in your salt and spices to the flour
  3. Add your non dairy milk and mix well
  4. Once mixed well, add a heaping spoonful of your mixture to a hot pan and spread the mixture until it gets as flat as you can get it. When the pita starts to look like it is drying up on the top it is time to flip for about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Preheat your oven to 425
  6. When all pitas are done (this recipe will make about 4)
  7. Cut them into triangles or squares, whatever shape makes you happy and place them onto a baking sheet
  8. Bake for 15 minutes

No Bake Date & Apricot Granola Bars

No Bake Granola Bars
No Bake Granola Bars

School is back in session, and my son is now a third grader. The time sure does fly! I absolutely love his school, they work towards being a zero waste school and encourage parents to pack zero waste lunches! This is great because it also encourages healthy lunches and snacks to be packed for students since most of the nutritious foods don’t come in wrappers and packages. Last year I did a decent job at packing a zero waste lunch but I did sneak in the occasional granola bar or Justin’s peanut butter packet every once in a while. Since there is always room for improvement, this year I am going to do a better job.

When my family and I visit Santa Cruz we always go to one of our favorite coffee shops in town, Verve Coffee Roasters. Along with their coffee they have the most delicious vegan & gluten free date bars there. So I am going to mimic those and add a couple of other ingredients that I know my son will enjoy. I am wrapping them in compostable parchment paper in hopes my son will fold the paper up nicely and bring back to me for reuse… but who are we kidding he is an eight year old boy. If the paper doesn’t come back for reuse at least he knows to put it in the compost at school.

This recipe is so easy and quick with just 5 ingredients and no baking involved. This recipe is vegan and gluten free, you can make them grain free/Paleo if you leave the oats out and add more cashews! Just toss those dates and apricots in your blender or food processor for about one minute just to get a little head start. Then simply add the rest of your ingredients in and blend for about another minute, maybe even less. Just make sure everything is chopped and mixed well together. Then flatten the mixture out and cut them into desired shape and sized. I cut mine into squares to make 6. Wrap them up in parchment and they are ready for healthy and eco friendly on the go snacks.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of pitted dates
  • 1 cup diced apricots
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 cashews
  • 1 tablespoons chia seeds

Instructions

  1. Add dates and apricots to food processor blend for 30-60 seconds
  2. Add the rest of your ingredients to the food processor blend until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed well
  3. Flatten, form and cut into desired shapes and sizes
  4. Wrap in parchment paper or portion out in reusable bags and enjoy on the go

Just One More Excuse To Eat Chocolate

Just One More Excuse To Eat Chocolate

Yesterday on my Starting From Soil Instagram I promised everyone my chocolate chia seed pudding recipe, so here it is! By the way if you are not following me on Insta yet you should be 😉 I love Chia seeds in general because of their cost efficiency. A small amount goes a long way and the shelf life is 4-5 years, plus, they are so versatile! You can throw them right into smoothies and jams, toss them in when making energy bars or cookies for added protein, and can be used as an egg replacement— along with flax— when baking. But one thing I would like to advise is, if you consume chia seeds unsoaked make sure to drink plenty of water. Chia seeds can absorb 10-12x their weight and can absorb that water from you during the digestion period. But I think it is safe to say we all probably need to drink a little more water anyway! But don’t let that turn you off, these seeds are a modern day super food! Chia seeds are derived from the Salvia Hispanica plant native to South America. They might be little, but are packed with antioxidants and loaded with fiber, protein, healthy fats (Omega 3), that is just to name a few of their benefits.

I have fallen in love with chia pudding lately because of all the fun preparations. You can dress it up with fruit and granola and eat it for breakfast or drizzle it with chocolate and enjoy it for dessert!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons raw cocao powder
  • 4 heaping teaspoons of unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Dash of sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of maple syrup (if you like it sweet double this)
  • 2 heaping teaspoons of almond butter
  • 1 1/4 non dairy milk

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients up very well
  2. Refrigerate over night
  3. Enjoy! Don’t be scared to jazz this pudding up to your liking! I love adding bananas, strawberries and blueberries to it with more coconut flakes. I also love drizzling extra almond butter or maple syrup over the top!

This recipe fills up a 12 oz jar. It is enough for 2 breakfasts for me if I top it will fruit!

Just One More Excuse To Eat Chocolate

Gluten Free Banana Bread

Gluten Free Banana Bread

I just got back from an amazing vacation with my family, one of the first things I did when I got home was make a fresh batch of almond milk and dehydrated our leftover pulp to make almond meal.  Today I have some over ripe bananas that will be great mixed in with the almond meal to make a delicious banana bread! I love this recipe.  It only takes about 10 minutes to prep and 45 mins to bake. I toss it all in my blender which makes for quick and easy mixing and clean up. This recipe is so flexible and caters to multiple diets. It is Gluten free and If you want this recipe to be vegan, use 2 flax eggs. If you are unfamiliar with flax eggs, making them is effortless, I promise. You simply mix together 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds with 2 1/2 tablespoons of water per egg. You will want this to be one of your first steps so you can set them aside to thicken for about 5 minutes. While your “eggs” are thickening, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and toss all other ingredients in your blender. When your eggs are thick and sticky, add them to the blender with all other ingredients and run on low for about 50 seconds or until it’s well mixed. Add the mixture to a lightly oiled pan and sprinkle some chocolate chips, walnuts, or coconut to the top (optional). Bake for 45 minutes, then let cool before slicing.

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs (Paleo) or 2 flax eggs (Vegan)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 2 cups of almond meal
  • 3 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Flax egg ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of water
Flax Egg
Flax Egg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Make your flax eggs by mixing ground flaxseed and water and set aside to thicken for 5 minutes
  3. Add all other ingredients to blender
  4. Toss in flax eggs when they are thick and sticky
  5. Run blender on low for 50 seconds or until well mixed
  6. Add mixture to lightly oiled pan
  7. Add fun toppings such as coconut flakes, chocolate, or walnuts (optional)
  8. Bake for about 45-50 minutes
  9. Let cool

**Skip step 2 if using eggs**

The Best Grain Free Granola

Grain Free Granola
Grain Free Granola

You guys have to try this granola!  I’ve made it a couple times now and it is my new go to. This recipe is completely grain-free and made mostly with nuts, seeds and some coconut! It is sweet, salty with the right amount of crunch that is perfect to add fresh berries to for breakfast or to yogurt for an afternoon snack. Now, this particular recipe is made with honey but can be made vegan with one ingredient swap, maple syrup.  Also, this recipe is Paleo as is.  It’s also a great way to use some of that almond meal we made last week! Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. First, add all your dry ingredients to a bowl, followed by your wet ingredients, then, mix well. Spread onto a cookie sheet.  I lined mine with parchment paper which makes it easier for transferring into a jar later on. cook for  28-32 mins depending on how dark or toasty you like it! let sit and cook for a couple of minutes before transferring into an airtight jar. Makes about 6 cups.

Ingredients (Organic perferred)

  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
  • 1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup of honey or maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Add all dry ingredients to bowl
  3. Stir in wet ingredients and mix well
  4. Spread mixture on parchment paper lined cookie sheet
  5. Bake for 28-32 minutes depending on how toasted you like your granola
  6. Let cool for at least 5 minutes
  7. Add in raisins, dried cranberries, or goji berries (optional)
  8. Mix if you added dried fruit
  9. add to airtight container and enjoy

No Bake Coconut Cashew Date Bites

Happy Summer!! We are celebrating with some warm temperatures here in the Bay Area, I certainly did not want to turn my oven on, but had a bit of a sweet tooth this afternoon. These date bites were the perfect solution to satisfy my craving without having to heat up the entire house by baking. My eight year old son is home for the summer and loves to prepare food as much as I do so this was a fun activity for him, as well as a great treat. Dates help regulate digestion, and boost energy, cashews are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and coconut is high in protein, fiber, iron and zinc. These bites are vegan, paleo, have no added sugar yet they are naturally sweet and delicious. Sounds too good to be true right?  This recipe should yield 10-12 bites

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup of shredded coconut plus set aside about 1/3 cup for coating bites
  • 2 tsp of chia seeds
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp of coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons of water

Instructions

  1. Pulse your cashews to smaller pieces in a food processor or blender.
  2. After the cashews are broken down to your desired size (I left mine coarsely chopped) add your pitted dates, unsweetened shredded coconut, chia seeds, cocoa powder, coconut oil and water and blend together until the mixture is finely chopped and looks a little sticky and rollable.
  3. Set aside a little bowl with some extra shredded coconut. Roll the mixture into balls 1 to 1.5 inches in size, then roll the bites around in your coconut bowl to coat.