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Peanut Butter and Jelly Revisited: Fresh/Healthy Gluten-Free Vegan Fruit-and-Nut bars

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Apr 24, 2012 gluten free recipes (pls note that all raw/vegan recipes are GF- these are predominantly cooked recipes) , , , , , , , , , , 2 Comments

A couple of Thanksgivings ago I got hooked on my own adaptation of this recipe from Elana’s Pantry for cranberry bars.  I used  a crust that had coconut flour in addition to the nuts she uses, and saved some to sprinkle on top, which was an idea I got many years ago from America’s Test Kitchen, when they did an oatmeal-based recipe for peanut butter and jelly bars.  I love using one mixture for two different textures and purposes in a dish.  This past week my mom sent me a few new recipes from Elana’s site, including this one for Raspberry Streusel.  While I liked the idea of her recipe, it made me long for those old peanut butter and jelly bars, so I jumped ship from her basic recommendations and came up with a new version of that old favorite of mine.

Generally when baking for myself, I use either all stevia or a combo of raw buckwheat honey and stevia, but I wanted to make something that Ace would enjoy too, and she is a firm believer in desserts involving actual sugar.  Since I was already making this vegan and gluten-free, I decided to use coconut sugar as the sweetener, which is a good compromise because it has no bitter flavor like stevia, but is still moderately low-glycemic.  You could easily sub out the sugar for stevia, xylitol, or erythritol, but since these still have fruit in them they wouldn’t be completely sugar-free.

Strawberry-Cherry Almond Butter Streusel Bars:

Filling: (any other fruits could be substituted in same proportions)
16 oz strawberries, cut into halves or quartered depending on size
1/2 cup dried (unsweetened) tart cherries
3 dates, soaked for 10 minutes in hot water, then chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup date soak water
1/4 cup coconut sugar
Cook stovetop on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until strawberries are limp, cherries are plump, and dates have mostly dissipated.

Top Crumble and Bottom Crust:
1 cup nuts- I used 3/4 cup pecans and 1/4 cup walnuts
Pulse in food processor until finely ground
Add:
1 cup almond flour or meal
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil (Earth Balance or butter could be used if that flavor is preferred)
2 tbls coconut flour
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
Pulse until a crumble forms, then place 2/3 of mix into a greased 9×7 or 8×8 baking dish.
Press crumble down firmly with hands until a uniform layer is formed.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Assembly:
Once crust has cooled slightly, gently spread 1/3 cup almond butter onto it. (You could, of course, use peanut butter instead- almond is just a healthier option.)
Add fruit filling to pan and spread to edges.
Drop remaining crumble on top, scattering about into randomly sized bits and pieces.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then allow to cool before cutting.

These are the bars right out of the oven:





And this is how the layers look once cut:





If strawberries aren’t in season and you want to use apples, below is a similar cobbler/crumble/streusel I made with those, on its way into the oven.  Lining them up makes for a very pretty presentation.






The Tastiest Healthy Treat I’ve Ever Made

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Feb 16, 2012 raw vegan recipes , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Question: what looks like candy, tastes like candy, has three scrumptious layers that even chew like candy, but is a raw vegan protein powerhouse of nutrients?
Answer: THIS.





It doesn’t have a name yet because I haven’t thought of one, but I LOVE IT LIKE CRAZY.  I’d been wanting to make a raw candy bar for awhile, but was hesitant to just throw a bunch of nuts, sweetener, and coconut oil together and go to town.  Instead, I decided to make something unique: a candy that would act like a normal, cooked, terrible-for-you treat while nourishing your body instead of damaging it.  I’ve made two versions so far, since the first version was a little crumbly, but I think I actually like the first version better and am going to give a recipe that combines both experiments.

There are three layers to this delectable delight: a base with dried sprouted buckwheat as its main ingredient– hello, low-fat low-calorie crunchiness that’s remarkably similar in taste and texture to crisped rice!, a caramel-ish nutty/creamy middle layer, and a chocolate topping.  There is also a DIRTY LITTLE SECRET in the base that I am almost ashamed to share because I am such a health food nutcase: I used flavored stevia in it.  I resisted the temptation to buy flavored stevia for ages, but once I saw that both Jason Wrobel (a raw chef who makes super personality-filled uncooking videos) AND Whitney the “Eco-Vegan Gal” use it, I was like, what the hell, let’s take a walk on the wild side.  Aside about my wild side: yes, flavored stevia is totally walking on the wild side to me.  I generally eschew anything with natural flavors, and only use powdered stevia extract.  I really am that phobic of processed food.

Keep in mind that even though there are oils and nuts in each layer of this, they are minimal compared to other raw candies, they are balanced by a lot of protein, omegas, and lack of sugar, and they are pretty much the healthiest, most nutritious oils and nuts you could– and SHOULD– eat.  Please don’t be daunted by the sheer magnitude of ingredients; this takes about 1/2 an hour in total to make, you mostly just throw things into a bowl, and you can always leave some ingredients out if it seems overwhelming.

Recipe for the Tastiest Healthy Treat I’ve Ever Made (please use organic ingredients!)

Base: (all dry, non-seasoning ingredients except buckwheat can be omitted for anything else you prefer)
1 cup dried sprouted buckwheat
1/2 cup cacao nibs
3 tbls chia seeds
1/3 cup cococeps (you could sub cacao powder for this, but the mushrooms are good for you and you can’t taste em)
3/4 cup vanilla or chocolate protein powder (hemp, brown rice, pea, whey, whatever your favorite is)
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup goji berries
2 tbls cinnamon
3/4 tsp Himalayan salt

Mix the above together, then add:
1 tsp vanilla (powder or extract)
2 tbls hemp oil
2 droppers toffee flavored stevia
3 tbls coconut nectar, maple syrup, raw buckwheat honey, or agave
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup melted coconut oil

Mix again until it forms a crumbly batter- it will not get totally cohesive. If you want it totally cohesive and pasty, add more sweetener, nut butter or oil. Otherwise, mix until it sticks into clumps when you press on it, then press it into a baking pan (eight inch square or nine inch rectangular) and refrigerate. The next layer can be made as this layer cools.

Nutty/Creamy Middle Layer:
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/3 cup almond butter
1/4 cup lucuma powder
1/4 cup coconut nectar, maple syrup, raw buckwheat honey, or agave
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
Mix until uniform, then pour and spread over base layer. Base does not need to be totally cold. Make the top layer as this cools.

Chocolate Top Layer:
Have a mother who gives you scads of healthy chocolate every time you visit her, and cheat by melting some of the tasty nut-filled chocolate bark she gives you. In the event that you are unable to cultivate said parent whilst reading this recipe, the following will suffice:
1 cup melted cacao butter
1/2 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup coconut nectar, maple syrup, raw buckwheat honey, or agave
1 tsp powdered stevia
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
1 tsp vanilla extract or powder
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Whisk until combined thoroughly, or put all ingredients except chopped nuts into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour atop other layers (they don’t have to be completely cold), let solidify, and refrigerate until hard.

Slice into any size chunks you’d like (I like 1-2 inch squares), and beware that unless you are out giving it to friends, you are probably going to eat this entire batch in about a week. Thankfully you won’t have to feel badly about it, because it’s made of whole raw foods, lots of protein, and a pretty modest amount of fats and sugars. Take that, Snickers.  This tastes better, and it wouldn’t even dream of giving you diabetes.