The best vegan dessert I’ve ever had
This past Sunday I found myself cooking up a storm in my kitchen for majority of the day (putting all the finishing touches on my Whole30 5-day meal plan) and when it was all said and done and I sat down on the couch to unwind, I immediately began daydreaming of new dessert creations. With a few hours to spare before dinner and a running imagination that just wouldn’t sit still and relax, I got up, went back into my kitchen, and assessed what ingredients I had on hand. After realizing I had majority of my favorite things (banana, almond butter, tahini, and chocolate chips), I decided to combine them into the best vehicle possible: a skillet cookie. Being that I am currently dairy & gluten free and that eggs right now don’t seem to be working too well with my stomach, I slowly realized when I popped this baby in the oven that this recipe is actually vegan. While I spent a few minutes questioning who the heck I have become, none of that mattered once I took a bite of this baby. Plus, I happened to have just purchased a pint of Van Leeuwen vegan ice cream (chocolate and mint chip) so I knew I was just about to elevate this to the best (and first?) fully vegan dessert I probably have ever had.
The surprisingly healthy dessert
Sweet, spicy, and salty!? I don’t know if a better trifecta exists. Oh wait, and there is chocolate involved? Now we are freaking talking. This is one of my favorite desserts to serve at a dinner party because not only is it insanely quick and easy to make, but it also is shockingly healthy. Gluten free, dairy free, filled with healthy and beneficial ingredients (hello collagen and avocado), and sweetened simply by honey and cacao powder.
When it comes to snacking on Whole30, there are mixed opinions. Some believe the whole purpose of Whole30 is to break some of the unnecessary eating habits you have. However, if I’m hungry, I’m going to eat. This does not mean I’m snacking throughout the day, but by no means am I going to starve myself for a food plan (refuse to call it a diet) that I’ve decided to follow. That said, it is extremely difficult to find compliant Whole30 snacks other than fruits and vegetables. So as part of my Sunday meal prep, you better believe I’m also making some grab and go foods for the moments in between meals.
The too good to be true healthy dessert
Health kicks or diets can get crazy. A lot of us have been there: you decide to gung-ho cut out a ton of food groups, maybe specifically sugar or dessert, and then realize it is all you can think about. As someone with a serious sweet tooth but also a secret side love affair for all things salty, I combined the two with my new obsession over tahini and made the perfect healthy-fied dessert. No-bake raw coconut cashew tahini bars. Pop these babies in your freezer and have on hand for when you just need that extra something.
Dairy and gluten free raw pumpkin coconut cheesecake bars
Thanksgiving is most commonly associated with a big old turkey, but I would venture to guess that the second dish that comes to people’s minds is a pumpkin pie. What is Thanksgiving without some type of creamy, delicious, pumpkin filled dessert. In an attempt to recreate my favorite dessert but also keep my menu gluten and dairy free, and to include some of my favorite ingredients, I created raw coconut pumpkin cheesecake bars. These are incredibly easy to make and perfectly fill the void of that craving for sweets as you begin to clear your plates.
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Gluten and dairy free dark chocolate banana muffins
Is there any better start to a morning than enjoying a banana baked good with a warm cup of coffee? I honestly cannot think of one. Whether it is banana bread, muffins, cakes, donuts, or pies, anything baked that contains banana is a guaranteed way to my heart. But, let’s be honest for a second here, some banana breads and muffins sold in today’s world as a “breakfast food” are really just cake in a different form. When I was finally old and wise enough to come to this realization, it slightly broke my heart. I love banana bread. I mean lovvvveeeee. The aroma of a fresh cooked loaf makes my heart swell and immediately feel all things comfort. So, instead of giving up on this love affair, with my new-found baking ability and determination to create new recipes, plus a kitchen filled with browned bananas after clicking too many times on last week’s instacart order, I decided to make my own healthified version. These dark chocolate banana muffins are sweet enough to fill that dessert void while also including approved ingredients making it an acceptable breakfast (yes, dark chocolate if purchased in the right form is acceptable in the mornings in my book). Plus, I used Kite Hill’s new unsweetened drinkable yogurt to make these muffins extra moist. Yea, I said it, MOIST. The word that everyone hates using or hearing until a person uses it to describe something you baked and you immediately jump with joy. Behold, the way to my coworkers, neighbors, friends, and family’s hearts.
Healthy and easy gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, apple pie muffins
I have always found baking extremely intimidating. I am someone who enjoys cooking because there are no rules. Want to add some of this spice? Go ahead. Want some more vegetables in that dish? Throw them in. While cooking is an art, baking is a science. There are rules to follow, recipes to read, and instructions to stick to. Because of these restrictions, and the fact that one quarter cup of an ingredient can automatically ruin your recipe, I have always steered clear of baking. Then, my friend Lara of @_littlemissfoodie kept posting all these insanely decadent baking photographs and encouraging and inspiring me to finally take the plunge. So as the notorious muffin (wo)man she is, I decided to tackle this baked good first. While I was contemplating what muffins to make, simultaneously my next-door neighbor’s 3-year-old daughter knocked on my door and told me she was having a farmer’s market with all of the apples she harvested at her house outside the city. As she handed me over a bushel of massive beautifully bruised and imperfect apples, I knew exactly what I was going to thank her with: a batch of homemade apple pie muffins. I put my big girl pants on and got to work in my kitchen and after a few test runs can proudly say I have officially created a recipe that revolves around baking. These will definitely be on repeat in my kitchen throughout the fall and they should be in yours also!
By now you all are aware of my obsession with nut butter and how I constantly try to incorporate it into all aspects of my life (if you’re not, take a gander of my feed) but there is one main combo that will always and forever have my heart: peanut butter, chocolate, and banana. I grew up buying those whole frozen chocolate dipped bananas on a stick (scared to imagine what the ingredients were in these) and eating them on a nightly basis. Having a father who is as addicted to peanut butter as I am, we would constantly dip these into the closest open jar of Jiffys (c’mon young Cam). Now as a more well-informed “adult” (ha, that’s funny), while I do not eat these exact products or brands, I still constantly crave this combination. SO, I led my cravings to my health food stocked pantry and took matters into my own hands. The result? Possibly the best thing I’ve ever created: frozen banana filled dark chocolate peanut butter cups. They are insanely delicious and so simple to make.