Dark Chocolate Pecan Cookies

Happy National Cookie Day everyone! I’ve been wanting to post this recipe for awhile and what better day to do it than today?! These vegan dark chocolate pecan cookies are perfect for the holidays and might be my favorite right now. I go through phases with favorites, but I’m a huge fan of nuts and chocolate in anything. They are crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. Pure perfection people! It’s cookie heaven I’m telling you! Also, feel free to substitute the nuts for a different kind of nut or even dried cranberries. You can also add some unsweetened coconut flakes as well. Your guests (and your belly) will be so happy if you made these for them, I promise!  Dark Chocolate Pecan Cookies
Makes about 16 cookies

½ cup coconut oil, softened
½ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 flax egg (combine 1 Tbsp ground flax + 3 Tbsp water, set aside for 5 minutes)
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup vegan dark chocolate chunks or chips
1 scant cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, move baking rack to middle of oven, and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Make cookie dough by adding coconut oil, brown sugar, and granulated sugar to a medium sized mixing bowl. Beat until fluffy, or about 2-3 minutes.

Add flax egg and vanilla and beat until just incorporated.

Next, add all purpose flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon to the oil & sugar mixture. Gradually mix on low until incorporated.

Next, add dark chocolate chunks or chips and toasted pecans. Mix with a spoon until incorporated.

Scoop golf ball sized cookies (I used a ice cream scoop) and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with hand. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are just golden.

Remove from oven and let cookies sit for 5-10 minutes on the pan. Then place on a cooling rack.

Enjoy!

NOTES
*Dough can be made 2-3 days in advance. Keep in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to bake.
*Leftovers will keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container. Alternatively, you can also freeze leftovers for up to a month. Reheat in the microwave for 10-20 seconds or until desired temperature.
(recipe adapted from Peach and the Cobbler)
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Easy Instant Pot Lentil Bolognese

Okay, I’ve been meaning to blog about this recipe for months, but I just never got to it! This is one of my favorite meals to make for a large crowd because it’s easy, packed with flavor, healthy, and delicious! I love using my instant pot for quick meals. I’m not going to lie, the instant pot intimidated me at first, but after giving it a try, it wasn’t so hard after all! This lentil bolognese is so good, I could just eat it like soup. It can be paired with bread, pasta, rice, or quinoa. My husband loves it with pasta. This lentil bolognese is full of protein, fiber, veggies, and flavor. I can eat it by the spoonfuls. I can never get sick of lentils. I know the holidays can be kinda crazy, so this meal is definitely something you can whip up fast and not have to slave hours over.

Easy Instant Pot Lentil Bolognese

1 1/4 cups red lentils, washed
1 -28 oz. can of fire roasted chopped tomatoes
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 medium carrots, diced
1 can of tomato paste
4 cups of water
2 Tbsp of Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Into your Instant Pot liner, add all of your ingredients through red pepper flakes.  Give that a good stir to incorporate all of the ingredients.  Place in your Instant Pot, close the steam release knob and set to manual for 15 minutes.

When it’s done cooking, allow the pressure to release naturally for the next 15 minutes.  Then carefully manually release the steam. Once you open the top, add the balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Stir well. Taste test for seasoning/salt preference. Serve over your favorite pasta, bread, rice, or quinoa.

Enjoy!

(recipe adapted from Knead to Cook)

Coconut Flour Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

Happy National Pumpkin Day! I’m loving all the fall treats, especially all the pumpkin ones. I’m always on the lookout and mood for pumpkin anything. These pumpkin chocolate chip bars are probably my favorite and they are so healthy! Made with coconut flour, it is paleo, vegan, and gluten-free friendly! It is super moist, soft, and taste almost like pumpkin pie. If you’ve never baked with coconut flour before, the texture is different from most breads/desserts. These bars don’t need very much sweetener because the coconut flour brings out the natural sweetness of the pumpkin. Also, they are oil-free! These are healthy enough to eat as a snack or serve as a dessert. I made these and put some in the freezer to have whenever I want a healthy treat. Coconut Flour Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars 

1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup almond butter (or nut butter of choice)
1 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk
2 flax eggs (2 Tbsp ground flaxseed + 6 Tbsp water) 
1/2 cup coconut flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon (I added a tiny bit more) 
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup non-dairy chocolate chips, divided (I used mini)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Add pumpkin puree, maple syrup, vanilla extract, almond butter, almond milk, and flax eggs to a large bowl and mix until well combined, smooth and creamy.

Add in coconut flour, baking soda, salt, and the remaining spices. Gently fold in 1/3 cup of chocolate chips into the batter. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean in the middle. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool.

Make sure it is completely cooled before you cut into 12 bars. Enjoy! Store leftovers in the refrigerator. I actually really like them cold. They firm up more after being in the fridge. 🙂

(Recipe adapted from the Ambitious Kitchen)

Chipotle Lime Hummus

One of my go to snacks is hummus. I mean, dip any veggie in hummus and it’s amazing. It’s a great way to get your veggies in and have it taste good too. I love to try different kinds of hummus and I think my favorite is the chipotle flavored ones. Also, did you know hummus is so easy to make and tastes even better homemade?! Literally throw everything in your food processor or high powered blender! This chipotle lime hummus is slightly spicy, limey, and so creamy! I put this hummus on sandwiches, wraps, burgers, and even make pasta sauce with it! It’s so versatile, healthy, and delicious!  Chipotle Lime Hummus 

1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and liquid reserved
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup tahini
1 tsp adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo
1 – 2 cloves garlic , quartered
2 chipotle adobo peppers, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
3-4 Tbsp chickpea juice
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro, optional for garnish

To a food processor or high powered blender, add 3 Tbsp reserved liquid from chickpea can, lime juice, olive oil, tahini, adobo sauce, and garlic. Then add chickpeas, chipotle peppers, cumin, coriander, paprika, and salt. Cover and process, adding an additional 1 Tbsp liquid as needed, until hummus is smooth. Plate and top with more olive oil, sprinkle of paprika, and cilantro. Serve with pita chips, tortilla chips, or veggies. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Cooking Classy

Banana Zucchini Blueberry Muffins

These muffins are the perfect way to start off your morning. Packed with whole wheat flour, fruit, and vegetables, it’s great for those crazy mornings where you just need to grab something healthy and go. They are super moist and not overly sweet. I love the natural sweetness that comes from the ripe bananas. Also, coconut sugar makes these muffins healthier than most breakfast muffins that can spike your blood sugar levels. These vegan muffins don’t have very much oil in them either (winner). Use up the last of your zucchinis and bananas and make these muffins. They freeze super well too! I usually make a batch and freeze most of them so I can have them whenever I want.

Banana Zucchini Blueberry Muffins 
Makes 12 muffins 

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 heaping tsp ground cinnamon
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup coconut sugar 
1 flax egg (1 Tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 Tbsp water) 
1/4 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup shredded zucchini (lightly patted dry) 
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

Make flax egg by combining ground flaxseed and water in a small bowl. Mix and set aside for 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine mashed bananas, coconut sugar, flax egg, coconut oil, almond milk, and vanilla. Stir until well combined. Add the flour mixture and stir gently with a rubber spatula until flour is mixed in. Do NOT overmix! Squeeze the zucchini in a paper towel to remove excess liquid. Fold the zucchini into batter. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Pour the batter into prepared muffin cups, about 3/4 full. You can sprinkle the tops with extra coconut sugar if you want. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Cool muffins on a wire cooling rack. Enjoy!

(Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

Vegan Strawberry Cupcakes with Coconut Cream

It’s still strawberry season and you have to make these cupcakes while strawberries are still good! These are so easy and it only takes ONE bowl to make. They are vegan, perfectly sweet, refreshing, and I just love the strawberry flavor in these cupcakes! Also, I could eat the coconut whipped cream frosting by the spoonful. I usually hate any type of frostings and whipped creams, but for some reason, coconut cream is so dang good! You can put it on anything and it pairs very well with fruit. It doesn’t make you feel heavy and sugared out too. For more of a pink color in the cakes, you could add a little bit of cooked beets or strawberry preserves in the batter too. You could make this into a layer cake and double the recipe and add strawberry preserves in between the layers as well. This cake is so versatile, so it’s great to have on hand, plus it’s delicious! One recipe makes about 12 cupcakes or one 8 inch cake pan. I got this recipe from Vegan Richa and just made a few tweeks. I love her blog, go check it out! Vegan Strawberry Cupcakes with Coconut Cream

Dry: 
1 cup whole wheat flour or pastry flour
½ cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 Tbsp arrowroot starch (or cornstarch would work)
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

Wet: 
½ cup unsweetened plain almond milk (or any non-dairy milk)
1 1/2 cups chopped ripe strawberries 
1 tsp white vinegar (or use apple cider vinegar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup unrefined or raw sugar (I used coconut sugar) 
2 Tbsp melted coconut oil 

Preheat the oven to 365 degrees F. Line cupcake pan.

In a bowl whisk all the dry ingredients really well. Add all wet ingredients except oil to blender and blend until smooth (feel free to add 2 Tbsp of strawberry preserves if you want a stronger pink color). Add the blended puree to the dry bowl. Add oil. Mix to make a smooth batter, but careful not to overmix!

Transfer the batter to the cupcake pans and even the top with a spatula if needed.
Bake at 365 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick from the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely on the wire rack. Serve with whipped coconut cream on top and fresh strawberries or strawberry preserves.

Whipped Coconut Cream

1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled for 24 hours*
1 to 2 Tbsps sweetener (pure maple syrup, powdered sugar, cane sugar, etc), to taste
1/2 tspn pure vanilla extract

Chill the can of coconut milk in the fridge for at least 24 hours.

About 1 hour before making the coconut whip, chill a mixing bowl in the freezer. I just used my metal KitchenAid mixing bowl.

After chilling the can, open the can and scoop the solid white coconut cream into the bowl. Discard the coconut water or save it for another use (such as in smoothies).

Using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the cream until fluffy and smooth. Add in sweetener to taste and vanilla.

Return whipped cream to fridge until ready to use. It will firm when chilled and soften at room temperature. This will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 1 week or you can freeze it in an airtight freezer-safe bag for up to 1 month. After chilling in the fridge, allow it to sit at room temperature until it softens slightly and then you can re-whip it as needed.

I love this whipped coconut cream with fresh fruit like peaches and berries.

*Make sure your coconut milk doesn’t have filler ingredients because it will affect how it separates. I used Thai Kitchen full fat coconut milk and I know the Trader Joe’s brand works well too. 

Vegan Key Lime Pie

Oh man, this vegan key lime pie is so good, it’s hard not to drink all the filling before I pour it onto the crust. Limes just scream summer and this pie is refreshing, tart, and has the perfect amount of sweet to it. You can use key limes or regular limes. This is one of my husband’s favorite desserts. Also, it’s so incredible easy to make! It’s vegan, gluten-free, and refined sugar free. Dessert for the win! You could use a gluten-free graham cracker crust but I opted for the date crust. It’s one of my favorites. This pie reminds me of a cold vegan cheesecake, super creamy and delicious!  Vegan Key Lime Pie

Crust:
I used a date crust. Find the recipe here .

Filling:
1 heaping cup raw cashews, soaked for 4-6 hours (or overnight) then drained
3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk, well shaken
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
4 large limes or 6-7 key limes (1 Tbsp zest, 1/2 cup juice)
1/3 – 1/2 cup pure maple syrup, depending on preferred sweetness (I used close to 1/2 cup)

To make removing the pie easier, cut 2 strips of parchment paper (about 3 inches wide) and lay them cross wise in an 8 inch pie pan. This creates tabs that make removing the cheesecake easier to pop out once frozen.

Press crust down until the meal sticks together and forms a solid base. Place in the freezer to set.

Add all filling ingredients to a blender and blend on high (or liquefy) until creamy and smooth. Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more lime zest/juice for more tart, or more maple syrup or agave for added sweetness.

Pour filling into pie pan and tap on counter to release air bubbles. Top with a bit more lime zest and loosely cover.

Freeze for at least 4 hours or until firm. Remove from the freezer for 10-15 minutes to thaw before serving. Will keep covered in the freezer for up to 2 weeks, though best when fresh.

Enjoy!