Purple Sweet Potato Pie Bars
Last week Alex and I took a day to start wedding planning together - FINALLY! So far, we have a venue, at The Riverbed Farm in Anaheim, and a date - June 10th, 2017, but other than that we've got nothing planned. Whoops! Time seems to be flying by at this point so my next big things to mark off the checklist are our save the dates and invitations, finding a caterer and finalizing details like the drink menu and decor. I'll have a post up soon on all the details and what we've learned so far in planning our vegan wedding!
In the meantime, a girl's gotta eat, and I've been loving all the fall produce we've been getting in our CSA box + seeing in supermarkets lately. We went on a date day last and ended up at a cute little kombucha + fermented goods bar in Costa Mesa called Farm + Culture Co. that served these yummy bites made with purple sweet potato and I was totally inspired. I wanted to create something similar, but with a little more focus on something sharable for the Fall season - so we came up with these Purple Sweet Potato Pie Squares. These pie squares are an incredibly gorgeous color - shockingly purple! - that just make you wanna eat 'em up. These bars are:
The sweet potatoes are paired with warm fall flavors like maple, cinnamon, and ginger on a chewy cashew-date-macadamia crust that makes them irresistible and much like a traditional sweet potato pie - but far healthier! They're are totally naturally sweetened, and you can omit the maple syrup if you prefer to keep them date-sweetened only. Eat them on their own or top them with a bit of whipped cream and a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg for the perfect fall treat. They're an indulgence you don't have to have any guilt about, so go ahead - have two!
Cashew Date Macadamia Crust Layer:
1 1/2 cups cashews
1 cup macadamia nuts (or skinless almonds)
1 cup pitted dates
3 tablespoons coconut oil
Purple Sweet Potato Pie Layer:
1.5 lbs purple sweet potatoes, boiled, skinned + mashed (about 2 1/2 cups mash)
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
Cashew Date Macadamia Crust Layer:
Soak the cashews and macadamia nuts in warm water for at least one hour. Drain off the liquid, and pour the soaked nuts into the food processor. Add in the pitted dates and coconut oil and process until a sticky crust forms.
Grease or line a 9x9 inch glass baking dish. Scrape the crust mixture into the baking dish and use a rubber spatula to spoon to press the mixture firmly and evenly into the pan. Refrigerate or freeze to set the crust, about one hour, before topping with the sweet potato mixture. Wipe the processor bowl out with a paper towel and set aside.
Purple Sweet Potato Pie Layer:
Place the sweet potatoes into a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the water and let cool completely. Once cooled, remove the skins and toss 'em into the compost or trash bin. Place the sweet potatoes into the processor bowl with the almond milk, maple syrup, coconut oil, lemon juice, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Process on high until the mixture is completely combined and smooth.
Pour the mixture over the cooled crust layer and spread it evenly around. Place the baking dish back into the freezer to firm - they'll be much easier to slice this way. Once they're firm, about 3+ hours later, slice the bars even squares. Serve immediately or let soften in the fridge until you're ready to enjoy!
Makes 16-20 bars. Leftovers can be saved in the fridge for several days or the freezer indefinitely.
Purple Sweet Potatoes are different than Japanese Sweet Potatoes, which are purple on the outside but white on the inside. Make sure you double check or your pie squares - while delicious! - certainly won't come out looking like ours.
Strawberry Cheesecake Squares
It's the hottest time of the year just about everywhere right now, and Southern California is no exception. In fact, most Angelinos will tell you that the past month has included some weird very june-gloom-esque weather. Lots of cloudy, humid mornings leading to sunny, hot afternoons. Basically, every afternoon becomes an excuse for me to run to the grocery store and pick up a pint of DF Mavens Mint Chip (my latest obsession) Ice Cream and then come home and eat it all, justifying that without it, I would be a puddle! The problem? I still kind of puddle out around 3 pm when the heat reaches its peak, but I've also eaten 600 calories worth of ice cream and my daily allotment of sugar. Whoops! This week I'm giving up the ice cream and packed the freezer with these sweet, low sugar Strawberry Cheesecake Squares. They're just the right amount of sweet on top of a chewy date-oat-nut crust, and make the perfect afternoon cool-down treat or late-night snack. They're packed full of good fats from the nuts and coconut milk, and are a nice break from a traditional round cheesecake. Easier to serve + share! Plus, when it's as hot as it has been here lately, you only want to have to pull out a piece at a time because, you know, MELTING. As you can see as proof above (well, and below), things got a bit melty under photography lights in the hot hot afternoon, but it still tastes amazing. If its that hot, keep them in the freezer until ready to serve. Otherwise, you can soften them a bit in the fridge, but since coconut milk/cream is so melty, the cooler the better for these babies. Let's eat!
1½ cups cashews
1½ cups oats
1 cup pitted dates
6 tablespoons melted coconut oil
4 heaping cups strawberries, green tops removed
1 - 14 oz. can coconut cream OR 2 cans coconut milk, refrigerated overnight + liquid drained
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup melted coconut oil
2-4 tablespoons maple syrup OR agave nectar
Soak cashews in warm water for at least one hour. Blend all ingredients together in a food processor or high speed blender. Grease or line a 9x9 inch glass baking dish. Press date & nut mixture into the bottom of the baking dish. Refrigerate or freeze to set coconut oil, about one hour.
Blend strawberries, coconut cream, vanilla, coconut oil and maple syrup in a high speed blender until completely combined. Remove crust-filled baking dish from the fridge and fill evenly with the cheesecake mixture. Cover + place in the freezer or fridge to set for at least 3 hours or overnight. When ready, remove from the fridge, cut with a large knife into 12 even squares, and plate. Sprinkle with crushed cashews, fresh strawberries, and a bit of coconut whipped cream, if you like. Since coconut cream can get melty in the heat (like in some of the photos above!), this dessert is best left in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to eat it. It lasts indefinitely covered in the freezer, and makes 12 medium-sized or 15 small cheesecake squares. Enjoy!
Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie
While most people are starting this easter morning with pancakes, baked goods, and sweet treats- we're starting slow. We need to pace ourselves because this afternoon I'M GOING TO EAT SO MUCH CANDY. I can't help myself. Luckily, I've got a protein powder like Sunwarrior's Warrior Blend protein to help me start the day in a much more balanced + healthy place. Sunwarrior protein is amazing. It's got a great, rich, sweet flavor and isn't the least bit chalky (and you can buy it HERE). The Warrior Blend has a whopping 19 grams of protein per serving (about 40% of your daily need!) and ZERO sugar. Sun warrior is formulated to be easily digestible and is made of things like pea, hemp seed, cranberry and coconut oil- you know, REAL food! It has a complete amino acid profile (meaning all of 'em) and has extra lysine and leucine, which can be lacking in plant-based proteins. And, as you can see from the photo, it's free of soy, gluten, GMO's, and crappy fillers like sugar. Its a plant-based win, for sure. Plus, if you're into it, Sunwarrior also sells things like sprouted barley, fluvial acid, immunity shields and other plant-based proteins too. Basically everything you need to make sure your active body is performing at its very best! This protein powder gives this smoothie a rich, creamy taste- hence the 'cheesecake' part of the title. The addition of more cashews adds a bit of fullness and more protein to the smoothie, while the strawberries and granola 'crust' keep it light and sweet...like having dessert for breakfast! Now grab those easter baskets, start filling 'em with goodies, and lets eat!
1 scoop OR individual packet of Sunwarrior Vanilla Protein powder
1 cup fresh strawberries
1/2 cup raw cashews
3 medjool dates, pits removed
12 oz. non-dairy milk (we like coconut!)
1 cup ice
granola, for garnish (optional)
Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth. Top with a bit of granola (its like the 'crust' of the cheesecake!) and serve in two small glasses- or one big one. Enjoy!
Mini Key Lime Cheesecakes
Its (almost) SUMMERTIME and I've been craving guilt-free goodies. Nothing taste more like summer to me than a giant slice of key lime pie and a margarita, and today, I'm going to do just that. One mini-cheesecake, one stiff drink, a beach towel, and a book. Anyone care to join me?
These cheesecakes are so easy to whip up they'll have you feeling like you really ARE on summer vacation already. And maybe you are! In that case, have two margaritas. This recipe is broken up into several 'set it & forget it' steps, followed by a large serving of DELICIOUS. You're gonna love the creamy, zesty lime flavor, accented by a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and the chewy, sweet, date & nut crust. Perfect for sharing, summer sized-portions, and adorable snacking. Can also be made in cake pan-size, if you prefer. Either way, I'll see you at the beach. Enjoy!
1/2 cup pitted dates
1 1/2 cup nuts (I used almonds and cashews)
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
3 cups soaked cashews
3/4 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice
2/3 cup agave nectar or maple syrup
3/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 key lime, zested (about 1 teaspoon)
sprinkle of coarse sea salt, for garnish
Blend all ingredients together in a food processor or high speed blender. Grease or line 4-6 ramekins or tart dishes OR 1 9-inch spring form pan. Press date & nut mixture into bottom of ramekins or pan. Refrigerate or freeze to set coconut oil, about one hour.
Soak cashews in warm water for at least one hour. Blend cashews, lime juice, agave, coconut oil, salt, vanilla, and lime zest in a food processor or high speed blender until completely combined. Remove ramekins or cake pan from the fridge and fill to the top with key lime mixture. Put in the freezer or fridge to set for at least 3 hours before serving (or just eat it- it might not keep its shape as well but it'll still taste delicious). When ready, remove from the fridge and plate. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and a lime wedge to garnish. Serve, and enjoy! Great topped with coconut whipped cream or all by itself. Last indefinitely covered in the freezer and at least 1 week in the fridge. Makes 4-6 small ramekins or tarts OR one 9-in cake pan worth of cheesecake.