7 Must-Bake Vegan Christmas Cookies

7  Must-Bake Vegan Christmas Cookies

With Christmas fast approaching, it’s time to get on the baking train. Whether you’re entertaining friends and family or simply want to spread a little cheer with some homemade goodies, then these recipes are for you!

Plus, they’re all simple, delicious AND vegan! And your friends and family will never know the difference!

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Festive Gluten-free & Vegan Cookies

Well, it's that time of year...time for baking and icing and filling your face (and your family & friends faces) with all matter of cookie goodness!  But now that I'm staying away from dairy and eggs, I've had to adjust my baking repertoire accordingly.  So I've rounded up a few super yummy gluten-free and vegan Christmas cookies that you can add to your recipe box. Enjoy!

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Chai Spice Snowball Cookies from Cafe Johnsonia

What are you baking this year?  Got an awesome recipe?  How about sharing a link?!  I'm always on the look out for great cookies!

Foodie Friday: Gluten-Free & Vegan Holiday Treats

Better late than never I say.  After construction workers cut our phone and Internet yesterday I've been scrambling to try and get some work done.  So I guess this is more like Sweet Saturday.  Here's a few fantastic holiday treats to put a smile on your face.  You don't need to go without just because you don't eat wheat or animal products.  Check out some of these festive favourites:

 5 Gluten-free Vegan Holiday Treats

1. Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread Men courtesy of Inhabitots
 2.  Frosted Chocolate Peppermint Cookies


Sarah Bakes shares this delicious recipe!



3.  Sugar Cookies with Vegan Buttercream Icing

Goodies from Our Good Food Life!



 4.  Cardamom Christmas Cookies

Courtesy of the Community Food Co-op

5.  Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

Red Velvet1
These beauties from The Sweet Life

 What's your favourite Christmas cookie? I LOVE the classic Sugar cookies and Shortbread.  Mmmm....

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Tip Tuesday: No Eggs? No Problem...bake away!


Recently I've learned that I'm allergic to eggs along with a host of some of my other favourite foods.  Yes, I liked eggs; scrambled, poached, fried etc.  As a main dish it wasn't so hard to give up, but I did find it more difficult to remove them from recipes. So I thought I would share some easy egg substitutions to get through the holiday baking season.  I've tried a few and surprisingly they work quite well.  Who knew?
  1. Flax Egg - yes ground flax can be used as an egg substitute. I've used it in more savoury dishes as opposed to the sweet.  Simply mix 1 tablespoon of ground flax with 3 tablespoons of water an let sit for about 20 minutes = 1 egg. The mixture will thicken up and then can be added to your recipe.
  2. Chia Egg - pretty much the same as the flax egg.  However, the chia is pretty much tasteless so I find it can be used in sweet and less savoury items.  I've used it in pancakes & muffins and it worked like a dream.  Plus you get the added health benefits too! So 1 tablespoon of whole chia seeds  + 3 tablespoons of water = 1 egg.  Let sit for about 15 to 20 minutes until it's like jelly.  Mix occasionally while you wait.
  3. Applesauce - it's fantastic in brownies, muffins and cakes.  Adds lots of moisture and some nice flavour too! 1/3 cup of applesauce = 1 egg or  1/4 cup of applesauce + 1tsp baking powder = 1egg. 
  4. Cornstarch - it may seem a little strange but I've done it and it works.  Check out my post on cookies.  Great for puddings & cookies! 1 tablespoon of cornstarch + 2 tablespoons of water = 1 egg.
  5. Bananas - you may already know this one.  I used to use them all the time, but alas, I am allergic to bananas.  They work great in muffins, breads, brownies and cakes. 1/2 pureed banana = 1 egg (about 1/4 cup)
There are numerous other egg substitutes out there.  From tofu to yogurt to water to flour and everything else in between.

So whether you're vegan or just ran out of eggs in the middle of your baking marathon, don't worry...you'll likely have something in your pantry to get you through your recipe.

Check out Chef in You for lots of great egg substitutes.  Got a fave egg-less tip? Please share.

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Foodie Friday: Easy Baking with King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free Baking Mix

So I was craving some garlicky, cheesy buns to have with my pasta dinner the other night.  And  now being gluten-free, dairy-free & egg-free made that desire feel completely unobtainable.  But wait, what's that in the cupboard?  A box of King Arthur Flour Gluten-free Baking Mix!  And that's how it all began.

Checking out the back of the box I discovered a handful of delightfully easy and delicious recipes.  One of them was for some mouth-watering Savoury Biscuits made with bacon & cheese.  But I didn't have any bacon and I can't eat the eggs or cream so I decided I would see if I could make my own vegan version.  Bring on the biscuits!

The recipe called for bacon & cheddar cheese.  I left out the bacon as there wasn't any in the house and opted for vegan cheese instead.  Then for the cream; I used plain almond milk.  Easy peasy!  But wait....2 eggs...what to do?  Now with baking sweet treats I could easily substitute apple sauce or banana instead of eggs.  But with these savoury biscuits I didn't think the flavours would have complimented each other very well.  Enter the flax-egg.  If you've never looked up egg substitutes you'd be surprised to find there are actually quite a few of them.  And I thought the flax-egg would be a nice addition to the Savoury Biscuits; not only for taste, but flax is also nice and healthy
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To make a flax-egg it's quite simple.  Just 1 tablespoon of ground flax and 2-3 tablespoons of water.  Mix it up and then wait.  Let your flax & water sit for a bit, 10-15 minutes will do, and the flax will slowly absorb the water and you'll have a nice little bowl of flaxy-gooey goodness
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After mixing my eggs and following the recipe on the box, I added some herb & garlic seasoning (I didn't have scallions either) and patted out the dough and cut it into rounds.  My mixture made 7 biscuits and the box said 6-8 biscuits so I think I did everything right.
Into the oven they went and then I waited.  I baked mine for a little longer than advised only because my oven didn't want to brown them up.  But no matter, they smelled divine!  When they came out of the oven they didn't quite look like what was on the box.  They didn't rise nearly as much as I had hoped.  Now I don't think this is because of the mix.  I tend to over handle my dough and the flax-egg may have played a part in the lack of fluffiness.  But the true test was how do they taste?

A while back I posted about my first attempt at biscuits that were more like pucks.  So I was really hoping these ones didn't suffer the same fate.  But to my surprise they were soft and airy even though they didn't fully rise.  No hockey pucks here!  And the flax-egg did a great job holding them together.  There was no after-taste from the the flax and they were perfectly garlicky and cheesy!  So good slathered in vegan butter!

I have to say I was quite impressed that I could take a mix from a box and adjust it to my dietary needs and it still came out great! The kids loved them and now I don't have to pine for biscuits anymore.  I can't wait to try and vegan-ize some of the other recipes on the box!
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Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge from  King Arthur Flour for the purposes of this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Foodie Friday: Gluten-Free Cookies for the Birthday Girl

So it's your kid's birthday; and you want to send your little Sally or Johnny to school with treats for all their classroom friends.  But wait....no nuts allowed at school....and your child is gluten-free....and another kid can't have eggs or milk....what do you do?  Spend hours searching online for a wheat-free, nut-free, egg-free & dairy-free recipe and then hope there's a late night grocery store you can hit up to find all the ingredients you need.  And then stay up late baking like a machine and praying your kids and all the others will eat your concoction?  Or you could try something much easier and stress free....King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free Cookie Mix!

At least that's what I did.  You may already know that our household is gluten-free, but now with Stella (our birthday girl) in school we can't send her with any nuts.  I'm used to baking with various nut flours, but that's a big no-no.  And add into the mix I've recently learned I'm allergic to dairy and eggs.  Needless to say, my fridge and cupboards are lacking the usual baking ingredients.  But I really wanted to send something special to school for Stella's birthday and I wanted to be able to enjoy a treat too.
Luckily for me I had a box of King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free Cookie Mix in the cupboard.  It's a great mix for your cookies and then you can design them however you want by adding your own special ingredients.  I was going to add raisins (my healthier choice) but Stella insisted on chocolate chips.  The next trick was to modify this mix to be dairy & egg-free.  Luckily it only calls for 1/2 cup of butter or shortening and 1 egg. I used a 1/2 cup of Earth's Balance Vegan Butter which I already had in the fridge.  But then I needed an egg substitute.  I would have used a banana as I've heard that works well, but wouldn't you know I'm also allergic to bananas!  So I found a great resource online that lists the various egg substitutes and what they are best used for.  Turns out the egg in a cookie recipe is just really for binding.  And a easy substitute is 2 tbsp of corn starch mixed with 1 tbsp of water.  So that's what I did and hoped for the best.

The mix was so easy to use and the instructions were fool-proof.  Once the dough was mixed up it looked just like cookie dough should.  Now the box recommended dropping it by heaping tablespoons to create about 2 dozen cookies.  But Stella's class is pretty big, so I used a teaspoon instead and ended up with about 33 cookies.  Pretty good for one box.

I baked them at the instructed temperature and found in my oven they took exactly 12 minutes to bake.  That was a long 12 minutes having to wait for those sweet smelling morsels to come out of the oven.  In the past I have found some gluten-free recipes to be a little more delicate than their traditional wheat counter-parts.  But these cookies weren't any more delicate than a wheat-based one.  (read: I didn't break them all getting them off the cookie sheet)
Once cooled, Stella and I decorated her special birthday cookies. 

 What 4 year old doesn't love hearts with star sprinkles?

We ended up with just enough cookies for us to have a sample before sending them off to school to be devoured.  And they received the seal of approval from Stella, Dad and myself.  And nobody would even guess they were gluten-free, dairy-free & egg-free.  So kudos to King Arthur Flour for making baking a fun family experience.  And now I can make the cookies AND eat them too!  Can't wait to try some of their other gluten-free products!
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 Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge from King Arthur Flour for the purposes of this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Foodie Friday - 3 Ways to Make Mushy Bananas Marvelous

I was inspired by my breakfast this morning and thought that you might enjoy a few of my banana saving recipes.  A lot of people don't care for or know what to do with brown mushy bananas and just end up pitching them before the fruit flies set in.  But before you resort to banana abandonment check out these super fast, easy and tasty ways to use up those browning bananas.

1.  Smoothies - this is the easiest way to use up bananas.  Mushy bananas are a great addition to any smoothie by providing some sweetness and a little extra thickening.  We don't use a lot of fruit in our smoothies, but the kids love a little banana in theirs.  Not ready to make a smoothie in the morning?  Just peel the banana and freeze in a container to use for next time.  I always have a few frozen at any given time.  Great for a quick breakfast smoothie or to whip up some last minute muffins or bread.  Speaking of muffins...

2. 5 Minute Muffins - seriously - 5 minutes!  I found this recipe recently and thought it was too good to be true. But after making them I discovered they are just too good...period.  I made them with peanut butter, but the next batch will be with Wow Butter so my daughter can take them to school.  I froze half and they still come out great from the freezer.  Just pop them in the toaster oven or just take them out the night before; so delicious and moist.  Can't believe they are gluten-free and grain-free. Amazing!  Thanks to Whole Lifestyle Nutrition for sharing this recipe.

 Prep Time: 5 minutes   Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 12 muffins or 24 mini muffins
Recipe adapted from The Sweet Spot
  
Ingredients
  • 1 cup nut butter (ex. cashew, peanut, almond, and sunflower seed)
  • 2 medium sized bananas (The more ripe, the sweeter!)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (try making your own!)
  • 2 tablespoons of raw honey(or other sweeteners such as maple syrup, stevia, etc.)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • Toppings: dehydrated unsweetened coconut, raisins, flax seed, dark chocolate chips, cinnamon, and/or anything else you can think of. I dotted the tops with blueberries and I'm having visions of strawberry coconut or raspberry & dark chocolate.  The options are endless!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor. You can also use a stick blender if you have one.
  3. Blend until well mixed.
  4. Pour batter into a greased muffin tin. You can also use a mini muffin tin to make 24 mini muffins.
  5. Add additional toppings of your choice to each muffin and lightly stir into each cup
  6. Cook time: 15 minutes for full size muffins and 10 minutes for mini muffins.
  7. Reheat in a toaster oven for about 4 minutes at 350 degrees F, or eat at room temperature.

3.  Chia Pudding - if you haven't tried Chia pudding yet, you really need too.  Chia is a power-packed seed from South America.  These tiny mild flavoured seeds are chalk full of vitamins and nutrients.  They are full of fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, manganese and protein and can be added to just about anything.  I've used them in smoothies and added them to muffins and cookies, but my new fave is Chia Pudding.  When placed in liquid the seeds soak it up and turn to gel. I liken it to a tinier version of tapioca.  So here's my super easy Tropical Chia Pudding Recipe:

Ingredients

2 tablespoons of Chia
1/2 cup of Almond Milk (or any other type of milk)
1/2 a ripe banana
1 teaspoon of unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut
* Optional Stevia to taste

Instructions

Mix the Chia, Almond Milk, Coconut (and Stevia if using) in a bowl.  Stir every 5 minutes or so to break up any lumps.  You'll notice fairly quickly that the seeds start to gel in the bowl.  Now some sites tell you to mix the pudding the night before.  I've done mine first thing in the morning and it's been ready to eat in about 20-30 minutes.  Feel free to add additional milk if the pudding is too thick.  If your banana isn't super mushy then simply slice on top.  If it's really brown, mash with a fork and mix into your pudding.  And voila!  A super healthy, tasty and easy pudding for breakfast or dessert. Enjoy!

Tried some of these recipes?  Let me know how you like them.

In the meantime, I'll be waiting for my bananas to ripen!
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Tip Tuesday - Downsize Your Vanity with One Item

Oh Coconut Oil....how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways....

And there's probably a thousand of them.  I've been a coconut oil addict for the past few years and I'm OK with that.  So I thought I would share why I feel this way about coconuts.

We use unrefined Organic Virgin Coconut Oil in our house.  We have a giant tub in the kitchen and a small container in the bathroom and the baby's room.  It's possibly the most versatile thing I've ever used.

So here's a few things we use it for....think of all the products in your home it can replace!  :)

1.  Cooking - coconut oil can replace butter, margarine and vegetable oils for baking, frying and cooking in general.  Especially delicious when used for making popcorn!  Great in the fry pan as it has a high smoking point.
2.  Lip Balm - skip the Vaseline or various lip balms in a tube.  Just a little bit to soothe your lips...and it tastes delish!
3.  Body Cream - so lovely to spread over all your parts especially after getting out of the shower.
4.  Face Cream - I use it as a face and eye cream.  Some people advise to put it on at night but I do it during the day with no complaints.  A little goes a long way.  It's so soft and luxurious and leaves my skin feeling nourished and looking great!
5.  Can help lower cholesterol - coconut oil is considered a healthy fat and can actually help lower your cholesterol.  Put it in your smoothie or use it in a stir fry.
6.  Diaper cream - yes you can chuck your icky petroleum based diaper cream and use some coconut.  With it's anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties it's great for baby bums
7.  Deodorant - use it on it's own as a natural deodorant or why not make your own with some lovely oils for a yummy smelling armpits!
8.  Sunscreen - yes you can use it as a natural sunscreen and to build up your own sun-tolerance.  It's got about an SPF 4.
9.  After Sun Care - spent a little too much time outside?  Then rub on some coconut oil and turn that pink into a lovely golden brown.
10.  De-frizz - use a tiny dab on those split ends or frizzy hair post-shower and enjoy gorgeous shiny locks
11.  Shaving Cream - perfect 2-in-1.  Shave with is and no need to moisturise after as it's already done!
12.  Foot Care -slather it on to those tired toes and go to sleep with some light socks and wake up to beautifully moisturised feet.

OK...so you probably get the point by now, I could go on and on. A simple Internet search will give you thousands of uses for this amazing oil.

So why not ditch some of those gross chemically products and just use one. Think of the space you'll you'll have in your vanity or pantry! What's your fave way to use Coconut Oil?

Cuckoo for coconut,
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photo credit: Swami Stream via photopin cc

Foodie Friday: Gluten-Free, Sugar-free Brownies

So Stella had been continuously begging me to bake some sweet delicious treat.  She wanted cookies or cupcakes or brownies.  Since going wheat-free and sugar-free the amount of sweets in our house has declined significantly.  But given how persistent and ridiculously cute she is, I figured the least I could do is find a gluten-free and sugar-free recipe.  (OK. There is some honey, but I would have substituted Stevia if I had enough.)

It took me a bit, but thanks to the wonders of the interweb I found exactly what I needed.  I quit sugar in February 2013 and did a purge of my pantry, so needless to say it wasn't easy finding a recipe I could make without having to take a trip to the grocery store. But never say never! What I found was an easy and delicious recipe for brownies.  The entire pan was gone in less then 2 days!  So without further ado, here is the recipe!

Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Dairy-free Brownies
http://www.yummly.com/recipe/external/Gluten-free_-sugar-free_-dairy-free-brownies-324782

Author Notes: This recipe is a slight adaptation of Gluten Free Easily‘s Big and Rich Brownie recipe (http://glutenfreeeasily.com/big-rich-brownies-gf-friends/). 
 
Makes 12 brownies
Fresh out of the oven.



  • 2/3 cups Olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Cocoa powder
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3/4 cups Honey
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups Blend of corn and rice flour
  • 1/3 cup Nuts (I used slivered almonds)
  • 3/4 cups unsweetened Peanut butter, if desired, for “frosting”
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
  2. Grease an 8 x 8 (or comparable size) glass baking dish.
  3. Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl. The nuts can be sprinkled on top just before the brownies are put into the oven, or mixed into the batter.
  4. Spread batter in the greased pan. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
 

Had a hard time keeping my hands of these while taking the pic!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Easy bakin',
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