Healthy Vegan Fruit Tarts

I’m usually asked to make dessert for holiday get-togethers, and more specifically to bring my usual cupcakes or cookies. This time I wanted to bring something different. I recently had a baby shower at work and brought the easiest thing I could make the night before work which were cinnamon rolls. I found that everyone else had brought cake, cupcakes, brownies and pasta. This meant that a lot of the girls didn’t want to eat anything, rightfully so because it was all so unhealthy and every woman on the planet is on a diet 99% of the time. It made me realize that I should have brought something healthier and I wish I had just brought a veggie platter instead. The unfortunate thing however is that the healthier option is usually more expensive. I was looking at spending $15 on a veggie platter compared to $3-4 to make cinnamon rolls. As a relatively young person living out of home I don’t have the biggest budget to work on. But anyhow getting to the point, this time for Thanksgiving I wanted to make something that was a bit lighter, and healthier. My brother-in-law has lost 50lbs since becoming vegan and he really tries to find ways to bake in healthier ways. I really wanted to bring a vegan dessert that was light and still really tasty. So with the little time I had I decided to make vegan fruit tarts.

I will just say now that cooking and baking are not my strong points. But I ended up finding pastry sheets that were actually vegan by Pepperidge Farms. Next time I have more time I will attempt to make my own pastry sheets but this time they were perfect for my tarts. I was also one of the blessed folk who had to work Thanksgiving this year from 7pm-1:30am. Anyhow, I’m sorry I didn’t take more photos this time but I only had about an hour to make these. Lack of time aside I also prefer to cook and bake with as few ingredients as possible. I feel like it keeps the end result more natural and light. But it could also be the lack of skill, who knows….

For all the tarts I laid out the pastry sheets and cut out circles using a large soup mug. It would probably be handy to have a circle cutter but the mug delivered. I put each of these circles of pastry into a cupcake cooking pan to shape the tart. I just had to mould the pastry circles into each cup of the pan. This way you can create little individual tarts for each person.

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Ingredients

4 Granny Smith Apples cut into wedges

Cinnamon

Brown sugar

1 Tablespoon Earth Balance butter

For the apple and cinnamon tarts I just pre-roasted the apples in the oven at 400° for 25 minutes. I first mixed the apples in a  bowl with the melted butter, 1 Tablespoon brown sugar, and powdered cinnamon. I then filled the pastry cups with this mixture and created a very poor lattice on the top by cutting out little mini strips of the remaining pastry. I cooked the tarts at 400° in the oven for 15 minutes.

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Ingredients

Blueberries

Raspberries

Corn Starch

Brown Sugar

I kept trying to research ways on how to make a healthy filling for berry tarts and I really didn’t like any of the recipes I found. Like I said before I really wanted these to be light and healthy, and to be a simple fruit dessert. My husband ended up making a little sauce/jam concoction using a small handful of pureed raspberries, a teaspoon of cornstarch, with less than a teaspoon of brown sugar. This created exactly what I needed to place into the bottom of the pastry tart so that it wouldn’t just be fruit that could become dry. I then placed blueberries and raspberries on top of this mixture into each pastry cup and sprinkled a tiny amount of brown sugar on top. These were also baked at 400° along with the apple tarts for 15 minutes.

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Both of these tarts were so simple and used so few ingredients but they tasted really amazing! Just before I had to leave my in-laws for work on Thanksgiving I brought these out to eat and they were a hit. My brother-in-law seemed to be the biggest fan and I think appreciated the effort to bring a healthier option. He ended up eating several and I only wish I had made more. The berry tarts were a perfect mix of tartness and sweetness, and the pastry was really good too. Using a cupcake/muffin pan was also the perfect size to make individual tarts. I will definitely be making these for Christmas again, and actually wanted to try my hand at making an Aussie Christmas staple which are fruit mince pies. Next time I will also try to take better pictures and more pictures of the actual process. But they were so simple to make, and use so few ingredients that a monkey could make this.

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Vegan Chocolate Mousse

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I first saw this recipe made by a YouTuber I follow called Leyla. I have shown one of her other recipes on here before that was the Thai Mango Salad. She just makes a lot of amazing vegan recipes that I have to try myself. This recipe for chocolate mousse is one I have been wanting to try for a long time because of the strange ingredients. I could not believe that a mousse that is made with avocado would taste anything like chocolate. But I made it and it actually tastes nothing like avocado and has the same consistency as traditional mousse.

Ingredients

4 Ripe Avocados

4 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

3 Tablespoons honey or agave syrup (I used honey)

1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 Cup almond or coconut milk (I actually used dark chocolate almond milk because I forgot to buy the regular milk)

Making this is really simple and quick. You just have to cut up the avocado first and then add all the ingredients into a blender or food processor. A food processor is ideal but I only have a blender so I had to blend it for quite a while. I also put in the avocados like I’ve shown below and next time I would definitely cut them up into small pieces so that my blender doesn’t experience a complete meltdown.

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It’s amazing that with such few and simple ingredients you can create a really delicious chocolate mousse that is also healthy. Since I used dark chocolate almond milk mine ended up tasting very much like dark chocolate. You can also adjust this recipe to make it much sweeter. I don’t have a huge sweet tooth so I actually like the combination of ingredients I used. I also added some toffee almond granola to mine, honestly more for decoration purposes. Overall I am really surprised at how decent this was and how it didn’t taste anything like avocado. The fact that it’s healthy is definitely a bonus too!

For the original recipe check out RealLeyla’s channel at http://youtube.com/realleyla

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Pan-Fried Mung Beans with Tempeh

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I wanted to share this recipe that my sister made. It looks really good and I want to try and cook it myself. It looks really easy and quick to make as well. All it involves is pan frying cut up pieces of tempeh in a pan until they are golden on each side. You then set them aside and begin pan frying broccoli, asparagus and mung beans in a pan until the vegetables are slightly tender and the mung beans are cooked through. I would suggest soaking the mung beans first so that they do not involve as much cooking time. The spices used in this are lemon zest and coriander, and then dollops of greek yoghurt are added when served. If you are lactose intolerant like I am or are even just vegan I would suggest to skip the yoghurt entirely or just use plain soy yoghurt because it tastes the same.

Here is my sister’s final result.

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This looks so good to me and I am definitely going to try making it for my sister-in-law and her husband. They have both been vegan for over a year now and I think they would really enjoy this.

Roasted Eggplant

As someone who loves eggplant I constantly try to find new ways of making it. Eggplant is not the easiest thing to cook because it has a weird texture, and the seeds inside make it very bitter. My mum would always make this casserole with eggplant and it always tasted perfect. If I try to make the same thing it doesn’t taste anywhere near her cooking. But I’m Persian and Persian cooking is usually an all-day affair. A lot of times they actually advise you to let the eggplant sit while soaking in salt but I just don’t have the patience for that kind of thing!

So anyhow, I wanted to try roasted eggplant because it sounded delicious and searched for a few recipes online. After trial and error I found that the best way to cook eggplant is at 420°F for 1 hour. It is also best to cut the eggplant in half and cutting the eggplant in diamond cross-hatch patterns. It is also a good idea to use a good amount of salt to reduce the bitterness from the seeds. A lot of the recipes also called for a lot of oil but that didn’t sound entirely healthy so I actually found that cooking with Earth Balance (dairy free) butter was best. I simply spread about a tablespoon of the Earth Balance butter on each half, which isn’t terrible especially if you are just eating the eggplant. The Earth Balance butter is usually made up of good fats also. For some reason the butter also made the eggplant come out better than the oil to me.  And for other seasonings you could pretty much put anything you wanted on it like thyme or lemon. Being the spice freak that I am I of course put chili flakes on mine. I honestly think eggplant when roasted tastes best simple, with only salt to season.

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So after an hour the eggplant looked like this using oil:

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With the Earth Balance butter it came out like this:

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So I think you can see a difference. With the oil the eggplant was still somewhat dry. With the butter the eggplant came out perfect and even the skin ended up crispy, which was delicious. You may think you shouldn’t eat the skin but it actually contains a lot of vitamins. The skin of the eggplant actually has a phytonutrient called nasunin, which is a powerful antioxidant that is highly beneficial for your brain, cardiovascular health, and even for women who can lose a lot of iron. So overall this was a really easy way of cooking eggplant that came out really well. I’ve tried slow-cooking it in my crockpot and it didn’t turn out great, so this is definitely something I often make now to eat for lunch.

Thai Mango Salad

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A girl I follow on YouTube called Leyla from Getfitwithleyla occasionally posts recipes for healthy meals, namely vegan. This salad was one of those recipes I’ve been wanting to try for a while. It looks so colorful and full of flavor, and I’ll eat pretty much anything with mango in it. I also like trying new salad recipes to keep me motivated to eat salads and keep vegetables interesting. It turned out pretty well, and the flavors were pretty interesting because there were so many in this dish. It mixes sweet with salt, and spice with tartness. You can also adjust this to your own liking if you’re not a fan of spice or anything else in this dish. I didn’t follow Leyla’s recipe exactlty because i forgot to buy red onions, so I used shallots/green onions instead. I rarely follow instructions so I’m sorry I don’t have exact measurements of things. My measuring involves, “Yeah, that looks about good.”

Ingredients

  • Bell peppers/capsicum: assorted colors.
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 Mango
  • 1 Cup parsley
  • Bean sprouts

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Dressing

  • 1/2 Jalapeno pepper
  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

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Directions

First is the painstaking task of cutting the mango, bell peppers and cucumber julienne style. Julienne is a fancy way of saying cut stuff into long thin slices. They make machines for this process but I like most people I imagine do not own such a machine. It is also quite trying to peel the mango, but I think my years of working in a restaurant have traumatized me from having to peel and cut onions and potatoes en masse.

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So, two hours later after you’ve completed this step you need to finely chop the parsley and green onions.

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Now set these ingredients aside to prepare the dressing.

Grate the ginger and cut up the jalapeño peppers finely. In a small bowl add the soy sauce, olive oil, salt, pepper, jalapeño peppers and ginger and mix together.

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The dressing may sound odd, but it’s what really creates the thai flavor in this. If it sounds too weird, you really could add whatever dressing you’d like to this…it just wouldn’t be a Thai salad anymore.

Now you just add all the ingredients to a large bowl and mix together. Leyla suggested to add cashews to this dish to add even more of an Asian flavor. That would be a good idea if you are eating this salad on its own. It is a pretty filling salad. I didn’t add cashews because I was serving it with steamed cod.

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This salad was pretty good to me but I like weird flavors and have a love for mango. I was actually pretty surprised with how much it had that signature thai flavor. I honestly thought it was going to just taste like a salad with soy sauce, but all the flavors work really well together. I actually think this would be a hit with my vegan in-laws so I’ll definitely be making it the next time we get together. I have to admit my husband didn’t warm to it immediately. There was a bit of slow chewing and a look of befuddlement going on, but he only likes about 3 of all known vegetables. He also is not a fan of mango.

But if like me you are drawn to the weirdest thing on the menu, are adventurous and have 5 free hours then give this a go!

Note: It really only took me about 45 minutes to julienne the ingredients, it’ll be okay.

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes

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This past week was my mother-in-law and father-in-law’s birthday. It’s sweet to think they are high school sweethearts who were born in the same year, in the same week. Their birthday’s are 2 days apart, which is pretty awesome to me. Anyhow, today we had a joint celebration for them, which turned out to be more of a casual get-together. Regardless I wanted to bring dessert that vegan friendly for my brother and sister-in-law. I didn’t make these from scratch, and in fact used Duncan Hines Red Velvet cake mix. Duncan Hines cake mixes and frosting have no dairy or animal products in them so it makes it much easier for me. I also replace the egg, water and butter with 10 oz of coke. You can use any dark soda, and it works just as well as the real ingredients.

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I love how vivid the red is in this mix. I was also going to add a cherry jam in the core of the cupcakes, but cherries are hideously expensive right now, so I settled for adding raspberries as decoration. They’re in season right now and I almost ate them all before I could use them.

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I also tried a decoration idea from Pinterest but it didn’t quite translate as well as I thought so I didn’t end up using them. It’s actually why I had the raspberries because I was going to make a flower using them and almond slivers as the petals. I had a few different styles, but stuck with the raspberries in the end.

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Vegan Bean Patties and Zucchini & Quinoa Bites – A slight fail

I once again tried my hand at making vegan food for family get-togethers. I am not vegan myself but as someone who is allergic to dairy products I definitely can appreciate the food. I also try to make as many environmentally conscious decisions as I can. Even though it’s more expensive I try to buy organic animal products. I have been cutting back on red meat and haven’t eaten it in a while. I’ve mostly been eating turkey and seafood. I love a lot of vegan food but I am also anemic so the one time I tried being vegetarian my anemia got so bad that I had to visit my doctor once a week to have iron injections. I still have some bruising from that! At the same time I am aware of all the iron sources in food, my body just absorbs iron differently to most people so I have to be careful. Anyhow, I didn’t go too far here, I just tried making one appetizer from some pictures I saw online and some bean patties.

Zucchini & Quinoa Bites

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These can actually be made with cucumber which may be a better option considering the small amount of people who actually like squash. My husband absolutely hates anything to do with squash but he still tried one and said it wasn’t bad. I’m sure that will sell you on them! I am a fan of all vegetables so I love squash myself, and I love quinoa. On top I just put some chili paste because everything has to be spicy for me. These are really easy to make as you can probably see, and they are a good appetizer to have that are healthy. Because I used zucchini I first slightly seared the zucchini in a pan with a tiny amount of olive oil.

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The quinoa is easy to cook and there are various ways to cook it but I was a bit lazy and just used my rice cooker. Quinoa is also really good because for those wanting to avoid starchy carbs this is actually a seed. So it’s very light! The chili paste really adds most of the flavor here as well, but you can add whatever sauce you want really.

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All you have to do is then carve out little holes in the zucchini and add a small teaspoon of the quinoa.

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And that’s it!

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Mixed Bean Patties

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I’m going to be honest and say these were a slight fail. I wanted to create a mixed bean patty that was crispy on the outside. I however will be the first to admit that I am not the world’s greatest cook. I was really trying to create a patty without too many ingredients and definitely without the use of flour or potatoes. I used black beans, lentils and barley for these with salt, pepper, chili flakes (of course), and some coriander. I first just cooked all the beans and grain until they were soft. I used a small crockpot (slow cooker) because I wanted to just leave it and not have to watch it. Then I just blended all the ingredients and used flaxseed mixed with water to replace egg, just to make it hold better. Unfortunately this was not the case and it ended up being too wet. I ended up adding half a cup of whole wheat flour, which isn’t that bad anyhow. I tried frying some in a pan but they were still too moist so I ended up just baking them in the oven for 20 minutes.

The barley and lentils cooked.

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I actually learnt from http://ohsheglows.com that you can replace egg using the mixture of a tablespoon or  more (depending on your recipe), mixed with water. It works really well.

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So anyhow, while they didn’t end up that crispy on the outside they were still pretty good and strangely addicting. Even my husband who is a big meat fan brought them to work today to eat instead of his usual lunch! He was also a champ for eating zucchini when he says the thought of them usually makes him gag. So this wasn’t a complete success but I’ll just have to try again or maybe stick to my vegan falafels.

For a much better vegan cook check out: 

http://http://ohsheglows.com”