Update – Contest Closed
When Ricki, author of the blog Diet, Desserts, and Dogs, offered me the opportunity to review her vegan cookbook, Sweet Freedom, I was thrilled. I’ve always admired her work and am happy to be able to share it with you.
Before I go any further…
Yesterday Ricki appeared on Canada AM, which featured her book Sweet Freedom and 4 recipes – Quick and Easy Veggies Patties, Raw Fig & Cherry Bars,Butterscotch Blondies with Chocolate Chips and Dried Tart Cherries, and Raw Kale and Avocado Salad. You can see her segment by going to Canada AM and scrolling through the “Canada AM & Jeff’s Video’s” box.
Back to the review…
The carefully wrapped package arrived several months ago when school was in full swing. I carried Sweet Freedom in my backpack and read it during stolen moments between classes or before lecture began. Before cooking anything, I could tell that Ricki was passionate about good food. Her recipes contain healthier ingredients and the instructions are detailed to produce perfect results.
A Sugar-Free Vegan Cookbook
Not being vegan, I learned a few things. In fact, I welcomed her knowledge and expertise because I get many requests for vegan recipes. It’s an area where I want to grow.
Not all of Ricki’s recipes are gluten-free but they are wheat-free. Some recipes use spelt, barley, and kamut, which many people who can’t eat wheat can tolerate with no problem. These recipes could easily be converted using gluten-free flours.
I’ve never cooked every recipe out of a book, anyway. She has over 20 gluten-free recipes you’ll love, including:
- Black Bean Brownies
- Applesauce Spice Cookies
- Cashew Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Walnut Cinnamon Rounds
- Coconut Mini-Loaves or Cupcakes
- Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Soy Free Pastry Cream
- Cocoa Nibbles (her version of LaRaw Bars)
- Dark & Decadent Chocolate Pate
My Sweet Freedom Baking Experience
During exam week, I needed a healthier snack that wasn’t labor intensive, would keep my energy up, and would travel well. After flipping through the many pages, I settled on Ricki’s Banana Oat Bars. I didn’t have all of the ingredients but could easily make substitutions.
I don’t usually stock my pantry with oat flour, so instead I whirled some gluten-free oats in my spice grinder. Worked like a charm. Also, this recipe calls for sucanat, which I’ve never used. Instead, coconut sap sugar (also known as palm sugar) worked perfectly.
These healthy cookie bars are moist, flavorful, and have a great texture. Ricki calls them a cross between a cookie and a granola bar. I agree. Even my husband loved them. Cut them into individual servings, wrap in plastic, and pop them in the freezer for a quick snack. I actually like them frozen the best – they don’t freeze solid so they’re easy to bite into.
This recipe is from Ricki Heller of Diet, Dessert, & Dogs.
Partway between a cookie and a granola bar, this is my adaptation of an ancient recipe I had in my files. The original called for eggs, sugar, butter and wheat flour; this version is infinitely healthier, yet will charm you nonetheless. If you use certified GF oats, oat flour and baking powder, the recipe remains gluten-free. Top with a favorite frosting for a more decadent treat.
- 1/2 cup (90 g) Sucanat (or other unrefined evaporated cane juice)
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) finely ground flax seeds
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) plain or vanilla soy or almond milk
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) sunflower or other light-tasting oil, preferably organic
- 1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
- 2 medium, very ripe bananas (about 8 ounces or 225 g)
- 1/3 cup (40 g) raisins or dried cranberries (optional)
- 1-1/2 cups (160 g) old fashioned rolled oats (not instant) (see note)
- 1/2 cup (40 g) unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/4 cup (30 g) whole oat flour (see note)
- 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking powder (see note)
- 1/8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line an 8” (20 cm) square pan with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray.
- In a medium bowl, combine the Sucanat, flax seeds, soymilk, oil and vanilla.
- Cut the bananas into chunks and add to the bowl. Using a potato masher or large fork, mash the bananas into the mixture, leaving a few little chunks (about the size of peas) here and there. Stir in the raisins, if using. Set aside while you measure the dry ingredients, or at least two minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and stir well to combine. It may seem too wet for a bar dough; this is as it should be.
- Scrape the mixture into the pan and smooth the top. Bake in preheated oven 40-45 minutes, rotating pan about halfway through, until the top is dry and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. Makes 12 bars. May be frozen.
Ricki has generously agreed to give one SS&GF reader a signed copy of her book. She also has books available for purchase on her blog.
Here’s how to enter: (I know…lots of options)
- SS&GF now has a Facebook page – “Like” the page for an entry and leave a comment.
- Tweet and/or post about the give-away on your blog – leave a comment telling me you did.
- Subscribe to my feed either via RSS or e-mail – leave a comment.
- Subscribe to Ricki’s feed via RSS – leave a comment.
- Follow me on Twitter – again, leave a comment.
- Follow Ricki on Twitter - leave a comment.
- Add me to your friends on Facebook with a comment.
Give-away will be open until Friday, May 28th at 10:00 pm CST and is open to US and Canada residents only. Sorry to my other international friends.