Chocolate Vanilla Blueberry Collagen Cheesecake Squares (DF, GF)

I've always loved see raw "cheesecake" bites floating around and have been wanting to make my own but was slightly intimidated by the process- not realizing just how simple they are to make! With Spring around the corner as well as Easter, I thought these little bites would be perfect for a dairy free/gluten free friendly dessert! 

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The middle and top layer of the bars are so creamy, light, and refreshing and the base is a touch sweet with hints of chocolate! They do not take long to make either, you just need to make sure you set some time aside (overnight) to soak the cashews- which gives the layers a creamy smooth texture. Cashews are pretty amazing with what you can do to them after soaking them overnight. I made the base of the dessert chocolate in flavor, but you can leave out the cacao powder and really add in anything you would like! The second time I made these squares, I added in peanut butter to the cheesecake filling mixture, left out the blueberries and they came out so good! 

For the chocolate vanilla blueberry cheesecake squares, I also added in Vital Proteins Marine Collagen for some extra health benefits. Adding in the Marine Collagen doesn't change the flavor of the bites, but gives you extra protein, supports your gut/joints, and helps you with brightening your complexion (which I have noticed with their beauty waters!) and making you hair/nails so strong/long! I currently have over 16 recipes on my blog using Vital Proteins, so you can definitely say that it is a big part of my diet and overall health routine

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Not only is it easy to incorporate the collagen into your smoothies, coffee, or desserts, but I love adding it into savory dishes too like my butternut squash mac and cheese, quinoa lentil bites, or even this healthy sweet potato salad! It has tremendously helped improve my gut health (less bloating, better digestion, and helped with the improvement of my IBS and leaky gut!). I can't go a day without it! 

These little squares are so rich in tasting, salty, and a tad sweet but won't bog you down as maybe a regular cheesecake would! Making these raw, dairy free, and with less sugar than normal make the perfect alternative and you can really cater them to your taste preference as long as you have the measurements down! 

Hope you enjoy!

Raw Desserts
Yields: 9-10 squares
Prep time: (overnight to soak cashews) / 15 minutes to put together
Freeze time: 3-4 hours or overnight! 

What you need: 

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Base:
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup brazil nuts** 
3 tbsp. raw cacao powder
1 cup (about 15 pitted dates)
2 scoops Vital Proteins Marine Collagen
Dash of sea salt
1 tbsp. vanilla

Layers:

1.5 cups cashews; soaked overnight
1 tbsp. vanilla
1/4 cup vanilla almond milk
Dash of cinnamon
1/2 cup blueberries or any fruit** 
4 tbsp. coconut oil
Sweetener if needed

What you need to do:

1. Soak the cashews overnight; so they become soft

2. In a food processor blend together the base of the dessert until a dough like consistency is formed. Once finished, press into pan or muffin tins. If using individual sized cups, fill each with about 2 tbsp of the base layer. Place in freezer while mixing the the layers. 

3. In your blender/vitamix; mix together until creamy all the layer ingredients except the fruit. 

4. Once blended until completely smooth, layer about 2 tbsp. over the crust. Place back in the freezer. 

5. Next, with the remaining cashew mix; add in the blueberries or any fruit you are using OR any add ins. Blend until smooth. 

6. Layer the remaining on top of the plain "cheesecake" mixture. 

7. Place back in the freezer to set for a few hours or overnight before cutting. 

Store in an airtight container in the freezer. 

NOTES:

1. For the base layer, you can use any mixture of nuts or seeds. You just need about 1 cup total. 

2. Feel free to leave the cacao power out and keep them plain. 

3. You can sub blueberries for any fruit. 

4. You can also add in almond butter, peanut butter, or any nut butter to the top layer of the cheesecake mixture. OR here, add in any additional ingredients (chocolate chips, shredded coconut flakes, cacao nibs etc)

5. If you need to sweeten up the cashew layer; start by adding 3 tbsp of sweetener of choice, such as maple syrup or honey. I would stick to a liquid sweetener so it blends easier.

6. Store in the freezer so they keep their shape. 

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Spicy Cinnamon Brownies (no bake)

A quick healthy fudge like brownie alternative that is no bake, super dense, a little sweet with a surprising spicy kick at the end! 

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With the holidays right around the corner, we are all looking for some recipes to make; whether they are healthy, indulgent, simple, dessert ones, main dishes or whatever they are; we always need something and usually last minute! That is how it goes for me at least and when that is the case, it then needs to be easy to make, only require a few ingredients, and obviously taste good! I feel that I am always "stuck" making the dessert recipes with my family because they probably know they are going to have some type of healthy spin on them yet still taste like the real deal...so I decided to make these super fudge-y / dense brownies that are a little sweet with a major spicy kick at the end....and you don't have to bake them! Which is ideal when there are what feels like 100 things going on in the kitchen during the holidays! 

...of course I added in some collagen in the recipe and I used Vital Proteins Marine Collagen. I use this every single day whether it is in my smoothies, energy bites, soups, coffees, salad dressings or waters. Just about anything you can think of, you can sneak this in there! I think if you search "collagen" on my blog over 7 or so recipes will pop up using this! Like this, Golden Mylk smoothie, or this sweet potato salad, and even this dark chocolate avocado pudding!  I use it to strengthen my digestive system, my nails, hair and feel that it was truly helped in repairing / improving my leaky gut and my severe digestive issues! The great thing, is that it is tasteless, so it will not change a thing in the recipe or in any recipe that you use it in! 

Back to these brownies. They are so chocolatey. Sweet. Fudge-y and perfect for the holidays or just when you need something! They almost remind me of a Mexican Hot Chocolate, but in a raw brownie form! They are easy too. You need any type of nuts as the base; I prefer almonds/walnuts, cacao powder, cinnamon, almond butter, dates, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, cacao nibs and the collagen! I am sure that you have most of these ingredients on hand! Then you blend it all up, roll it out and done! Raw brownies, done in less than 10 minutes. 

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Dessert
Yields:
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes (unless you place in the freezer for 30 minutes or so to harder before cutting)

What you need:

1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 creamy almond butter
2 scoops collagen (optional, but added benefits!)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
pinch of sea salt
pinch of nutmeg
1/3 cup cacao powder (or sub chocolate protein powder!)
3 dates, chopped & pitted
1 tbsp vanilla
small handful of cacao nibs, for topping

What you need to do: 

1. In your food processor blend together the walnuts and the almonds until finely ground. I left mine a little chunky. 

2. Add in the dry ingredients (cacao powder, sea salt, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, collagen, nutmeg). Give it a quick pulse

3. Add in the dates, vanilla, and the almond butter and blend together until fully combined and a dough is formed. 

4. In a square pan (brownie pan or a bread baking loaf) that is lined with parchment paper, add the mix and press firmly until the dough is even. Sprinkle with cacao nibs or toppings of choice. 

5. Cut into squares OR place in freezer to harder for a few minutes to make it slightly easier. 

Store in an air tight container in freezer for longer or in fridge for up to 2 weeks. 

NOTES:

The collagen is optional, but you will get added benefits from using it! 

Adjust the measurement of cayenne pepper to your liking! You won't taste it right away, but it will be more of an after taste, so start small! 

You can sub almond butter or sunflower seed butter or completely leave this out all together and use about 1 cup of dates to hold everything together. 

To make them completely nut free, sub the nuts with seeds! 

Almond Pulp Repurpose: 3 ways to use leftover almond pulp

For the last few years I've been making my own almond milk or cashew milk, but have recently the last few months have taken it up a notch and have been making it consistently every single week, sometimes twice a week. Before, I would go through phases of making it and then and buy it from the store out of convenience. (side note; you aren't lazy if you buy it from the store, simply encouraging you to make it on your own AND it bothers my stomach ALOT) 

Over time I realized that the gums and the added necessary ingredients in the nut milks were contributing to many of the stomach problems that I have. I soon realized that everything just tasted WAY better using homemade nut milks; the milk was thicker, creamier, smoother and didn't taste watered down. Also, the idea of making it might seem daunting or intimidating but it's quite simple considering all you need to do is soak the nuts over night, rinse them, add them to your blender with fresh clean water & anything else you want to flavor it, then blend away. The nice thing about cashew milk, is you do not have to strain it, but with almond milk you need to. 

Making almond milk a few times a week left me with bags of almond pulp left over and I didn't want to throw any of it away. I decided to test out a few recipes using the leftover pulp and I have been making them each time; you can almost get two recipes out of the almond pulp each time! Almond pulp should last about 5 days in the fridge, so you should make your recipes sooner rather than later so you can enjoy them for the full 5 days! Or freeze! 

Ps. I have a recipe for cashew milk, along with different flavors, here!

So, here are three recipes you can make using leftover almond pulp:
1. Almond Pulp Lemon Hummus (made with no chickpeas!)
2. Almond pulp almond joy bites
3. Almond flour "cheesy crackers" aka "cheez its"

Note: I didn't dry the almond pulp before using it. I stored it in the fridge overnight in a container before using it for these recipes. You can dry it in the oven on a low temperature & turn it into flour, but I haven't tested it that way for these recipes. 

First up: Lemon Hummus! 

After browsing the internet for ways to use the leftover pulp I saw a few things in which others had used the almond pulp to make a raw hummus, a few had added chickpeas and other ingredients that tend to bother my stomach (garlic, onions etc) so I decided to do a rendition of a light lemony raw hummus! It has the texture and the look of hummus, and I think tastes just like it since I decided to add tahini into the mix. It takes about 10 minutes to make and makes the perfect spread for crackers, veggies, sandwiches, or on top of a salad. It will last up to 5 days in the fridge. 

Ingredients: 
1 cup leftover almond pulp
1/3 cup tahini
juice of 1 lemon
few dashes of sea salt
few dashes of pepper
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
4 tbsp. olive oil + 1 tbsp olive oil for the top drizzle
1/3 cup water

Add all of the ingredients to your food processor and blend. Taste test and add in extras or more of any above ingredient. The consistency should be similar to hummus, if its too wet, add more almond pulp and if it is too dry, either add more liquid (tahini, water, olive oil). Store in fridge in an air tight container for up to 5 days. 

Almond pulp; almond joy energy bites! 

Each week I make of energy bites and pray that they last me the entire week, but honestly I go through them in a few days. I used the leftover almond pulp as the base with shredded coconut, making these bites taste like almond joys! Filled with protein and fiber, these bites are perfect for on the go, before/after workouts, or even after dinner because they were straight up fudge when I took a bite of them. 

Ingredients:

1 cup leftover almond pulp
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
3 tbsp coconut oil
1/3 almond butter or coconut butter* coconut butter will give it more the coconut taste you need
3 tbsp. hemp seeds
2 tbsp. ground flaxseed
3 heaping tbsp. cacao powder
dash cinnamon
1 tbsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. chocolate chips or cacao nibs
Sweetener if needed (4-5 dates, 2 tbsp. maple syrup)

Roll in: shredded coconut, cacao powder, or drizzle melted chocolate on top. 

Add all the ingredients to your food processor and blend. The consistency of these bites were more fudge like than the other bites that are on my blog. I think this is because of the almond pulp vs using crushed almonds. I didn't add sweetener to mine, but I would suggest adding if you like things on the sweeter side. I would probably use dates or maple syrup. The dates will change the texture to more chewy and if you are using a liquid sweetener you may need more dry ingredients. Mix all the ingredients together, and taste test as you go along according to your preference. 

Lastly! "Cheesy" almond flour crackers "Cheez-its"

These crackers are so simple to make and seriously addicting. I make them each week and finish them that same day. They are just the right amount of cheese flavor, hint of sea salt, and super crunchy. The inspiration came from when Katie over at @twist_of_lemons when she made turmeric ones and Brittany from @eatingbirdfood had made plain ones as well! 

Ingredients:
Makes about 15-20 crackers depending on how thin/thick your dough is
Prep time: 5 minutes
cook time: less than 30 minutes


1 cup leftover almond pulp
few dashes of sea salt
1-2 tbsp nutritional yeast
3 tbsp. water 

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Mix together the above ingredients to form the dough into a ball. 

3. Flatten on parchment paper with hands. If the dough is sticky, lightly spread coconut oil on the parchment paper and a little on your hands to make it easier. 

4. Spread the almond flour cracker dough out evenly, the thinner you spread the crispier the cracker. 

5. Cut evenly length and width wise and sprinkle with more sea salt and nutritional yeast.

6. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Flip bake for another 5-8 minutes. 

Notes: 

If you have a thin dough on the parchment paper, you might not have to bake them as long. 

I store mine in the fridge for up to a week, but can be left on counter. 

Hope you enjoy!