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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Cacao Oatmeal Bake w/ a Cashew Cream Spread (GF, DF)

A super simple oatmeal bake filled with collagen, anti-inflammatory agents and gut friendly ingredients that'll keep you satisfied all morning. It seriously tastes like brownies! 

Typically for breakfast I’ll either have a smoothie, a few energy bites, or pick at leftover veggies from the day before with tahini. I am usually not hungry when I first wake up and tend to wait till mid morning to eat, while sometimes that might not always be ideal, I then often need food that I can take on the go or make ahead of time that will last for a few days! Secondly, I always want to make sure that it is packed with gut and brain healthy/ friendly ingredients; such as fiber, protein, contain anti-inflammatory agents, antioxidants, boost my mood, healthy fats, and last but not least- collagen; an ingredient that seems to do it all these days! This way, even if I am taking something small with me on the go or having a light snack mid morning, I know that it is packed with benefits that will keep my body fueled and properly nourished until I work up an appetite!

SO, one thing that I love making ahead of time is either overnight oats or baked oatmeal. I honestly prefer baked oatmeal because it kind of feels like you are eating a cross between a cookie and a brownie; especially when it is warm out of the oven. The edges are super crispy and the middle is soft and can be gooey depending on how long you bake it for and what you put in the mix (chocolate chips, fresh fruits, nut butters etc!). I made this raw cacao collagen packed oatmeal with a few things in mind: first:

I wanted to use ingredients that are good for you; really good for you: I filled it with turmeric, ginger, maca powder, raw cacao, cinnamon, ground flaxseed and Vital Proteins Marine Collagen. We all know that the ones mentioned before the collagen can each separately help with inflammation, balancing hormones, boost your mood, help with digestion, contain omega 3’s, contain antioxidants, give you energy, balance your blood sugar levels, and so much more! So, what about the collagen?

I have a few recipes throughout my blog using the collagen and usually add the collagen into my daily smoothies, my baked goods (cookies, breads, desserts), chia puddings, and really just about anything you can think of! One of the best part about the collagen is that it is completely flavorless. Even if you add it to your morning coffee or latte, I promise you, you will not taste a think but will reap it’s benefits while you are sipping! The Marine Collagen is great for anyone that does not include meat in their diets or simply stays away from beef! However, for this recipe and anything else, their grass feed Collagen Peptides works interchangeably. 

Why collagen: On the Vital Proteins website, you can see the major benefits of the collagen listed here, but for starters; you all know that I suffer from major digestive issues such as SIBO, leaky gut, and IBS. Since I’ve started to incorporate collagen into my diet for the last two years, even just a few times a week, I’ve noticed major changes! Not only is it great for gut health because it helps repair damaged intestinal lining and restores the health of your gut! This is why I am so obsessed with drinking bone broth; which side note, they now have bone broth to-go packets! So you can essentially heat up water and pour one it and drink up! Another major changed that I noticed once I started to incorporate collagen into my routine was the growth of my hair and nails. My hair was becoming longer and my skins were too; as well as stronger! My skin was even glowing! It is also packed with protein, so adding it to this oatmeal bake was an easy decision!

Also! I decided to make a bake around the 4th of July holiday theme since it is only a few days away! Since many of us travel, it is such an easy breakfast to make for family or friends. It is super quick to prepare and only takes about 30 minutes in the oven and you can really add in anything you want. Going with the theme, I topped it with fresh blueberries and strawberries and this amazing cashew cream that had just a hint of sweetness! The cashew cream reminds me of the inside of an Oreo cookie and since this oatmeal bake is primarily chocolate; it feels like you are eating a brownie; yet it so so GOOD FOR YOU!

Oatmeal Bake: 
Prep time: 5 minutes
Bake time: 35 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

What you need:
2 cups oats
1.5 cups + 2 tbsp almond milk
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. coconut oil, melted & cooled
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp almond butter (or any nut butter of choice) 
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp of EACH: ginger, turmeric, maca powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 tbsp. cacao powder
2 scoops marine collagen
1tbsp ground flaxseed or chia seeds
3 tsp. cinnamon
fresh berries for topping 

*Note: you can omit the ginger + turmeric if you wish or add less of each! 

Cashew Cream:
Prep time: 4 hours (soaking of cashews)
Total time: Soaking time + 5 minutes to blend together
Yields: 1.5-2 cups

1.5 cups soak cashews (for at least 4 hours or more)
1-2 tbsp maple syrup
pinch of sea salt
3/4 cup fresh water
1 tbsp. vanilla
dash of cinnamon
1 scoop vital proteins marine collagen 

What you need to do: 

First prepare the cashew cream by soaking the cashews for at least 4 hours or overnight. 

  1. Drain and rinse them with clean water after they have soaked.
  2. Add them to a food processor with water, maple syrup (start with 1 tbsp first), sea salt, vanilla, and cinnamon. 
  3. Pulse for 1-2 mins, until well mixed. 
  4. The spread should be very creamy and smooth in texture. If not, add more water (start with 1 tbsp at a time). Taste test at this point and adjust to preference with either more sweetener, cinnamon, sea salt, vanilla etc! 
  5. Place in an air tight container while you prepare the oatmeal bake so the spread thickens

Oatmeal Bake:

  1. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees and grease your cast iron pan with coconut oil. If you do not have a cast iron use a 9x13 oven safe pan and either grease with oil or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the wet ingredients (almond butter, coconut oil, almond milk, vanilla). Mix completely until well combined
  3. Add the dry ingredients. 
  4. Mix until well incorporated
  5. Pour into your pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. The edges will be crispy and the middle with be soft to touch. 

NOTES: 

I did not add any sweetener into the oatmeal bake because of the cashew cream spread on top, which contains maple syrup. This had more a rich chocolate taste. Note, that most of my recipes contain no sweeteners, therefore if you are used to things on the sweeter side or added in maple syrup etc, I would add in 1-2 tbsp. of liquid sweetener of choice. 

You can sub any nut butter you prefer 

The first time I baked it for 35 minutes and then the second time I baked it for 30 minutes. I preferred it cooked less because oatmeal tends to become a little on the drier side when you bake it. Therefore, I would either bake it LESS OR add more liquid. 

Cashew Cream:

It will last up to 5 days in the fridge.

You can make this the day before.

Any leftovers can be used on cupcakes, other desserts, breads, toast, mousse, cakes, dipped in fruit, etc! 

You can also top this bake with peanut butter or almond butter etc! It still tastes so good, but I love it with the cashew cream because it is just something different! Plus the cashew cream stays fresh for about 5 days!