These little treats are vegan. I hesitate to say that as many people are still coming around to not being scared by the word 'vegan.' I was one of those people that would instantly shut down at the idea of veganism due to less than tasty vegan food I had previous eaten (and if anyone has good—I mean, edible, vegan cheese--I'd love to know about it because I have yet to find that). But now that the world is coming around more to the idea of vegan eating (obviously from my chicken & dairy recipes, I'm not fully convinced I want to be totally vegan), the public is finally getting exposed to eating BETTER vegan food/recipes. You know, things that don't taste like cardboard. And recipes that aren't just composed of raw vegetables (not that there is anything with raw vegetables!).
Well, my child has been sick quite a bit this winter already--mainly due to exposure to other kids with illnesses—playdates and Mother's Day Out/Preschool. Because of this, I tried to give her less dairy. And because of the reward system instituted last spring, she thinks she deserves treats for good behavior (thank you potty training). So, what's a mom to do? Make vegan treats.
I love this little recipe—I hope you will too! It's one of those that you won't feel guilty eating or giving to your children. It's a sugar-free treat, has plenty of fiber from the whole grains and dried fruit and protein from the nuts. You could use any dried fruit you like, I just happen to like dried pineapple in things lately. I would also like to replace the bananas with prunes or pumpkin in this recipe sometime. These come together really fast (despite that at first glance it seems to have a lot of ingredients).
I tried to make this particular one more appealing to my daughter by shaping the cookies into little hearts (use a cookie cutter). And in doing so, realized that this would be a great little Valentine's 'cookie' to make with your kids. However, I'm sure any cookie cutter would do or you could just drop the 'dough' onto the sheet and shape with your hands if you are a minimalist.
SOFT GRANOLA COOKIE HEARTS
For Liquid Mixture:
- 1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 medium)
- 3 Tbsp. almond or soy milk
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup safflower oil (canola or another flavorless oil can be replaced)
- zest of one orange (you could skip—but I like it in conjunction with the cloves)
Dried Fruit to add to liquid mixture—can replace with your favorites for 1 cup total of dried fruit:
- ¼ cup chopped dried pineapple
- ¼ cup chopped dried apple
- ½ cup raisins (golden raisins fine too)
For dry mixture:
- 1 ½ cups old fashioned oats (not instant)
- ¾ cup shredded, unsweetened, coconut
- 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. cloves
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. baking powder (I like aluminum-free)
- ¼ cup almonds (processed in food processor to make 'almond meal')
Nuts to add to dry mixture--can replace with nuts of your choice for a total of ½ cup chopped nuts:
- ¼ cup chopped Brazil nuts
- ¼ cup walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set aside cookie sheets with Silpats or covered with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, mix your liquids. Add the dried fruit and mix well. If need be, use a whisk and push down on any clumps of fruit to separate and stir again. Set aside to let the fruit soften while you work on the dry ingredients.
In a larger bowl, stir your dry ingredients together and add in the nuts.
Now, add your liquid mixture to your dry mixture and stir well.
Place a cookie cutter (or different shaped ones—use medium-big sized cutters) on the cookie sheet and fill with granola mixture until it reaches about halfway into the height of the cookie cutter. Pat down with a spoon and spread evenly into the cookie cutter. Lift up your cookie cutter leaving the shape behind. Repeat until you get your sheet(s) filled. The 'cookies' don't rise much so you won't need to worry that they'll spread out into each other.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes—keep your eye on them so they don't burn (try to swap cookie sheets halfway--the bottom one can go on top and the top one can go on bottom).
Let cool before eating. (I store these treats in a covered tupperware container in the refrigerator & freeze half)