Ooey Gooey Banana Samoa Cake (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

My younger sister just turned 21 – I am so excited! To celebrate this momentous occasion (and since I’m always on birthday cake duty) I decided to make her a cake. But being the indecisive little third child she is, she told me to “get creative and do whatever” each time I asked her what kind of cake she wanted…

Ooey Gooey Banana Samoa Cake (Gluten-free, Dairy-free) // Naturally Lindsey

So I did. And it was glorious.

Ooey Gooey Banana Samoa Cake (Gluten-free, Dairy-free) // Naturally Lindsey

She loves bananas and banana cake, so I decided to combine that with another favorite: Samoas. Yes, like the Girl Scout Cookie. The result is tender, moist banana cake layered with creamy banana coconut filling and flooded with ooey gooey caramel sauce and chocolate ganache. Needless to say, it was a hit.

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Raw Vegan Ginger “Bananavo” Pie with Cacao Pepita Crust

Happy Friday! Today is 3/14, aka Pi Day. So instead of doing my bi-weekly Food Feature Friday, I’ll be posting a pi(e) recipe instead! This pie isn’t your typical pie. It doesn’t contain any flour, butter, or sugar. There’s no milk or cream. Yet it’s one of the creamiest pies I’ve ever eaten. So what is it, you ask? It’s raw. And vegan. And as far as the internet has told me, this pie doesn’t exist. Yet. Execpt for in my stomach. Right now.

Raw Vegan Ginger "Bananavo" Pie with Cacao Pepita Crust // Naturally Lindsey

I’ve been wanting to make a raw vegan pie for a while now, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. While I don’t follow a raw or vegan diet, I do tend to incorporate raw/vegan foods into my diet fairly often — and who says your diet has to have labels anyway? Anything that’s healthy, delicious, and REAL is good enough for me. I also wanted the pie to be GREEN for St. Patrick’s Day on Monday! So it’s a Pi-Patrick’s Day Pie. That’s a thing, right?

Raw Vegan Ginger "Bananavo" Pie with Cacao Pepita Crust // Naturally Lindsey

I’d never used avocado in baked goods before, and the interwebz told me that Avocado Pie is a California “tradition” — but seeing as I’ve lived in California, oh I don’ know, my entire life and have never tried it before, I think they might be wrong. The traditional recipe calls for condensed milk which is obviously a big no-no if you’re dairy-free or vegan. So I decided to add cashews and banana instead. (P.S. Banana + Avocado = Bananavo… get it?)

Raw Vegan Ginger "Bananavo" Pie with Cacao Pepita Crust // Naturally Lindsey

So what’s it like? The avocado-cashew-banana base is thick and creamy and while it tastes ever so slightly of avocados, the ginger and banana definitely shine through. The subtly sweet cacao pepita (pumpkin seed) crust pairs perfectly with the soft spice of the filling. And all you need is a food processor to make it. What’s not to love?

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Food Feature Friday: Cacao

Happy Valentine’s Day! When I was trying to come up with this week’s post, I wanted to theme it around love. I don’t know about you, but when I think of love I think of chocolate! However, chocolate in it’s modern form is hardly chocolate at all. It has a whole bunch of ick in it, like corn syrup, hydrogenated soy bean oil, and GMOs. No thanks! So instead, I chose cacao.

Raw Cacao Beans

Cacao is, in essence, chocolate before it becomes chocolate. Virgin chocolate, if you will. And the best part? It has so many health benefits. Most people know that cacao is high in antioxidants that help remove free radicals and fight inflammation. But there’s so much more! Cacao is derived from Theobroma Cacao beans, which literally means “Food of the Gods” — how cool is that? According to Natural News, Cacao contains protein, fat, carbohydrates, iron, zinc, copper, calcium and magnesium, being an amazing source of the latter with 272 milligrams of magnesium per 100 grams. Talk about nutrient-dense! Plus, just one ounce of raw cacao has 9 grams of fiber, 36% your RDA. It’s also thought to have anti-cancer benefits, lowers insulin resistance, reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, and stimulates neurotransmitters in your brain to release a euphoric feeling when you eat it. So… do you want some chocolate?

Full disclosure: I must be sick in the head or something because I cannot have chocolate of any kind (including cacao) while I’m on this anti-candida diet. I’ve been all up on Instagram with the #glutenfree and #paleo hashtags looking at all the amazing stuff everyone is making for Valentine’s Day, I want it all! I cannot wait to shove some chocolate in my mouth once this thing is gone. No shame. All glory.

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Too-Good Gluten-free Dairy-free German Chocolate Cake

My dad turned 60. Crazy! It’s funny how when you’re little you think 60 is SO OLD… like the dinosaurs. But now it’s like wow, is my dad really 60? I’m normally in charge of baking for birthdays; this year instead of making his standard yellow cake with chocolate frosting I wanted to make something a little bit fancier, so I decided on his other favorite: German Chocolate Cake.

Gluten free Dairy Free German Chocolate Cake

Now, yes, I do try to cook as healthfully as possible – and this recipe is no exception– but by no means is this health food! It is only healthier than you average cake in that it is full of nutrient-rich ingredients and uses fewer simple starches and processed sweeteners. And of course NO artificial colors or flavors or preservatives, thank you very much! But this cake really is too good. It’s decadently rich, filling, and wholly satisfying – be sure you have plenty of people to share it with!

Though the recipe for the cake itself came from one of my favorite blogs: Elana’s Pantry, I’m not as much of a saint as she is when it comes to desserts. I used agave for the cake as Elana has her baked goods down to a science, but for the frosting I went with something else. Why, you ask? I think agave has a weird taste, and as it turns out it’s almost as highly refined as high fructose corn syrup, AND contains just as much if not more fructose (55%). What I prefer instead is Sucanat. This is different than Sugar in the Raw, or Turbinado sugar, which has been stripped of its molasses content and the nutrients that come along with it (as I discussed in this post) including iron, calcium, vitamin B6 and potassium. Sucanat is simply dried sugar cane syrup that retains all of the molassesy goodness, which gives it a subtly more complex flavor that goes wonderfully with the chocolate and coconut. Plus, Sucanat is lower in sucrose than Turbinado or white sugar, which makes it slightly less sweet. I personally love the flavor.

And in case you’re wondering, this cake has been given the seal of approval by four generations of my family: both grandparents, my parents, my sister, and her 1- and 3 -year-old (my nephews)! The cherry on top was the 1-year-old, who knows sign language, sitting in his highchair signing “more!” after each bite my sister fed him. Precious moments! The recipe does take a good chunk of time to put together (3-4 hours for me), but the result is well worth it – especially for such a memorable occasion. Happy 60th, Dad!

This recipe is:
• Gluten-free
• Dairy-free
• Soy-free
• Refined sugar-free

Gluten free Dairy Free German Chocolate Cake

Gluten free Dairy Free German Chocolate Cake

Gluten-free Dairy-Free German Chocolate Cake

• ¾ cup coconut flour, sifted
• ½ cup cacao powder
• 1 teaspoon sea salt
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 10 eggs
• 1 cup grapeseed oil
• 1 ½ cups agave nectar
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. In a small bowl combine flour, cacao, salt and baking soda
2. In a large bowl, use an electric hand mixer to blend eggs, oil, agave nectar and vanilla
3. Add dry ingredients into large bowl and continue to blend
4. Oil two 9-inch round cake pans and dust with coconut flour
5. Divide batter evenly and pour into pans, baking at 350° for 35-45 minutes (mine took 45-50)
6. Remove from oven, allow to cool completely then carefully remove from pans

Coconut Pecan Filling

• 1/2 can coconut cream
• 1/2 cup coconut milk (the “drinkable” kind – if you don’t have this or the coconut cream you can use 1 can full-fat coconut milk instead)
• 1 cup Sucanat
• pinch sea salt
• 1 ¼ cup coconut oil
• 1 ½ cups toasted unsweetened shredded coconut (about 8 oz)
• 1 ½ cups pecans, toasted and chopped

1. In a medium saucepan, heat coconut milk, Sucanat and salt, simmer for 10 minutes
2. Whisk the contents of saucepan vigorously and bring to a boil until it starts to thicken and carmelize, about 3 minutes
5. Remove pot from heat and very gradually blend in coconut oil
6. Place pot in fridge for 30-40 minutes, until frosting starts to solidify
7. Meanwhile, turn your broiler to low and spread the coconut and pecans on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally and watching carefully so the coconut does not burn. The pecans should be sizzling and the coconut golden brown. You can also start preparing the ganache frosting at this point (recipe below).
7. Remove frosting from freezer and blend with an eletric mixer, until fluffy, then stir in shredded coconut and pecans

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

• 1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chunks (I use Enjoy Life)
• 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
• 2 tablespoons Sucanat
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• pinch sea salt

1. In a small saucepan over very low heat, melt chocolate and grapeseed oil, stirring constantly so chocolate does not scorch
2. Stir in Sucanat, vanilla and salt, and continue to stir until the Sucanat dissipates into the mixture
3. Place frosting in freezer for 15 minutes to cool
4. Remove from freezer and whip frosting with a hand blender until it thickens slightly. Frosting should still be slightly liquid, but thick enough to spread.

Assembling the Cake

1. With the Chocolate Ganache Frosting, frost the outer inch of the top of one of the cake layers and down the sides.
2. Top with about half of the Coconut Pecan Filling. Then place the layer on a plate or serving tray (this keeps your serving surface much cleaner).
3. Spread the ganache around the outside of the second layer and place on top of the first layer.
4. Top with the rest of the Coconut Pecan Filling. Serve with So Delicious Coconut Milk “ice cream” – trust me, you’ll be happy you did!

What kind of birthday cake is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!

Clean Vegan Chocolate Cranberry Protein Bars – Gluten & Dairy-Free!

I am constantly on a mission to get enough protein and, often times, enough calories – especially on days I work out. You have to get the right fuel to get the best results! However, it’s very challenging to find a natural nutrition bar that’s gluten- and dairy-free and also has a high protein ratio. It seems that either it’s whey protein, low quality soy protein isolate, or it’s a straight up “nutrition bar” with next to no protein at all! I’ve seen many a bar that contains something like 9 grams of protein with 45 carbs and 350 calories. That’s a little too steep for me, especially considering most of the GFDF/Vegan options cost upwards of $2.50 per bar which adds up quickly!

In order to obtain a high enough protein ratio, this recipe requires you to use a clean plant-based protein powder, so be sure to choose an all-natural kind that tastes good! In addition to being high in protein, these bars are also packed full of antioxidants thanks to the addition of dried cranberries and organic raw cacao powder, a superfood! The recipe also has no added sugar (besides that in the cranberries). Woohoo!


Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Chocolate Cranberry Protein Bars

• 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
• 2 cups unsweetened coconut or other non-dairy milk, divided
• 6 scoops best-quality plant-based protein powder (I used vanilla flavored)
• 1/2 cup shredded coconut
• 1/4 cup organic raw cacao powder
• 5 tablespoons creamy almond butter
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 3 tablespoon golden flaxseed meal soaked in 1/2 cup water
• 1/4 cup organic whole dried cranberries, chopped

1. In a large bowl, mix 1 cup nut milk with the rolled oats. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until there’s no extra milk in the bottom of the bowl.
2.  Add in protein powder, shredded coconut, and cacao powder. Mix thoroughly, using a fork to blend out any lumps that form.
3. Add almond butter, stirring until thoroughly coated.
4. Add in 1 cup nut milk plus flaxseed/water mixture, combining all ingredients until wet. Mix in cranberries until evenly distributed.
6. Line a 13×9 pan with foil or parchment. Pour in protein bar “dough” evenly into the pan. Cover with saran wrap and press into the pan until level. Place in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes. Once chilled slice into 14 bars, wrapping each one with saran wrap for an easy grab-and-go snack to take with you throughout your week!

Since macros are such an important factor in any nutrition bar, I’ve broken this recipe out for you: 180 calories, 8g fat, 14g carbs, 3g fiber, 3g sugar, 15g protein. Please note this will change based on the macros of your protein powder and other ingredients used!

Do you incorporate protein bars into your daily intake? What do you normally look for in a protein bar?