Gluten free, vegan, no refined sugar
In the fall 🍁, the nature is slowing down, preparing us to do the same. We switch from more “expansive” spirit of summer and outdoorsy lifestyle to a reflective time, going inward and staying inside.
With misty and gloomy days and wind howling outside we often like to hole up in our homes. In the lat fall and winter, spending time on the couch seems more tempting than ever. We like to finish old projects, catch up on reading books and watching movies or just spend a quiet time and relax.
In this season, as days get shorter, and we are less exposed to sunshine, serotonin activity may drop. It’s not a coincidence that in the fall our cravings for comfort food and sweets fly high. It’s only natural to crave carbs in autumn and winter since their consumption increases serotonin levels and improves mood.
That’s why, especially now, many of us like to splurge on chocolate and candy. Keeping them around the house creates a constant temptation to indulge in treats. The good news is, however, that we don’t have to feast on sweets high in refined sugar and unhealthy fats to feel good. While spending more time inside, we can create our own delicious treats using only healthy ingredients.
For the base of this dessert – the tartlet -I used organic rolled oats. It is one of “the good carbs” and an effective mood booster. Additionally, oats protect us against heart disease, lower blood sugar and cholesterol. They are a good source of fiber, iron and other nutritional minerals.
The vegan filling is made with cashews, which contain antioxidants, minerals (selenium, copper, phosphorus, zinc) and vitamins (E, K, B6).
The pomegranate seeds generously sprinkled on top of the vegan cream owe their “super food” status to their antioxidant power and a high content of Vitamins B, C and K.
(yields 4 tartlets)
- one plus one third cup organic rolled oats
- 1/4 cup organic maple syrup
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, softened
- pinch of salt
- 4 tartlet pans
Turn oven to 325 F.
In a medium bowl combine almond milk and maple syrup. Add rolled oats, coconut oil and salt. Stir the ingredients with a spoon or pinch the dough with the fingers until it sticks together and forms a thick, lightly moist paste. If the paste is soupy, add a little more oats.
Lightly rub the inside of the tartlet pans with coconut oil.
Divide the dough into four parts. Place the dough into the pans, pressing it to the bottom with a spoon or fingers and working your way up the sides. Add more dough, if needed, and press it to the sides. It has to be firmly nestled into the pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 325 F until golden and crunchy.
For cashew cream:
- one and a half cup almond milk
- 1/2 cup cashew butter or two 32 g packets by Justin’s*
- 1/4 cup maple or agave syrup
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- seeds from 1 medium pomegranate
- 1/2 cup lightly toasted sliced almonds, optional
Put one cup of almond milk and cornstarch into a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, Constantly stirring with a whisk. Mix in the syrup and cashew butter, and again, energetically stir the mixture until it becomes well combined. Add the remaining 1/2 cup almond milk mixing for about 1-2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. Immediately transfer to a glass bowl, cover tightly with a plastic wrap and let it cool completely. The plastic wrap has to adhere to the cream to prevent crust from forming on top of the cream.
When cool, refrigerate the cream for 30 minutes.
Note: The mixture’s texture should resemble pudding. If it’s too thin add a bit of a cornstarch, if too thick pour a little bit of almond milk. The constant stirring is an essential part of the process; otherwise the mixture may become lumpy.
Remove from the fridge and whisk again, making sure that the cream is smooth and well blended.
Fill each shell with 1/2 cup of cashew cream. Top with 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds and toasted sliced almonds.
*) For the cream, I used two packets of Justin’s cashew butter available at Whole Foods Market.