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Adapted from a Bob’s Red Mill recipe for Raspberry Oatmeal Bars, I made it vegan by swapping coconut oil for the butter. I didn’t have oat flour on hand and instead used whole wheat pastry flour, so it is not gluten-free. The reviews stated that the recipe was on the sweet side, so I used a bit less sugar than called for in the recipe.

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
Scant 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Zest of 1 large lemon
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup superfruit jam or preserves (or any flavor you prefer)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously grease an 8×8-inch pan with coconut oil.
2. In medium bowl, combine melted coconut oil and vanilla. Stir in flour, oats, sunflower seeds, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt until thoroughly blended.
3. Press 1 cup of oat mixture firmly into bottom of the prepared pan. Spread jam evenly on top.
4. Sprinkle remaining oat mixture over jam, then gently press.
5. Bake 20-25 minutes or until top is lightly browned and firm. Cool bars in pan for 30 minutes on wire rack. Cut into 16 squares and serve at room temperature.

Makes 16 bars.

Notes: for some strange reason, these bars tasted better as they sat. The coconut flavor mellowed and it somehow tasted sweeter a few days later.

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Featuring spring carrots, these muffins are a healthy alternative to sweet morning confections. I started with a Carrot Apple Muffin recipe from Whole Foods, and tweaked it a good bit to make them vegan. The whole wheat pastry flour makes the muffins tender, applesauce keeps them moist, and coconut oil gently perfumes the end result.

1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup grated carrots (from about 3 medium carrots)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbsp flax meal, soaked in 6 Tbsp water
1/4 cup almond milk (or any other milk alternative)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. “Butter” (with coconut oil) and flour a 12-cup standard muffin tin or use muffin papers. Set aside. (I used a non-stick muffin tin and omitted this step with great results.)
3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
4. In a separate bowl, combine carrots, applesauce, soaked flax meal mixture, almond milk, coconut oil and vanilla.
5. Add half the carrot mixture to the flour mixture, stir until blended then add the rest of the carrot mixture.
6. Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake about 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Serve warm.

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Notes from attempt #1: (Baking time: 20 minutes) Delicious, tender, moist, lovely! The only problem is the muffins are tiny tiny tiny–they barely rose in the oven. Definitely worth re-doing again (and again and again) to figure out what went wrong, because they are that delicious!

Notes from attempt #2: (Baking time 16 minutes) The muffins are still very small, but a tad bit larger than the previous attempt–but I’m okay with that! It’s a great guilt-free treat that compliments breakfast or completes a mid-afternoon snack.

Estimated nutrition facts: 130 calories, 6 g fat, 16 g carbohydrates (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 2 g protein, vitamin A 30%

I used this recipe from Whole Foods. Changes I made: subbing coconut oil for butter, going just shy of 1/2 cup for the sugar, omitting the walnuts, increasing chocolate chips to just under 1 cup (mixed in the batter and sprinkled on top). Overall, not bad for a brownie made with black beans. Slightly grainy in texture, and a little too cakey for my taste. Plus, they stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Next time, I will under-bake, and consider swapping mashed banana for the sugar. Perhaps will omit eggs and use a ground flaxseed slurry to make it vegan (with the coconut oil). Needs work.

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