Jurassic quest dino exhibit, giving back for the holidays, and vegan pecan pie and date caramel cups (with a secret veggie ingredient)

Happy almost holidays! Can you believe Christmas is right around the corner? I had a busy weekend! I volunteered on Saturday with a wonderful organization that provides Christmas dinner and gifts for families in need. We provided gifts for 135 families in need. And then Edward surprised me and took me to a Jurassic quest Dino exhibit. Despite being the only couple there without kids, we had a great time! And as I understand it, the dinosaurs were true to size. It was absolutely incredible to see. You probably can’t really gauge the size of these beasts from the pics but to be there staring up at them…it was something else. Definitely recommend this event if it is being offered in your area!

And we couldn’t resist treating ourselves to some butterbeer fudge on our way out because tis the season to stuff your face with all the food lol

I also recently did some holiday shopping with one of my best girl friends and we ended up at Target, of course. I always knew Target was the bees knees but then I laid eyes on this sweater and, I mean, is this not the greatest sweater you’ve ever seen (don’t answer that lol)

My friend insisted that I buy it because it just screamed “me” and I had to agree with her. But what really sealed the deal was when I sent a pic to my fiance and he responded with “what the f is that”. Sold! Definitely need purely so I can torture my fiance with the awesomeness that is this sweater. And I couldn’t resist picking up a little something for our cat. Look at him all dapper and ready for Christmas:

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I also couldn’t resist picking up these hot cocoa rolls. I admit, I don’t normally give in to stuff like this because 1) I already work in a bakery so I’m surrounded by delicious food all day long already and 2) NO SELF CONTROL lol But ’tis the season, am I right?

But that’s actually what kind of inspired today’s recipe. It’s a fun dessert recipe for those of you that maybe want a more “healthified” dessert to treat yo self with. I don’t know about you guys but I have been eating A LOT these last few months. And that is exactly why/how I came up with this recipe. I wanted something that tasted decadent but was secretly on the healthier side so I could still treat myself without totally going off the rails. So today I present to you: vegan pecan pie and date caramel cups!

I mean, first off, how adorable are these little cups? I love that they are more single serve and that’s really all you need. and second, they are sweet and filling while stilling hiding a secret ingredient in the crust – zucchini! You never would’ve guessed that from looking at them! Here’s let’s take a closer look, shall we?

I mean, just look at that date caramel filling! I first discovered date caramel years ago when I was first venturing into, what I call, “healthified” baking and now I can’t get enough of it. And it was a lifesaver when I ventured into veganism. I am not vegan at the moment (hello hot cocoa rolls lol) but I still love utilizing vegan ingredients and vegan recipes where I can.

This is also my last entry for the tresomega blogger recipe challenge I entered. I admit, I hadn’t originally planned on submitting this because I had another recipe in mind for the baking category. But this recipe turned out so well that I knew i had to give it its day in the sun (read: submit into the recipe contest).

Question of the day: What is your favorite christmas/holiday treat?

Pecan pie and date caramel cups – makes 7

For the base:

⁃ 1 cup oat flour (to make just blend oats in a blender until they resemble a flour consistency)

⁃ 1/3 cup bobs red mill coconut flour

⁃ 4 tbsp tresomega nutrition coconut oil, melted

⁃ 6tbsp maple syrup

⁃ 1 scoops livwell nutrition vegan vanilla protein*

⁃ 1/2 cup shredded zucchini, drained of excess liquid

⁃ 2 tbsp flaxseed meal

For the pecan filling:

⁃ 1 cup medjool dates

⁃ 3/4 cup milk of choice

⁃ Pinch of salt

⁃ 3/4 cup pecans halves

⁃ Extra pecan pieces for topping

*use my code foodventures for a discount when you order livwell nutrition protein online!

Directions

1. Line a muffin tin with 7 cupcake liners and spray with oil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees f.

2. To make the base layer, combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until fully incorporated. Mixture will be sticky and wet.

3. divide mixture evenly amongst cupcake liners then place in oven and bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool, then use your fingers to indent the centers of each cup for the filling. The longer they sit, the easier they will be to work with so make sure they are on the cooler side when indenting them.

4. To prepare the filling, add the dates, milk and a generous pinch of salt to a non-stick saucepan.

5. Allow the ingredients to simmer for about 4-5 minutes until the dates soften, stirring every 30 seconds or so.

6. Transfer to a blender and blitz until a smooth, silky caramel forms. Stir in pecans and pulse for a few seconds to blend into mixture. Taste and add a little more salt if you feel the caramel is too sweet. You can also add some more coconut milk or water if you feel the caramel is too thick.

7. divide evenly amongst cupcake liners, top with some pecans halves, and bake for about 15 minutes.

8. Remove from oven and let cool completely then let chill in fridge for a few hours to set.

**This recipe is being entered into a recipe contest and like the other recipe contests I have entered, I am required to use a specific ingredient from TresOmega Nutrition. I was sent their line of gluten free pastas (which you can now find at Sam’s Club here) as well as their coconut oil (which you can also find at Sam’s Club here). You can probably guess which ingredient I chose to use for this recipe but just in case you aren’t sure, I opted to use the coconut oil.

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