Tomorrow marks the official first day of December, and I don’t know about you, but for me, this is the time when it truly does start to feel like the holidays. Despite Christmas trees, lights and wrapping paper having been stocked at Costco since September (for real – no exaggeration), it’s always the beginning of December that I start to get excited.

Decorations have been going up in the malls, Christmas songs have been playing, and my snow-loving friends just started posting photos of their ski and snowboard adventures in Whistler. I on the other hand, don’t need snow to feel festive. My Middle Eastern upbringing has conditioned this in me, and Vancouver is lovely because while we can see the snow on the mountains in the distance, I don’t have to deal with shovelling it or protecting my boots against salt stains. It’s perfect!

Another thing that makes holidays feel like holidays is baking, and I’m sure that many of you will be doing your fair share over the coming weeks. Recently I’ve been asked by a few of you for some healthy sweet treats using protein powder, and while you guys know I don’t do a whole lot of baking, I do have a few no-bake options that I think you’ll love just as much.

Everything in this healthy vegan holiday treats recipe roundup is gluten-free, and I’ve used various Vega protein powders but feel free to use what works best for you.

No-Bake Dark Chocolate Cashew Bars - Eat Spin Run Repeat

First up is these No-Bake Dark Chocolate Cashew Bars, made with a blend of gluten-free rolled oats, chia seeds and protein powder as a base. Oats are naturally gluten-free, but if you’re gluten- sensitive or intolerant, be sure to find a package that specifically states gluten-free on the label. This is because oats are often processed in factories with other gluten-containing grains, so there’s potential for cross-contamination. Bob’s Red Mill is the kind I like, and  you can buy them online as well as Whole Foods and many other grocery stores.

No-Bake Dark Chocolate Cashew Bars - Eat Spin Run Repeat

No-Bake Dark Chocolate Cashew Bars

by Angela Simpson

Prep Time: 20 mins (+ freezing)

Cook Time: 3 mins

Ingredients (8 bars)

  • 1 serving Vanilla Vega Essentials
  • 1.5 cups gluten-free rolled oats, ground into flour in a food processor
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup cashew butter
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk or other non-dairy milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cashew halves

For the chocolate drizzle:

  • 2 tbsp dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp coconut oil

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, combine the Vega Essentials, oat flour, chia seeds, cinnamon and sea salt.
  • Add all remaining ingredients except for the cashew halves. Stir well to combine, aiming for a dough-like consistency. If the dough seems too dry, add 1 tbsp of almond milk at a time. You don’t want the dough to get too wet, and I’ve found that it’s easier to mix it with hands than a spoon.
  • Once all ingredients are evenly incorporated, press the dough into a baking dish (about 9″ x 6″) lined with parchment paper. Leave a little parchment paper hanging over the edges of the dish for easy removal, and use the back of a flipper to make the layer as even and flat as possible.
  • Press the cashew halves into the top of the dough, then put the dish in the freezer for 1 hour.
  • Remove the dish and lift the dough out using the parchment paper as handles. Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 8 bars.
  • In a small saucepan, melt the dairy-free chocolate chips and coconut oil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Once smooth, pour the mixture into a small jar. Let it cool for a few minutes before drizzling on top of the bars.
  • Put the bars back in the freezer for at least 20 minutes and allow the chocolate drizzle to harden.
  • Serve immediately, or wrap the bars individually and store them in the fridge or freezer.

***

If frozen treats are more your style, this Mocha Hazelnut Ice Cream will 100% satisfy a craving for something sweet and only has 5 ingredients. You’ll need 3-4 hours to allow the ice cream to freeze, but for a soft-serve consistency, skip the freezing time and simply use frozen peeled bananas rather than fresh. (If you go this route, you’ll want to use your blender’s tamper stick while blending so that you don’t have to add much liquid to get things moving.)

Vegan Mocha Hazelnut Ice Cream

Vegan Mocha Hazelnut Ice Cream

by Angela Simpson

Prep Time: 5 mins + freezing

Cook Time: 0 mins

Ingredients (2 servings)

Toppings:

  • banana slices
  • chopped hazelnuts
  • cacao nibs or dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Add the bananas, protein powder and cinnamon to your blender and puree until smooth.
  • Scoop the mixture into a freezer-safe container. Stir in the hazelnuts and cacao nibs.
  • Freeze for 3-4 hours.
  • Scoop into bowls and top with sliced banana, additional chopped hazelnuts and cacao nibs.
***

Finally, if you’ve got 20-30 minutes before dessert needs to be ready, then Chocolate Almond Chia Pudding is a perfect, super nutrient-dense choice. Chia seeds and ginger tea are awesome for digestion, raw cacao is loaded with antioxidants, and if you go the route of incorporating the Four Sigmatic Mushroom Hot Cacao Mix as suggested below, you’ll also be getting the relaxing, cortisol-lowering benefits of the medicinal mushroom reishi. Prepare to feel extremely blissed out with this one!

Chocolate Almond Chia Pudding - Eat Spin Run Repeat

Chocolate Almond Chia Pudding

by Angela Simpson

Prep Time: 5 mins + refrigeration

Cook Time: 0 mins

Ingredients (2 servings)

  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 2 cups ginger tea, cooled
  • 1 serving chocolate Vega Essentials
  • 1 packet Four Sigmatic Mushroom Hot Cacao Mix with Reishi (optional), or 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 drops almond extract (optional)
  • drizzle of maple syrup to sweeten (optional)
  • toppings: chopped raw almonds and dark chocolate

Instructions

  • Whirl all ingredients except toppings in the blender until smooth. It should have a thinner consistency than pudding, but this will change as the chia seeds absorb the tea.
  • Pour the pudding into a bowl and taste. Adjust sweetness with a little maple syrup if needed.
  • Put the pudding in the fridge and let it set for about 30 minutes.
  • Divide into bowls and garnish with almonds and chocolate.

***

These final 2 recipes aren’t new, but they’re delicious and deserve an encore appearance:

Vegan No-Bake Chocolate Cranberry Almond Granola Bars

Vegan No-Bake Chocolate Cranberry Almond Granola Bars - Eat Spin Run Repeat

Peppermint Chocolate Chip “Ice Cream”

Vegan Peppermint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

So tell me…

  • What are some of your favourite ways to bake (or no-bake) with protein powder?
  • What holiday treats do you look forward to most?