Vegan Salted Caramel Dip

January 27, 2015

It’s a little late to be talking resolutions, I know, but I’m just settling into 2015. What can I say: Sometimes I move slowly. This year I’ve decided to replace blockbuster proclamations about how I shall live life more healthfully, fearlessly, intentionally, and other-ly ways with small, manageable changes. I don’t need 2015 to be a year of big leaps. Instead, I’m happy to take my time with measured steps in directions I feel good about. One of the small changes I plan to make this year is to reduce the amount of refined sugar in my family’s diet.

Remember: This isn’t a blockbuster affair. I’m not eliminating sugar. I’m not motivated by a belief that sugar is poison (it very well may be, but that’s not what this is about for me). I’m just ready to do better. I know that refined sugar is in everything, not just sweets. It’s in our sandwich bread and ketchup, it’s in the daily vitamins my kids take and in the store-bought granola bars I pack when I don’t have time to make my own (which is a lot these days). With refined sugar hiding in so much of our food, I figure that I should do everything that I can to reduce it at home, especially at snack time.

I recently made this raw, Vegan Salted Caramel Dip and was surprised at how much the kids loved it. There’s video proof! I loved it, too, but because I’m not vegan and my taste buds have very recently enjoyed sugar and dairy fat, the two primary ingredients in conventional caramel sauce, I cannot say that this tastes like real caramel. It just doesn’t to me. That said, it is reminiscent of caramel and totally delicious. Seriously: lick the spoon until every drop is gone delicious. Even if you’re not vegan, this stuff is worth making to top on ice cream—d’oh!—I mean, serve with apple slices or swirled into yogurt.

Check out the video to learn how to make this Vegan Salted Caramel Dip. You’ll want to watch particularly to figure out how much almond milk to use. Oh, and speaking of almond milk, why not try making your own! My homemade almond milk recipe is easy and comes with a  Spiced Vanilla Almond Milk variation that would be killer in this recipe.

PS: If you’re with me on this whole let’s reduce our refined sugar thing, check out my tips on how to make a smoothie without added sugar and also ideas for how to cut sugar at home (without tears!).

Vegan Salted Caramel Dip
(Can be shared with kids 6+ months)*
Serves 2-4, depending on use

1 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup almond milk (more or less depending on desired consistency; watch video for details)
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of crunchy sea salt, to garnish (optional)

1. Soak dates in enough hot tap water to cover them for at least 5 minutes to soften.

2. Scoop dates out of their soaking water and add to a high-powered blender along with almond milk, lemon juice, and vanilla. If you want a very thick dip, start with a little less than 1/4 cup of almond milk; though 1/4 cup is the least amount I’ve ever used, results will vary depending on the size of the dates and power of the blender. If you want a saucy consistency, you may end up using more than 1/4 cup. Blend on high, turning off and scraping down the sides as necessary, until desired constancy is achieved.

3. Spoon the dip/sauce into a serving bowl and top with crunchy sea salt. This will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

*Note: This can be served to any child 6+ months already safely managing tree nuts. If you want to share this with a child who has not yet been introduced to tree nuts, you can substitute cow, soy or rice milk for the almond milk (though keep in mind that cow’s milk and soy are also considered allergens). Read more on how to introduce high allergen food here.

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