Vegan Caramel Apple Stacks and Chickpea Salad

It’s been a little over 2 weeks since I left my “real job” and started working from home full time. I wake up not knowing quite what day it is; and don’t really care either, take the dogs for a little walk, make a smoothie, and settle in my office for a couple of hours to write the day’s post; as I’m doing now, catch up on email and Facebook/Twitter messages, and plan for the day ahead.

Up until this point in the day, I’ve done everything that I would have done had I still had a full-time job. It’s when I’m done all of these things at around 9am that I begin to feel guilty for playing hooky, where I feel like I should be somewhere, working for someone… but I’m not. I’ve cheated the system. This is my job now. I get this big Grinch smile across my face and continue about my day by heading to the kitchen to cook a little, jumping on a conference call with potential sponsors, planning recipes, or sketching photo composition plans. Whatever I decide to do, it’s all on my own time and all in the name of my own business.

It’s too cool!

Yesterday, I was feeling a bit snacky after my morning smoothie so decided to make a couple of post-breakfast cookies. It was that or a quinoa flake bake, but I’ve been having a lot of those lately, so decided to try something new. I’m not really sure what defines a post-breakfast cookie, the idea just came to me and from experience, sometimes random ideas are best left unquestioned and just followed through on.

What I do know is that these cookies aren’t as sweet as your average cookie, aren’t as large, but just as tasty. They’re 50 calories each, could constitute as a one-bite snack, and are highly adaptable to whatever crazy ingredients you want to add in to suite your needs.

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4.8 from 4 reviews
Vegan Caramel Apple Stacks
Recipe type: Vegan, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined sugar-free, Yeast-free, Corn-free, Nut-free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12 stacks, 12 servings
Vegan cookies packed with fresh apples, sunflower butter and ground cinnamon.
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Whip wet ingredients with a hand blender or mixer. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  4. Stir in chopped apples.
  5. Divide dough into 12 equal portions, about 1.5 tablespoons per stack. Place completed stacks on prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake stacks for 12-15 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  7. To store, place in an air-tight container and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. Or, wrap individual stacks in plastic wrap and store in a container in the freezer for up to 2 months.
    Feel free to use any type of apple that you have on hand. I made the first batch with Granny Smith and the second with Gala. Granny Smith create an apple pie-like taste with a slight bitterness and Gala will make the stack a bit sweeter. Instead of xylitol: replace 1:1 with another dry sugar of your choice (palm, sugar cane, date, etc.) or, you could try replacing it with 2 tablespoons of a liquid sugar (honey, agave, coconut syrup, yacon syrup, etc.) None of these suggestions have been tested. For added protein: replace ¼ cup apple sauce with 1 egg For added fiber: replace ¼ cup apple sauce with 1 ground flax seed + 2 tablespoon warm water mixed and allowed to sit for a couple of minutes before adding to the recipe along with the wet ingredients. For added awesomeness to help with hormone health: add some maca powder!

    After snacking on a couple of these cookies, I decided to play around with Kevin’s old lighting setup that he used for his portrait work many moons ago. I’m not big on unnatural lighting for my photos because they give off this weird grey color that I can’t seem to steer clear of no matter what the setup. But, I wanted to try and figure out how it could work for me, so I made one of my favorite salads of all time; I’ve been making this salad for over 6 years but have never shared it on the blog, and went to work playing around with lighting.

    The results were okay, but I can still tell that these photos taken away from a window and shot with a flash and other gadgets. Still needs some work… but the salad was great!

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    Sun Dried Tomato and Chickpea Salad

    Vegan, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Sugar-free, Yeast-free, Corn-free, Grain-free, Nut-free
    Yield: 3 cups, 6 servings Prep time: 10 mins

    This salad requires little skill, preparation, or dedication. Have it ready in under 10 minutes and impress everyone you serve it to… even if that everyone is just you!


    • 3 cups cooked chickpeas
    • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (approximately 14 leaves)
    • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
    • 1/4 teaspoon herbamare
    • Freshly ground pepper
    • Zest from 1/2 lemon


    1. Blanch sun dried tomatoes. To do this, place tomatoes in a mug or bowl. Pour boiling water over top of them and allow to soak for 8 minutes or so. Drain, slice and they’re ready for the salad!
    2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
    3. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate to allow the flavors to develop.
    4. To store, place in an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

    View nutrition info

    Okay, I’m off to finish up on a couple of recipes for Happy Days Dairies, hit up Canadian Tire for some new blog props, and water my 3 carrots from my incredibly sad first attempt at a vegetable garden. Just a couple more weeks and I’ll be able to eat those babies!

    Have a great weekend!

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    Comments | Leave Your Comment

    1. YUM! both your recipes look awesome (they always are!) Do you think some other fruit besides apples would work? My parents got boxes of peaches, figs, and asian pears…haha;;

      • Thanks Stephanie! I bet any type of fruit would do the trick!

      • I hope you enjoy it as much as I do Erica! Like I said, I’ve been making this same recipe for 6 years. Saying I love it is an understatement. Enjoy your Friday!

    2. I love your blog and your recipes so thanks for posting! (and I”m soooo envious of working from home, that’s my next dream) Anyway wondering if there’s any substitute you would recommend for the xylitol? Coconut syrup/ yacon/ agave? Have a great weekend!

      • Hi Christine! – thanks for stopping by and saying hello :) I’m sure you could use palm sugar if you have some kicking around. I haven’t tried the recipe with liquid sweeteners, but I’m sure a couple of tablespoons of coconut syrup wouldn’t affect the recipe too much. Enjoy!

        • Thanks so much for the reply! Sorry I guess I misunderstood the recipe since the xylitol was in the wet ingredients section (I have never used it before so my bad!). Palm sugar it will be :)

          • No worries, would love to know how it works out with palm sugar!

    3. There must be something in the air – I made a similar batch of “breakfast cookies” this week. I love the idea of adding fresh fruit – I was putting in dried fruit, which one of my kids wasn’t happy about.

      Congrats on working from home! That is fantastically exciting. I’m hoping to start working from home (part-time) once my youngest starts school next September.

      • We have a dried fruit hater in the house, too so it’s fresh fruit in baked goods all the way!

    4. I am going to try this recipe using pumpkin puree instead of apple sauce. I will also add Maca powder – how much do you suggest? I do not have xylitol – and I do not like to use sugar – what do you suggest?

      • Hi Kristen – you could get away with adding a couple of tablespoons of maca powder I suppose. For the xylitol – I just added a piece in the “note” section of the recipe with some of my suggestions on subs for xylitol. Hope that helps!

    5. Can’t see anything wrong with a post-breakfast snack :P The chickpea salad – perfect for the week’s work lunches. Thanks!
      The lighting on that shot is great – I too favor natural lighting, but I live in the Arctic now and am anticipating 6 months of very very dull light most days (if any!) come winter. What sort of light setup did you use? I’m really impressed with how natural it still looks. Am agonising over what gear to have shipped up here to continue posting throughout winter.

      • The lighting setup was a big soft box and reflectors. Nice and inexpensive!

      • Hi Nicole – I just added a piece in the “note” section of the recipe with some of my suggestions on subs for xylitol. Hope that helps!

    6. You are beautiful and generous to share two lovely recipes with us on the same day. I haven’t made sunflower butter yet and I think those caramel apple stacks are the perfect reason to do just that. Thanks Leanne! Hope you have a wonderful weekend :)

      • Aw thanks, Mikelle! I always enjoy your comments, they’re always filled with love :) I hope you have a great weekend also!

    7. The kids can’t do oats, but I wonder, do you think quinoa flakes would work almost the same? I may have to experiment with it….. dont have any sun dried tomatoes either, dang, just can’t do anything today! bummer! might have to go to the garden and cut up a roma tomato an make this for dinner. I need a side dish for supper and this would be perfect. (for me lol)

      • I bet you could use a combination of quinoa flakes and almond flour if allergies in your house will allow ;)

    8. I’m always lookin’ for a new way to dress up chickpeas and I’m loving your recipe! Sun dried tomatoes are a great way to add sweetness without sugar, which is what I’m all about. Thanks, Leanne! And congrats on the full-time blogging!

      • Thanks Marya! Sun dried tomatoes and chickpeas were surely meant to be. They’re so great together in this salad!

    9. Looks great, might try and bring these to a dinner party…. for the diced.chopped apples, did you peel the apples first?

      • Hi Ephie – nope, didn’t peel the apples. I like to keep the skin when I use apples in baking so I get the highest fiber and nutrients out of the fruit. Enjoy!

    10. Hi Leanne

      I made the chickpea salad a couple of days ago and it was absolutely gorgeous. I added quinoa to it, which is something my husband had previously not liked and his heart sank when he saw it but when he tasted it he said it was absolutely gorgeous and he now loves quinoa, so thank you so much for a gorgeous salad! The next day I had some left over and made burgers out of it which were also gorgeous. Many thanks.

      • I just found your comments in my spam folder, Katherine. Sorry about that! I love the idea of adding quinoa to the chickpea salad and transforming them into burgers, all very great ideas!

        • That’s OK, it’s funny your comment ended up in my spam too, very odd! How did you know it had gone to my spam by the way? Yes the recipe is amazing and it’s now made it on to my ‘make regularly’ list of meals! I still need to make your apple stacks. They are right up my street too.

          • I’m not sure why, but it happens with me on EVERY blog, it’s so annoying. How you can tell: when you post a comment and press ‘send’ or ‘publish’ or whatever, it’ll reload the page and kick you to the top of the blog you were just on, and not to the comment section.

            This chickpea salad is on our make regularly list, too. I’ve been making it for YEARS! Crazy.

            • Oh no, that’s so annoying for you. If it happens every time I’m sure you’d get sick of leaving comments. Come to think of it this happens to me loads too, and I often wonder why my comments haven’t been published. That explains it, so thank you for letting me know. I’ll watch out for that in future. I wonder whether it’s something to do with the names of our blogs. Very strange.
              I can totally see why you’ve been making it for years, yum!

    11. I just made these and added raisins to some and choc chips to some more and they r so good no matter how u make them!! My new fav snack. Love all ur posts!!!

    12. I just made the stacks this morning and followed the recipe to a “T”, however I baked mine for 16 minutes and they still resemble a soggy cookie. They taste good, but way too undercooked. Are yours chewy or crunchy?

      • Hi Chantell – I’m not sure what happened here. I’ve made these a bunch of times and never had an issue. I’ll make them again in the coming days and adjust the recipe if needed. Did you use rolled oats or quick oats?

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