Vegan Soup For The Soul: Tomato Lentil Soup with Cumin and Fresh Dill

Though it’s almost June, many days I am making soups as we are having some cool and damp spells.  Those of you that have been with me for a while know that I love soups.  LOVE.  For a few reasons…

(1) They are usually easy and quick to make.

(2) Typically the batches are large so you can refrigerate or freeze some for another lunch or dinner.

(3) They are the perfect vehicle for getting in the most nutrient-dense ingredients, like legumes, vegetables, and grains.

Not only do soups make it easy to get a healthy and delicious meal on the table, they are deeply comforting and pleasing to the senses.  There is something very soul-enriching in making and eating soups.  The chopping and prep calms my mind, the simmering of the stew fills the house with aromatics, and there is a feeling of ‘plenty’ to see a large pot of soup waiting to be eaten on the stove. Indeed, soups are soul-satisfying. So much for me that I my soups chapter in LTEV is called Vegan Soup for the Soul. :)

And, most often our whole family enjoys soups and stews.  Except when our girls detect pieces of bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, and the most dreaded – whole spices!  The mood drifts from calm to mildly irksome as I watch them picking out one piece of onion, then red pepper, then cumin seed – and on.  Drives me banonkers.  (Kid-approved vocab, no need to call me on it.)

I made this Tomato Lentil Soup with Cumin and Fresh Dill from LTEV recently, and was SO surprised by our daughter’s reaction when I served it.  Went something like this:

Daughter:  What soup are we having tonight?

Me: I’m not sure if you remember this one, I haven’t made it for a while – have a taste.

Daughter: Yum, I LOVE this soup, this is the soup you made on New Year’s Eve!

That would be New Year’s Eve TWO years ago!  I was shocked she remembered it, particularly because I hadn’t given it a quirky name like “Sniffle Soup” – which they know very well.  But, their friends joined us that year on New Year’s and when I asked her how she remembered, she said “oh, I remember this soup because we all brought it downstairs and had it with that yummy bread and everyone loved it“.  We remember the food we love and memories are created, apparently even as wee ones.

Another food we love is cashew cheese.  For this version, I added fresh herbs and a just a couple of sun-dried tomatoes (one of the suggestions in the Truffled Cashew Cheese – recipe is in Let Them Eat Vegan).

Doesn’t the cheese look thick and rich and savory?  It is.  And, this bread is magnificent!  It is a gluten-free bread that I bought at a local shop – Antony and Sons.  It is made with coconut flour, and if I recall it has no yeast and also no oil. Yet, it isn’t dry and crumbly as some gf breads can be.

I share this soup with you today, because maybe it’s a little chilly where you are too… or maybe because you’d like to create a few new soup memories.  And, for the picky-poos in your house, they won’t notice ANY of the whole spices or veggies.  Trust me.  (Or at least, trust your beloved immersion blender!)

Tomato Lentil Soup with Cumin and Fresh Dill #vegan #plantbased #soup #glutenfree #nutfree #soup

Tomato Lentil Soup with Cumin and Fresh Dill gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, oil-free   

ReciPage link to print/share

This soup may surprise you. Looking at it, you wouldn’t think it is as delicious as it is! The flavors are not aggressive, but meld in such a way that keeps you coming back for just one more ladleful.

splash of water

1 1/2 cups onion, chopped

3/4 cup celery, chopped

½ cup carrots, chopped

4 large cloves garlic

2 ½ cups white potato, peeled and chopped (OR 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice, added later, see note)

1 – 1  ½  cups cauliflower, chopped

½ tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dill seeds

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups red lentils, rinsed

2 cups vegetable stock

3 ½ – 4 cups water (more if using cooked rice, see note)

1 bay leaf (optional)

1 can (28 oz) crushed or diced tomatoes

2-3 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped

Heat the water in a large pot over medium or medium- high heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, potato (if using), cauliflower, cumin seeds, ground cumin, dill seeds, dry mustard, salt, and pepper. Stir, cover, and cook for 8 to 9 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the lentils, stock, 3 1⁄2 cups of the water, and the bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the lentils have cooked through and are softened. Then, add the tomatoes (and brown rice, if using instead of potato), and turn off the heat. Remove the bay leaf, and using an immersion blender, puree the soup until completely smooth. Turn on the heat again to medium-high, and cook the soup for another 5 or more minutes to heat through (you can return the bay leaf to the soup or not).  Once reheated, stir in the fresh dill, remove the bay leaf, and serve, sprinkling with extra fresh dill, if desired (chives or green onions are also nice addition, as pictured).  Serves 6 or more.

Savvy Subs and Adds: If you have leftover cooked brown rice, it substitutes well for the white potato. Simply omit the potato, and add the cooked rice later in the cooking process, along with the canned tomatoes.

Serving Suggestions: Try with a large Classic Caesar Salad, topped with Brazil Nut Parmezan.

Recipe from Let Them Eat Vegan.

I most love making soups with beans… lots and lots of beans!  What are your top-picks when making soups, and do you have a favorite soup recipe?

“Magical” Oil-Free Vegan Salad Dressing! (gluten-free)

Cooking and baking is sometimes described as science… but I like to think of it more like magic.  Because sometimes an idea unfolds and is realized in food form with a way that is almost mysterious, yet very exciting!

This week this magic happened with an idea for vinaigrette.  I actually had this concept in my head many years ago, when I was writing Vive le Vegan.  I toyed with it, but left it behind at the time.  As recipe developers, we sometimes do this.  Either the notion becomes further developed down the road as our cooking evolves, or it never materialized.

The idea that was with me for years and manifested this week is… wait for it… using applesauce in a fat-free (or low-fat) vinaigrette.  Sounds a little strange at first, right?  But, think about the qualities of applesauce.  It has viscosity and moisture (the very things that help replace fat in baking) so why not aid a vinaigrette as well?  Initially the combination didn’t quite come together for me in terms of flavor balance.  After a few rounds of testing this week – ta-dah!  The magic happened.  The applesauce blends and helps emulsify the other ingredients so that you have a thicker, more rich and full-bodied textured dressing.

Magical Oil-Free Vinaigrette by Dreena Burton

If you’ve been following my work for a while, you know that if I don’t omit oil in a recipe (some I do), usually I keep it at a minimum in most of my recipes.  I do the same for sweeteners.  For me, cooking and baking is about heightening nutrition without compromising flavor.  In LTEV, there are a number of healthy whole-foods and oil-free salad dressings and sauces, but some of them have nuts and seeds (or nut/seed butters).  Still, some of you have been e-mailing for more low-fat and oil-free sauces and dressings, and options without any seeds or nuts.  So, this one’s for you (and there are more in store, stay tuned)!

Here, I’ve used a vegetable peeler to make zucchini ribbons.  Those are not chopped tomatoes sprinkled over the zucchini, but strawberries.  Strawberries and balsamic are a beautiful flavor combination.  A few lightly salted pistachios round out the plate.

“Magical” No-Oil Vinaigrette gluten-free, oil-free  LINK to PRINT/SHARE

This dressing uses applesauce to emulsify the ingredients and produce a surprisingly thick vinaigrette that is virtually fat-free!  Try it as is first, and then play with some of the seasonings to your own preferences.

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp mild miso (ex: brown rice miso)

3/4 – 1 tsp dijon mustard

1/4 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup (or more to sweeten to taste if desired)

1/4 tsp (rounded) sea salt (or more to taste)

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Using an immersion blender and deep cup (if using a blender, you may need to double the batch for enough blending volume), combine all ingredients, whizzing through until very smooth.  Taste, and if you’d like a little sweeter add another teaspoon or so of maple syrup.  Season to taste with additional salt and pepper as well.  If you’d like a thinner dressing, simply add a couple of teaspoons of water and blend through again.

What are you favorite vinaigrette and salad dressing ingredients?

MONSTA! Cookies

I consider these cookies the sequel to my ever-popular “Super Charge-Me Cookies” from ed&bv.  And, like the super chargers, these come with a story.

Our family was visiting my sister one afternoon, and she asked if we’d like a cookie.  *uh, yeah*!  When I think of cookie, I usually envision a smaller, two-bite kind of cookie, more of a dessert than a snack.  But what she delivered was quite more than the delicate, after-dinner cookie I had imagined.  It was substantial and not cloying, leaving us feeling satisfied more than a cookie could.  It was more of a snack – and cookie – put together!  Could I call it a snooki(e)?  Nooo, we know where that would take us (and I haven’t even watched an episode).

All the drive home my mind was on developing another healthy, delicious snack cookie.  Something like my Super Charge-Me Cookie, but without nuts, or at least with a nut-free option.  Of course when I got home, the testing rounds began.  With one nibble, all I could think was “these are monster good“!!!  And, when I had my testers try them, one of them reported back with “Monsta, marvelous, magnificent, more-ish!”, which I used in the recipe intro…

MONSTA! Cookies from Let Them Eat Vegan wheat-free, soy-free LINK to RECIpage to print/share

Monsta, marvelous, magnificent, more-ish! These are jam- packed with healthful ingredients, and even though these are not your dessert kind of cookies, they will give that sweet tooth something to sing about!

1/3 cup organic extra-virgin coconut oil

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

¼ cup brown rice syrup (or more maple syrup)

2 tbsp coconut sugar or other unrefined sugar (optional, I often omit it, see note)

1 – 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup light or sifted spelt flour

3/4 cup oat flour (see note)

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp cinnamon (or ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg)

¼ tsp sea salt

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 tbsp flax meal (or 1 ½ tbsp ground white chia)

1/3 cup pecans or walnuts, lightly broken or chopped (for a nut-free version use ¼ cup of sunflower seeds)

¼ cup hemp seeds

¼ cup pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds if not substituting for pecans, above)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parch- ment paper. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the co- conut oil, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, sugar (if using), and vanilla. Mix on low speed to incorporate for about a minute. In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, except the nuts and seeds, and stir well. Add about half of the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Churn with the mixer to start to incorporate, and then add the re- maining dry mixture, as well as the nuts and seeds. Continue to stir on low speed, just until the mixture comes together and forms a dough on the paddle.  Scoop spoonfuls (11⁄2 to 2 tablespoons in size; a cookie scoop works very well but isn’t essential), and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 14 minutes, then remove from the oven and let the cookies cool for about a minute on the bak- ing sheet. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

If This Apron Could Talk: The unrefined sugar is optional— the cookies are still sweet and tasty without it, so if you don’t want to use any granulated sugar of any sort, then omit it. But, for a slightly sweeter taste, you can include the 2 table- spoons of sugar.

Savvy Subs and Adds:  If you prefer another oil to coconut, feel free to do so, just use a slightly scant measure. Feel free to add 1⁄4 cup of raisins, dried cranberries, or other dried fruit to the dry ingredients. You can include it as an addition, or as a replacement for some of the seeds or nuts.

Extra Tips: (1) One of my girlfriends gave me a tip that she first pulsed the seeds and nuts before adding to the batter – so they would be better ‘disguised’ for her kiddos.  I gave it a try, and it worked beautifully.  Thanks for the clever suggestion Sara!

(2) When I make these, I use a smallish cookie scoop and over-fill it, and then press it on to the parchment, like a big scoop of ice cream!  What is fun about that technique is the cookies keep these nooks and crannies and edgy bits… making them just a little more monstacular. :)  Once, I scooped and baked them ‘tidier’, and my husband said “I like them better with all the imperfect edges“.  I agreed!  (and that doesn’t happen often, lol!)  There’s something about baking them up with those nibbly edges that you just want to snap off and eat.  And, I’m notorious for doing just that.

Enjoy the cookies guys! :)

Reminder:  Subscribe to my posts to get more plant-powered goodness delivered to your inbox!

Finally, thanks to Ricki Heller for including this recipe in her Wellness Weekend!

Three-Bean Salad (vegan and gluten-free; oil-free option)

I never tire of beans.  I eat them every day, and continue to find ways to love them!  Nature has given us different colors, sizes, shapes, and textures to enjoy -from a tender scarlet kidney bean to harder, creamy-colored chickpeas to delicate, tiny pink lentils.  To top that, they are packed with nutrition, and offer much cooking versatility – from dressings to spreads to sauces to burgers to casseroles – and more!

I really enjoy taking a humble bean and transforming it into an unexpectedly delicious plant-powered burger, dip, or stew, adding layers of flavors from spices and herbs, and sometimes combining nuts or grains.  Yet sometimes, we want simplicity.  Either we don’t have much time, or we are pooped on our feet and want a quick fix!  That was me this weekend, by the way.  And, so I made this salad – just for me.  Not that I wouldn’t share it, but I made it with my own food desires in mind (rather than for the kids or hubby).

Three-Bean Salad from Let Them Eat Vegan

I was craving the tangy marinade and crunch of vegetables, and wanted that fast – and lots of it!  And, this recipe does make a generous batch.  Which is good!  Because here’s the only catch with this salad:  It’s best after it has at least a few hours to marinate.  The flavors will soak into the beans (particularly the kidney beans).  So, make it a few hours ahead of time, or even a day ahead.  If you are serving to guests and are concerned about the apple losing its crunch and color, then make the salad without and then add the apple just before serving.

Anyone can make this salad.  Even its name itself is uncluttered and approachable – “Three-Bean Salad”.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting in flavors or dynamic in textures!  Sometimes, recipes can sound unapproachable, and I wanted this one to sound very approachable and doable.  It doesn’t have any obscure ingredients, and requires no tools other than a cutting board, chef’s knife, bowl and spoon.  Yep, you can eat straight out of your mixing bowl if you like!

Just be sure to add the apple.  Don’t skip it.  Or the cloves.  Trust me.  :)

 Three Bean Salad (from Let Them Eat Vegan) gluten-free, soy-free  RECIpage link to print/share

Does this recipe sound familiar? I remember a version of it that my mom served for potlucks and “cold-plate” dinners. Variations of this salad are also sometimes found at deli counters for take-out. What is fairly constant among the adaptations is the combination of chickpeas and kidney beans in a vinegar-prominent dressing. My version uses green onions in place of raw red or white onions, a touch of natural sweetener instead of white sugar, very little (or no) oil, and the addition of raw apple to lighten up the flavors.  Serves 6 as a side dish.

4 cups combination of chickpeas, kidney beans, and black beans (rinse and drain first if using canned)

½ – ¾ cup green or red bell pepper, chopped (or combination of both)

¼ cup celery, finely chopped

½ cup green onions (mostly green portion, not as much white), sliced

3 ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 – 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (keeps salad moist but optional – omit for oil-free version)

½ -1 tbsp pure maple syrup

½ – 1 tsp Dijon mustard (use 1 tsp for extra ‘kick’)

½ tsp + 1/8 tsp sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

½ cup apple, chopped (cored first, peeling optional), and tossed in ½ tsp lemon juice

couple pinches ground cloves

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients (no need to mix the vinaigrette separately), tossing well to fully mix. Season to taste with extra salt and pepper if desired.

If This Apron Could Talk: This salad tastes best after it’s had about a day to sit and the beans have absorbed some of the marinade. Be sure to toss again to redistribute any dressing lingering at the bottom of your container.

What are your favorite beans or favorite bean dishes?

p.s. Don’t forget to subscribe to my posts so you don’t miss any recipes, updates, and giveaways!

How To Make a Vegan Ice Cream Cake (with Sparklers!) and Fluffy Macadamia Mallow Frosting

Spring is a busy time as we have one girl’s birthday in April, and then another daughter’s birthday a couple of weeks later in May.  Our eldest turned eleven in April and asked for an ice cream cake.  Supposedly it’s the ‘cool’ thing to have at parties now.  I wasn’t worried, I’ve made them before.  Actually, it’s one of the easiest cakes you can make – it just takes a few prep steps and planning.

Step 1:  Start with a spring-form pan, it makes for easy slicing and serving later!  Line it it with a layer of vegan cookies.  Here, I used the sandwich cookies and separated them because they are rich enough and almost too sickly to have a full cookie as a base and side.  You can use another cookie – or a layer of cake as well.


Step 2:  Choose your ice cream victims.  These were mine:

I liked the idea of layering different flavors, and varieties that had “extras” in them.  While lately I’m particularly partial to some of the Coconut Bliss flavors, these were on special at our local store, so it was an easy decision.  Plus, I knew our daughter would love the flavor combinations!

Step 3: Take one pint out in advance, about 20 minutes beforehand to soften at room temperature.  Keep the other pints in freezer.  Once softened, you carefully add scoops and smooth it out on the base.  I started with the Cherry Amaretto for the base.

This is the trickiest layer because the ice cream will lift up some of those cookies at the bottom.  But, if the ice cream is soft enough and you go with the flow (don’t stress, it’s only ice cream cake!), it works fine.  I had to reposition a couple of cookies but that was it.  To smooth out the ice cream, it helps to run a spoon under hot water, dry it off, and let the heat of the spoon help you smooth around that top layer.

Step 4: Pop the pan in the freezer to let that layer set up before adding the next layer.  It will take about an hour to set up again, maybe more.  Check it, and once it is hard and set, you are on to…

Step 5: Next layer!  Take out your next pint to soften, for me that was the Peanut Butter Swirl:

I think that was my favorite layer. :)  See how frosty the pan is in that picture?

Step 6: Now, the pan goes – yep – back into the freezer.  Same drill, give it an hour or so.

Step 7: Take out last pint to layer… here, the Cookie Dough:

I take back what I said.  I think that was my favorite layer.

Step 8: Back into the freezer (technically you could have far fewer steps if you used one or two large pints of the same flavor and simply mixed in some ‘extras’).

With that, you’re DONE!  You can garnish the top as you like – adding some cookie crumbles or crushed nuts or the like.  I kept it simple and grated a little dark chocolate over the top, just to make it look even more pretty.  Take the cake out about 15 minutes before eating, then open up your springform and you are ready to slice and serve!

We added sparklers to our daughter’s cake – boy, was that a hit!

And, I literally had about 5 minutes to try and snap a couple of pics of this cake before the masses swarmed in!

Aren’t those layers pretty?


The kids were happy campers.  Who am I kidding?  I was a happy camper.  Ice cream is my most favorite dessert!

On to cake #2 (actually cake #3, read on).  This was for our youngest daughter, who turned 3 in May.  Her birthday is so memorable because labor kicked in on Mother’s Day that year.  I was laboring all day with her and she was born the next morning.  I knew this little mite would have me running circles with that Mother’s Day prank she pulled. 😉  And I was right!

She’s now three and she still hasn’t eaten cake.  She just doesn’t want to try it.  I think the frosting freaks her out or something, like it’s some mysterious new food frontier that she doesn’t want to take part in.  (If only she knew!)  Actually, I’m quite happy that she isn’t interested in cake just yet.  But, we couldn’t have her birthday without one.

I made my “All-Purpose Vanilla Cake” from ed&bv, but used spelt flour instead of white flour – you need about an extra 1/4 cup – and I also reduced the sugar a titch.  Then, I frosted it with one of my newest and most favorite frostings – Fluffy Macadamia Mallow Frosting from LTEV.  I doubled the batch because I like extra!  I created this recipe as one of my soy-free frostings that are included in LTEV (since most vegan frostings are soy-based, and folks were asking me for alternatives).  This frosting is also gluten-free (and I have a gluten-free cake recipe in LTEV as well).

Sidebar note: This isn’t actually the cake from our 3 yr old’s birthday.  I made a similar one, but didn’t get time to take proper pictures.  So, THESE photos are actually from our the month before, when our eldest had her birthday.  Because, as moms know, you need to make a cake for the actual birthday, and a cake for the party!  So, that brought me up to 3 cakes in 3 weeks!  :)

Anyhow, back to the important stuff.  The frosting!  This frosting is like having a not-so-sweet marshmallowy dreamy layer on your cake.  It’s thick and luscious and frosting happiness!

YUM!  Can you see the flecks of vanilla seeds in there?  I love vanilla beans.  And Fluffy Macadamia Mallow Frosting.  

Whose birthday was it again? 😉

Have you ever made an ice cream cake?  Have you tried this Macadamia Mallow Frosting?  What are your favorite cake combos?

Plant-Powered Food Spotlight: Goji Berries!

A few years ago, goji berries were pretty ‘fringe’.  Now, we are seeing them in recipes and food products, as they truly are a very nutrient-dense “super food”!

How are they so special?  To start, gogi berries are very high in antioxidants.  Antioxidants are measured by a scale called the ORACtest.  The ORAC value for gogi berries is usually over 20,000 (depending on variety) – compared to 2,400 for blueberries (which are well known for their high antioxidant level)!

Next, these little berries are protein-rich.  They offer 18 amino acids, including the 8 essential amino acids that make up a complete protein.  Yup, folks, gojis will ‘pump you up’!

Goji berries are also quite rich in Vitamin A (which, among other things, is good for fighting viral infections).   In fact, just 1 ounce of these berries (that’s about 2 1/2 – 3 tbsp) will give you 140% of the RDA for Vitamin A!

And, if that wasn’t enough to convince you of goji’s star power, they are also a better source of vitamin C than oranges, and deliver trace minerals including iron and zinc.

These berries resemble raisins in size, but with a flattened shape and dusty pink-red color.  Their texture is chewy and slightly soft (though some brands may be softer and fresher than others).  Goji berries may be somewhat of an acquired taste for some – they were for me.  They aren’t as sweet as other dried fruit like raisins, or other dried berries like blueberries.  At first, I was underwhelmed with their flavor, and wasn’t sure if I would use them much.  I still don’t always eat them straight up, but do enjoy working them into snacks and recipes.  Here are some ideas to include goji berries in your daily diet, starting with…

Strawberry Goji Smoothie Photo credit:

  • blend into smoothies, especially delicious in my Strawberry Goji Smoothie (get recipe)!
  • add to cold and hot cereals
  • mix into non-dairy yogurt
  • sprinkle in green salads (in place of dried cranberries)
  • add to homemade jams and also chutneys
  • use in place of raisins and dried cranberries in sweet recipes like muffins, scones, quick breads, granola bars, and cookies and in savory dishes like pilafs, and rice, grain, and bean salads (try substituting just partially at first). Also try my Strawberry-Goji Muffins recipe in LTEV!
  • add to your favorite trail mix (or buy trail mixes including goji berries)
  • use in your granola recipe in place of raisins or other dried fruit (add right at end of baking, else they will burn).
  • Try this Cocoa-Goji Granola recipe, also from Let Them Eat Vegan:

Cocoa Goji Granola (photo credit:

Do you like goji berries?  How do you eat/prepare them?

Mother’s Day Pressies & Krispie Chip Cookies

Hello folks!  Did you have a lovely Mother’s Day weekend?  I hope you all had a chance to enter the Mother’s Day giveaway I hosted.  If you didn’t know about it, PLEASE subscribe to my blog.  That way you won’t miss out on any goodies!

Speaking of goodies, this mama landed herself a shiny new iPhone 4S!  I joked with a friend that if hubby didn’t get my hints about this gift, he would be totally spaced out!  Poor fellas, sometimes they just can’t read our minds, right?  Why IS that? 😉

And, I also received a few beautiful gifts from our girls.  First, handmade cards:

The one in the foreground with the flowers is from our eldest, and she came up with poem for the inside:

HA HA!  “I’m so glad you didn’t have a son“!  I also laughed with the hot cross buns.  I’ve never made hot cross buns!  Hee.  I asked her if she was talking about my bottom, and she rolled her eyes saying “moooom, that is SO inappropriate“.  Indeed, mommy is *quite* embarrassing to this eleven-year old!

The other card was from our 7 year old, and it was gifted with this very special pen set.  They are set in the little pot with black beans (couldn’t be better suited to this ‘Queen-Bean’ veg mom)!  And, she also wrote something special inside:

As for my day, I can’t say I lounged around all too much!  In the morning I baked these “Krispie Chip Cookies” from Let Them Eat Vegan.  They are a variation on my Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookie (that recipe is here).  I use the Nature’s Path Crispy Rice Cereal, which isn’t as ‘snap, crackle, and pop-y’ as the original, but made with brown rice flour so a better choice in my books!

Don’t you just want to dunk one?!  I baked a LOT of these.  Our girls started at a new school last Friday, so I brought some of these cookies and also some BF Blueberry Muffins to the new teachers and principal.  It’s amazing how a little baked treat makes people smile.  I love it.

By the way, the winner of the Mother’s Day cookbook giveaway was Sherri, with this comment:

My favorite Mothers Day memory is going to my moms house and cleaning her bedroom for her for Mothers Day. She struggled with housekeeping and loved a clean house but living in the country with a huge garden..she was canning and cooking all the time and there was not much time for cleaning. I can remember the look on her face as she would walk in her room and just hug me for all the work I did for her. She died 8 years ago from breast cancer but she planted a seed in me for eating healthy. After the first couple of rounds of chemo she refused more txs and started juicing and not eating meat. We thought she was crazy at the time because we were all meat eaters but now I am walking in her path choosing to be vegan. I feel great and have a ways to go to lose weight but I am getting there. Happy Mothers Day Dreena!

Congratulations Sherri!  Please e-mail me with your mailing address so I can get a book sent out to you!

A couple of admin things before I go:

First, a couple of you did indeed add reviews on amazon for Let Them Eat Vegan.  **thank you**  I really appreciate it.  If you are loving LTEV and haven’t yet added a review, please pop over there and add a few happy words.  Helps a great deal, everything is about amazon with book sales!

Second, my friend Heather Nauta, the holistic nutritionist behind and, is giving you a fun way to learn how to cook healthy and delicious meals with her new online cooking classes. Sign up starts Friday, May 18th, with an early-bird discount price of only $67 (55% off!) going until Monday, May 21st. She’s posting free videos this week with some of her best tips for healthy, quick and flavorful cooking leading up to the launch on Friday. Check out the first one here, to see her 3 steps to make your meals exceptionally healthy and a recipe for a super healthy avocado dip.  If you are interested, sign up right here!

Mother’s Day Cookbook Giveaway!

Happy Mother’s Day to all you hard working moms reading.  To celebrate YOU, I am giving away a copy of Let Them Eat Vegan!  And, if you already have Let Them Eat Vegan, then you may choose one of my other cookbooks (eat, drink & be vegan, Vive le Vegan!, or The Everyday Vegan)!  YAY!

Let Them Eat Vegan

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post with your favorite Mother’s Day memory or tradition.  And, if you’d like to grab yourself a second entry, then simply tweet this post (you can use the button on this page, up there ↑).  Contest open to residents of Canada and the US.  AND, you don’t have to be a mom to enter.  You can be a mom, enter for your mom, or any mom!  Or, because you a planning to be a mom. :)  You get the idea!

And, if you’d like to return a Mother’s Day sweet… if you DO already have Let Them Eat Vegan and are loving it, would you please share a short yumbo-bumbo review on amazon?  It takes just a minute or two, and I would really appreciate it.  Plus, I figure you might need something to do this weekend – other than twiddling your thumbs because your family is doing ALL the cooking and cleaning.  😉

And, if you need some ideas for Mother’s Day breakfast or brunch recipes, why not try my Fantastic French Toast, Hempanola, Strawberry Goji Smoothie (the color is so pretty!), or these…

Apple Oat Pancakes (from Vive le Vegan!), click to link to recipe

Happy Mother’s Day!  Good luck!

Orange Apricot Tea Buns

Tea buns were very traditional when I was growing up in Newfoundland.  In fact, you can go to just about any grocery store – or maybe any house – and find fluffy raisin-studded tea buns.

While they were very traditional, I never loved them.  I guess it was that they didn’t have a lot of flavor other than the raisins and the fatty butter.  But, I love the notion of a tea bun.  Even if you don’t have it with tea, it just sounds lovely, doesn’t it?  I created this new recipe that in my mind is where a tea bun meets a scone meets a muffin.  They have the name of the tea bun, the texture closer to a scone, and the ease of preparation of a muffin!

Orange Apricot Tea Buns (vegan, gluten-free, oil-free) by Dreena Burton, plant-powered ktichen

Orange Apricot Tea Buns

ReciPage link to print/share

These buns are like a cross between a biscuit and a muffin. They are scented with fresh orange juice and a hint of almond extract, and they are made without any refined sugars, and also no oil.  The orange juice really lifts the flavors of these buns and if you don’t have dried apricots on hand, try substituting chopped dates – they are scrumptious!

1 1/2 cups oat flour

1 cup rolled oats

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp sea salt (touch scant)

1 1/2 tsp orange zest (see note)

1/4 cup dried unsulphured apricots, chopped (or chopped pitted dates)

1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

2 tbsp plain non-dairy milk

1 tbsp ground white chia seed

1/2 tsp pure vanilla or orange extract

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, combine oat flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda (sift in powder/soda), nutmeg, salt.  Stir through until well combined, and then stir in zest and apricots. In a smaller bowl, combine orange juice, maple syrup, milk, chia, and extract.  Stir through until combined. Add wet mixture to the dry and stir through until just combined. Using a large cookie scoop (or a spoon), scoop out mixture and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I typically yield 6 to 7).  Bake for 14 minutes.  Remove from oven, let cool for a minute on baking sheet, and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Makes 6 to 7 buns.

Orange Zest Note: My favorite way to zest citrus is with a kitchen rasp (also called a microplane grater).  These are very handy, inexpensive, efficient tools that can be used for zesting, grating garlic, chocolate, and more!

Enjoy the recipe, kids!

Bunk Beds, Blueberry Muffins, and One Cat Sitting Pretty

Occasionally I write non-food posts.  Yet, somehow food is often still connected.  I guess that’s true of anything in life.  Food IS connected to just about everything we do.  Like bunk beds.  You might think food has little to do with them.  Ahhh, but I have a story.

See, we moved house back in December.  Just a few weeks before Christmas, with three kids.  Yes, we like to live on the edge!  Anyhow, we had been wanting to move for a few years.  We were on a busy street and our kids could not go outside to play – in fact I wouldn’t even let them out in the front yard on their own.  Of course, our girls initially did not want to move.  Our two older girls share a room, and have been talking about bunk beds for years.  We agreed that if we found  a new home, we would get them bunk beds.

We moved, rang in the new year, and it was time to deliver the beds!  I grew up with bunk beds as a child.  We had six girls and only two bedrooms (and ONE full bathroom – can you imagine?)!  My father was handy, and he built bunk beds right into our walls.  They were the coolest!  And they were unbelievably sturdy!  My dad built custom features into the beds, including drawers and a pull-out book shelf.  Since he passed away when I was 11, I have very fond memories of those bunk beds, and still have one piece of woodwork that he had attached to the beds.

So, when I was looking for bunk beds for the girls, I wanted something just as sturdy, and hopefully almost as special.  Something that would give me a sense of security, and them years of childhood memories.  But I wasn’t finding it in our stores in the Vancouver area.  Everything was cookie-cutter, lower quality, and nothing looked rugged and durable.

So, I did what comes naturally… I googled.  And found THIS image:

Belair Twin over Double Bunk Bed

YEAH!  Exactly what I was looking for!  This bunk bed from Belair Kids Furniture had everything I was looking for:  Sturdy with stairs instead of a ladder, fresh design, and a double-bed bottom bunk (for future friend sleepovers).  I made some calls.  It wasn’t easy, because Belair currently only has retailers in Ontario and Quebec.  I spoke with several representatives and received excellent customer service.  We ordered the bed, and it was on its way.

When it arrived, we were instructed by Belair to have “a couple of strong people help move the pieces”.  They weren’t joking.  This bed is heavy-duty.  I think a few pro-wrestlers could throw down on this thing!  Here are some “in production” pics:

Deciding where to place the stair-end…

Once we reached this stage, we called it a night.  Or a few nights, because our schedule did not permit more bunk bed assembly until the next weekend.  So, the girls slept at the base of the bed with their mattresses side-by-side.  They had fun!  It was like “camping out” for them.  I told them that was as close as mom would get to camping. 😉

As we were moving around the staircase, miss Sarabi got comfortable…

Sittin’ pretty…

ooooh, there’s a drawer here!…

Ever notice that when you are in the midst of some involved sorting/moving/organizing/assembling/packing… the cat is THERE!  Just to remind you of how gloriously relaxed life is in their feline world.  Purring, all the while looking at you and probably thinking… “Silly human beings, I’m just going to sit back and watch.  Right in the middle of the action. Don’t mind me while I nap.”

I did mention food!  This is where it comes in.  Remember I said we needed some help moving those pieces?  Well, hubby’s friend and hockey coaching cohort jumped at the chance to help.  Truly, he did.  He seemed to enjoy the process!  Bizarre!  Still, I couldn’t help but wanted to thank him for taking a couple of hours out of his Saturday afternoon to move and assemble bunk beds.  I thank with baking.  So, I sent him home with a batch of these from Let Them Eat Vegan

BF Blueberry Muffins

These muffins are made with oat and spelt flour, no white flours, and just a small amount of unrefined sugar.  They have a hint of lemon that shines with the natural blueberry flavor.  (And I know at least one reader baking these over and over – Donna, I’m talking to you!) :) What’s “BF” you ask?… See here.

AND, I sent him home with a batch of these babies as well, also from Let Them Eat Vegan

Award Winning Frosted B-raw-nies (click image to recipe link)

Once the beds were fully assembled, it was on to bedding.  I wasn’t sure what to get, as two older daughters are quite different.  Our eldest is not into ‘girly things, whereas our middle girl embraces most of it!  The sheets were easy.  They both loved this ladybug print, and the sheet sets were not at all expensive (found them at HomeSense, which isn’t always economical, but these sheets were very reasonable).


As you can see, “Fluffy” approved of the sheets.

As did “Rescue”…

Since it’s warming up here, I opted for light quilts instead of heavy duvets.  I wasn’t set on necessarily matching the twin and double beds, but to somehow coordinate the two.  First, I picked out a few solid colors and primary color themes.  But, my eldest surprised me when she chose this set (again from HomeSense):

I guess there is some ‘girly’ in her after all! Both girls loved these sheets and had a good time coordinating a couple of simple pillows.

And of course, the pups were content once again when the beds were neatly made…

That pillow in front was lovingly crafted by Nanny last year.  One pillow for each girl with their initial in the centre. ❤

On the left side of beds, behind the staircase, is a little cubby of storage.  We set up a few pillows and stuffies for the girls to have a “quiet” area.  (As IF, that was some wishful thinking on mommy’s part!)

Wait, who is that hiding out?…

SO hard to be the littlest sister!  Please let me be part of the bunk bed fun!

We’ve been using the bunk beds now for over a month.  We love them.  They are sturdy and fun, and the girls think their bedroom is a “fort”!  We’ve joked that if we moved, the bunk beds might be staying with the house!  Or, we recruit a few more hands and I make a LOT of muffins and brownies.

Do you have a special childhood memory like a bunk bed?  Or do your children now have bunk beds that they love?

*I have not been paid to write this feature of the Belair bed.  We bought the bed, and because I love the design and was impressed with the level of service that we received from Belair, I decided to share a review.  Hopefully other retailers (including those in Western Canada) will start to carry Belair products.