Autumn Dinner Loaf (vegan, gluten-free, oil-free)

Hey kids! First, thanks for all the enthusiasm about the Sweet Potato Chocolate Cake last week. I guess I’m not at all alone loving healthier dessert.¬†And chocolate. ūüėÄ

Today is a super-quick post because I’ve been “up to my eyeballs” in mommy matters and work. I have two new projects I’m working on. Yes, two! I hope to share details soon.

For now, I want to share this recipe in time for Thanksgiving – and the holidays. It’s another from Plant-Powered Families. It’s just so seasonal and easy (really easy, guys!) that I had to get it out to you this week. If you’re a fan of the No-Fu Loaf, I think you’ll enjoy this one. So, without a lot of chitty-chat, here it is… Autumn Dinner Loaf!

Enjoy, and Happy ThanksLIVING my friends! x Dreena

Autumn Dinner Loaf from "Plant-Powered Families" #vegan #glutenfree

Autumn Dinner Loaf link to print/share

This comforting dinner loaf is perfect for the holidays, but may become a year-round favorite! Serve with Home-Style Gravy, along with baked potatoes and green beans. Serves 5‚Äď6

2 cups carrot, sliced
2/3 cup whole raw almonds
1/2 cup sliced green onion
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1‚Äď1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground dried sage
1 medium-large clove garlic
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 lightly packed cups cooked and cooled brown rice
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons rolled oats

Topping Options (see note)

BBQ Topping:
21/2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1‚Äď2 tablespoons rolled oats

Dry Topping:
2 tablespoons almond meal
1 tablespoon rolled oats
Pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 375¬įF. Lightly wipe a glass loaf pan with a smidgen of oil. Line the bottom of the pan with a strip of parchment paper (place it in so it hangs over the short ends of the pan; this helps for easier removal of the veggie loaf from the pan).¬†In a food processor, add the carrots, almonds, green onions, nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, sea salt, rosemary, sage, garlic, and lemon juice. Process until the mixture smooths out and starts to become sticky, scraping down the bowl as needed.¬†Add the rice and puree. At this point the mixture should be sticky enough to hold slightly when pressed. Add the oats and process through.¬†Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and evenly distribute.¬†If using the BBQ topping, spread the sauce over the top of the loaf, and then sprinkle on the oats.¬†If using the dry topping, combine the almond meal, oats, and salt in a small bowl, and then sprinkle over the loaf.¬†Cover the dish with foil and bake for 33‚Äď35 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5‚Äď7 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for about 5 minutes, then slice and serve.

Toppings Note: If you don‚Äôt care for barbecue sauce, you may prefer the dry topping. Either way, pair with the “Homestyle Gravy” from Plant-Powered Families, or my Thick ‘n Rich Gravy.

Serving Suggestions: Refer to this post for other Thanksgiving menu ideas!

Autum Dinner Loaf from "Plant-Powered Families" #vegan #glutenfree #oilfree #Thanksgiving #meatloaf #vegetarian #holiday #food

photos by Nicole Axworthy

Sweet Potato Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sweets Frosting (vegan, oil-free)

Yes, a long recipe name. Worth every syllable, because this cake is a PPF sensation!

I know I’ve posted quite a few sweet treats lately. But, we are leading up to the holidays, and I’m still involved in the Earth Balance Holiday Bake-Off. So, dessert it is, kids!

So, what’s special about this chocolate cake?

I mean, it’s yet another chocolate cake. How many do we need?

Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake with Chocolate Sweets Frosting #vegan #wfpb #oilfree #dessert #cake #chocolate

You could say this one is special because it’s¬†vegan, whole-grain, oil-free… and has nutrient-dense sweet potatoes in both the frosting and cake. But, I think it’s special in that the whole is far more than the sum of its parts. And, it’s special because of how readers are embracing it, and celebrating special family times with this recipe.

I was pretty fond of this recipe when I created it. My family was too. But, I truly didn’t know how all of you would feel about it. It’s not¬†a classic chocolate cake with a hefty dose of sugar and fat. So, I wondered how well it would be accepted.

Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake with Chocolate Sweets Frosting #vegan #oilfree #cake #dessert #chocolate #dairyfree #plantbased

I had a fair idea through recipe testing, when one of my (very) oil-free-skeptical friends tried it for the first time.¬†He didn’t know¬†it was oil-free, and¬†said he was shocked because it was one of the best chocolate cakes he had tasted! Then, other reports came in from testers – and now from many of you.¬†Our¬†facebook group has been posting pic after pic of this cake, and it’s become a bit of a sensation in the group!

That’s it, I couldn’t resist any longer. The recipe is now yours, all yours. ūüėÄ

I hope you love it! Don’t forget to enter the EB bake-off if you are thinking about it.

Thanks for your continued support of Plant-Powered Families and your generous reviews on amazon.

Dig in, guys! x Dreena

Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake with Chocolate Sweets Frosting #vegan #dairyfree #cake #dessert #chocolate #oilfree #plantbased

Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake with Chocolate Sweets Frosting

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This cake is sweetened partially with cooked sweet potato, which also adds moisture
and a tender texture. Pair it with the Chocolate Sweets Frosting (below), and you have a cake fit for a special occasion! Makes 1 cake layer (double the batch for a 2-layer cake).

3/4 cup peeled, cooked, and cooled orange sweet potato (see note)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon water, divided
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole-grain spelt flour
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup mini or regular nondairy chocolate chips
1/2 scant teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 scant teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350¬įF. Lightly coat an 8‚ÄĚ x 8‚ÄĚ brownie/cake pan¬†or a 9‚ÄĚ round cake pan with coconut or other oil, and fit the¬†bottom of the pan with a small piece of parchment paper.¬†In a blender (or using a handheld blender and a deep cup or¬†vessel), puree the sweet potato, 1/2 cup of the water, maple syrup,¬†balsamic vinegar, and vanilla extract until completely smooth.¬†In a large bowl, combine the flour, coconut sugar, chocolate chips, and sea salt, then sift in the cocoa, baking powder, and¬†baking soda.¬†Add the wet ingredients to the dry (be sure to scrape out all¬†the blended ingredients with a spatula, and use the remaining¬†1 tablespoon of water to rinse the blender jar and get out any remaining puree). Mix until just well incorporated.¬†Transfer to the prepared pan, bake for 21‚Äď23 minutes, remove,¬†and let cool on a cooling rack.

Sweet Potato Note: Orange sweet potato is a little sweeter¬†and also a little looser than yellow sweet potato. I prefer orange¬†in this recipe, but if you‚Äôd like to use yellow, add another 1‚Äď2¬†tablespoons of water, and another 1 tablespoon of maple syrup to
the wet ingredients to loosen slightly.

Chocolate Sweets Frosting

Yes, this frosting is made with cooked sweet potatoes! Once blended with rich nut butter and other  ingredients, it turns into a thick, irresistible frosting! Makes about 2 1/4 cups.

1 loosely packed cup peeled, cooked, and cooled sweet potato (see note)
2/3‚Äď3/4 cup coconut sugar¬†or other unrefined sugar(see note)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 scant cup raw cashew butter or almond butter
1/4 rounded teaspoon sea salt
2‚Äď5 tablespoons¬†nondairy milk (see tip)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place the sweet potato, coconut sugar, cocoa powder, cashew¬†butter, sea salt, 1‚Äď2 tablespoons of the milk, and vanilla extract¬†in a blender or food processor and puree until very smooth. It‚Äôs¬†best to use a blender or processor (versus a stand mixer) if using¬†orange sweet potato, to fully smooth out the potato.¬†Taste, and add more sweetener if desired, and also another 2‚Äď3¬†tablespoons of milk if needed to thin to preferred consistency¬†(you may need more milk using yellow sweet potato as they¬†aren‚Äôt quite as moist as the orange). Puree until smooth, scraping¬†down the blender/processor bowl as needed. Puree until as¬†smooth as possible.¬†Transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to use. Or, get¬†a spoon and dig in!

Sweet Potato Note: I prefer using yellow sweet potato in this frosting, but this is still ridiculously delicious with orange sweet potato.

Coconut Sugar Note: Because coconut sugar does not have a¬†fine texture, it‚Äôs useful to first process in a blender to make it¬†powdery. If you have a high-speed blender, simply pulse a cup¬†or more until powdery (reserve the extra for another use). If¬†using a regular blender, process 1 1/2‚Äď2 cups of sugar with 1‚Äď1 1/2¬†tablespoons of arrowroot powder, until it becomes powdery.

Kitchen Tip: This is a thick frosting. If you want to thin out, add more milk. After refrigerating, you can also transfer to a mixer with a whisk attachment to add the milk and fluff up the frosting.

Idea: Add 1‚Äď1 1/2 teaspoons of orange zest or 1/2 teaspoon of pure¬†almond extract for a slight cherry flavor.

Vegan Pecan Pie

In my last post I announced I’ll be judging the pies category for the¬†Earth Balance Holiday Bake-Off. So, it’s only appropriate that I share a pie recipe with you all, yes?

Before I do, I want to clarify my role with this bake-off. I am not being compensated by Earth Balance to judge or promote this bake-off. I did receive some sample products (peanut butters, snacks), but I’m not receiving any financial compensation. I didn’t disclose this in my last post, and want you all to know that I’m supporting this bake-off to (1) help encourage people to move into vegan baking, and¬†(2)¬†also to encourage you all to enter the contest. Please do!

Dreena's Pecan Pie (from "Let Them Eat Vegan") #vegan #dairyfree #holidays #pies #plantbased #glutenfree

With that, I’ll share my recipe for Dreena’s Pecan Pie. This is a recipe from Let Them Eat Vegan. I loved pecan pie¬†in my pre-vegan days. Did you?

Dreena's Pecan Pie (from "Let Them Eat Vegan") #vegan #dairyfree #holidays #pies #plantbased #glutenfree

With this version, I keep the pecan topping more distinct from the custardy filling. I like having that contrast with the creamy filling and the pecans maintaining crunch (rather than plumping through baking). This is delicious on its own, but oh-my-heavens, pair it with a vegan vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for dessert bliss!

Dreena's Pecan Pie (from "Let Them Eat Vegan") #vegan #dairyfree #holidays #pies #plantbased #glutenfree

Dreena’s Pecan Pie

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1¬Ĺ tbsp arrowroot powder
¬Ĺ + 1/8 tsp agar powder
1 can (400ml) full-fat coconut milk (not light), using only thick cream and discarding watery portion (this is about 1 cup + 2 ‚Äď 4 tbsp of cream)
¬ľ cup plain unsweetened non-dairy milk (almond or soy preferred)
¬Ĺ cup brown rice syrup
1/3 cup agave nectar (can substitute maple syrup but filling will be darker in color)
1 ¬Ĺ tbsp flax meal
¬ľ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¬ľ tsp (rounded) sea salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 ¬ľ – 1 3/4 cups pecans (whole or pieces, see note)
1 ¬Ĺ – 2 tbsp unrefined sugar (for topping)
2 tsp coconut butter (warmed through to melt; can sub 1-2 tsp coconut oil)
couple pinches sea salt

1 prepared pastry pie crust (I use Wholly Wholesome brand), or can use ‚ÄúRustic Pie Crust‚Ä̬†or ‚ÄúGluten-Free Pie Crust‚ÄĚ, both in Let Them Eat Vegan.

In a saucepan, first whisk together the arrowroot and agar with a small amount of the coconut milk or non-dairy milk (about ¬ľ cup). Once incorporated, whisk in the remainder of the milks, as well as the brown rice syrup, agave nectar, flax meal, nutmeg, and salt. Bring mixture to a low boil over medium-high heat, whisking frequently. Once at a boil, remove from heat and whisk in vanilla. Transfer mixture to a bowl and let cool in refrigerator to a cooler temperature (can still be fairly warm), stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, mix together the topping ingredients. Set aside and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Once filling is cooled somewhat, pour mixture into the pie shell (scraping out all you can!) Bake (without pecan topping) for 15 minutes. After that time, reduce heat to 350, sprinkle on pecan mixture, ever so gently patting into surface of filling. Bake for another 15 minutes, then carefully remove and let cool on a cooling rack. Once pie is fully cooled, it will set (refrigerate if desired). Slice and serve. Serves 6-8.

Serving Suggestion: Serve with ‚ÄúLemon-Scented Whipped Cream‚ÄĚ from LTEV, or a scoop on vanilla non-dairy ice cream.

Pecan Note: If using whole pecans, it‚Äôs helpful to roughly chop them before using in the recipe. It‚Äôs easier to cut the pie with the pecan pieces broken up rather than kept whole. I prefer this pie with just 1¬ľ cups of pecans, but if you really love plenty of pecans in your pecan pie, use the full 1 3/4 cups. If using the greater amount of pecans, then also use the greater amount of sugar and oil to toss through the pecans.

Dreena's Pecan Pie (from "Let Them Eat Vegan") #vegan #dairyfree #holidays #pies #plantbased #glutenfree

All photos done by Marika Collins,

So guys, what do you think? Is this a recipe you might make for the holidays? Or, have you already made it? Share your thoughts! I love hearing from you. :)

Enjoy… x Dreena

Apple Nachos Supreme! + Earth Balance Bake-Off 2015

Happy November, and Happy World Vegan Month! <3

The holiday season will soon be here. Holy hannah the baking begins, aprons on!


This year, I’m honored to be one of the judges for Earth Balance’s 5th Annual Holiday Bake-Off!¬†¬†I have the privilege of judging the competition this year alongside Chloe Coscarelli and Emily von Euw.

If you’re unfamiliar with the bake-off, it gives vegan bakers everywhere the opportunity to compete virtually for a chance to win incredible¬†prizes. This year there are 4 categories: pies, savory baked goods, cakes/cupcakes, and cookies and bars.

I’ll be judging the pies category, and I’m also participating in an an Instagram “takoever”¬†this week! So, if you’re on IG, follow me for more!


Some of you may be wondering… “Dreena, your recipes don’t use Earth Balance butter or coconut spread… what gives?” True. My current recipes utilize whole foods ingredients.¬†However, I have¬†used some of these products in my earlier cooking days. Plus, Earth Balance has a line¬†of peanut butter products that I do use. Plus-plus… have you tried their popcorn? ūüėČ

Seriously, my philosophy about eating vegan is that as a family we eat about 90% whole foods. I talk about this in Plant-Powered Families and Let Them Eat Vegan. So, while I cook and¬†bake with whole foods ingredients, we also enjoy some convenience foods as a family. For instance, we use some store-bought¬†vegan cheeses for school lunches and parties (as nut cheeses aren’t possible with nut allergies), and our girls love¬†taking the Earth Balance popcorn to movies with friends!¬†As a mom, I love that they can have these treats with their friends rather than feel they miss out¬†at parties and events. In short,¬†I’m delighted to be a part of this event. I always encourage a vegan choice, as diet is a journey.

Speaking of the popcorn, I’ll now share a timely (and fun!) recipe from Plant-Powered Families. These APPLE NACHOSE SUPREME will be a hit at holiday parties!


x Dreena

Apple Nachos Supreme! #vegan #glutenfree #soyfree #wfpb #plantbased #oilfree #dairyfree #healthy #snacks


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Your kids will LOVE this treat. It feels so festive and special, yet is pretty easy to pull
together and is quite healthy! You can customize with toppings you like best.¬†(Don’t be intimated by the length of the recipe, it’s just to give details, and I offer short-cuts!)

Spiced Caramel (see note for quick-fix option):
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 scant teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon allspice (optional)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean powder (or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)
1/3 cup plus 2‚Äď3¬†teaspoons water

Apple Base:
3 apples, cored and sliced into thin rounds
2 teaspoons lemon juice

3‚Äď4 tablespoons nut¬†butter of choice or¬†peanut butter (see note)
1 1/2‚Äď2 cups popped¬†popcorn (can pop yourself or use storebought)
3‚Äď4 tablespoons¬†nondairy chocolate chips
2‚Äď3 tablespoons¬†chopped nuts (optional)
2 tablespoons cranberries or raisins (optional)
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
1 recipe prepared Spiced Caramel (or brown rice syrup, as in note)

To make the spiced caramel:¬†Puree the dates, cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt, allspice, vanilla¬†bean powder, and 1/3 cup of the water in a blender or small food¬†processor (I use the Blendtec twister jar, which is the perfect size¬†for this small batch‚ÄĒyou can also use a mini food processor¬†but it may not get as smooth). If it‚Äôs difficult to get the mixture¬†moving, add another teaspoon of water, and more if needed. (Try¬†not to add too much at once, or the mixture could become too¬†thin.) Puree until completely smooth. Once smooth, transfer to a¬†small zip-top bag (to later pipe onto the nachos).¬†To make the apple base:¬†Toss the apples in the lemon juice. Arrange on a large plate.¬†To assemble with toppings:¬†Add the nut butter to a small zip-top bag. Seal the bag, and push/twist all the nut butter to one end. Snip the smallest piece off¬†a corner and you can then pipe the nut butter over the apples.¬†Alternatively, you can gently warm the nut butter and drizzle¬†with a spoon. Distribute the popcorn, chocolate chips, nuts,¬†cranberries, and shredded coconut on top of the apples, as¬†desired. Finally, take the prepared caramel in the zip-top bag,¬†seal the bag, and twist/snip off a small corner. Drizzle over the¬†apple nachos. Serves 3-4.

Caramel Note: For a quick fix, substitute brown rice syrup for¬†the caramel. Use 1/4‚Äď1/3 cup, and you can choose to stir in some of¬†the spices, or leave as is.

Serving Suggestion: I like to drizzle one layer of nut butter on¬†top of the apples, to help the toppings stick, and then a drizzle of¬†the caramel last‚ÄĒit looks so lovely! You can switch it up, using¬†the caramel first and then the nut butter last if you like. Also,
another option is to make a nut caramel, blending the nut butter straight into the date caramel. You may need to add a touch more water to get it moving in the blender (depending on your blender).

Kitchen Tip: These are best served soon after making. The lemon juice will help preserve the color of the apples, but not for long. You can prepare the date caramel in advance, and get the ingredients prepped in advance, then simply assemble before serving.

Apple Nachos Supreme! #vegan #dairyfree #healthy #snacks #dessert #wfpb #glutenfree #oilfree

So… do you have an original recipe that you think is a contender for the bake-off? I encourage you to submit it!¬†

Don’t miss any goodies! Subscribe to my emails¬†for recipes, giveaways, and more.

Dreena’s Peanut Butter Cups (vegan, gluten-free, oil-free)


So many of the foods we love are connected to memories. Favorite meals and desserts we had as children, foods we shared with friends, dishes during the holidays, and more.

Dreena's PB Cups #vegan #glutenfree #oilfree

While I’ve talked about some of the junky foods I ate as a child, I have many memories of home-cooked meals and treats. I remember my mom putting a lot of love and time into making stews, casseroles, and more. She is famous for her mac ‘n cheese, ¬†cod au gratin, and rhubarb jam. She had six girls, so I cannot even fathom how much food she had to buy and prepare to feed us all. She also had a husband who loved good food. I remember many family dinners, and how much my father would appreciate¬†those meals. Even if he didn’t get seconds because of six growing girls.

My father passed just after my 11th birthday. Today is the anniversary, it’s now 34 years since that day. Our middle daughter (Bridget) is almost the exact age I was when it happened. Charlotte and Hope are quite close to the ages of two of my sisters. I haven’t written much about my family history and childhood. My dad was a recreational pilot, and¬†died in a helicopter accident (my three cousins were also with him). It¬†was a single, tragic, inexplicable event¬†that¬†changed our¬†lives forever.¬†There were other things going on that hurt our¬†family life¬†and relationships –¬†some related to our dad’s tragedy, some not. But, they all took a very heavy toll on our family, and our hearts and souls.


I find it hard to believe it’s been 34 years. Moments can trigger a memory that brings me to tears in seconds, and yet most of my days I’m carrying on with my life as an adult (as we do). I mentioned in my last post that it was my birthday this week. For years and years I didn’t enjoy my birthday because it felt so close to my dad’s death. There were other deaths in October for our extended family when I was young. So, October has always felt very dark and emotional for me.

Last year I realized how much I was connecting the two, and this year I made a conscious effort to separate them. I’ve been joking with friends that I’m making it my “birthweek” or “birthmonth” rather than birthday. I figure if my actual birthday isn’t great, or the few days before or after, I can certainly celebrate the person I am on other days. We should all be doing this, don’t you think? It doesn’t have to be extravagant or costly efforts.¬†Just finding ways to appreciate and love ourselves.¬†This year I did enjoy my birthday. I still think of my dad, and my mom, and my sisters at this time. How could I not? But, I’m feeling differently this year, and maybe that’s why I am choosing to write about it today.

I mentioned my¬†dad loved hearty home-cooked meals¬†– and he also loved his treats!¬†My mom made the best jams, date squares, and pies. And, I remember my dad having a good stash of chocolate bars in the house. Dad was also a huge prankster.¬†He would have loved how Halloween has become this big event of spooking out your house! He’d be part of it, in full character. He’d also be scoring his favorite treats from the stash.

I created these PB Cups as a healthier (but still delicious) alternative to Reese’s for Halloween. I think my dad would have loved them. I think you will too.

x Dreena

Dreena's PB Cups #vegan #glutenfree #oilfree

Dreena’s PB Cups

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These little cups are much like an open-faced Reese‚Äôs cup¬†– made¬†much¬†healthier!¬†Makes 15‚Äď18 cups

Chocolate Base:
1/2 cup non-dairy chocolate chips
2 1/2 tbsp coconut butter

Peanut Butter Topping:
2 tbsp coconut butter
1/3 cup natural unsalted peanut butter (see note for substitution)
3 1/2 tbsp coconut sugar
1/4 rounded tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract or 1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder

Line a mini-muffin pan with 15‚Äď18 small muffin liners.¬†To make the chocolate base: Set a heat-proof bowl over a small¬†pot or double boiler with a few inches of water in it. Turn heat to¬†medium. Add chocolate chips and coconut butter to the bowl. Stir¬†through until well combined and melted. Remove from heat, and
spoon roughly one tablespoon of chocolate mixture into each liner. Once finished, transfer the pan to the fridge to cool completely. Reserve saucepan with hot water or double boiler (still with just a small amount of water in it). To make the peanut butter topping: Add the coconut butter to another small bowl, place over the saucepan/double boiler, and allow it to melt. If needed, turn on low heat to help melt. Meanwhile, prepare the peanut butter mixture. In a mini food processor, puree the peanut butter, coconut sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add the melted coconut butter to the peanut butter mixture and puree until fully incorporated.
To assemble: Once chocolate cups are chilled and firm, spoon about 11/2 tbsp peanut butter mixture on top of each of the chocolate cups. I use a small cookie scoop, and then gently smooth out the peanut mixture to cover the chocolate. Place the cups in the fridge until completely chilled, about an hour.
Peanut Butter Note: You bet you can substitute a nut butter Рtry almond or cashew! If your peanut butter/ nut butter does contain salt, reduce the salt measure to just under 1/8 tsp.

Food photos credit: Nicole Axworthy

More: A Few Of My Favorite Vegan Things!


In the summer I reintroduced this “few of my favorite vegan things” feature.

My Favorite Vegean Things #vegan

I’m excited to bring another post to you today!….


Feeding Change Chickpea Miso #vegan #glutenfree #soyfree

Chickpea Miso

Ever since I discovered chickpea miso, I haven’t gone back to soy-based miso. It’s not that I eschew soy, I simply prefer the taste of chickpea miso. It’s more mellow in flavor, and also has a lighter color. I use it in some of my favorite recipes including Wonder Spread, and a bunch of the new recipes in PPF. I get questions about chickpea miso all the time, and since I first discovered it 3-4¬†years ago, it’s become far more available. I buy¬†Feeding Change¬†brand locally, and love it! If you can’t find this brand, look for¬†Miso Masters¬†or¬†South River.¬†Pick it up at your next shop, I think you’ll love it!


Copco BPA-free water bottles


Copco Water Bottles

A couple of days after this post about packing lunches, I found these Copco water bottles. I was in the checkout line at Winners, looking at all the point-of-purchase merchandise that they are so good at displaying. Charlotte (14 year old) was with me and was looking at the water bottles. She picked up one of these Copco bottles¬†and we both thought it was clever. First, it’s the perfect size for toting in backpacks. Sometimes water bottles are too large to stuff in the side pocket. This one is the same size as a storebought water bottle, so it’s handy… and not too uncool¬†for teenagers. ūüėČ Second, it’s BPA-free. Third, it opens about 1/3 of the way down for easy washing and filling. You can even add wedges of lemons/limes, or other fruit for an infused water. I’ve since picked up another 3! If you have a Winners or HomeSense in your area, have a look. If not, I also found them on amazon.


Purple Sweet Potatoes

Purple Sweet Potatoes!!

I’ve been looking for purple-flesh sweet potatoes ever since my Summerfest trip. Dr. Greger talked about them and I was fascinated. They aren’t easy to find here, however. Most of the grocery stores don’t carry them. Once I found purple skinned sweet potatoes but they were yellow flesh inside. Still delicious, but not the elusive purple I was hoping for. Then, I spotted them one day at our local corner produce market. What are the chances?! I baked them whole, and they were delicious. Almost a cross between a yellow and orange sweet potato in taste and texture. The color is magnificent! I kept sharing photos on IG, because I was so enthralled with the color. I’ve bought them several times since, however only once was the texture the same. The last few times the potatoes have been much more dry. Quite mealy and dry. After reading this post, it appears there are two varieties. Anyone have any insight into how to know when shopping? Please, please share if you do! Regardless, I’m still a fan, and will still be on the lookout.

Andalou 1000 roses colour + correct cream with SPF 30

Andalou 1000 Roses Color + Correct Cream with SPF 30

Quite some time ago, I posted about my skincare routine. I’ve been using Arbonne for a few years, but mostly sticking with the tinted moisturizer and lip polish. Those have been my favorite products. Recently I found this Andalou cream¬†at Choices Market. They had¬†a special on the entire line of Andalou, and since I’ve used (and loved!) the pure oil in the past, I picked up this cream.¬†When I tried this product, I immediately loved it. For me, it’s similar to the Arbonne product, but with that beautiful light, natural rose scent that I love (it’s not a strong rose smell, really light and pleasant). I don’t wear a lot of makeup, but now in my 40’s (today is my birthday, officially 45!), I appreciate having something to even my skin tone some days. It’s not heavy or pasty. I do use a light layer of a natural oil on my skin after showering or washing my face. So, that’s always on my face before applying the moisturizer. Just fyi! If you want to check it out, here it is on amazon.

Roxy Yuma Boots #vegan #fashion #footwear #boots

Roxy YUMA Boots

I also shared a pic of these on IG. The past six months to a year, I’ve been enjoying doing a few more things for myself. Treating myself a little more. Doing things just for me because they make me happy. I don’t know if it’s the 45 thing, or because I’ve been a mom for 15 years and dangit, it’s time! But, lately, when I shop, I’m not always shopping for the kids (as many of us moms do). I spotted these non-leather Roxy boots at The Shoe Warehouse, and got a little crush!¬†I love fall boots, and I have a couple of pairs of longer vegan riding boots. But, not an ankle-length pair. I love the chunkier heel on these. They are rad. So much fun to find vegan footwear at local stores. Again, if you want to check them out on amazon, here they are.¬†The photo doesn’t really do them justice,¬†they look better here!

So, that’s my current “fave vegan things” list!

Share some of yours with me! What¬†foods or vegan products are¬†you loving these days? Hey, it’s my birthday, and I’m quite willing to go shop. :)

Vegan Mozzarella Recipe: DIY Vegan Cookbook

Straight after my review of Gena’s new book last week, I have another book you’ll want to add to your vegan cookbook collection – DIY Vegan!

This book is truly up my alley. While I get giddy about all of the exciting new vegan products entering our stores, my own journey with vegan cooking began with the basics. So, I will always be drawn to making things from scratch. It’s not always easy with three kiddos. There’s a lot I don’t make from scratch, but I love knowing how to make certain foods like nut cheeses,¬†granola, nut butters, plant milks, and sauces. You will find recipes for these… and oh-so-much more in DIY Vegan!

DIY Vegan is one of those “essential” books you’ll want in your kitchen. For those of us that don’t have access to specialty products like vegan cheeses, or who want to make¬†milks¬†and nut butters from¬†scratch¬†because they are cheaper or have better flavor, or because we can customize the flavors and ingredients. If this is your kind of vegan cooking, this is your kind of cookbook.¬†Nicole and Lisa use¬†easy-to-find, whole food ingredients¬†to make recipes including¬†plant-based milks, nut butters, home-ground flours, ice creams, sauces, and snack foods.¬† DIY vegan cookbook - #giveaway #vegan

This is the first published cookbook by Nicole Axworthy and Lisa Pitman. However, their work is well-known and cherished in the vegan community. They have worked on two ebooks together, and Nicole was also the photographer for my PP15 ebook and for Plant-Powered Families. They both have popular vegan blogs, and are two of the most compassionate people I know. Truly, they are a gift to the community and this book is a gift to us plant-based home cooks.

Lisa and Nicole have offered to share their¬†recipe for Buffalo Mozzarella.¬†I made it over the weekend, and even though the recipe mentions a couple of steps, it was still quite easy to make! I used my Blendtec with the twister jar to make this recipe. If you don’t have a high-speed blender, you can still make this since the cashews have been soaked and will blend fairly smooth. However, if you are thinking of investing in a rambo blender, look at the Blendtec, and pick up a twister jar too.

Give it a whirl, kids, and enjoy this smooth and mellow vegan mozza!

Buffalo Mozzarella from DIY Vegan #dairyfree #vegan #cheese

Buffalo Mozzarella (from DIY Vegan)

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Missing that summer salad staple, composed of stacks of sliced tomato, creamy mozzarella, and bright, bold basil leaves? The wait is over‚ÄĒvegan mozzarella is here. This recipe makes what seemed impossible undeniably easy. Sure, it takes some time to prepare, but think of it as a B plot: a few minutes of effort here and there in between your life‚Äôs A-plot adventures (work, sleep, play). When it‚Äôs time for the exciting culmination, your mozzarella will be ready to star in a Caprese salad, amid roasted vegetables or thinly sliced atop a classic Neapolitan pizza.¬†Makes 4 balls, about 1/3 cup each.

1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 6 hours
¬Ĺ teaspoon probiotic powder
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
¬Ĺ teaspoon sea salt
¬ľ cup agar flakes, or 2¬ľ teaspoons agar powder

1. Drain and rinse the soaked cashews.
2. In a blender, combine the cashews, probiotic powder, and 1/2 cup water and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass or ceramic bowl, cover with a clean tea towel, and set aside to ferment for 24 hours.
3. In a blender, combine the fermented cashew mixture, nutritional yeast, xanthan gum, and salt and blend until smooth and creamy.
4. In a small saucepan, whisk together the agar and ‚ÖĒ cup water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking often, for 10 minutes until all the agar has dissolved and the liquid begins to thicken.
5. In a shallow medium bowl, combine the blended cashew mixture and the agar mixture. Whisk until the agar mixture is completely incorporated.
6. Transfer the bowl to the fridge to chill for 15 minutes.
7. Divide the cheese into quarters. Put each portion on a square piece of plastic wrap. Pull the corners of the plastic wrap together over the cheese and twist to form the cheese into a tight ball, just like the classic buffalo mozzarella shape. Return to the fridge to chill for an additional hour or two before slicing. Store any leftovers tightly wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Reprinted from DIY Vegan. Copyright ¬© 2015 Nicole Axworthy and Lisa Pitman. Published by St. Martin’s Griffin.

That’s not all… Lisa and Nicole have offered a giveaway of DIY Vegan for you, enter below!

DIY Vegan cookbook giveaway

Food52 Vegan: Cauliflower and Oyster Mushroom Tacos

Vegan food has hit mainstream. While many of us may still feel a little alone eating vegan in our day to day living, there is no denying the growth of interest in eating vegan.

Just two years ago, Food52 partnered with our beloved Gena Hamshaw to publish a regular vegan food feature. From the beginning these recipes felt sophisticated, yet not intimidating.¬†Every time I linked through to see one of Gena’s Food52 articles, the message I received was: vegan food has arrived! Vegan food is¬†not unusual, nor is it food just for health enthusiasts or animal advocates. It is food that everyone should be embracing – not just because it’s healthy and compassionate – but because it’s simply delicious.

The success of this column and the premise that vegan food is just food, led to Food52 Vegan: 60 Vegetable-Driven Recipes For Any Kitchen:

Food 52 Cookbook by Gena Hamshaw

Many of you are familiar with Gena’s first cookbook, as well as her blog. This book represents Gena’s passion for vegan food, and offers 60 recipes covering breakfast, appetizers and snacks, soups, salads, main dishes, and desserts.

The recipes intriguing and the photos are engaging. This book easily suits a ‘coffee table’ book. It’s so elegant in its design and anyone would just enjoy to casually browse the pages for plant-based¬†inspiration. I should mention that not all of the recipes are made entirely with whole foods ingredients. Many are, however, as this book is poised as a vegan cookbook for everyone, some recipes do include all-purpose flour, sugar, and some oils. That should not preclude you from picking up a copy. You will find well developed and tested recipes that will ignite (or re-ignite!) your vegan cooking spirit.

Here are a few recipes that really ‘spoke’ to me…

  • Asparagus, Arulula, and Pesto Pizza
  • Jamaican Jerk Chili with Quinoa and Kidney Beans
  • Mushroom, Chard, and Quinoa Enchiladas
  • Gingered Carrot Bisque (pictured below)
  • Chai-Spiced Bread Pudding
  • Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Filling and Ganache (pictured below)
  • Cauliflower and Oyster Mushroom Tacos (recipe follows)

There is also a section with “basics” that can truly add ease to your own home cooking, such as Oat Milk, Savory Cashew Cream, and Sweet Cashew Cream.

Food52 Vegan Gingered Carrot Bisque

Food52 Chocolate Cake #vegan

Gena has allowed me to reprint this recipe for Cauliflower and Oyster Mushroom Tacos. I just think this is such a creative spin on vegan tacos, and I think Gena would agree that we could pair it with a good ol’ dollop of avocado cream or guacamole!

Cauliflower and Oyster Mushroom Tacos from Food 52 Vegan cookbook #vegan

Cauliflower and Oyster Mushroom Tacos from Food52 Vegan

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A lot of vegan tacos are filled with rice, beans, or faux meat, but vegetables can provide plenty of substance and flavor all on their own. In this recipe, spice-rubbed, crispy roasted cauliflower meets chewy, tender saut√©ed mushrooms, and the result is a satisfying contrast of textures and flavors. Don‚Äôt be afraid to slightly char the cauliflower; that will just give it an even better flavor‚ÄĒtrust me on this one. The garnish of cilantro complements the other flavors perfectly, but feel free to use different toppings, such as salsa, guacamole, sliced avocado, or hot sauce. Serves 4.

1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets (6 to 8 cups/600 to 800g)
4 tablespoons (60ml) olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1‚ĀĄ2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
1 cup (115g) thinly sliced Vidalia or Spanish onion
1 large or 2 small poblano chiles, thinly sliced
1‚ĀĄ2 cup (75g) chopped red bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
6 ounces (170g) oyster mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
8 (6-inch/15cm) crisp corn tortillas
1‚ĀĄ2 cup (20g) chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 425¬įF (220¬įC).

2. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until evenly coated. Sprinkle with the chili powder, paprika, coriander, cumin, red pepper flakes, and a generous pinch of salt. Toss again until the cauliflower is evenly coated. Spread the cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet.

3. Bake for 20 minutes, until crispy.

4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, poblano, and red bell pepper and sauté until the onion is tender and a bit golden, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Stir in the mushrooms, then season with salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms are tender and crispy (5 to 8 minutes). Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired.

5. For each taco, put 1‚ĀĄ4 cup (60ml) of the mushroom mixture in a tortilla. Top with some of the roasted cauliflower and a tablespoonful of cilantro.

Reprinted with permission from Food52 Vegan, by Gena Hamshaw, copyright © 2015, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2015 by James Ransom

Pick up a copy of Food52 to try out more of Gena’s beautiful recipes. You also have a chance to win a copy, right now… enter below!

Food52 Vegan Cookbook Giveaway

Pumpkin Spice Bars with Maple Frosting Drizzle (vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, oil-free)

Well, as much as I tried to resist it – fall is here. Every year I feel I drag myself into fall, holding on to summer produce and the carefree summer clothes.¬†This year, I noticed as I was clinging¬†to the¬†raw foods of summer,¬†I wasn’t feeling great. Not sick, but my digestion wasn’t feeling the same. So, I started eating more cooked foods and warming soups. I noticed a difference within a day or two. Now, I’m finally enjoying wearing some cozy layers and digging into fall foods!

I’ve been playing with lots of new apple recipes, and also winter squash. These PUMPKIN SPICE BARS are a little deceiving. They taste every bit like other pumpkin treats, yet they are made with pumpkin seeds, not pumpkin flesh! They dried apricots help enhance the pumpkin flavor, along with the spices.

I’ve had this recipe in my pocket for quite a while now. It was actually one I had planned to include in PPF, but as I’ve mentioned a couple of¬†times, I had to cut down the recipe content. Dang it! I hate that! But, I do love sharing the recipe with¬†you now. Pumpkin-Spice Bars with Maple Drizzle Frosting #vegan #nutfree #wfpb #dairyfree #glutenfree

The frosting is… well… a must. Just don’t skip it, okay? The bars will be okay without it. But why bother making them without it? ¬†If you’re going to take the time to make these (and they are ridiculously¬†easy), then take the extra 5-10 minutes to whip up the simple frosting! Don’t let me hear any of you making these without the frosting, k? That’s all I have to say about that. :)

Since these bars are nut-free, they can be packed in lunch. I’d classify them as more of a sweet snack than a full-fledged dessert. But, up to you!

Enjoy, guys. Do let me know how you like them! You are very quiet out there. I hear from many of you on social media, but not here on the blog. Please share your thoughts and feedback.

Pumpkin-Spice Bars with Maple Frosting #vegan #nutfree #glutenfree #dairyfree

Pumpkin Spice Bars with Maple Frosting Drizzle nut-free, oil-free, gluten-free

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These bars are darn easy to make, but with the ‚Äėicing‚Äô, they appear much more¬†elaborate! When I gave one to our daughter for the first time to try she said ‚Äúyum, mom, you have to make these on Christmas Eve‚ÄĚ… good plan, kiddo!

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp hemp seeds
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp (rounded) cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (or more to taste)
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 cup dried apricots (unsulphured)
1 cup pitted dates
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup brown rice crispy cereal (I like Erewhon brand, can also substitute organic, unsweetened corn flakes)

1/3 cup coconut butter (not oil)
1 1/2 tbsp nondairy milk
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
couple pinches sea salt

In a food processor, first process the oats with the pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and salt and spices. Puree until crumbly and fine. Then, add the apricots, dates, and vanilla and process until the mixture becomes uniform and sticky. Depending on how moist your dates (and especially apricots) are, this may take a few minutes. Just as it is getting very sticky, add the brown rice crisp cereal process through. The mixture should still be sticky, and forming some balls or clumps in the processor bowl. Transfer mixture to an 8‚ÄĚ x 8‚ÄĚ pan lined with parchment paper (not much larger, but could use a smaller, deeper dish). Press mixture into pan evenly. In a small saucepan over very low heat, combine the ingredients for the drizzle, whisking through through until it melts down and becomes a liquid enough to pour. Avoid heating the mixture over too high a heat as it can scorch. Once thinned out, pour over the bars in a drizzle pattern. Refrigerate until completely cool, then cut into squares. Makes about 16-20 bars.

Chocolate option: Add 3-4 tbsp cocoa powder with the oats and seeds, etc. You can also add a couple of tablespoons of chocolate chips at the end when adding the crisp rice cereal.

x Dreena

photo credit: Nicole Axworthy,

Loving PPF? Please share your good review on amazon!

Masala Lentils from Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen!

With so many vegan cookbooks on the market now, it can be hard to choose a selection for our own kitchen. When I began my vegan journey, there were (literally) 2 or 3 vegan cookbooks at the time. Now, there are hundreds and hundreds (have we broken a thousand yet?), and choosing just a handful can feel overwhelming.

Yet, once in a while a new book comes out that really breaks some new ground. I felt Ricki Heller’s book did so, and I feel the same way about Richa Hingle’s Indian Vegan Kitchen. We have had many vegan cookbooks for¬†comfort foods, soups, gluten-free foods, salads, raw foods, desserts, and many cuisines. However, the authenticity of Indian cuisine was still untapped. Enter Richa Hingle.

Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen


If you aren’t familiar with Richa, she is¬†an¬†award winning recipe developer, blogger, and photographer¬†behind Her recipes have been featured on¬†, Huffington Post, Glamour, Babble,,, TheKitchn, Cosmopolitan, MSN, BuzzFeed, and more.¬†Richa grew up in India, and combines¬†her love of vegan cooking and vast knowledge of¬†Indian cuisine in this book.

I am a big fan of Indian spices and flavors, and how much legumes and vegetables are favored. Yet, when our family orders from a¬†restaurant, I find the dishes far too hot – even when I order mild! So, I have tended to created Indian dishes myself, even though I don’t consider myself an expert in the cuisine.

So,¬†I was quite excited to get my hands on Richa’s book to experiment with new recipes! And, there are a lot to get excited about. The book has over 150 recipes, from breakfast and snacks to dals, dry curries, casseroles, and other mains, to flatbreads and desserts. Plus Richa shares ingredient and recipe photos throughout, and a detailed glossary of spices and ingredients, and useful kitchen tools. Truly, if you are interested in Indian cooking, this is your one-stop cookbook… vegan or not.¬†There are many recipes that caught my eye, including:

Kofta Balls in Nut-Free Cream Sauce
Tofu in Velvety Pepita Poppy Seed Sauce
Cauliflower and Yellow Lentils
Sweet and Sour Pumpkin
Gluten-Free Chia Flatbread
Savory Oats Hash (this is a breakfast dish, and I think it would be an awesome dinner!)
Chickpea Tofu in Spicy Madras Sauce
Sweet Chickpea Flour Balls
Pistachio Almond Ice Cream

There are so many more enticing recipes like these, you owe it to yourself to check out this book.

Photos from Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen

So far I’ve tried two legume dishes – the Masala Lentils, and the Split Peas with Coconut, Sesame, and Tamarind. They were both excellent. You may be wondering how these dishes “went over” with the kiddos. Well, I definitely tempered the spices. As in, did not use much heat at all. Our girls are usually okay with ‘spices’ just not so much whole seeds and hot spices. Plus, when I served these dishes, I’d pair with brown rice or quinoa. For the girls’ servings, I’d adjust how much of the lentils/peas they had with their grains, again just to balance the more assertive spices for their palates. Personally, I don’t even need the grain! I love these legume dishes straight up. Hubby too. We’ve both always loved the robust flavors of Indian dishes. One other note – I also made the dishes oil-free. I realize this is rather inauthentic, as the oil helps to develop the flavors of the spices through the cooking process. However, I wanted to try it for myself, and also for others reading. I imagine the oil-based version has even more flavor impact, but I gotta’ tell you… we were happy!

Richa has allowed me to share the recipe for her Masala Lentils. I truly love this dish and will make it again. I posted a “fusion” pic on instagram, and later had leftovers for lunch in a salad bowl. Vegan food bliss. That’s all.

Masala Lentils from Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen #vegan #dairyfree

Masala Lentils (Sabut Masoor) Link to print/share

Prep: 20 minutes | Active: 25 minutes | Inactive: 20 minutes | Serves 4

If you want to impress someone with a dal, make it this one. Don‚Äôt be afraid of the number of spices‚ÄĒit is quite simple to make. The spices and garlic are blended to a paste and fried in the oil. A hot sauce (chiles, garlic, and vinegar) in the tadka is another secret to getting the right flavor profile. Serve this as a part of a meal, or with rice or naan or other flatbread. (Recipe from Vegan Richa‚Äôs Indian Kitchen¬†Copyright ¬© 2015 by Richa Hingle. Used by permission Vegan Heritage Press, LLC.)

3/4 cup brown lentils, washed and drained
2 cups water
2 to 3 teaspoons safflower or other neutral oil
1/2 cup finely chopped red or white onion
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek leaves or 1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon sweet or hot paprika
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons sriracha or other hot sauce, to taste
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups chopped tomato
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, for garnish
1 tablespoon vegan butter (optional)

1. Combine the lentils with 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Partially cover and cook over medium heat until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

2. While the lentils are cooking, make the tempering. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes.

3. In a blender, combine the garlic, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, fenugreek, paprika, nutmeg, black pepper, sriracha, and 2 tablespoons of water. Blend to combine well. Add this paste to the onions in the skillet. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and salt, and cook until the tomatoes are tender, about 8 minutes. Mash the larger tomato pieces.

4. Add the tempering to the lentils. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and spice. Garnish with cilantro and vegan butter, if using, and serve hot.

Thank you Richa for sharing your gift of cooking with our plant-based and vegan community. Wishing you continued success!

x Dreena

Enjoy the recipe, guys! If you have tried recipes from this book, please share your favorites in the comments.