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 www.plantpoweredkitchen.com

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 www.plantpoweredkitchen.com

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 ‘icing’, they appear much more elaborate! When I gave one to our daughter for the first time to try she said “yum, mom, you have to make these on Christmas Eve”… 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” x 8” 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, adashofcompassion.com

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How To Make Oil-Free Vegan Cookies: 5 Top Tips + Recipe!


Pre-post request: Plant-Powered Families has been nominated for the VegNews 2015 awards, as “favorite cookbook of the year”. If you’re loving PPF, please vote. I’ve never won, and it would be a career highlight to have this book acknowledged. More at the end of the post. Thank you.

5 TIPS to make #oilfree #vegan cookies - plus recipe! www.plantpoweredkitchen.com

One of the questions I get from readers often:

How can I make these cookies oil-free?“… “can I replace the oil with applesauce?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: You *can* substitute with applesauce if you don’t mind the texture changing to a softer, more muffin-like baked good. However, if you want a cookie texture – that is, a chewy/crisp texture, applesauce is not the answer. Applesauce, and other fruit purees like pumpkin and banana work beautifully in muffins, quick breads, and snack cookies that are soft. These purees lend moisture and also sweetness, flavor, and body. When you want a classic cookie texture, however, it’s quite difficult to do so without adding some fat.

That fat doesn’t have to be oil. It can be a whole-foods fat, such as peanut butter, nut butters, avocado puree, seed or soy nut butters, or coconut butter. When using nut and seed butters, you will generally have a nutty flavor. Somewhat obvious. When using coconut butter, however, the final product tastes buttery and rich.

Coconut butter is one of my favorite plant-powered ingredients for desserts for this reason. I receive plenty of questions about coconut butter too. It’s a confusing ingredient, because labelling is not very standardized. Coconut butter is not the same as coconut oil. It’s the whole coconut pureed into a butter – much like peanuts to peanut butter or almonds to almond butter. Yes, it’s high in fat. However, in terms of working with whole foods ingredients, it is one. In fact, you can make it yourself at home with unsweetened shredded coconut and a blender! (I have the DIY in Plant-Powered Families, flip to page 253). It is still quite high in fat, so I’m not suggesting you consume coconut butter liberally in your daily diet. We’re talking cookies and desserts here, not lunch. 😉  So, if you want to bake cookies from whole foods ingredients, this is one of your go-to swaps, along with nut/seed/soy butters, and also avocado.

When using a nut butter or coconut butter, it’s not usually a straight substitution for oil either. That’s because nut butters (and coconut butter in particular) are denser and thicker than oil. You will have difficulty bringing the mixture together without some other fixes. As a rule, I recommend using established oil-free cookie recipes to bake, rather than experimenting with substitutions and finding the process frustrating or time consuming. I’m sharing a recipe for you today to help you!

However, if you do want to embark on that recipe testing, here are my tips…

5 tips for substituting oil with nut/seed/soy/coconut butter in cookie recipes:

1) Look at the amount of oil used in the recipe, and substitute nut/seed/coconut butter for about 3/4 (roughly) of that amount. This is a general rule, every recipe will be different. But, generally, you will want close to the measure, but not quite the full measure.

2) Now, add back some liquid moisture. Because oil is thinner than nut butter, you need to help liquefy the batter again. I wouldn’t advise water, but instead I’d reduce the dry sweetener slightly and then add back a little liquid sweetener. My choice is almost always pure maple syrup.

3) How much liquid you use (point 2) you use will depend on the recipe and also the thickness of your nut/seed/coconut butter. For instance, coconut butter is exceptionally dense and dry. It’s not smooth and liquid like tahini or macadamia nut butter. Macadamia butter is particularly buttery and liquid, more than say almond butter or cashew butter (which is often thicker than almond butter). Each seed and nut butter varies in its thickness, and also varies from when you open it (a fresh jar) to when you are almost finished it. Despite stirring, a jar of nut butter is always thicker and drier at the end of that jar!

4) If the batter is dry, try another touch of sweetener mixed with a touch more nut/seed/coconut butter… or, add a touch of non-dairy milk. Not too much milk though. For most cookie recipes yielding about 20 cookies, I wouldn’t add more than about 1-2 tablespoons for optimal texture.

5) On the other hand, if the batter is too loose/wet (which can happen especially if a nut or seed butter is thinner/oilier – see point 3), add back a little more flour or dry sweetener – other other dry ingredient like rolled oats, unsweetened shredded coconut, flax meal, etc.

Those are the steps I use when working out a recipe. Of course, you can instead just use a recipe that already works! This one from Plant-Powered Families has already received a lot of love, so I’m sharing it for you today. It uses coconut butter as the oil replacer. I do have others in the book and on my blog using nut/seed butters.

Have fun, and as always…

Enjoy! x Dreena

Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies #vegan #glutenfree #wholefoods #plantbased #oilfree

Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies

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This may be a new fave chocolate chip cookie for you – it is for our family! The flavor of the vanilla bean powder is really beautiful, especially combined with oat flour and rich coconut butter. Makes 17–20 cookies

1/2 cup coconut butter (see note)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup + 2 tablespoons oat flour
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
1/2–3/4 teaspoon vanilla bean powder or 1–11/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 rounded teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup nondairy chocolate chips (mini or regular)

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the coconut butter and maple syrup. Mix, slowly to start, then at a higher speed until smoothed out. Add the oat flour, coconut sugar, vanilla bean powder, and sea salt to the coconut butter mixture, and sift in the baking powder and baking soda. Mix at slow speed (so the dry ingredients don’t poof!), and then bring up to medium speed and mix until everything just comes together. Add the chocolate chips and mix to just incorporate. The mixture should be a little sticky, not dry, but not too wet either. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula, then transfer to the fridge to chill for 1/2 hour. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place 1–1 1/2-tablespoon scoops of the batter on the prepared baking sheet. Slightly flatten each cookie with a spatula or your hand. Bake for 11 minutes, then remove from oven and let cool for 2–3 minutes on the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Note: It can be tricky to measure coconut butter when it’s very hard. Use a butter knife to work out small chunks/slivers when hard. It’s better to measure in small pieces than in larger chunks, so the actual measure is more accurate. If your coconut butter is very cold, try warming slightly by submerging full jar in a bowl/sink of warm water until it softens.

Idea: Use this batter to make cookie dough ice cream! Save a little batter when making the cookies, maybe 1/3 cup. Roll into tiny balls and mix through a pint of softened vanilla or chocolate nondairy ice cream!

Photo credit: Nicole Axworthy

Other posts you might enjoy:

Raisinet Cookies
Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies
Back-To-School Power Cookies

Friends, Plant-Powered Families is nominated for favorite cookbook of the year in the VegNews 2015 veggie awards. Please vote for me! Thank you for your support. <3 


Nummy Brownie Bites


Hi friends, it’s good to be back! Thanks for your patience while I took an extended break through the holidays and beginning of this new year. That break was really crucial. I’m feeling more restored. and now easing back into work. I’m also preparing for the release of Plant-Powered Families, coming this May! I’ll have an announcement post about the new book for you next week, with a bonus preorder offer and giveaway, so stay tuned. *Updatepreorder now available!

But first, let’s bake. I created these Nummy Brownie Bites to include in my PPF cookbook. I had two brownie recipes, and had to make some content cuts, so I decided to share them here with you – right here, right now. Because we always need cookies in our lives, and brownies are particularly special!

Nummy Brownie Bites by Dreena Burton #vegan #glutenfree

These nummy bites use almond meal and pulverized dates in the base. I know, not at all traditional! But, I promise, you won’t care once you taste them. They are a little crispy on the outside, then moist and chewy on the inside. Warning: The batter is incredibly irresistible! :)

Since this recipe was intended for my new cookbook, credit for the food photos goes to Nicole Axworthy. She was my food photographer for this book, more details in my next post. For now, enjoy the recipe…

Nummy Brownie Bites by Dreena Burton #vegan

Nummy Brownie Bites

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I’m a little in love with these cookies. They are a little crisp on the outside, and soft and moist and dense on the inside, like a fudgy brownie.

1/2 cup pitted dates
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 tbsp almond butter or other butter of choice (cashew butter, peanut butter, etc)
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup oat flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp (rounded) sea salt
2 tbsp raisins (optional)
2 tbsp non-dairy chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (not 350). In mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add maple syrup and dates (if your dates aren’t very soft, first soak them in the maple syrup, for about 1/2 hour)*. Process on low speed to first incorporate, and then increase speed slightly to fully pulverize and smooth dates. Since dates can vary by brand, this may take a few minutes or longer. It’s okay to see a little texture in the date puree, but no big obvious pieces – it will continue to smooth with the next step as well. Add the nut butter and vanilla and mix through again briefly to incorporate. Once smooth, turn off mixer and add almond meal, oat flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Process on low speed until mixer comes together, adding raisins if using, and chips. The mixture will be sticky, and that’s the idea. These are dense, brownie-like cookie bites. Use a small cookie scoop (about 1 tbsp in size) and transfer mounds of the batter on to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12-13 minutes, remove and let cool on the pan for about a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack. Makes about 13-15 cookies.

*If you don’t have a mixer with a paddle attachment (a hand-mixer will not be strong enough), first puree the dates with the maple syrup in a small food processor, and then add the almond butter and vanilla and puree through. Once the mixture is fairly smooth (doesn’t have to be silky smooth), transfer to a larger bowl, scraping out all the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients and mix by hand until well incorporated.

Enjoy! x


“Raisinet” Cookies (vegan)

Halloween was quite a success here. Success meaning my kids had a blast collecting candy… success really meaning they didn’t eat 99% of the candy!

One of my strategies for candy-holidays (Halloween, birthday parties, etc) is to offer the girls some better vegan treats, either storebought (ex: ice cream sandwiches) or a homemade goodie. I often make my pumpkin chia pudding or candy apples for Halloween, but this year, I baked cookies.

"Raisinet" Cookies by Dreena Burton #vegan

I’ve been baking these Raisinet Cookies from LTEV lately, and posting pics on instagram. I promised to share the recipe, and just realized this is the sweetest time to do so! Bake up a batch, and see how easy it is to swap out that junk your kiddos might be hoarding in their rooms.

Note: The original recipe in LTEV does not have an oil-free option, but I’ve included one here. Do not simply substitute applesauce. It is not the answer to replacing oil in all recipes, and particularly not in cookies. With most cookies, you want to retain a slightly chewy, crisp texture – and applesauce will make them moist. So, include some whole-foods fat, here I’ve used some nut butter, with a few other simple modifications (all noted below). :)

"Raisinet" Cookies by Dreena Burton #vegan

“Raisinet” Cookies

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If you were once a fan of Raisinets (or Glosette Raisins), you’ll love these cookies! Of course—chocolate-covered raisins! They capture the flavor and texture of that chocolate and raisins combination, in a satisfying vegan cookie.

1 cup sifted spelt flour

1⁄3 to 1⁄2 rolled oats (see note)

1⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon baking powder

1⁄4 teaspoon (rounded) baking soda

1⁄4 cup raisins

1⁄4 cup vegan chocolate chips (smaller-size chips are good, such as the Enjoy Life brand)

3 tablespoons coconut sugar (or other unrefined sugar; use just 2 tbsp oil-free version, see note)

1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt

1⁄3 cup pure maple syrup (+ another 1 tbsp for oil-free, see note)

1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses

1 1⁄2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1⁄4 cup neutral-flavored oil OR 3 – 3 1/2 tbsp nut butter (ex: almond butter, see note for oil-free)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, combine the flour, oats, and cocoa, sifting in the baking powder and baking soda. Add the raisins, chips, sugar, and salt, and stir well. In a separate bowl, first combine the maple syrup with the molasses and vanilla, then stir in the nut butter/oil until well mixed. Add the wet mixture to the dry, and stir until just incorporated. Place spoonfuls of the batter (about 1 tablespoon each) on the prepared baking sheet and flatten a little. Bake for 11 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool on the pan for just a minute (not much longer, to prevent drying), then transfer to a cooling rack.

Oats Note: Using 1⁄3 cup of oats will give a slightly softer cookie that spreads a little more when baking. Using 1⁄2 cup will give a firmer cookie treat.

Oil-Free Note: For the oil-free adaptation, you will need to reduce the dry sweetener slightly and increase the liquid sweetener. So, use just 2 tbsp coconut sugar, and add another 1 tbsp of maple syrup. Start with 3 tbsp nut butter, and add the extra 1/2 tbsp if needed to bring the batter together.

(p.s. Before Halloween I did an interview with the fabulous Brian Patton, aka The Sexy Vegan about Halloween. Have a listen if you want to hear our chat. And if you don’t want to listen to candy talk, you will want to hear the first half of his podcast. He gives the BEST overview of vegan cheeses – reviewing vegan cheeses of the past, present, and exciting vegan cheese days ahead! It’s a bit like a ‘Cheesy’  Christmas Carol!)

Ok, that’s all for today. Hope you love the cookies! There are always more waiting. :)

x Dreena

POWER Cookies for Back-To-School

My wee girl starts full day kindergarten this year. It’s her first time in full-day school. And my first time with ALL my girls in full-day school! For the last 13+ years I’ve been with kiddos. So, it’s a big change for her, an even bigger change for me.

Once school starts, that is… our teachers are on strike here. But, eventually school will start again. Maybe I’m feeling the stress of the change, because I’ve been baking a lot. Ok, I bake a lot most days! But, it seems I’m baking more than usual – Berry Scuffins, Raisinet Cookies (from LTEV, I’ll try and post soon), and these new delicious Power Cookies.

Power Cookies by Dreena Burton - #vegan #glutenfree #nutfree #oilfree


These are the kind of cookie that satisfies a sweet tooth but also offers some nutritional punch. For a cookie, it’s pretty darn healthy, made with whole-grain oat flour, coconut, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and tahini. I use tahini so the cookies can be nut-free for school lunches. Most schools are nut-free zones, and that can be tricky planning school snacks. Many commercially-prepared snacks that happen to be nut-free tend to have dairy, eggs, or made with overly processed ingredients. So, it’s always useful to have a few nut-free goodies in your repertoire!

If you don’t have to make them nut-free, you can substitute another nut butter. I don’t always enjoy tahini in plant-based cookies, but here it works! I do prefer a very mellow, good-quality tahini (suggestions in recipe). If you can find a good brand, it’s worth it. But, you will forever be tahini-spoiled! Once you taste the good stuff, you don’t want to go back. (Just a heads up!) 😉

If you follow my Instagram posts, you may have seen this pic of Go Raw watermelon seeds. When I did my final test of these cookies, I was out of sunflower seeds. I thought “why not try the watermelon seeds“? They worked fabulously! They certainly aren’t essential, however. If you don’t have them, sunflower and pumpkin seeds work just fine. (As a side note, the watermelon seeds taste lovely on their own. They have a mellow seeds flavor, somewhat like sunflower but milder-tasting – and the sea salt used is minimal.)

Think you need a cookie close up. Zoom in on the chips!

Power Cookies, by Dreena Burton, plant-powered kitchen #vegan #glutenfree #nutfree #oilfree

Got it?

Nope, that’s a raisin on the left, There… to the right!

Power Cookies, by Dreena Burton, plant-powered kitchen #vegan #glutenfree #nutfree #oilfree

Yeahhhhh, that’s it.

Now bake… :) Enjoy, enjoy my friends!


Power Cookies, by Dreena Burton, plant-powered kitchen #vegan #glutenfree #nutfree #oilfree

Power Cookies

ReciPage to print/share recipe
My wee girl is a bundle of high energy! I created these vegan cookies to give her bite-sized nutrition to fuel her non-stop pace!

2 cups oat flour (use certified gf for gluten-free; see note)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 – 1/3 cup non-dairy chocolate chips (I like mini-chips; can substitute raisins or currants)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds or sprouted watermelon seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt (lightly rounded)
2 1/2 tbsp tahini (or raw almond butter if not needing nut-free, see note)
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp pure maple syrup (see note)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, coconut, chocolate chips, seeds, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the tahini (or almond butter) with the maple syrup, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir through until well combined. Place scoops (about 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp in size) on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 10-11 minutes, until just set to the touch, then remove from oven and let cool for a minute on sheet, and then transfer to a cooling rack. Makes about 15-18 cookies.

Oat Flour note: Don’t substitute an equal amount of another flour (like spelt)_ here – it has a different volume and requires more liquid to come together. If you want to sub another flour, use less to start, about 1 2/3 cups, and add in any extra as needed after bringing together the wet and dry ingredients. If it’s too wet/sticky, add a touch more flour.

Tahini note: Tahini brands vary in taste and textures. If possible, use a mellow-flavored tahini (ex: Baron’s, Achva, Alwadi)

Maple syrup note: The mixture should come together nicely, but if it’s quite thick and not combining, add another 1/2 – 1 tbsp of maple syrup mixed with another 1 tsp of nut butter or tahini.

Vanilla Bean Almond Butter Fudge (vegan, whole foods plant-based, gluten-free)

Vanilla Bean Almond Butter Fudge by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen. Photo credit: Emma Potts, coconutandberries.com

I think you’ve all waited long enough! As promised in my 12 days of Christmas Cookies post, today you can enjoy (and gift) that Vanilla Bean Almond Butter Fudge.

Before you scroll down, I must mention that until creating this recipe I’d never made a vegan fudge. :-O

Dreena, that’s crazy-talk!”, you say.

I know! My sweet tooth is lecturing me.

While I’ve always loved sweets, fudge has never been on my recipe radar. I love the idea of fudge – something dense and sweetly-satisfying – but it’s always been too sweet. You know what I mean? Too sugary, gritty, and sickly and yet not a lot of flavor. Almost makes that sweet tooth hurt! So, I didn’t have much interest in creating fudge recipes. Until now.

I was thinking about the frostings for my raw brownies and raw chai squares. With a few switch ups, I knew I could create a dense, sweet fudge-like square. Like fudge, but using whole-foods ingredients and healthier, lesser processed sweeteners.

On to the recipe! I hope you enjoy it, and also enjoy gifting it.

Vanilla Bean Almond Butter Fudge by Dreena Burton #vegan

Vanilla Bean Almond Butter Fudge RECIpage to share/print

I’ve always loved the idea of fudge, yet always find it too intensely sugary. This fudge is dense, satisfying, and sweet, but not sickly – and is made with much healthier ingredients than traditional fudge. The addition of vanilla powder is divine – try to use it if you can! Makes 14-18 bars/squares.

1/2 cup raw almond butter (see note)

1/2 cup coconut butter (not oil, you want the whole-foods coconut butter such as Artisana or Coconut Manna)

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup brown rice syrup

1/4 tsp (rounded) sea salt

1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder (can use vanilla bean or extract, see note) (I use Organic Traditions, but found this one on amazon, fyi)

1/2 tsp (roughly) extra vanilla bean powder for dusting top

Set a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water to create a double-boiler. Add all ingredients except that extra vanilla for dusting. Stir through gently until the coconut butter melts and the ingredients come together smoothly. Transfer mixture to a glass loaf dish (lined with a broad strip of parchment for easy removal – also helps to wipe a little extra coconut butter or oil around the inside surface for easier removal). Use a non-stick spatula to gently smooth/even out the mixture. Then, take pinches of the remaining vanilla powder and dust it over the top of the mixture. Refrigerate until completely firm. Cut into bars or squares and enjoy! Keep chilled until serving.

Almond Butter Note: Raw almond butter really tastes best in this fudge. You can substitute regular (roasted) almond butter, but be sure it’s unsalted – or you will want to reduce/omit the salt used in the fudge. Raw cashew butter would also work well.

Vanilla Note: If you don’t have vanilla powder, use 1/2 – 1 tsp vanilla extract in the mixture. You can omit the vanilla dusting for the top – or, if you have a vanilla bean you can remove the seeds and dust some of those on top. They won’t distribute evenly, and that’s ok! It’s looks lovely when the vanilla seeds are somewhat patchy over the top. Vanilla powder is pricey, but it goes a long, long way. It’s much more convenient than removing seeds from a vanilla bean too.

Note: These squares will hold at room temperature, but will soften. So, it’s best to keep chilled until just before serving. You can also freeze extras to enjoy later.

Photo thanks to Emma Potts!


The 12 Cookies of Christmas! (with dietary options)

Well, kids, the holidays are almost here! I’ve been thinking of my own version of The 12 Days of Christmas:

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

The 12 vegan cookies of Christmas! by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen


Yep, I’ll take 12 days of vegan cookies over maids-a-milking and lords-a-leaping! How about you?

I thought so. 😀

These are my 12 top vegan cookie selections for you – for gifting, cookie exchanges, or just for you to enjoy! I offer the dietary labels for each, to help you identify cookies that are gluten-free, raw, nut-free, oil-free/plant-strong, and soy-free.

So, let’s pull out our fancy holiday aprons and get baking!

1. “Snifferdoodles” Dietary: soy-free, nut-free

Lightly spiced, but not as spicy as gingerbreads, these snickerdoodle cookies are festive and loved by kids and adults alike. They have just the right amount of sweetness, and are very special for gifting. If you love the flavor of anise, try the Biscochitos variation.

Snifferdoodles (aka Snickerdoodles) from Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton, Plant

Snifferdoodles, photo credit: tahinitoo.wordpress.com

2.  Creamed Cheese Brownies with Salted Dark Chocolate Topping Dietary: soy-free

These are brownies to make when you want to WOW friends or guests. The ‘cream cheese’ filling is not made with vegan cream cheese, but rather a cashew blend. You’ll just have to make ’em to believe how good they are! (p.s. Many of you have emailed me loving the Gingery Cookies that are also pictured here. If you have LTEV, add those to your baking list too!)

Creamed Cheese Brownies with Salted Dark Chocolate Topping - from LTEV by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen

3. Award-Winning Frosted B-raw-nies Dietary: raw, oil-free, gluten-free, soy-free

I talk about these a lot. For good reason. They are yummy. Easy. Gluten-free and raw, and sweetened with only dates and pure maple syrup. I know many of you already love these. If you haven’t tried them, it’s really time. Really. If you’d like something chocolatey like these b-raw-nies, but cannot have nuts, try the nut-free modification in my Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls. You can press the mix into a pan rather than make balls – and yep, you can top them with the frosting used for the b-raw-nies!

Award-Winning Frosted B-raw-nies, from LTEV by Dreena Burton - Plant-Powered Kitchen

4. Sticky Almond Blondies. We have brownies, we must have blondies! I absolutely love these, they are so dense and satisfying, and yet made with whole-foods ingredients and also gluten-free. They are in my Plant-Powered 15 ebook, which many of you have. The Coconut Pillows are another to try – very easy to make!

Sticky Almond Blondies by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen

5. Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies Dietary: soy-free, nut-free, gluten-free (link through to GF version)

My original version of these cookies might be my most popular cookie recipe ever. They are a cinch to make, and please just about everyone! The ultimate classic chocolate chip cookie recipe, just made much healthier and of course, vegan. For those needing a gluten-free version, I’ve got you covered.

Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen

photo credit: veganeatsandtreats.blogspot.ca

6. Chocolate Mint Melties Dietary: nut-free, soy-free

Think of these as your double-chocolate-mint-infused cousin of the Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies. If you enjoy that chocolate-mint combo, you just must make these!

Chocolate Mint Melties by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen

7. Nicer Krispie Squares Dietary: gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free

No kidding, these look and taste SO much like traditional rice krispie squares. Not just made vegan, but made withOUT vegan marshmallows or margarine. I think these are one of my most inventive cookie recipes ever, and I have a nut-free version coming in my next cookbook. I want everyone to enjoy these!

Nicer Krispie Squares by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen

8. Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies Dietary: soy-free, oil-free

These are a robust cookie, nutty and oaty, but still sweet enough to be a pure cookie treat. You can also substitute nut butters, and I offer a nut-free modification as well!

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen

9. Lemon-Kissed Blondie Bites Dietary: soy-free, oil-free, gluten-free option

When you’ve had enough of chocolate (did I just write that?) and want a sweet treat that tastes bright and vibrant and not sugary – these wee bites are just the thing! I think they are lovely for gifting too!

Lemon-Kissed Blondie Bites by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen

10. Raw Chai Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting Dietary: soy-free, raw, oil-free, gluten-free

There are some hidden gems in LTEV, and this is one of them. I hope to eventually bring you photos of all the recipes in that book because the photo is what usually inspires us to try the recipe! My thanks to Lisa Pitman for the visual inspiration to try these yummy bars…

Raw Chai Bars with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting - photo by Lisa Pitman

Photo credit: Lisa Pitman, veganculinarycrusade.com

11. Gingerbread Folks

What’s Christmas without Gingerbread? These are not too spicy, and not overly fussy to make. Decorate as simply or elaborately as you like!

Gingerbread Folks by Dreena Burton, plant-powered kitchen

12. Vanilla Bean Almond Fudge

Ok, I cheated just a little. This recipe is coming next week. It’s worth the wait, promise! #suchatease 😉

Vanilla Bean Almond Fudge by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen

I can’t finish just yet. A post about gifting cookies and treats just isn’t complete without mentioning the new Edible Gifts ebook from Nicole Axworthy and Lisa Pitman.


I adore these ladies, and adore their new ebook. Beautifully designed and filled with imaginative and exciting recipes. If you love to gift goodies, during the holidays or anytime of year, have a look at this book. You will really enjoy it!

Do you have a very favorite Christmas cookie? Or, do you have a cookie that is your signature holiday cookie? Or a Christmas baking tradition? Let’s hear it! (and stay tuned for that almond fudge!) xx 

Coconut Macaroons: Ricki Heller’s Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free Cookbook

Once in a while a cookbook comes along that is a game-changer. Opening its pages may introduce a new dietary approach or cuisine that forever shifts our food choices. Or, perhaps opening that book enables us to reintroduce foods we used to love, but we thought we could never delight in again because of dietary needs.

Ricki Heller‘s newly released Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free is exactly this kind of game-changing book. If you love to make sweets but want to bake cleaner, with whole-grains, no sugar, and also avoiding allergens like gluten and corn – this book will open a whole new world of baking for you. If you are already eating a plant-based/vegan/gluten-free/low-glycemic diet, you will think you are dreaming when you open this book! Ricki is making your dessert dreams come true! Go ahead and do your happy dance, because you can have your gluten-free, vegan, and sugar-free cake… and eat it too!

Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free by Ricki Heller

While I’ve known Ricki for quite a few years ‘from afar’, we’ve developed a friendship over the past year or so. She is every bit as real, approachable, and genuine as she appears to be from her blog, and I have huge respect for her culinary expertise and recipe development creativity. We finally met at Vida Vegan Con for the first time. Here we are along with Angela, Canadian representation!


When Ricki asked whether I could provide a cover quote for her new cookbook, it was a quick – YES! It was an honor and privilege to do so. Not only is this book aesthetically beautiful, with full-color photos throughout and a warm, inviting design, but Ricki is the expert for developing recipes that are vegan, gluten-free, and also low-glycemic. When I thought of how to encapsulate Ricki’s masterful work in a two or three sentence quote, I came to this:

Naturally Sweet & Gluten Free won’t just wow you because it is allergen-free… it will wow you because the recipes are positively dynamite! Ricki Heller is one of the most inventive, talented, and knowledgeable chefs – period. With stunning food photos coupled with imaginative, wholesome recipes that are irresistibly delicious, this book should be at the fingertips of EVERY home baker!

I wanted to communicate just how incredibly skilled Ricki is as a chef and recipe developer. While these recipes are undeniably perfect for those with specific food allergies or dietary restrictions, this book should be in every baker’s kitchen! Ricki will bring new baking skills and food knowledge to your sweet tooth, and the recipes are so expertly crafted that you would not know they are gluten-free, or “anything-free”!

You may not know that Ricki studied natural nutrition at The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and owned an organic bakery. During those years with her bakery, she discovered that the bulk of her customers were either vegans or people with food sensitivities. This led her to develop baked goods that could suit many dietary needs – without sacrificing flavor and texture! This last point is important. Ricki is very passionate that her allergen-friendly, low-glycemic goodies impress every bit as much as a traditional sweet. You can be certain these desserts will not taste as if they are without. They are full in flavor and also texture, thanks to Ricki’s “wizardry”.

I like to joke with Ricki that she has some wizardry up her sleeve! But, that magic? It’s a product of the remarkable dedication Ricki has to her craft. Ricki is the cookbook author that tests, retests, and retests her recipes. As a result, her recipes are precise and reliable. The pride she has producing quality recipes is reflected in every blog post she writes, and also in this scrumptious cookbook. I should mention that Ricki also develops plenty of savory recipes, but this book is devoted to sweet treats – that we can ALL enjoy!

Since I had Ricki’s wizardry expertise at my fingertips for this post, I figured I’d ask her a few very specific questions that might be of interest to those new to sugar-free and allergen-friendly baking. She was so kind to give detailed answers, here goes:

D: Ricki, what are your go-to flours for gluten-free baking, and why?

R: There are so many different gluten-free flours from which to choose, and each offers its own unique taste and texture, that it’s almost impossible to pick a single “go-to,” since my choice changes depending on the recipe, the time of year, my mood at that moment, etc. 😉

I tend to use my own all-purpose gluten-free flour mix for most baking, since it’s an easy recipe and is a great cup-for-cup substitute to all-purpose wheat flour. That said, I love millet flour (the main flour in the all-purpose mix). I find that millet is very mild and neutral-tasting, and the fact that it’s lightly colored (as opposed to, say, buckwheat, which is quite dark) means it works beautifully for desserts.  I also like sorghum for grain-based baking. For grain-free, my favorite is almond flour (it’s really easy to make your own, too). I also tend to use chickpea flour a lot for savory applications since it can serve as a bit of a binder, and is also protein-packed!

D: Millet flour is one of my faves for gf baking too! And, how about sweeteners… what are the lowest glycemic sweeteners, and which do you like the most?

R: It’s amazing how much of a selection there is among low glycemic sweeteners these days! When I first went on an anti-candida diet in 1999, the only choice was stevia.  Nowadays, you have stevia, yacon syrup, agave, coconut sugar and nectar, lo han guo (also called Monkfruit), plus all the sugar alcohols like erythritol or xylitol.

In terms of its effect on blood sugar, my favorite natural sweetener by far is stevia.  I have come to love it, and I don’t have the problems with bitter aftertaste that some people report.  On the other hand, stevia’s use in baked goods is limited, since it’s very difficult to employ it as the only sweetener in a recipe (the amount you use is so small that it’s hard to replace all the sugar with just a few drops of stevia).

My second go-to sweetener is coconut sugar, primarily because it’s a dry sweetener like cane sugar (and can be measured in equal amounts), but also because it has a much lower glycemic index (GI) than cane sugar, so it won’t cause spikes in blood glucose levels and is even safe for Type 2 diabetics. With the glycemic index, foods are measured against glucose, which has a GI of 100; anything around 70 or up is considered high. Regular sugar (sucrose) clocks in at 68, while coconut sugar is quite low at 35, less than an apple! And the flavor is divine, like a mix between caramel and butterscotch.

Yacon is great to add a bit of “molasses” flavor to baked goods, and it also has a very low glycemic index, but I find its taste a bit strong.  And because it’s not very sweet, you’d need to use an awful lot. Although I still love the taste of agave and use it for confections that require a delicate flavor or color (such as vanilla cake or “sugar” cookies), I tend to avoid using it too much because of the high fructose levels it contains. Finally, I never use sugar alcohols, as I’m not fond of sweeteners that must be made in a lab (and many people report digestive issues with erythritol, mannitol, xylitol and so on).

D: Wow! I also love coconut sugar, it’s one of my favorite sweeteners. I haven’t ever tried yacon, now you have me curious! As you mentioned, baking with stevia can be tricky, sometimes the taste is very overpowering. Your sweets don’t have this stevia over-taste, however! Why is that?

R: I’m glad you feel that way—I worked hard to find the right balance so that the stevia is undetectable in the final product! I’ve served many of my desserts to friends who are not on a “special” diet, and they never know there is stevia in the baked goods.

Although, as I mentioned above, I love stevia, my mantra with this sweetener is, “Less is more.” In other words, there’s a fine line between “just enough” stevia and “too much.”  Once you hit “too much,” that’s when the bitter aftertaste kicks in.  So, when I bake with stevia or use it to sweeten other treats like homemade chocolate or puddings, I always aim for the minimum amount of sweetness required, sort of like the level of a 70% chocolate bar instead of a regular milk chocolate bar.

Another way to ensure that the stevia isn’t overpowering is to combine it with another low-glycemic sweetener. I often combine stevia with coconut sugar to acquire the benefits of both: the stevia lowers the overall glycemic index, while the coconut sugar offers flavor and binding power to baked goods.

D: Ah, smart! I don’t call you the wizard for nothing! 😉 Ok, last question: If you had to pick 5 – yes, just five! – top recipes for readers to try first from Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free, what would they be? (I know, that’s unfair!) 

R: Thank you for offering me FIVE choices! If you had asked for just one, well, I probably would have chosen more anyway, because I love them all. :)

One of my absolute favorite recipes in the book (which also made its first appearance on my blog) is the Allergy-Friendly Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. It’s a smooth, rich, decadent and pipe-able chocolate frosting without sugar, butter, eggs, dairy, gluten, nuts, soy or corn. Basically, anyone can eat it—and it looks and tastes like regular chocolate frosting! That’s the frosting you see on the cupcakes that grace the book’s cover, too.

And because I’m such a chocoholic, of course I must choose one of the book’s brownies (there are five different ones in the book!). When I want a brownie that will really “wow” people, especially skeptics or people who’ve never tasted vegan desserts before, I choose the Sweet Potato Brownies. They’re dense, fudgy, really chocolatey and are always a hit.

I also adore the Butter Tarts, which my hubby tells me taste like “the real thing.” I love that I was able to recreate this Canadian classic (for your US readers, butter tarts are like a gooey pecan pie without the pecans).

My love of all things breakfast-related leads me to include a pancake recipe, too, since that’s my favorite breakfast food. I love the Carob-Buckwheat Pancakes with Chopped Almonds and Chips because they’ll change your mind about carob AND buckwheat.

And finally, for sentimental reasons, I’ll mention My Mother’s Cheesecake. This is my vegan, gluten-free, lower glycemic revision of my mom’s recipe that she used to make for my dad all the time. I think I captured the rustic, homey quality of the original in an equally delicious, healthier version.

D: Right, well I want to make all of those top 5! For readers new to gluten-free baking, or allergen-free baking in general, can you recommend a couple of simpler, “starter” recipes for them to try?

There are lots of easy-to-make recipes in the book! And honestly, once you’ve mixed up a batch of the all-purpose flour (or purchased a bag of prepared all-purpose flour from the supermarket), gluten-free baking works pretty much the same way as other baking.

For someone just starting out, though, I’d say to try the Easiest Almond Cookies, which are flour-free,  mixed entirely in a food processor, and foolproof. Equally simple to make are the Butterscotch Blondies, which mix up really quickly in a single bowl. Oh, and the Fluffy Fruited Pancakes are great for beginners, too, light and reliably good. And of course all the raw recipes are really easy, since there’s no baking involved. . . (oops, there I go again. I’ll stop myself at three!).  I’ll let you discover the rest. My best advice however, is to embrace experimentation!’

Coconut Macaroons by Ricki Heller

Photo by Celine Saki

Thank you Ricki for enlightening us all. Now, kids, I am adding my pick! When I spotted these Coconut Macaroons in Ricki’s book, I knew this would be the recipe to feature. They looked dynamite. And, they did not disappoint. They are goooood! The girls were swooning when they took their first bites!

A little of my experience making these. Tahini can be a tricky ingredient to use in sweets, as it is more naturally bitter than nut butters like almond or cashew. But, if used  the right way – it works! Ricki worked her wizardry with these cookies, and believe me, they are magical!

I wrote a post about tahini and explained that there are taste variations depending on the brand you buy. Some are far more bitter than others. Recently, I bought some authentic tahini. I was inspired to order the Al Wadi brand online. I have never tasted such a beautiful tahini. It’s like buttah! It’s smooth and silky, barely needs stirring, and has a much more mellow flavor than any tahini I have tried before. I can eat it straight up – and I do! It’s delicious slathered on toast over a light spread of miso and topped with a crisp lettuce leaf and some avocado (I’m not crazy, try it). Even better… it’s freaking fabulous in Ricki’s cookies!

These cookies all come together in a food processor – you can whip them together in minutes. Here, I’ve started with the almond base…


Then, pouring in that silky tahini after adding the coconut…


On to the baking sheet they go…


And baked to golden perfection!


These have the perfect balance of sweetness, and a chewy, irresistible texture. I think you’re going to love them. No more waiting, here’s the recipe:

Coconut Macaroons RECIpage to link/print recipe

One of the most requested cookies when I had my bakery, Bake It Healthy, these sweet treats combine both ground almonds and coconut for an ultra-chewy base. Tahini is a terrific source of calcium. (If you’re not a fan, don’t worry; the flavor isn’t prominent here). Makes 14-16 cookies.

3⁄4 cup (135 g) natural raw skin-on almonds, preferably organic

2 Tbsp (15 g) finely ground flax seeds (from about 1 Tbsp or 15 ml whole seeds)

1⁄8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt

2 cups (135 g) unsweetened shredded coconut, medium shred

1⁄4 cup (60 ml) coconut nectar

1⁄4 cup (60 ml) light agave nectar

20 to 25 drops pure plain or vanilla stevia liquid, or to taste

1⁄4 cup (60 ml) tahini (sesame seed paste) 

1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract

1⁄2 tsp (2.5 ml) pure coconut extract (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 ̊F (180 ̊C). Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray. In the bowl of a food processor, whir the almonds, flax, and salt together until they resemble a coarse meal, about the texture of cornmeal, without any identifiable pieces of almond visible. Add the coconut and pulse once or twice to combine. Next pour the coconut nectar, agave nectar, stevia, tahini, vanilla, and coconut extract, if using, over the dry ingredients. Process again until everything is incorporated and the mixture forms a sticky ball (you may need to stop and scrape down the sides of the processor bowl once or twice). Stop as soon as the mixture holds together, to avoid grinding the coconut too fine. Using a small ice-cream scoop or tablespoon (15 ml), drop small mounds of the mixture onto the cookie sheets about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Wet your palms (or use a silicone spatula) and flatten the cookies slightly. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets about halfway through baking, until the cookies are deep golden brown on top. Cool completely before removing to a rack (the cookies will firm up as they cool). See page 37, storing your baked goods. May be frozen.

That’s cute, Ricki… they don’t make it to the freezer. 😉 Friends, I hope you check out Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free. With reliable, delicious, healthy recipes in a beautifully crafted book, this book deserves your kitchen splatters and dog-ears!

Have you tried any recipes from Ricki’s book yet? Have any favorites?

(and Ricki, if you are reading, can you share the brand of tahini that you use for this recipe?)

Now Available!: Plant-Powered 15 ebook (vegan, oil-free, gluten-free)

So, the last few months you may have been wondering what I’ve been up to. I’ve been posting plenty of recipes, but haven’t been talking much about personal things or our family. Truth is, I have been swamped since September with both work and mama responsibilities, and it’s been challenging to keep up. (My next post I’m going to talk about just that, the mothering ‘balance’, so I hope you’ll be with me and share your insights too.)

On the work front, I’ve been very busy for a few reasons. First, I had plans to start another cookbook. That plan still exists, and I’m in the final stages of a contract. So, I will have news for you soon about my next big book project!

Then, I got this crazy idea in my head back in December, that I could do an ebook. I love it when I get these crazy notions thinking I can “do it all”. Yeah. Crazy lady. It started like this…

Do any of you remember my holiday cookbook promotion? Well, once people started trying these recipes and I was posting details about the promo on facebook, I received a lot of requests to turn those recipes into an ebook.  HUH! I never even thought of that! Until someone planted the seed, and off I go running.  So, I procrastinated on the idea for a month or so, because I knew it would be a lot of work – with a new learning curve. I just wasn’t sure if I could pull it off (without pulling out my hair)!


Until one day, I get an email from one of my readers, Lynn McLellan. The email subject line reads: Recipe “Feed”back. I open the email nervously, thinking I’ve messed up something in a recipe or two (because that’s what us neurotic cookbook authors think). Was I ever surprised to open the email and see that Lynn had taken photos of EVERY recipe in the Plant-Powered 15 package and shared her feedback on EACH recipe!  I was humbled and teary, that she took the time to put all that together for me to read.  And, it was a sign to get off my behind already and put this ebook together! If you are with me on facebook, you have seen some of this ‘feed’back, as I’ve been posting examples. For instance, Lynn said this about my “Coconutty Cookies”:

Wow! I couldn’t get enough of these. They taste like little coconut pillows! So light and satisfying. In fact, they were so good I made a second batch right away while I still had the ingredients handy. That’s how fast they disappeared! 

Coconut Pillows, eh? Yep, that name stuck!

I asked people on facebook again… should I do this? Do you still want it? Would you buy it? Then THEY told me to get off my behind.  So I did. And here it is!

While I’d love to go on about how clueless I was in the beginning working on this project, I will spare you that dull reading. What I will tell you is that I got lucky. Sometimes people come into your life at certain times, and you have a feeling it’s for a reason. That happened when Nicole Axworthy emailed and said she’d like to help me with the photography for this book. I already knew of Nicole’s talents, because she is the co-author of the Tiny Treats ebook with Lisa Pitman (I sang its praises on FB and mentioned it in this post). I LOVE that ebook. The recipes are insanely creative, and the photos are simply stunning. When I bought that book and opened it on my computer, my jaw dropped. So, needless to say I was pretty stoked that Nicole wanted to work with me on the Plant-Powered 15!

Nicole captured every recipe in the Plant-Powered 15, in a full-size photo. One thing I hear from readers most often is “we want more photos of recipes”. I couldn’t agree more. (And, as a side note, my next book will also have photos of every recipe).

So, what types of recipes are in the Plant-Powered 15? To start, all the recipes are whole-foods vegan recipes. And, all the recipes are made without any added oils. That’s what you have been asking for, with emails and facebook comments and tweets and more… that’s what I’m delivering. You can be sure you aren’t losing flavor, though. Many of us know from a culinary perspective that fat is a flavor carrier. You are NOT losing flavor in these recipes. The flavor stays, and some whole-foods fats are included in certain recipes to ensure texture and taste are not sacrificed! These recipes are all also gluten-free if you are able to eat certified gf oats. Not all recipes use oats, of course, but that is the only ingredient that requires mention for gluten-free readers.

Here are all the recipes included in your Plant-Powered 15! (along with a few sample photos)

  1. Almond Zen Granola
  2. Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Breakfast Bars  Pumpkin Seed Chocolate Chip Oat Bars from the Plant-Powered 15 ebook
  3. Creamy House Dressing
  4. Green Goddess Dressing
  5. Orange-Miso Dressing
  6. Wonder Spread  Wonder Spread from the Plant-Powered 15 ebook
  7. Black Bean Soup with Sweet Potatoes
  8. Presto Pistachio Pasta  prestopistachiopesto
  9. “SweetBalls” (yes, I said it!)
  10. Umami Sun-Dried Tomato and Almond Burgers
  11. Sneaky Chickpea Burgers
  12. Mac-nificent  Mac-nificent - from the Plant-Powered 15 ebook
  13. Coconut Pillows
  14. Sticky Almond Blondies  Sticky Almond Blondies from the Plant-Powered 15 ebook
  15. Peanut Butter Munchy Squares

The Plant-Powered 15 is now officially available! You can pick up a copy here:
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And you can also link through to purchase on my “Books” page at anytime.

Please come back and tell me your recipe experiences from this ebook. I’d love to know which recipe caught your eye first, what you tried straight away, and which recipes are your favorites!

Natural Gingerbread Folks and Vegan Christmas Cookies (oil-free and gluten-free options)

Have you rolled up your sleeves and started your holiday baking?  I sure have, but everything I’ve baked this past week starts with ‘gra’ and ends with ‘nola’!  Gingerbread Granola, Cocoa-Goji Granola… I’ve probably baked 15 batches for gifting by now!  This is the first year I’ve given granola as gifts, and it’s a nice change.  I bought one big case of Mason jars, and that pretty much covered off all the gift-giving for school and preschool teachers, piano teacher, friends, and hockey coaches.

And, now that I am granola’d out, I’m turning to cookies!  Last week I finally made my “Gingerbread Folks” from LTEV.  I decided to share the recipe with you today, because everyone must have a good gingerbread cookie in their recipe box for the holidays!  Plus, I have gathered a list of vegan cookie links for quick reference when you are needing some festive cookies or squares for parties or gifts.  Also, a reminder that if you need recipes for Christmas Day, be sure to check out this post.

Now, on to the Gingerbread Folks!

Gingerbread Folks RECIpage link to print/share

A variation on the holiday classic, these cookies have a slight chewiness and crunch, with a delicious, lightly spiced flavor.

1 ½ cups + 1 tbsp sifted spelt flour

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

1⁄4 + 1/8 tsp sea salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground cloves

¾ tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp allspice

1/3 cup organic extra-virgin coconut oil (at room temperature so softened), or can use organic canola oil (see note)

1⁄2 cup unrefined sugar

2 tbsp molasses (blackstrap or regular cooking molasses)

2 tbsp non-dairy milk (see note)

2 tbsp pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and allspice.  Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the coconut oil, sugar, molasses, milk, and maple syrup, beating on medium speed for several minutes until creamy, and stopping to scrape the bowl as needed. Mixing at low speed, add the dry mixture about 1⁄2 cup at a time, over about a minute or so. Continue blending until the dough comes together in one or two balls on the paddle, separating cleanly from the inside of the mixing bowl. Transfer to a clean, dry countertop. Roll out the dough to about 1⁄4 inch thick. (If you are having trouble rolling the dough—if it is sticking—sandwich the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll your pin on top of the parchment, instead of directly on the dough.) If the dough has become too pliable (this may happen if your room is slightly warm), transfer to the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes to firm slightly. Once rolled fairly evenly to 1⁄4 inch thick, use cookie cutters to cut the dough into shapes. A spatula (offset or regular) will help lift the cookies off your counter and to the prepared baking sheet. Space the cookies at least an inch or so apart. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for at least a couple of minutes. The cookies will firm more as they cool, and even more after they are chilled. Refrigerate the cookies in an airtight container. Decorate as desired, such as with the simple gingerbread icing.

Simple Gingerbread Icing

1 cup powdered sugar (see note)

1½ – 2 tbsp vanilla non-dairy milk (‘non-dairy nog’ is very nice here!)

To prepare the icing: In a bowl, mix the sugar with 11⁄2 tablespoons of the milk, until very smooth. Add the extra 1⁄2 tablespoon or so of milk, if needed, to thin mixture to a soft enough consistency that can be squeezed through a piping or resealable plastic bag (snip one corner if using a plastic bag).  After decorating the gingerbread, allow the icing to dry on the cookies before stacking.

Note: I use Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Powdered Sugar, which is powdered sugar made from unrefined cane sugar (rather than icing sugar that is made from white refined sugar). If you cannot find organic powdered sugar, you can easily make your own. To do so, use a blender and combine about 1¼ – 1½ cups of unrefined sugar with 1 tbsp of arrowroot powder or cornstarch. Blend on a high speed until powdery, scraping down the jug once or twice. If using a high-powered blender, no arrowroot/cornstarch is needed – just WHIZ!  Update: This year I decided to making icing sugar with coconut sugar – it worked just fine!  The color is caramel, but I suggested to the girls that they use it as ‘glue’ for the toppings, rather than to try and color with natural food dye.  Toppings can include miniature dairy-free chocolate chips, pieces of dried cranberries/raisins/goji berries, coconut, vegan marshmallows, sunflower/pumpkin/hemp seeds, etc!  Just look at some of the things our girls came up with!…


If This Apron Could Talk: I like the size this batch of dough makes—enough for fifteen or more cookie cutouts. If, however, you prefer to bake in larger quantities, simply double this recipe and bake the cookies in batches. Finish cutting all of your cookies, and then refrigerate the shapes until ready to bake the next batch . . . or refrigerate the dough first and cut out only one batch’s worth at a time as they bake. Note: If you are refrigerating the dough for more than 30 to 40 minutes, it will need to soften briefly at room temperature to roll out, as the coconut oil hardens when cooled.

Ingredients 411: Any nondairy milk can be used, though I like the hint of flavor a non-dairy nog gives to the batter!

Other Top Picks for Holiday Cookies (scroll down for oil-free options)

Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies  (gluten-free version)


Creamed Cheese Brownies with Salted Dark Chocolate Topping (these are pictured with my “Gingery Cookies” from LTEV, which have been a huge hit!)

Hello Vegan Bars

Chocolate Mint Melties (recipe NOW posted!) :)


OIL-FREE Cookie Options

Frosted Brawnies (use nut butter option in frosting; gluten-free) (also in pic are my “Banana Nut Squares with Cream Cheese Frosting” from LTEV – make them!)

Lemon-Kissed Blondie Bites  (gf-option)

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls (gf-option)

Nicer Krispie Squares (gluten-free)

Have you made baked goodies for gifts this year?  And what are your favorite cookies to make and give during the holidays?  And, do you have other ideas for more natural decorating for gingerbread?  Please share!

Merry Christmas everyone!  :)