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

Link to share/print recipe

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 

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Bananascotch Pudding

 

It feels like I haven’t posted in weeks! I thought things would settle down after my signing, but it continues to be very busy. End-of-year is always busy at school (right mamas?) and I’m still pretty active with the book release.

"Bananascotch" Pudding by Dreena Burton www.plantpoweredkitchen.com #vegan #glutenfree #wholefoods #plantbased

Plus, last weekend I was away for Ottawa VegFest! It was incredible, I’ll share some pics and details in my next post. For now, I want to share a new vegan recipe with you.

This one is very easy. It was another recipe I had intended for PPF, but the puddings section was amply filled. My testers loved this plant-based pudding. The ingredients are ones we usually have right on hand, and with a quick blender blitz: a pudding that is a cross between… banana pudding and butterscotch pudding!

"Bananascotch" Pudding by Dreena Burton www.plantpoweredkitchen.com #vegan #glutenfree #wholefoods #plantbased

Bananascotch Pudding 

link to print/share recipe

This pudding tastes like a cross between butterscotch and banana! It’s incredibly quick and easy to make, and kids love it for dipping fruit, slathering on waffles or pancakes, or eating straight up as pudding.

2/3 cup soaked and drained cashews (soak for 3-4 hours, drain fully)
1/2 cup overripe banana, sliced
3-4 tbsp coconut sugar (adjust to taste)
1/8 scant tsp sea salt
3/4 cup plain non-dairy yogurt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract or seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean

Blend cashews, banana, 3 tbsp of coconut sugar, sea salt, yogurt, and vanilla in a blender. If using a high-speed blender, this will take just a minute or two. With a standard blender, you will need to scrape down the blender a few times and work the mixture. Taste, and add more coconut sugar if desired. Serve immediately. Serves 2-3

Serving Suggestions: Serve with fresh fruit, or top portions with shredded coconut or chopped nuts. Also, try layering with plain or vanilla non-dairy yogurt and granola in parfait cups!

Enjoy, guys! Before I sign off, below are some recent reviews, giveaways, and features of Plant-Powered Families. If you are loving the book, would you take a minute to add a review on amazon? Thanks!

x Dreena

Bits and Bites
The Blender Girl review and recipe for Creamy Fettucine
Ricki Heller review and recipe for Baconut
Kathy Patalsky of Healthy, Happy Life review, giveaway, and recipe for Cinnamon French Toast
Love Fed review, giveaway, and recipe for Savory Chickpea Omelets
Kiwi Magazine recipe for Baconut
Veg Kitchen recipe for Polenta Pizza Crust
Pure Thyme review, giveaway, and recipe for Artichoke Sunflower Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce and No-Bake Granola Bars
Taste Space review and recipe for Chickpea Nibbles
Vegan Mainstream review and Q&A
Heartwise Ministries Radio Interview

Grain-Free Apple Berry Crumble – feature recipe from Living Candida-Free

Just over a year ago, I reviewed Ricki Heller’s spectacular cookbook, Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free. Now, Ricki is celebrating the release of yet another book – Living Candida-Free. Actually, Ricki began celebrating back in January, I’m just late to the party. :)

Canadian cover on left; US cover on right

Canadian cover on left; US cover on right

If you own NS&GF, this new book is different. Living Candida-Free is more of a dietary guide than a dedicated cookbook. However, it does include 100 recipes as well as some recipe photos – so it’s a cookbook within a comprehensive lifestyle program.

This book delivers a 3-phase program to eliminate candida and restore health. What is candida?  Candida is a naturally occuring yeast in our bodies that is typically harmless. However, if candida becomes unbalanced, it feeds off of extra sugar in the body and multiplies, with serious health consequences. The symptoms can be so wide-ranging that it often goes undiagnosed by doctors. In this book, Ricki Heller outlines a detailed health plan and diet regimen designed to help people combat candida.

Even if you aren’t dealing with candida overgrowth and don’t need to follow the 3-phase program, Ricki shares knowledge and experiences that will interest you. If you are eating a vegan, plant-based, or gluten-free diet, and seeking optimal health and lifestyle balance, you’ll learn from Ricki’s insights. For instance, Ricki discusses strategies for quashing sugar cravings – which are useful for us all, and those approaches can be applied to other food habits and cravings we’d like to reduce. Also, Ricki thoroughly covers the anti-candida diet pantry list – and how to make cooking and baking substitutions for foods that aren’t permitted on the program. Beyond dietary considerations, Ricki also explains how to combat environmental conditions that can affect candida overgrowth.

Then, of course, there are the recipes! Ricki is a gifted recipe developer, and your tastebuds will not be disappointed with these wholesome, sugar-free recipes! I’ve already tried the cookie dough truffles and the crumble recipe (below). Both were incredible, and I’ve marked many more to try. Ricki focuses on flavour as well as wholesomeness, so you can count on her recipes tasting great.

If you are vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free – or just plain food curious –  pick up a copy of Living Candida-Free. While you wait, indulge in this delicious crumble recipe that Ricki has allowed me to reprint…

Grain-Free Apple Berry Crumble from "Living Candida-Free" by Ricki Heller

Grain-Free Apple Berry Crumble

link to print/share recipe

This fresh, not-too-sweet dessert is a great way to enjoy fruit once you reintroduce it to your diet. Because the topping is grain-free, you won’t need to worry about consuming your coveted grain servings for dessert. Makes 4 or 6 servings

Filling
Coconut oil, for pan
2 small or 1 large sweet apple (I used Gala) or pear, cored and diced very small (about 1/2-inch [1.3 cm] cubes—feel free to leave the skin on)
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) mixed fresh or frozen berries (not including cranberries)—I use strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries; if cranberries are included in your mix, use 2 cups (480 ml) total
1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh or frozen cranberries
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons (30 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
30 drops plain or fruit-flavored pure liquid stevia (I use 20 drops lemon and 10 drops cherry-vanilla)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) psyllium husks (optional—it prevents the juices from becoming too watery)
Topping
1/3 cup (55 g) raw natural almonds
1/3 cup (55 g) raw sunflower or pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons (30 ml) coconut flour
1/16 teaspoon (0.25 ml) pure stevia powder, or 1/8 teaspoon (0.5 ml) pure liquid stevia, or to taste
1 tablespoon (15 ml) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon (0.5 ml) fine sea salt
1 tablespoon (15 ml) virgin coconut oil, preferably organic*

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a 4- to 6-cup (1 to 1.5 L) casserole dish with coconut oil.Prepare the filling: In a large bowl, toss the apples, berries, cranberries, lemon zest, and cinnamon. In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, water, stevia, and psyllium, then drizzle over the berry mixture and toss again to coat evenly. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. (Note: You can just toss everything in the casserole dish instead of dirtying a bowl, but I found the mixture very hard to coat evenly when the ingredients were so cramped in the dish!) Make the topping: In the bowl of a food processor, blend the almonds, seeds, coconut flour, stevia, cinnamon, ginger, and salt until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add the coconut oil and process until it’s incorporated. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling in the casserole dish. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the dish about halfway through baking, until the topping is lightly browned and the filling is bubbly. Allow to cool somewhat before serving. May be frozen. From Living Candida-Free by Ricki Heller. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2015.

*Note: If you prefer not to use oil, try 1 tbsp nut butter – I did, and it worked fabulously!

Ricki’s book has gotten a lot of blogging love in recent months. Here are some additional recipes and reviews to check out:

Single-Serve PancakesChard and Chickpea SoupRaw Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough TrufflesCreamy Crimson MousseThe Toronto SandwichHerbed Grain-Free Gnocchi. Also some reviews to check out about Ricki’s book.

Have you tried any recipes from Living Candida-Free? If so, please share your favourites! 

Peanut Butter Pudding with Berrylicious Swirl (feature recipe from Plant-Powered Families!)

Our girls are on spring break this week and next, so I’m busy keeping them busy at home! They are spread out in ages (almost 14, 10, and almost 6), so I find they rarely want to do the same things. Sometimes the older two hang out, other times the younger two play together or do projects – today they are painting birdhouses. But, the girls are at a stage where they often don’t enjoy the same activities. Anyone else have this experience with their kiddos? Have any ideas or advice to share?

One thing we did enjoy this week was a walk through Redwood Park. This park is peaceful and beautiful in its own right, with majestic trees and serene paths…

 

fairy3

Recently, I heard about a “fairy kingdom” that has developed in the woods of the park. At some point, one or more children had the idea to put a couple of little wooden doors and wooden birdhouses on trees, where the fairies come to visit! Well, the idea caught on and now we have a wee enchanted forest with doors at the base of trees and painted birdhouses with charming personal touches. Here are a few examples, though the pictures don’t do justice to the entire scene:

fairy4

fairy6

We strolled through the kingdom, and all three girls were engaged with the fun. I was too! Of course, afterwards the younger girls were keen to paint their own contributions to the fairy forest. So, they started painting and decorating their little houses today. If you live in the South Surrey/White Rock area, go for a stroll in Redwood Park – the fairy fun is just beyond the treehouse.

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Now, when activities fail me, there’s one thing our girls always enjoy together… homemade treats! They all love this Peanut Butter Pudding with Berrylicious Swirl. Ok, our middle daughter opts for the pudding without the berry swirl, no surprise there. :)

This is a new recipe from my Plant-Powered Families cookbook,  but my publisher is sharing the recipe now. This pudding is very easy to whip together, and tastes like a PB&J sandwich – without the bread! It’s all whole-foods based, from the pudding to the swirl!

NEW! Plant-Powered Families cookbook by Dreena Burton

Oh, and for those of you possibly wondering… “uh-oh, is there a lot of peanut butter in this book? I’ve already preordered!”… No, there isn’t. In fact, I believe this is the only dedicated peanut butter recipe in the book. And, you can substitute a nut butter like cashew or almond if you have peanut allergies in your household.

And, if you missed my last post and don’t know about the preorder offer of a bonus ebook and special giveaway, check out my last post for details!

Peanut Butter Pudding with Berrylicious Swirl! from "Plant-Powered Families" cookbook by Dreena Burton #vegan #glutenfree

Pudding photo credit: Nicole Axworthy

Enjoy the pudding, friends!

x Dreena

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

Recipage link to print/share recipe

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

Dreena

Chocolate Gem Gingerbread

Chocolate and gingerbread. Delicious on their own, but when paired together – a quintessential holiday treat. For many years I made chocolate-ginger-almond-cranberry bark for Christmas gifts, and later I began a new tradition making Chocolate Gingery Cookies (from LTEV). With those goodies in mind, I created this new whole-foods Chocolate Gem Gingerbread!

Chocolate Gem Gingerbread #vegan by Dreena Burton

 

This gingerbread is delicious without the addition of the chocolate. So, if you are a gingerbread purist, the chocolate can certainly be omitted. I sometimes make it without the chocolate myself. Shocking, yes… but true! Or, try substituting currants or raisins for the chocolate chips. If you do use the dried fruit in the loaf, I’d recommend not adding the crystallized ginger topping. The crystallized ginger is balanced with dark chocolate chips, with the raisins it’s too much.

This whole-foods vegan gingerbread is moist and flavorful thanks to the addition of almond meal. It’s also not too ‘spicy’ for young palates. My girls don’t enjoy crystallized ginger, so I often omit it or add to just a portion of the loaf. If you enjoy more ginger kick, use the full 1 1/2 teaspoon of dried ginger in the loaf, along with the crystallized ginger for the topping.

With the holidays almost here, you can add this to your menu as a brunch/tea treat. Or, if you pair with a vanilla non-dairy ice cream, it can be transformed into dessert!

Enjoy, guys. Do share any feedback in the comments, as well as sharing any of your favorite chocolate-ginger combinations.

(p.s. I announced my new book on facebook this week, if you missed it, link through. You can count on a more detailed post about the book right here, in the new year.)

x Dreena

Chocolate Gem Gingerbread by Dreena Burton #vegan #holidays

Chocolate Gem Gingerbread

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1 cups whole-grain spelt flour
1 cup + 1 tbsp oat flour (or 1 cup more spelt flour; but I prefer spelt/oat combo)
1/3 cup almond meal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1⁄4 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 – 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
1⁄2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup plain non-dairy milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
options: 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips or currants/raisins
optional toppings: 2 tbsp finely chopped crystallized ginger (omit if using raisins) OR 1-2 tbsp coconut sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp cinnamon OR 2 tbsp chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients, sifting in the baking powder and baking soda. Stir through until well combined. In another bowl, first combine the molasses with the apple applesauce and then whisk/stir in the maple syrup, non-dairy milk, and vanilla, and mix together. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture (as well as raisins or chocolate chips, if using). Gently fold and mix through, until just combined (do not overmix). Transfer mixture to a lightly oiled loaf pan (lined with a strip of parchment also useful). If using any optional toppings, sprinkle those on. Bake for 37-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove, and transfer (keeping in pan) to cooling rack. Let cool completely, then remove from pan and slice. Makes one quickbread.

Ginger Note: I typically use 1 tsp ginger, that keeps it mild enough for the kiddos. If you love ginger, feel free to bump it up!

Chocolate Gem Gingerbread by Dreena Burton #vegan #wholefoods #plantbased

Photo credit: Shout-out to Emma Potts for assisting with all these food photos! Thanks Emma. x

5-minute, 5-ingredient Chocolate Gelato

This week I realized it’s the middle of August. I haven’t posted an ice cream recipe. #gasp!

If you know my work, you know ice cream is my favorite treat. Favorite. If there is another dessert to be had – cake, pie, cookies – it better be paired with ice cream!

In my early cooking days I watched a lot of Bobby Flay cooking episodes (I learned a lot about flavor combinations from his and a few other key cooking shows). I’ve heard him express a similar sentiment about ice cream, that he would choose ice cream anytime over any other dessert. Yes. Exactly.

5-minute, 5-ingredient Chocolate Gelato by Dreena Burton #vegan #glutenfree #dairyfree

I do buy a lot of vegan ice creams. Coconut Bliss is one of my favorite brands (hello salted caramel chocolate), but I’m also very fond of Amy’s, So Delicious, and Nada Moo. There’s something special about making your own ice cream, though. It tastes – well – homemade. You can customize to your sweetness and ingredient preferences, and you can taste the love!

Tricky thing is most homemade ice cream recipes require an ice cream maker, and many of us don’t have this appliance (or we may not want to pull it out any given day)! I have a full ice cream chapter in LTEV, but most use the ice cream maker. This Chocolate Gelato needs no ice cream maker. It benefits from a high-speed blender, but more of us in the vegan and plant-based world have a rambo blender!

This is also one of those gem recipes that just “came together”. I tested it one day as a pudding, throwing a few ingredients together, and using dates as the sweetener (with my chocolate chia pudding in mind). It literally took 5 minutes to make. I decided to freeze it, just to see how it would turn out. To my delight it froze beautifully.  With 5 simple ingredients, and 5 minutes of prep (excepting freezing time), I was happy to retest. And retest. And retest. 😉

I think I’ve said enough. Time to make the ice cream! Happy scooping…

5-minute, 5-ingredient Chocolate Gelato - by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen. #vegan #glutenfree #dairyfree

5-Minute, 5-Ingredient Chocolate Gelato

ReciPage to print/share

This is by far the easiest frozen dessert I’ve ever made. It doesn’t require an ice cream maker, and it’s still scoop-able after freezing! It tastes so good after blending, you can opt to enjoy as a chocolate mousse or pudding straight away – or freeze to a soft-set for gelato.

1 cup refrigerated coconut cream (from can of regular coconut milk, see note)
1 cup (packed) pitted dates (see note)
1 cup frozen banana pieces
3 TB cocoa powder
1/4 tsp sea salt

optional: 1/4 – 1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder or seeds from one vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (see note)

In a high-speed blender (I use Blendtec and the twister jar), combine all ingredients (see note if using a standard blender). Puree until very smooth. Transfer to a container to freeze (see note for mousse/pudding ideas). It will take 4-5 hours to freeze to a firm set, but will soft-set like a gelato in less time (about 2-3 hours). Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Coconut Milk Note: Use regular coconut milk (rather than light) from a can in this recipe. Before using refrigerate it overnight, or for a few days. The thick cream will rise to the top and be easy to scoop and measure. Use only the thick cream.

Date Note: Dates must be soft to easily puree. Some pitted dates can be old and dry. If your dates aren’t soft, try presoaking them in non-dairy milk for a half-hour or so until they soften.

Vanilla Note: I prefer the flavor of vanilla seeds or pure ground vanilla bean, but you can also use vanilla extract if you want to add that touch of flavor.

Blender Note: A standard blender may have difficulty churning the dates and frozen bananas into a smooth mix. You might want to first process the bananas and dates in a food processor, adding a small amount of the milk and then transferring to a blender to achieve a smoother puree.

Idea: As a mousse, try serving topped with fresh fruit or layered in a parfait glass with Vanilla Cashew Yogurt!

Share your feedback anytime about this recipe, love to hear from you!

And thanks to Emma for assisting with food photos!

Choosing Raw: The Cookbook (& Recipe for Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream)

At last, the brilliant and creative soul behind the Choosing Raw blog has published her first cookbook. Many of us have been a fan of Gena Hamshaw‘s work for years. It’s hard not to be. Gena delivers posts that educate and inspire us, not with recipes alone, but also with her life observations and food knowledge. She is a bright light in our plant-based world, always offering a balanced approach to raw and vegan food.

Choosing Raw cookbook

When I think of Gena, a few words come to mind: integrity, compassion, and knowledge. You feel it in every post she writes, and in Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat, these qualities shine through in print. Gena shares so much within this book, from her wisdom of food nutrition to her passion of recipe creation, to her commitment to animal rights.

I received a copy of Choosing Raw last week, and know you will love its content. Not only visually appetizing with food photos, it is a lifestyle book, answering the why, what, and how of eating a raw and vegan diet. The book is broken down as follows:

  • Preface: Kris Carr
  • Introduction: My Story
  • Part I: The Why
    • Your Health
    • Beyond The Plate
  • Part II: The What
    • Vegan Nutrition
    • All About Raw Foods
    • Frequently Asked Questions About Raw and Vegan Foods
    • Myths and Misconceptions
  • Part III: The How
    • Setting Up
    • Getting Started
    • 21 Days in The Life
  • Part IV: The Food
    • The Recipes: 15 essentials, 5 Juices, 10 Snacks, 20 Dips, Dressings, Sauces, and Spreads, 5 Meal-Size Salads
    • Level 1: Tried and True: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    • Level 2: Something New: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    • Level 3: Brave New World: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    • 13 Desserts for Everyone

Gena has cleverly partitioned the recipes into food preparation/cooking “levels”. This is one very special feature of her book, graduating home cooks from easier to more complex raw recipes. I also think her meal plans (21 Days in the Life) will be extremely useful for people new to raw and/or plant-based foods.

Of course, apart from the brilliant recipe planning Gena offers, her heart truly shines through in the introductory sections. This is especially true in her personal story, but also even evident in the FAQs and myths and misconceptions. Gena connects with us from a very personal level through every chapter.

CRinside1

Raw Cobb Salad, photo credit: Hannah Kaminsky

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Coconutty for Chocolate Chip Cookies, photo credit: Hannah Kaminsky

Let’s talk about the recipes for a moment, though, because they are not to be underestimated. Gena is exceptionally creative, and  the recipes range from fully raw to high raw and cooked dishes. There is spectacular food photography (by Hannah Kaminksy) for many of the recipes, capturing the vibrance of raw foods. I have highlighted many recipes that I want to try out, including: Raw Vegan Bircher Muesli, Green Lemonade, Creamy Maple Chipotle Dressing, Zucchini Pasta with Quinoa Meatless Balls, Chickpea Tofu Tahini Scramble, Raw Pad Thai, Coconut Curry Kelp Noodles, Raw Peach Cobbler, and (last but not least!) Sweet Pea Hummus Tartines. Because #hummusisafoodgroup. 😉

So many enticing recipes! This week I tried Gena’s Raw Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream and Nut or Seed Pate. These were both fully raw dishes, both incredibly easy to make. One of the myths of raw foods dishes is that they involve tedious or complicated food preparation. Not always true. These recipes were quick for me to make (I need that right now with 3 girls on summer vacay and a very active puppy), and were instantly gratifying!

Nut or Seed Pate (from Choosing Raw cookbook)

First up, the Nut or Seed PateI enjoyed snacking on it straight up with crudite, but it looked super lovely as I was assembling a sandwich, so I pulled out my iPhone to snap some pics! This particular recipe is very flexible, you can use a combination of nuts or seeds. I chose to use a combo of raw almonds and raw pumpkin seeds, and it was delightful.

choosingrawnutpate

The same day I made Gena’s Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream. I mean, who am I to resist ice cream? :) My all time fave dessert, sweet, treat. Period. This particular recipe is one of the GORGEOUS featured food photos on the cover. It’s a cinch to make, does not require an ice cream maker, and is wonderfully refreshing and tasty. I reduced the fresh ginger a little so the girls would spoon in too, as they aren’t super fond of ginger. The flavor is bright, fresh, and still creamier and more luscious than a fruit sorbet.

Gena allowed me to share the recipe with you today. We had some fresh cherries and blueberries on hand the day I took a photo. After taking these photos, I thought this would be a very beautiful (and easy) Fourth of July dessert!

Raw Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream (from Choosing Raw cookbook)

Raw, Vegan Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream (link to print/share)

This ice cream tastes entirely too delicious to be dairy free and made without an ice cream maker! Ginger and blueberries are a surprisingly harmonious combination, and the color of the finished ice cream is phenomenal. Garnish with fresh mint or a few extra blueberries before wowing your friends. Makes 4 Servings

1⁄2 cup cashews, soaked for 2 hours or more and drained
4 frozen bananas
2 heaping cups frozen blueberries
1 1⁄2 tablespoo

ns fresh, grated ginger (or 1 teaspoon ginger powder if you’re using a food processor)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons almond or hemp milk (may not be needed for the food processor version)

If you’re using a high-speed blender:
Blend all the ingredients together in a highspeed blender. Use the tamper attachment to facilitate blending. Add a little more almond milk, if necessary, to facilitate blending.

If you’re using a food processor:Place the cashews in a food processor and process until they’re broken down. Add the bananas and let the motor run until they’ve turned into soft. When you have soft serve consistency, add the blueberries, powdered ginger, and lemon, and blend until totally smooth. Add the almond milk only if you need a thinner consistency; you may not. Serve.

Leftover ice cream can be transferred to a sealed storage container and frozen for up to a week, then reprocessed in the food processor just prior to serving.

From Choosing Raw by Gena Hamshaw. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2014.

Raw Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream from Choosing Raw

I encourage you to add this genius work to your cookbook collection. Gena will welcome you into the world of raw foods, demonstrating that it can be very simple to include raw meals and snacks in your daily meal plans. It’s not about attaching to a label or being rigid with a dietary regimen. With her heartfelt approach to eating healthy, this is far more than a cookbook. It offers guides, meal plans, scientific support, and a lot of heart. No matter where you are with plant-based eating, we can all enjoy – and benefit from – Gena’s talent and insights in Choosing Raw.

Do you have a copy of Choosing Raw? If so, what recipes have caught your eye, or have already become favorites? 

Dreamy Baked Bananas: Featured Recipe from “The China Study All-Star Collection Cookbook” (plus giveaway)!

Many years ago I read The China Study. It was before social media, before the surge of blogging, before the “rise” of the plant-based world. Yes, we are still quite a minority as vegans, but things are drastically different than they were 10 or even 5 years ago. Vastly different than 20 years ago when I began this journey. There is more awareness, more products, more online support, and more acceptance.

I remember feeling quite ‘alone’ as a vegan and a plant-based mom at that time. There was indeed information to support a plant-based diet for health, but nothing like the information available today. I was blogging, and did have that built-in community. But, in my day to day life and beginning to raise vegan children, I felt quite isolated in my choices. Nevertheless, I felt it was the best dietary choice. Not just for me, but for our growing children.

Then, I picked up a copy of The China Study. I read it whenever I could. I remember watching our eldest swim, indulging in another few pages every lesson. It was the most powerful book on plant-based nutrition that I had read. It solidified all of my beliefs, and empowered me to continue with my work. I recommended it to countless people through personal conversations and emails and on my blog (and still do). I felt everyone needed to read this book (and still do).

To this day, The China Study is a meaningful book for me. I hope to meet Dr. Campbell one day, because his work has certainly inspired my recipes, and influenced my evolution as a cookbook author.

TCScover

You can imagine my delight when I was asked to contribute recipes to the new China Study Cookbook: All-Star Collection… I was STOKED! I have contributed some brand new recipes in this collection, as well as a few “oldies but goodies”. It’s quite an honor and privilege to be included in this cookbook. (Confession: There’s also a little piece of me that believes Colin and I are now BFFs. Shhh, don’t tell him!) :)

This book is by Leanne Campbell, author of the original TCS cookbook. In this second book, Leanne invites a selection of “all-star” plant-based chefs to contribute recipes. This offers quite a diverse range of dishes and recipe styles in one whole-foods, vegan cookbook. Flipping through the book, I’m in awe of the creative spirits we have in our plant-based world. You’ll find wonderfully delicious and nutritious recipes from folks like Ani Phyo, Chef Del Sroufe, Christy Morgan, Mary McDougall and John McDougall, MD – and more! The book features over 100 whole foods plant-powered recipes, with color photography throughout.

Here is a glimpse of a few of my recipe contributions, expertly photographed by Nicole Axworthy:

Mellow Lentil Sniffle Soup_1

Gingerbread Granola_4-crop

Creamy Fettucine_3

roastedtomatoandgarlichummus

Today I’m sharing one of my newbie recipes in TCS All-Star Collection. One that I think you’ll really enjoy – my testers sure did!

Dreamy Baked Bananas. Baked bananas have always been appealing to me, irresistible in fact. They are typically baked in wads of butter (or margarine), and with so much sugar they can be sickly. This is a much healthier version, and possibly (albeit oddly) more decadent than traditional recipes. Whenever I make these, our girls squeal, and they try to wriggle in the kitchen to lick out the dish. Of course, I won’t have any of that behaviour! That dish is MINE. 😉

And now, it’s yours…

Dreamy Baked Bananas by Dreena Burton

Dreamy Baked Bananas

reprinted from The China Study All-Star Collection — link to print/share

It seems silly that something so basic, so “real,” and so effortless can taste so impossibly dreamy. But dessert food dreams do come true, and this one is especially memorable in the morning if paired with a nondairy ice cream. Serves 2-3

2 tablespoons macadamia nut butter (or raw cashew or raw almond butter)

1/4 cup nondairy milk

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

3 ripe bananas (but not overripe)

2 tablespoons raisins or chopped dates (optional, can substitute or add chopped nuts)

1–2 tablespoons coconut sugar for sprinkling (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the nut butter, milk, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. It will be thick but should be smooth.
  3. Transfer to a baking dish or glass pie plate.
  4. Peel the bananas and slice in half lengthwise.
  5. Place banana slices in the mixture, then gently flip so both sides are coated.
  6. Sprinkle on the raisins or chopped dates, followed by the coconut sugar, if using.
  7. Bake for 17–20 minutes. Serve hot or warm preferably. While still good cooled, this dessert is definitely best a little warm—ice cream prefers it that way!

TIP: When I make this recipe, our girls polish off the entire dish in a blink. So I’d say it can serve three, but more likely two… or maybe that’s just in my house!

Before you zip off to bake those nanners, you have a chance to win a copy of TCS All-Star Collection! Leave a comment to enter, tell us what recipe you’d like to try from this cookbook. Or, if you’ve tried some recipes already, share your favorites! Contest rules noted in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Orange Chocolate Pudding (vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, raw, oil-free, nut-free)

Hello friends! My blogging has been minimal these past two months, sorry I’ve been a little absent. I have missed communicating with you all! My absence has been for good reason, though.

I’m finishing the manuscript for my next cookbook, due March 1st! It’s been tricky finding productive chunks of work time, because my day is fragmented with preschool and school drop-offs and pick-ups, and then the after-school chaos of homework and activities. So, I’ve really had to scale down my blogging in order to work on this book. I’ll share more about the book in March, but for now I want to get to a recipe!

Valentine’s Day is approaching, and beyond cupid and hearts and flowers and romantic stuff, there’s chocolate! So, I’m sharing a chocolate recipe with you to share with your luvvies!

Raw Orange Chocolate Pudding from Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton

Here’s the thing with Valentine’s Day recipes: sometimes the treats take a lot of time to make, and they are often very rich and high in sugar. Many of us are just coming down from the holiday-sugar-high, and also don’t have time for making specialty desserts and confections. So, I have a recipe that will delight your chocolate cravings, can be made in minutes, and is healthy enough to enjoy for breakfast. You’ll also feel good about giving this one to your kiddos!

This Raw Orange Chocolate Pudding is from LTEV. I’ve tried taking photos of it before, but darn it’s hard to take a good photo of chocolate pudding. Emma to the rescue! Thank you Emma for helping me share this recipe with everyone today. :)

Bit of background on this pudding… When I first experimented with avocado in chocolate puddings, I could taste the avocado. Have you had that experience? Yes, the avocado made it incredibly creamy and thick, and yes, it was healthy. But the avocado flavor was too prominent for me, even in the chocolate base. So, I played with this recipe and realized that the addition of fresh orange juice improved the flavor profile immensely. Orange and chocolate pair beautifully together anyway. Here, the orange flavor comes forward with the cocoa muting the avocado flavor for a delicious, chocolatey, creamy, dreamy, thick vegan chocolate pudding – that’s also good for you!

Raw Chocolate Orange Pudding from Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton

photo credit: coconutandberries.com

Raw Orange Chocolate Pudding

ReciPage link to print/share

This chocolate mousse (or pudding, depending on your opinion), is incredibly healthful, with a foundation of avocado and dates to create a smooth, sweet consistency. Kids will love it, and will have no idea how good it is for them!

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (or 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract)

1 cup peeled, pitted, and roughly chopped ripe avocado (about 1 large or 1 1/2 medium avocado)

1 cup pitted dates

1/3 cup raw or regular cocoa powder

1 tsp orange zest (zest orange first and then juice)

1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

1/8 tsp sea salt (don’t omit, balances flavors)

In a food processor (or using the Blendtec twister jar, if you have it), puree all ingredients. Puree until very, very smooth, stopping processor to scrape down several times throughout processing. This pudding is very thick. If you’d like to thin it, you can do so with more orange juice, or a splash of nut milk or water. Serve or store in the refrigerator. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

For some other decadent (and healthy!) Valentine’s Day treats, check out this post from last year – some great ideas for the kiddos too!

What are you planning for Valentine’s Day, anything special? Share your food and fun!