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

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

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

So, what’s special about this chocolate cake?

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

Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake with Chocolate Sweets Frosting #vegan #wfpb #oilfree #dessert #cake #chocolate www.plantpoweredkitchen.com

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

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

Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake with Chocolate Sweets Frosting #vegan #oilfree #cake #dessert #chocolate #dairyfree www.plantpoweredkitchen.com #plantbased

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

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

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

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

Dig in, guys! x Dreena

Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake with Chocolate Sweets Frosting #vegan #dairyfree #cake #dessert #chocolate #oilfree #plantbased www.plantpoweredkitchen.com

Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake with Chocolate Sweets Frosting

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

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

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat an 8” x 8” brownie/cake pan or a 9” round cake pan with coconut or other oil, and fit the bottom of the pan with a small piece of parchment paper. In a blender (or using a handheld blender and a deep cup or vessel), puree the sweet potato, 1/2 cup of the water, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and vanilla extract until completely smooth. In a large bowl, combine the flour, coconut sugar, chocolate chips, and sea salt, then sift in the cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the wet ingredients to the dry (be sure to scrape out all the blended ingredients with a spatula, and use the remaining 1 tablespoon of water to rinse the blender jar and get out any remaining puree). Mix until just well incorporated. Transfer to the prepared pan, bake for 21–23 minutes, remove, and let cool on a cooling rack.

Sweet Potato Note: Orange sweet potato is a little sweeter and also a little looser than yellow sweet potato. I prefer orange in this recipe, but if you’d like to use yellow, add another 1–2 tablespoons of water, and another 1 tablespoon of maple syrup to
the wet ingredients to loosen slightly.

Chocolate Sweets Frosting

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

1 loosely packed cup peeled, cooked, and cooled sweet potato (see note)
2/3–3/4 cup coconut sugar or other unrefined sugar(see note)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 scant cup raw cashew butter or almond butter
1/4 rounded teaspoon sea salt
2–5 tablespoons nondairy milk (see tip)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place the sweet potato, coconut sugar, cocoa powder, cashew butter, sea salt, 1–2 tablespoons of the milk, and vanilla extract in a blender or food processor and puree until very smooth. It’s best to use a blender or processor (versus a stand mixer) if using orange sweet potato, to fully smooth out the potato. Taste, and add more sweetener if desired, and also another 2–3 tablespoons of milk if needed to thin to preferred consistency (you may need more milk using yellow sweet potato as they aren’t quite as moist as the orange). Puree until smooth, scraping down the blender/processor bowl as needed. Puree until as smooth as possible. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to use. Or, get a spoon and dig in!

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

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

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

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

Vegan Pecan Pie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dreena’s Pecan Pie

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1½ tbsp arrowroot powder
½ + 1/8 tsp agar powder
1 can (400ml) full-fat coconut milk (not light), using only thick cream and discarding watery portion (this is about 1 cup + 2 – 4 tbsp of cream)
¼ cup plain unsweetened non-dairy milk (almond or soy preferred)
½ cup brown rice syrup
1/3 cup agave nectar (can substitute maple syrup but filling will be darker in color)
1 ½ tbsp flax meal
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp (rounded) sea salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 ¼ – 1 3/4 cups pecans (whole or pieces, see note)
1 ½ – 2 tbsp unrefined sugar (for topping)
2 tsp coconut butter (warmed through to melt; can sub 1-2 tsp coconut oil)
couple pinches sea salt

1 prepared pastry pie crust (I use Wholly Wholesome brand), or can use “Rustic Pie Crust” or “Gluten-Free Pie Crust”, both in Let Them Eat Vegan.

In a saucepan, first whisk together the arrowroot and agar with a small amount of the coconut milk or non-dairy milk (about ¼ cup). Once incorporated, whisk in the remainder of the milks, as well as the brown rice syrup, agave nectar, flax meal, nutmeg, and salt. Bring mixture to a low boil over medium-high heat, whisking frequently. Once at a boil, remove from heat and whisk in vanilla. Transfer mixture to a bowl and let cool in refrigerator to a cooler temperature (can still be fairly warm), stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, mix together the topping ingredients. Set aside and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Once filling is cooled somewhat, pour mixture into the pie shell (scraping out all you can!) Bake (without pecan topping) for 15 minutes. After that time, reduce heat to 350, sprinkle on pecan mixture, ever so gently patting into surface of filling. Bake for another 15 minutes, then carefully remove and let cool on a cooling rack. Once pie is fully cooled, it will set (refrigerate if desired). Slice and serve. Serves 6-8.

Serving Suggestion: Serve with “Lemon-Scented Whipped Cream” from LTEV, or a scoop on vanilla non-dairy ice cream.

Pecan Note: If using whole pecans, it’s helpful to roughly chop them before using in the recipe. It’s easier to cut the pie with the pecan pieces broken up rather than kept whole. I prefer this pie with just 1¼ cups of pecans, but if you really love plenty of pecans in your pecan pie, use the full 1 3/4 cups. If using the greater amount of pecans, then also use the greater amount of sugar and oil to toss through the pecans.

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

All photos done by Marika Collins, madcapcupcake.com

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

Enjoy… x Dreena

Apple Nachos Supreme! + Earth Balance Bake-Off 2015

Happy November, and Happy World Vegan Month! <3

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


x Dreena

Apple Nachos Supreme! #vegan #glutenfree #soyfree #wfpb #plantbased #oilfree #dairyfree #healthy #snacks www.plantpoweredkitchen.com


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

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

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

3–4 tablespoons nut butter of choice or peanut butter (see note)
1 1/2–2 cups popped popcorn (can pop yourself or use storebought)
3–4 tablespoons nondairy chocolate chips
2–3 tablespoons chopped nuts (optional)
2 tablespoons cranberries or raisins (optional)
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
1 recipe prepared Spiced Caramel (or brown rice syrup, as in note)

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

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

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

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

Apple Nachos Supreme! #vegan #dairyfree #healthy #snacks #dessert #wfpb #glutenfree #oilfree www.plantpoweredkitchen.com

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

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


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

Dreena's PB Cups #vegan #glutenfree #oilfree www.plantpoweredkitchen.com

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

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


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

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

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

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

x Dreena

Dreena's PB Cups #vegan #glutenfree #oilfree www.plantpoweredkitchen.com

Dreena’s PB Cups

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These little cups are much like an open-faced Reese’s cup – made much healthier! Makes 15–18 cups

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

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

Line a mini-muffin pan with 15–18 small muffin liners. To make the chocolate base: Set a heat-proof bowl over a small pot or double boiler with a few inches of water in it. Turn heat to medium. Add chocolate chips and coconut butter to the bowl. Stir through until well combined and melted. Remove from heat, and
spoon roughly one tablespoon of chocolate mixture into each liner. Once finished, transfer the pan to the fridge to cool completely. Reserve saucepan with hot water or double boiler (still with just a small amount of water in it). To make the peanut butter topping: Add the coconut butter to another small bowl, place over the saucepan/double boiler, and allow it to melt. If needed, turn on low heat to help melt. Meanwhile, prepare the peanut butter mixture. In a mini food processor, puree the peanut butter, coconut sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add the melted coconut butter to the peanut butter mixture and puree until fully incorporated.
To assemble: Once chocolate cups are chilled and firm, spoon about 11/2 tbsp peanut butter mixture on top of each of the chocolate cups. I use a small cookie scoop, and then gently smooth out the peanut mixture to cover the chocolate. Place the cups in the fridge until completely chilled, about an hour.
Peanut Butter Note: You bet you can substitute a nut butter – try almond or cashew! If your peanut butter/ nut butter does contain salt, reduce the salt measure to just under 1/8 tsp.

Food photos credit: Nicole Axworthy

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 


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 

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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

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)
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…


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:


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.


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. 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

Peanut Butter Pudding with Berrylicious Swirl (link to print/share)

This idea came to me one day after school. I wanted to give the girls a treat, but something nutritious—and quick! This pudding came together in a flash, and their eyes sure lit up!
Peanut Butter Pudding:
3/4 cup pitted dates
1/3 cup unsalted peanut butter or other nut butter (see notes)
1 tablespoon white chia seeds
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon nondairy milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2–4 teaspoons pure maple syrup for extra sweetening (optional)

Berrylicious Swirl:
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries or raspberries (see note)
2–3 tablespoons pure maple syrup or agave nectar
Pinch sea salt

In a blender, puree the dates, peanut butter, chia seeds, sea salt, milk, and vanilla extract until smooth (if using a high-speed blender, this will be quick; with a standard blender, you may need to scrape down the sides of the blender a few times). If you’d like additional sweetener, add the maple syrup, a teaspoon or two at a time, to taste. For the swirl: Using a blender or immersion blender, puree the berries, maple syrup, and sea salt until semi-smooth. If using frozen berries, it will take a little longer. Dollop the berry mixture on the peanut-butter pudding, or “swirl” it through!

Peanut Butter Note: Peanut butters often have salt added, even the natural varieties. Check the ingredients—if it does, reduce or omit salt.

Nut Butter Note: If substituting a nut butter like almond, try adding a touch of orange zest. It pairs beautifully with almond

Berries Note: If using seasonal fresh berries, they may be sweeter than frozen. Puree with just 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, and add extra to taste. With frozen berries, I usually use 2 tablespoons syrup.

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


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

link to print/share

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