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

Vanilla Matcha Green Tea Latte – and Silk Creamy Cashew Milk

A few months ago I started drinking green tea lattes. I regularly make my own lattes at home, for years my fix was a chai tea latte using soy or almond milk.

Vanilla Bean Matcha Green Tea Latte #vegan #dairyfree #glutenfree by Dreena Burton

Then, my friend Julieanna introduced me to Starbucks’ green tea latte. What took me so long? I’ve created recipes with matcha powder (there’s a matcha biscotti recipe in LTEV), but drinking matcha tea never appealed to me, until now!I decided to recreate my matcha fix at home. I’ve always relied on soy or almond milk for lattes,  until now!

Last month, Silk reached out to ask if I’d review their new Creamy Cashew milk. I was excited to use it in recipes and also whisk it up in my morning latte. Did you guys even know cashew milk was out there? As a vegan community, we’ve enjoyed commercial almond milks for years. I would have thought cashew milk would have been earlier to the market – before coconut or flax. No matter, because it’s here now! It’s now widely available across Canada (and is soon launching in the US). So, hopefully you can find it and try it yourself.

Silk Creamy Cashew Milk

As easy as it is to make cashew milks and other nut milks at home, I’m one mom that appreciates the convenience of purchasing vegan milks. Cooking and baking for a family of 5, it’s so helpful to have milk at the ready. And for lattes. :) I decided to recreate my matcha fix at home, with both my standard soy and almond milks, and this new Silk Creamy Cashew milk.

Before getting to the recipe, let’s talk about the milk. As I mentioned, normally I use almond milk or organic soy milk in my homemade lattes as well as in baking, as I find them the most versatile. Silk Creamy Cashew is similarly versatile. It’s thick and creamy much like soy, and slightly nutty like almond milk. I don’t drink non-dairy milks straight up, but our youngest daughter does, and she loves this new milk. So, overall, it’s a good choice for baking and enjoying straight or in hot drinks. It does have some added sweetener, so I wouldn’t use it in cooking. Hopefully Silk will introduce an unsweetened cashew milk to their product line, I’d definitely use it in cooking (and also for baking and in hot drinks). Nutritionally, this cashew milk is probably most similar to almond milk. Like most non-dairy milks, Silk Creamy Cashew milk is fortified, and is an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D. And, good news for those concerned about carrageenan – it’s not an ingredient.

On to the Green Tea Latte recipe! A few notes:

  • You do NOT need any fancy tools for this latte. I don’t have any. Not even a frother. I do plan to pick up an inexpensive frother. But for now, I use a saucepan and a whisk. You can too!
  • If you cannot find the cashew milk, you can substitute another plant-based milk (as per recipe note).
  • You can find matcha green tea powder in most natural food stores (and natural food sections of larger grocery stores). I also buy it online, so have included that link in the recipe.
  • I use powdered stevia to sweeten my lattes, especially using unsweetened milks. Matcha is naturally quite bitter and I don’t enjoy other sweeteners in teas. If using a sweeteened vegan milk, you may choose to omit it or adjust to taste.
  • A shout-out to Nicole Axworthy for these unbelievably beautiful food photos. Thanks Nicole!

Enjoy the latte, guys!

x Dreena

Let me know how you like the latte. Also, have you tried the cashew milk? If you have, and love it, Silk welcomes your feedback on their facebook page!

Matcha Green Tea Latte #vegan #dairyfree #glutenfree - by Dreena Burton

Vanilla Green Tea Latte

link to print/share recipe

1 1/4 cups non-dairy milk of choice (ex: organic unsweetened soy milk, Silk Creamy Cashew milk, almond milk, etc; see note)

2 tsp matcha green tea powder

2-4 tbsp hot water (I boil in kettle, then use shortly after)

1/8 – 1/4 tsp stevia powder (or less/more to taste and based on brand; can use other sweeteners like maple syrup or coconut nectar to taste)

1/8 tsp vanilla bean powder (optional, see note)

Optional toppings: 1 tsp coconut sugar; dusting of extra matcha powder

In a small saucepan, add milk over medium/medium high heat. Whisk, allowing the milk to heat through and start to simmer. Meanwhile, prepare the matcha. In a small bowl (or wide-mouthed mug) use a small whisk to mix the matcha powder with water. It’s helpful to first sift the matcha, but not essential if you whisk well. If mixing in a bowl, transfer the blended mix to a mug. Continue to watch milk as it heats. Once at a low simmer, gently bubbling, add stevia (I use about a scant 1/4 tsp, you can adjust to taste) and vanilla, and quickly whisk through and remove from heat. Pour into your mug with the matcha mix. (If you have a frother, you can first froth the milk before pouring into mug.) Taste, and if you’d like a little extra sweetener, add to taste. Makes 1 large latte.

Milk Note: You can substitute another non-dairy milk if you aren’t able to find the cashew milk. I prefer organic soy or almond mik.

Vanilla Note: The vanilla bean powder isn’t essential. If you don’t have it, you can use the seeds scraped from a vanilla bean. I wouldn’t substitute vanilla extract in this recipe, if you don’t have the powder/bean, simply omit.

Vanilla Bean Matcha Green Tea Latte - #vegan #glutenfree #dairyfree - by Dreena Burton

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

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.


Raw Cobb Salad, photo credit: Hannah Kaminsky


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.


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? 

Walnut-Pecan Balls – and Reminiscing

My very first recipe for a vegan meatball was in The Everyday Vegan. That recipe isn’t a traditional meatball, more of an asian-fusion with flavors of hoisin, miso, cilantro and paired with a sweet and sour sauce. It’s actually one of my favorite recipes from TEV, though I rarely make them now (new recipe development has its drawbacks)!

Walnut-Pecan Balls from Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton, plant-powered kitchen

I started writing that book 15 years ago, and I still remember grappling with what to call a vegan ‘meatball’. The recipes in that book didn’t replicate many traditional omnivorous dishes. But, still, when you have a meatball that’s not meat, what do you call it? Many vegan recipes rhyme or use wordplays on the original name. I settled on Sweet and Sour Neatballs, and still like that name. It hints to a different flavor profile, and – hey, it’s easy to say!

Now when I create recipes that take similar forms as many meat-based dishes (ex: meatballs, burgers) I tend to refer to the main ingredients or flavor profiles of the recipes (Mediterranean Bean Burgers, Umami Almond Quinoa Burgers, etc) rather than use wordplays.

So, when I developed this recipe for Let Them Eat Vegan, the recipe naming was simple and obvious – Walnut-Pecan Balls. The walnuts and pecans are just the beginning, however. There are other flavorful and savory elements in these balls that they probably deserve a more glorified name! At the end of the meal, the name is not what counts – it’s all about how it tastes and how it makes you feel. This recipe delivers both great flavor and good nutrition. Pair them traditionally with pasta and tomato sauce – or try some of the other serving suggestions in the recipe (below).

Walnut-Pecan Balls - from Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton,

walnut-pecan balls, all photos by:

These Walnut-Pecan Balls are also one of my husband’s favorite meals. We celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary just last week. We were wed in San Diego, California on January 16, 1994. We enjoyed a simple ceremony – sincered and intimate, unfussy and relaxing. We flew out of Los Angeles that evening, just before the 1994 earthquake. I remember hearing the news as we were toasting each other in-flight. We have many lovely memories of our wedding – and have created many more since, especially with our three girls.


I was feeling particularly emotional about our anniversary. Twenty years is a long time, and we were together several years before we were married. We were just kids, really. Yet, we knew our connection and commitment was real, true, and strong. I took some time to create a playlist of our songs that hubby could listen to commuting to work that day. Songs from when we first met, our long-distance relationship, through marriage, having children, and other milestones. As I listened to these songs over a couple of days, it really hit home how much we’ve been through as individuals, as a couple, and as parents.

Some songs made me feel a little sad. Not just because they reminded me of some of our harder times, but also because it brought me back to those early days, when it was just us. We both work so hard, and are so busy as parents. It’s easy to get caught up in our roles and routines, not taking time to remember that connection… why we first fell in love. After the sadness passed, I felt filled with gratitude and love.


When I woke on our anniversary, I had an email waiting from hubby. He had written a letter, reflecting on our years together. It recalled sweet and joyful memories, as well as how we’ve endured more challenging times. He also reminisced about my journey as a cookbook author, saying:

I am so proud of everything you have achieved. That includes your accomplishments in business and your amazing publishing career.  I vividly remember all of your effort into those early proposals and the rejections coming back one by one. Then when you accomplished your goal, what a time that was, just seeing the first book in print, the Toronto tour and Canada AM.

Our eldest daughter was just six months old when we took that trip for the book tour and Canada AM appearance. I recall nursing her in the hotel, toting baby food (she had just started solids), and trying to pull it all together to be on national television!

I also clearly remember writing and mailing those proposals with return envelopes. Knowing that I needed just one “yes”! I believed it would happen, and it did. Now, our eldest is now almost 13, with two younger sisters, I have published 3 more books, one ebook, and working on my 5th cookbook.

Much like how our relationship has grown, changed, and evolved over 20+ year – so has my food knowledge, recipe development, and recipe naming. (Mostly for the better, I think!)

With that story I hope you enjoy this recipe. Maybe it’s one you will love for 20+ years too. 😉 Yeah… some things never change. You can always count on me to throw in a good dose of corny.

My thanks again to Emma of Coconut and Berries for these delectable photos! Visit her blog, she shares some incredible recipes and ideas on her site!

Walnut-Pecan Balls from Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen

Walnut-Pecan Balls gluten-free option, oil-free option

ReciPage link to print/share

These savory balls have a buttery taste from a combination of walnuts, pecans, and sautéed vegetables.  They are delicious topped on pasta with a good quality pasta sauce, but can also be used as finger foods to dip in a warmed marinara sauce, or formed into patties and eaten as plant-strong veggie burgers! Makes about 17- 20 balls.

1 tbsp water or olive oil (to saute – use water for oil-free version)

1 cup onion, chopped

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1¼ tsp dried oregano leaves

½ tsp dried thyme leaves

1/4 tsp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

¾ cup pecans

3/4 cup walnut

1 cup + 2 tbsp rolled oats (use certified gluten-free for a gf option)

2 tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce (use gluten-free for wheat/gluten free option)

1 tbsp tamari (can use coconut aminos)

½ tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp blackstrap molasses

1/2 – 1 tbsp olive oil (or less/more as needed for frying), optional (see note for oil-free option)

In a skillet over medium heat, heat the water/oil, onion, celery, dried oregano, thyme, sea salt, and pepper. Cook for 10-14 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions and celery are nicely softened and golden brown (add extra water if needed to prevent sticking). Once onions and celery have softened some, add them to a food processor with the remaining ingredients (except last 1 tbsp of olive oil for frying), and process until the mixture becomes crumbly, and then scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Process again to incorporate any larger pieces, and just as mixture becomes sticky and/or forms a ball, stop processor.  Refrigerate for at least 1⁄2 hour (chilling will make it firmer and easier to form). Take small spoonfuls of the mixture, about 1 tbsp (using a small cookie scoop is helpful, but otherwise form with your hands, rinsing hands when needed to keep mixture from sticking to your palms).  If cooking in a non-stick skillet (see note for oven-baking), heat the oil over medium-high.  Add the balls and fry for 5-7 minutes (reduce heat if burning), shifting the pan to turn sides of balls every minute or two to form a golden crust fairly evenly around the balls.  Remove, and serve.

Serving Suggestions:  Most obvious, serve these warm with tomato sauce and pasta.  But, also try as an hor d’oeurve with a warmed sauce (ex: a marinara or other sauce such as my Raw Tomato Sauce, or Living Caesar Dressing for dipping. Also try adding them to a salad to transform a light salad into a full meal.

Oven-Baking Note:  If you prefer baking these in the oven, place balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes, turning once or twice during baking, until golden brown.

Idea: These mixture can also be formed into patties and pan-fried as a burger patty.   Or, it can be placed in a loaf dish and baked.

Leftovers? Refrigerate them and use another day as a sandwich filling, simply mashing and stirring in a sauce or condiment of choice, and chopped veggies if you like.

Please feel free to share your feedback about this recipe, how you liked them and/or how you served them! Thanks for indulging my personal ramblings as well, maybe some of you relate from a relationship or parenting perspective. Have a delicious plant-powered week! xx Dreena

Blendtec Giveaway + Recipe Feature: Wonder Spread

Blendtec Giveaway, Plant-Powered Kitchen


UPDATE: Giveaway now complete.

When I first starting using a Blendtec several years ago, I didn’t realize how much my cooking and food preparation would evolve with just one appliance. Immediately I had a new love for green smoothies. While I had made them in a standard blender for a year or two beforehand, those potent green elixirs reached a new level of smooth with the Blendtec. I was giddy to pulverize collards, cucumber, frozen fruits, and chia seeds in my new rambo blender! Yet, I had no idea that I would use this appliance in so many of my daily recipe and meal preparations (more on that soon)! I use my Blendtec every day, and love it.

So, I am thrilled that Blendtec has partnered with me to give away one of their blenders, plus their signature Twister blending jar!

What better way to ring in 2014 than with this appliance that can help you prepare some of the healthiest, delicious, and most nutrient-dense foods?! 

Blendtec Designer Series Giveaway, via Plant-Powered Kitchen

One of you will win a Blendtec Designer Series Wildside (black), as well as the Twister jar! Total retail value over $570!*

Blendtec Twister Jar - giveaway via Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen

The more I’ve evolved working with whole foods in cooking and baking, the more I use my Blendtec. Their Wildside Jar is absolutely the best for green smoothies and large purees. I have come quite attached to the Twister Jar as well, and so I’m delighted that both these jars are part of this prize package.

Here are some of the ways I use my Blendtec daily:

Green Smoothies

Apple-A-Day Green Smoothie

I don’t go a day without them. I pack in the greens, including kale and parsley, and also cucumber. Usually I add a peeled lemon and some frozen mango, and add a scoop of Vega tropical smoothie infusion. After whizzing up my intense-green smoothie, I reserve a little and then add extra fruit for the girls – frozen (or room temp) ripe banana, frozen pineapple, and/or peeled orange. They would not drink it as green as I make it for myself and hubby! Some days I switch it up, but this is my fave combo. For more green smoothie tips, check out my tutorial here.

Pureed Pasta Sauces

Mac-nificent and Mac-Oh Geez!

I make the base sauce for my mac-oh-geez (above right) in my Blendtec Wildside, and also the sauce for my new fave pasta casserole, Mac-nificent (above left – yes, I now love it more than mac-oh-geez, if that’s possible). I make these sauces so often I don’t even measure anymore, just eyeball and VROOOM!

Salad Dressings, Sauces, and Dips


The Twister Jar has transformed how I make salad dressings. I used to make dressings in a large jar using an immersion blender. That works well, but once I started blitzing dressings in the Twister Jar, I haven’t gone back. Not only quick, it emulsifies dressing ingredients extremely well, and can pulverize nuts and also chia seeds for creamy nut-based sauces and oil-free dressings. Here are some examples of salad dressings/sauces that work famously using the Twister Jar. Since I make so many purees with my blender, I’m often asked “do you still use a food processor”? Quick answer: Yes! There are some dips, like hummus, that I still prefer to make in my food processor. I can make larger batches with those and have more control over the consistency with keeping some texture. But for very smooth sauces and dips, and nut-based blends, my Blendtec gets the job.

Pureed Soups

Tomato Lentil Soup with Cumin and Fresh Dill

You can make soups literally in an instant in the Blendtec. Take some of your favorite ingredients and puree until smooth. You can then enjoy raw or just lightly warmed, or transfer to a saucepan to simmer and let the flavors infuse. I often pre-roast veggies and then puree into soups (or pasta sauces!) adding water, veg stock, or non-dairy milk (depending on the ingredient mix).

My Blendtec is also put to great use for ice cream mixes (see ice cream chapter in LTEV), healthy puddings and especially chia puddings, and other types of purees, smoothies, sauces, and mixes that I might make every week or two, just not every day. But my machine is in use every-single-day!

In addition to that Macnificent sauce I make weekly, another PP15 recipe I make frequently is my Wonder Spread. For that recipe I use the Twister Jar. It whips up small batches of thick purees exceptionally well. My family loves this spread – on crusty breads with soup, to top baked potatoes and sweet potatoes, spread on sandwiches and wraps and more! Even though I make it often, I still hear “this is reaaallly good” when the girls dig in!

To get you ready to whirl with the Blendtec blender and that Twister Jar, I am sharing the recipe for that PP15 Wonder Spread! It has incredible umami flavor, so you may want to double the batch and freeze a little for later (yes, it freezes well).

This dairy-free, vegan, gluten-free spread truly is a wonder! Full of umami flavor, you'll want to use it on just about everything!

Wonder Spread gluten-free, oil-free, soy-free option

Recipe from Plant-Powered 15ReciPage link to print/share recipe

This recipe has such simple ingredients, that you might think it doesn’t taste particularly special. But it does! Be forewarned, this spread (or dip, sauce, mayo!) is addictive!

1 cup soaked cashews (soak in advance, see note)

1 1/2 tbsp chickpea miso (see note)

1 1/2 – 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (adjust to taste)

1 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 – 1/2 tsp pure maple syrup

1/3 – 1/2 cup water (see note)

Salt and pepper if desired, to taste

In a blender, puree all ingredients on high speed until very smooth. Season to taste with additional salt if desired. Spread on breads, use for sandwiches, wraps, baked potatoes, veggie burgers, or to mix into grains or vegetable dishes. Many serving options with this recipe, it is delicious! Transfer to airtight containers to refrigerate. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Cashew Note: Raw cashews take about 3-4 hours to soak, so I find it helpful to soak in batches and then freeze in portions until ready to use. To soak, place nuts in a bowl of water and cover for several hours. The nuts will become larger after soaking, as they swell from absorbing some of the water. Drain the soaking water, and rinse the nuts. Then store in the fridge for a couple of days until ready to use, or in the freezer for a few months.

Miso Note: Chickpea miso is something I discovered this past year. It has such a mild, mellow flavor and a very fermented, umami essence. If you cannot find it, use a very mild miso like a brown rice – and start with just 1 tbsp as it tastes stronger than chickpea miso.

Water Note: Using just 1/3 cup of water will give you a thicker spread. However, if you don’t have a high-speed blender, you may find it difficult to get a smooth puree. If so, use the full 1/2 cup of water. The mixture will thicken slightly with refrigeration.

If you are vegan, plant-strong, or experimenting with more whole-foods plant-based eating, you will truly love using a Blendtec. In fact, you might wonder how you ever managed without one!

Enter through Rafflecopter below. Tell me what foods and recipes you’d make in 2014 with the Blendtec! Good luck and Happy New Year!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Contest open to U.S. residents. Prize of a Black Designer Series Blendtec (factory recertified) plus Twister Jar will be shipped together directly to winner in the U.S. See rafflectopter for additional contest details and rules.

Raw Baklava-Crusted Apple Tart: Pies and Tarts with Heart by Dynise Balcavage

Some amazing plant-powered books have been published this fall. We have another to add to that list today: Pies and Tarts with Heart by Dynise Balcavage. This vegan cookbook has just released, and as you can guess by its name, this book is a slice of vegan pie heaven!


I have known Dynise (aka The Urban Vegan) for quite a few years, though we have never met in person. We first connected through blogging back when vegan blogs were just emerging. Now, we playfully refer to each other as the “vegan DB” authorhood. I hope to meet Dynise one day soon, because I’ve enjoyed her online friendship. She is a classy, cool, and savvy lady with a very big and genuine heart – and she knows good food. Really knows good food.

Dynise has two previous cookbooks, and I’ve always felt that she one of the vegan cookbook authors that is very “wordly”. She gathers food knowledge through her travels and diverse dining and develops plant-based versions or creates entirely new recipes with some inspired flavor or ingredient. In this new book, Dynise delivers once again! Her signature savvy-style and keen food knowledge shines through, in over 70 extraordinary sweet AND savory pie recipes!

I must mention, I give kudos to any cookbook author that takes on a full-size themed recipe book. Developing and testing the same type of recipe for months has to be challenging, whether soups, salads, cookies. But pies? That takes the – um – pie! Pies generally require more time, and definitely patience. Aprons off to you, Dynise! 😉


Dynise has agreed to share this scrumptious raw apple tart recipe with you all, but first a little more about this book, because it’s quite scrumptious!

In Pies and Tarts with Heart, home bakers will learn all the pie basics needed to make a variety of crusts –  flaky, nutty, cookie-based, raw, vegetable-based, and gluten-free. Even if you’re a beginner, Dynise takes you through step-by-step tutorials on preparing dough, rolling, finishing, and decorating. Then, you are taken through chapter after chapter of enchanting pie fillings, including one large chapter for savory pies. Pies and Tarts with Hearts has full-color photos for every recipe, and is divided into eleven chapters. Here are a few features:

Chapter 1: Before You Get Rolling: Getting Started

Chapter 2: Crust Basics and Recipes

Chapter 3: Traditional Pies (ex: apple, cherry, pumpkin, shoo-fly)


Chapter 4: Decadent and Creamy Pies (ex: Fluffernutter Pie, Frozen Grasshopper Pie, Banana Cream Pie)

Chapter 5: Citrus Pies and Tarts (ex: Key Lime Pie, Pink Grapefruit Tart)

Chapter 6: Pies in the Raw (ex: Raw Blueberry Cream Tart, Raw Cacao Banana Almond Tart)


Chapter 7: Nutty Pies (ex: Maple-Laced Caramel-Walnut Pie, “Yo, Rocky!” Road Pie)


Chapter 8: Arty Tarts and Free-Spirit Pies (ex: Easy Muffin Tin Pies, Easy Fruit Galette)

Chapter 9: Savory Pies and Tarts (ex: Greek Spinach Pie, Mexican Tortilla Pie, North African-Inspired Kale Pie)


Chapter 10: “Imposter” Pies (ex: Shepherd’s Pie, Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, Boston Cream Pies)

Chapter 11: Pie Toppers (ex: Coconut Dulce de Leche, Whipped Nut Toppings and 10 Variations)

When I browsed through the recipes in this book, I immediately wanted to make this Raw Baklava-Crusted Apple Tart. I have always been a sucker for baklava, and I knew Dynise would not dissapoint with the flavors in this recipe. Yeah, I was right. This tart was dynamite!

Raw Baklava-Crusted Apple Tart by Dynise Balcavage

The process isn’t difficult. The base layer is processed in small food processor (or use a larger processor for a double batch, which is what I did). A simple syrup is made and allowed to sit for the flavors to “mingle”. When you are ready to serve the tart, apples are layered over the base, the syrup drizzled over, and voila! Ready.

I wanted to make a larger tart, so doubled the recipe as per Dynise’s instructions. I knew the girls would love it, and I didn’t want to share just a single tart yield! It worked beautifully, and we all truly loved this dessert.

Many of you reading will want to know if this is an entirely whole-foods vegan cookbook. The simple answer is ‘no’. The more detailed answer: while the more traditional pie recipes use margarine or oil and white flour in the crust, and some fillings also used more more processed ingredients, there are some raw recipes here that are more whole-foods based. Overall, the recipes are definitely treats, but there are some selections if you are looking for more whole-foods pie treats – as with this raw apple tart!

On to the recipe! This is very simple to make, and I add a couple of notes at the end where I made some minor substitutions.

Raw Baklava-Crusted Apple Tart

Photo from Pies and Tarts with Heart. Photo credit: Paul Runyon

Raw Baklava-Crusted Apple Tart

RECIpage link to print/share

Make this one for your sweeties with sweet tooths … er … sweet teeth? The base of this tart is inspired by the flavors of Baklava, the famously sinful Greek/Middle Eastern pastry. It’s topped with a gorgeous concentric circle of sweet-tart apples, which complement all the flavorings used in baklava, and drenched with lemon-cinnamon flavored Agave syrup. Makes three 4-inch (10 cm) tarts or 6 mini tarts

For Syrup:

½ cup (120 ml) agave nectar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice

For Crust:

½ cup (70 g) raw pistachios, walnuts, and/or almonds

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Pinch of sea salt

3 to 4 tablespoons (45 to 60 ml) raw agave nectar

½ to 2 tablespoons (8 to 30 ml) lemon juice

2 organic apples (Granny Smith, McIntosh, Honeycrisp, or Braeburn)

Lemon juice, to prevent browning

Cinnamon, for dusting

(For a 9-inch (23 cm) pie, double the recipe)

To make the syrup: Mix everything together in a large bowl or Mason jar. Ideally you should make this the night before, but let it sit for at least 4 hours before serving so the flavors have time to get to know each other.

To make the crust: Whiz together the nuts, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and agave in a food processor. (If you have one, a mini food processor is ideal for this task.) Chunks of nuts should be visible—don’t overprocess. Add the lemon juice, ½ tablespoon at a time, and whiz until the nut mixture sticks together. Press evenly into tart pans.

Slice the apples as thinly as possible, just before preparing the tarts (a mandoline is ideal for this job) and sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent browning. Arrange the slices in concentric circles atop the raw crusts.

Pile about 1 teaspoon of the fruit garnish in the center. Drizzle with the prepared syrup and dust with extra cinnamon. Serve immediately.

Variation: Substitute a ripe pear or an Asian pear for the apple.

Dreena’s Notes: I didn’t have a lot of agave nectar, so I used about 1/4 cup each of coconut nectar and agave for the syrup. I used gala apples, because we love them! I didn’t use all of the agave/coconut syrup, so I just kept the remainder in the fridge to drizzle on other treats.


Do you love to make pies? Have you ever made a raw pie? What’s your all-time favorite pie recipe?!

Momo Granola Bars: Matt Frazier’s No Meat Athlete

Momo Granola Bars from No Meat Athlete

In the last few years, there has been quite a spotlight on plant-based fitness. When I first became vegan, there was little talk of vegan athletes. Now, it’s very different. A plant-based diet is finally getting the recognition it deserves in the arena of fitness and athletic pursuits – as being the optimal diet to achieve optimal performance.

Matt Frazier is one of the people making great strides (literally!) to help educate people about plant-based nutrition as an athlete. I first discovered Matt’s very popular blog, No Meat Athlete, through Gena Hamshaw. Matt brings well-researched and referenced posts to his readers, with a balanced and approachable voice. His posts are educational and inspiring, often dispelling myths about the plant-based diet and also how it relates to athletic performance. Plus, Matt manages to sneak in the occasional entertaining post (that one’s a personal favorite).

No Meat Athlete

Matt has just published his first book, No Meat Athlete. As an ultramarathoner that “runs on plants”, Matt shares tips, recipes, motivational stories, and insights from his years of training and also transitioning to eating plant-based. This perspective will benefit vegetarians and vegans working towards fitness goals, and also athletes looking to clean their diets with a plant-based foundation.

No Meat Athlete is divided into two main sections:

Plant-Based Nutrition For Athletes – this section covers food and nutrition philosophy, how to get started on a plant-based diet, plant-based nutrition for sports, some tips for getting started in the kitchen, and recipes to fuel athletes and their families.

Running On Plants – this section focuses in on the aspect of running and training, how to begin to run, how to make it a habit, then moving into more advanced training tips, and finally Matt’s insights for training for racing.

While I’ve always valued exercising, I’ve never been a runner. You may not be either. But, you can reference this book for more than just how to train for races. If you are at all interested in maintaining a fitness routine on a plant-based diet, then I think you will find Matt’s wisdom and tips helpful – as well as motivational. I’ve always maintained a personal exercise routine and fitness (my fitness post is coming), and we have very active girls. Our two older daughters play rep hockey, so they are on the ice or training or most days of the week. This resource will be helpful for me not just in my own athletic commitments, but also for our girls.

Matt is also a parent, and notes in this book that his recipes are family-friendly and “workable in the real world”. I appreciate this, because most of us are not endurance athletes, and most of us are living busy lives with families and work commitments. Still, we can benefit from some of the knowledge gained by athletes like Matt, to improve our own levels of personal fitness, and to fuel ourselves – and our children. (This topic is particularly important to me, one day I will write about child athletics – how as a society we are merely ‘feeding’ our kids rather than ‘fueling’ them, and yet our nutrient-rich plant diet is often challenged.) Right now, time for a recipe!

When our girls are on those long jaunts for hockey games, I love to pack them a really nutrient-dense snack. When I saw these Momo Granola Bars, I knew I’d be trying them. Matt was kind enough to allow me to reprint this recipe for you to enjoy as well!

Momo Granola Bars from No Meat Athlete

MOMO GRANOLA BARS Link to RECIpage to print/share

This is a DIY energy bar with whole ingredients at its base. It has enough carbs for a pre-workout pick-me-up, enough protein for a post-workout recovery, and enough great flavors for a dessert or snack anytime. —Mo Ferris, Johnson & Wales–trained chef and vegetarian marathoner

2 cups (160 g) rolled oats

*1⁄2 cup (50 g) rough chopped roasted and salted almonds

1⁄4 cup (55 g) rough chopped pecans

*1⁄2 cup (84 g) flaxseed

1⁄4 cup (16 g) raw pumpkin seeds

3 tablespoons (23 g) hemp seeds

*1⁄2 cup (80 g) chopped dried cherries

2 small pinches kosher salt

1⁄3 cup (89 g) peanut butter

1⁄2 cup (172 g) brown rice syrup

Preheat oven to 350 ̊F (180°C, or gas mark 4). Spread oats, almonds, pecans, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds onto an ungreased baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Gently shake and stir the oat mixture after 5 minutes to avoid burning the top layer and allowing both sides of the nuts and oats to brown. Remove the mixture from oven and add to a large bowl, along with the cher- ries and salt. decrease oven temperature to 300 ̊F (150°C, or gas mark 2). In a small saucepan, melt the peanut butter over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. once the peanut butter is melted and slightly thinner, remove from heat and pour over oat mixture. mix thoroughly. In a separate small saucepan, add the brown rice syrup. over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. When the bubbles that form get big and meet in the middle, immediately remove from heat, pour over the oat mixture, and thoroughly mix. While still warm, pour the mixture out into the corner of a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. using wax paper, firmly press and spread mixture into the shape of a rectangle 1⁄4 inch (6 mm) thick (no gaps!). note: The mixture will most likely not fill the entire sheet. bake for 15 minutes or just until the edges begin to brown. Cool completely. Flip the rectangle out onto a cutting board and cut into 3 x 5 inch (7.5 x 13 cm) bars. Wrap bars individually in plastic wrap and store in a large plastic bag. Yield: About 12 bars.

*My personal notes: I used raw almonds, and as I was out of flax seed, I replaced it with 1/3 cup of flax meal, and substituted a combination of raisins and dried cranberries for the dried cherries (though I think the dried cherries would be amazing)! Also, I cut some of these bars while cool and others after refrigerating. I got a much cleaner cut after refrigerating, just fyi.

These bars are really tasty. Not overly sweet, and very satisfying with a crunchy, chewy texture. Our whole family loved them!

Our eldest helped me with this photo, and while we were taking the pictures, a ladybug stopped by for a visit. We love ladybugs. They know a good thing in these bars. 😉


Thanks Matt for sharing this recipe with us, and for writing this book. I wish you much success with it!

Are you a runner or involved in other athletic pursuits? Has a whole-food plant-powered diet helped your athleticism? 

p.s. I’ve just added a new feature to my site. On the sidebar there is a spot for you to sign-up for my (NEW!) newsletter. I will be delivering special promotions and goodies in this newsletter. Go ahead and sign up already! Also be sure to join my plant-powered community on facebook – I share all kinds of wonderful there! 😀

Recipe: Spinach Herb Pistachio Pesto

Summer is winding down. Already I’m feeling blue! I’m a summer girl, so it’s hard for me to say farewell to the warm weather – SUNSHINE (vitamin D!) – abundant summer fruits and vegetables – and herbs. One of my cold-weather coping mechanisms is to batch and freeze pesto at the end of summer… for a burst of warm weather memories in the dark of winter. Gosh, is this depressing or what? Let’s move on to the food – and quick!

Since we were talking about fresh herbs all month with the Vegan Mainstream cookbook club, I thought I’d share this new Spinach Herb Pistachio Pesto recipe. It’s actually from LTEV, but new to those of you that don’t yet have LTEV… or maybe flipped past the recipe (we all do it)!

Spinach Herb Pistachio Pesto from "Let Them Eat Vegan"

This pesto is a special because it includes some ingredients that you might never think to add to pesto. Like parsley. And spinach. And pistachios! For a very long time I was devout to basil in pesto. Basil and only basil. Yet basil isn’t plentiful most of the year. You may find it year-round, but in small amounts. And I love my pesto, people! So this recipe combines just a little basil, enough to imbue its peppery-anise essence, with other greens that are more abundant during basil “off-season”.

Before I get to the recipe, let’s quickly talk about freezing. I am asked about freezing recipes all the time. Almost every day! I freeze a lot of things in portions, like hummus, muffins, cocoa cookie dough balls, snackles, hummus, more hummus. #hummusisafoodgroup 😉 And pesto.

When I make pesto, I at least double the batch. Sometimes triple it (my food processor is a 16-cup). Then, I portion out about 1 to 2 cup batches and freeze. Yes, it tastes a little better freshly-made. But, when October rolls around and it is dark and dreary, pulling out a container of hummus is like a quick burst of summer in your kitchen. Totally worth it! So, freeze some up, and then just thaw in the fridge overnight to use the next day. You can thank me later. 😉

For this pesto, I thought I’d show you something different than its usual pasta-counterpart. I love using pesto in many more ways than tossed through cooked pasta. For instance:

– It’s stellar as a pizza base. Top with juicy sliced summer tomatoes, a few olives, and black pepper… outstanding!

– As a spread for sandwiches. I pack hubby’s lunches everyday, and in the summer this is such a quick sandwich fix. Add some sliced red peppers, tomatoes, or leftover grilled veggies… done!

– In green wraps. I need to do a collard wrap post, because I LOVE lunch collard wraps. So versatile, easy, nutritious. Smear some pesto love on that collard leaf, and your wrap will sing!

Baked Spuds and Sweet Spuds: Instead of adding a vegan margarine to your spuds, try a dollop of pesto. This is especially good on sweet potatoes with the contrast of the salty, punchy pesto against the creamy sweet potato. Just amazing. Try it.

Bean and Grain Salads. You have plain brown rice. Or quinoa. Or plain white beans. How to jazz them up? Thin out a little pesto with some water and/or lemon juice, and work into salads with beans and veg, or grain and veg – or both. Satisfying, a meal in a bowl.

See? Many ways you can use pesto. And here’s another: cucumber rolls!

Cucumber Rolls with Spinach Herb Pistachio Pesto

This idea comes from my friend Tess Masters (aka The Blender Girl). We’ve been ‘twitter friends’ for a little while and I met her in person at VVC. A couple of months ago we joined a twitter chat and she mentioned cucumber pesto rolls. So, I had to try them! Brilliant! Here was my experimentation with making the rolls:

Using a peeler, the cucumber ribbons were a little too thin and did not peel evenly through the length. I got very thin slices, but not consistent…

cucumber peeling

With a sharp knife, I could slice evenly through the full cuke length. The slices were thicker, and only the thinnest slices worked well for rolls. But, they did work well…

Cucumber Slices

I popped a few toothpicks in the rolls and they were ready to serve! If you make these, do not make them ahead of time. You can slice the cucumber in strips ahead, but don’t roll until ready to serve. The salt and acid from the pesto will draw moisture from the cucumber – so keep them fresh and make when ready to eat! Afterwards, I thought I probably could have used my food processor, because it has ninja assortment of blades. Are there any raw gadgets that would also do this job well?

Other fresh and raw ideas for using pesto include stuffing mini-bell peppers, rolling in lettuce leaves, scooping into endive leaves, tossing into zucchini noodles, or simply working the pesto through a chopped salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, spinach – whatever you like!

Spinach Herb Pistachio Pesto from Let Them Eat Vegan

Spinach Herb Pistachio Pesto soy-free, gluten-free, oil-free option 

RECIPAGE link to print/share

1 cup raw pistachios (not salted)

2 tbsp pine nuts (optional, can use more pistachios)

1 – 2 medium-large cloves garlic, quartered (see note)

1 ½ – 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (optional, helps keep pesto fresh, but can omit for oil-free)

1/2 tsp sea salt (see note)

freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 1/2 – 3 tbsp water (or more as desired, see note)

3 ½ cups (loosely packed) baby spinach leaves

¾ – 1 cup (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves

¼ cup (packed) flat-leaf parsley leaves

crushed pistachios for serving

In a food processor, combine the nuts, garlic, 11⁄2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, olive oil (if using) salt, pepper to taste, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the water, and the spinach, basil, and parsley. Puree until fairly smooth, less for a chunkier consistency or longer for a smoother one. Add and blend in additional water if you need to, for the consistency you desire.  At this point, you may refrigerate the pesto in a covered container until ready to use it.

Pasta Note: If you are serving this immediately with pasta, set the pesto aside and cook the pasta (using about 3/4 – 1 lb dry pasta) according to the package directions.  Just before draining the pasta, remove and reserve about 1⁄2 cup of its cooking water. Drain the pasta (don’t rinse it!) and toss with the pesto, using as much or as little pesto as you like. If the pasta is a little dry, add more pesto plus a tablespoon at a time of the reserved cooking water.  Season to taste with additional salt, black pepper, and fresh lemon juice, as desired. Serve garnished with a sprinkle of crushed pistachios.

Adult-Minded: I typically use one clove of garlic, because when the pesto is warmed by the pasta rather than cooked, the garlic maintains a raw taste. If you like a stronger garlic flavor, by all means, add another clove!

Seasoning Note: You may want to add more salt to this pesto after tossing with the pasta. The seasoning depends very much on how you use this pesto, and also how much of it you use! For instance, if you like just a light coating of pesto with your pasta, you may find the seasoning a touch bland, and in that case you can add a touch more salt to your pasta, to taste. If you like a thick, generous coating of pesto on those noodles (as I do!), then adding extra salt will be just too much. Also, if you like using pesto as a spread for breads or vegetables, this amount of salt is just right.

Have you ever made pesto cucumber rolls? Do you freeze pesto? What ways do you enjoy pesto the most?

5 Healthy Salad Dressings and Sauces You Will LOVE (vegan, gluten-free, oil-free)

Dressings and sauces are staples for me. They add personality to staple foods like rice, greens, and beans and can take a salad or otherwise routine meal from drab to fab!

I love creating saucy stuff (if you have LTEV you already know this)! And, I especially love using a variety of dressings and sauces through the summer. When it’s too hot to cook, you can transform leftovers with a quick-prep sauce, or make the most of those lush summer greens with a punchy salad dressing.

Dressings and sauces have a reputation for being very heavy, calorie-rich and nutrient-poor. But, se plant-powered ingredients instead of dairy and highly processed foods – different story! Dressings and sauces CAN be made flavorful and rich with wholesome, nutritious ingredients – and without any processed vegan substitutes like mayonnaise – as you will see today!

These 5 dressings and sauces that will take you through summer, to get the most enjoyment of your garden-fresh greens and tomatoes and cukes and zukes! You will love them any time of year though. They can complement so many dishes and round out the flavors and pleasure-factor of meals from raw salads to steamed greens to topping baked spuds or cooked quinoa, to using as a dip with crudite or breads. Let’s go!

1. Moroccan Carrot Dip

Moroccan Carrot Dip from Let Them Eat Vegan

PRINT  (photo credit: Nicole Axworthy)

This is more of a dip than a dressing, but can be thinned out slightly for a dressing, or used thicker for a dip or sauce. The Moroccan seasonings give a sprightly, spicy twist.

1 cup raw carrot, cut in discs or small chunks (roughly 4 – 4 1/2 oz.)

1/3 cup raw cashews

2 – 2 ½ tsp apple cider vinegar or coconut vinegar

1 small clove garlic (or ½ medium clove)

½ – 1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1/8 tsp cinnamon (little scant)

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground coriander

¼ tsp ground fennel

¼ tsp (rounded) sea salt (plus more to taste if needed)

Freshly ground black pepper (use conservatively)

½ cup water (or more to thin as needed, see note)

1 tbsp olive oil (completely optional, omit for oil-free)

Using a standing blender (high-powered blender like a Blendtec works best to smooth), puree all the ingredients (starting with 2 teaspoons of the vinegar) until very smooth. Taste and add extra vinegar if you wish, and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. For a thinner dip, add more water (plus another 2 to 3 tablespoons more, if desired, to thin out a little more for use as a salad dressing). Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

Serving Suggestions: Surprise your guests with this uniquely flavored and colored dip—try serving as a centerpiece dip for crudités or with raw dipping breads. Also try tossing it into a salad, for a more substantial lunch salad.

2. Raw-nch Dressing!

Raw-nch Dressing from Let Them Eat Vegan

PRINT (photo credit: foodfitnesslifelove)

Creamy and rich, my raw version of Ranch Dressing from Let Them Eat Vegan takes any green salad from ordinary to extraordinary!  Also try massaging it into hardy greens like kale. (To make it entirely raw, omit the Dijon mustard and replace the red wine vinegar with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.)

½ cup raw cashews

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 ½ tsp red wine vinegar (gives more flavor, but can use more lemon juice or apple cider vinegar for a raw version)

1 tbsp raw tahini

¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

2 tsp fresh chives, chopped (optional, and can use more onion powder)

1/8 tsp garlic powder (see note)

1/8 tsp onion powder (see note)

¼ tsp Dijon mustard (omit for raw version)

1/2 tsp (scant) sea salt

1/8 tsp freshly black pepper to taste

1 tsp raw agave nectar (adjust to taste)

1/2 cup water or non-dairy milk (or more to thin as desired)

Using a blender (I use Blendtec) or an immersion blender and deep cup or jar, puree all the ingredients until very smooth (it will take a couple of minutes). If you want to thin the dressing more, add water to your preferred consistency. This dressing will thicken some after refrigeration. You can thin it out by stirring in a few teaspoons of water, or keep it thick and use it as a dip for raw veggies.  Makes about 1 ¼ cups.

Ingredients 411: I prefer a faint seasoning of garlic and onion in this dressing. I use just 1⁄8 teaspoon of the onion and garlic powders to lend a hint of flavor but not overwhelm the dressing. If you like more seasoning, feel free to use more onion powder (or extra chives), and more garlic powder (or even a tiny clove of garlic). Alternatively, you can omit both powders, if you prefer.

Savvy Subs and Adds: Try 2 tablespoons of fresh dill to replace some or all of the parsley.

3. Citrus Tahini Dressing

Citrus Tahini Dressing from Let Them Eat Vegan

 PRINT (photo credit: Nicole Axworthy)

This healthy homemade dressing is slightly thick, thanks to the inclusion of tahini. The oil is optional, and the dressing tastes full bodied and flavorful with or without! The flavors are kid friendly, and so it makes eating salad a little more interesting for the little ones. Another one from my “Saucy and Dippy” chapter in LTEV!

3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tbsp tahini

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or coconut vinegar

2 – 2 ½ tbsp agave nectar or pure maple syrup (adjust based on tartness of orange juice

1 1/2 – 2 tsp dijon mustard

½ – 1 tsp fresh ginger, roughly chopped

1 very small clove garlic (optional)

½ sea salt

1 tbsp hemp, walnut, or olive oil (completely optional, omit for oil-free)

Freshly ground black pepper

Using a standing blender or an immersion blender and deep cup or jar, puree all the ingredients (starting with 2 tablespoons of the agave nectar/maple syrup, until fully smooth and creamy. Add additional sweetener to taste, if desired. Makes a little over 1/2 cup.

Kid-Friendly: When I omit the garlic and use the lesser amount of ginger, my kids really like this dressing.

Serving Suggestions: Try this on finely julienned greens. It is especially great with kale, as it helps mellow the flavor of the leaves. Chop your kale, then toss the dressing onto the leaves. Let sit for 10 or more minutes to allow the dressing to soften the greens. Add other salad fixings you might like, such as cherry tomatoes, grated carrot, chopped apple, or dried cranberries.

4. Curried-Almond Dressing

This one has been clinging to that Kale-Slaw and making it a bit of a recipe celeb, but it’s looking for some new greens partners! Like romaine, spinach, and escarole! Fans of WHOLE, you can see contributor Howard Jacobson demo this dressing.

Kale-Slaw with Creamy Curried Almond Dressing by Dreena Burton - #vegan #soyfree #glutenfree

PRINT (photo credit: TahiniToo)

This plant-powered dressing will definitely cling to your greens, and can easily be used as a dip as well. It is one of my favorites, with a very subtle curry flavor in a creamy, slightly sweet base. This is also the dressing for Kale-slaw with Curried Almond Dressing, a modern makeover of traditional coleslaw.

1⁄2 cup raw almonds

2 1/2 tbsps apple cider vinegar

2 tbsps agave nectar or pure maple syrup

2/3 cup water (or more to thin as needed; see note)

1 very small clove garlic

1 tsp freshly grated ginger

1⁄2 tsp Dijon mustard

1⁄2 tsp sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

1⁄8 tsp curry powder, or more to taste (see note)


Using a standing blender or an immersion blender and deep cup or jar, puree all the ingredients (starting with 1⁄2 cup of the water) until very smooth. (A high-powered blender such as a Blendtec works best to smooth out the dressing; using an immersion blender or regular blender will leave a little more texture and take a little longer.) Add additional curry to taste, and additional water to thin as desired (see note).  Makes about 1 generous cup.

Notes: Adult-Minded: I like using about 1⁄8 rounded teaspoon of curry powder in this dressing, for a very muted flavor. But if you love curry, feel free to use more than this, adjusting to your own taste.

Serving Suggestions: If using as a dip, use just 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 cup of water to puree and then refrigerate it, adding extra water later, if desired, to thin (it will thicken considerably after chilling). If using as a salad dressing, you can keep it thick, or thin it more as you prefer.

5. “Magical” Oil-Free Vinaigrette

Magical Oil-Free Vinaigrette


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

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp mild miso (ex: brown rice miso)

3/4 – 1 tsp dijon mustard

1/4 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp cinnamon

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

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

freshly ground black pepper to taste

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

Bonus plant-powered eye candy: Creamy House Dressing

Creamy House Dressing - from the Plant-Powered 15 by Dreena Burton

photo credit: Nicole Axworthy

I’m not counting this in the five, because the recipe isn’t posted. The recipe is part of my Plant-Powered 15 ebook, however. If you have the book, give this dressing a whirl! It’s been getting crazy-yummy reviews. Literally, that’s what I’ve heard: “it’s crazy yummy, I’m licking the blender“. There is also a Green Goddess Dressing in there worthy of some blending action! (All of the recipes in the PP15 ebook are whole-foods and oil-free.)

Quick P.S.: I am scaling back online work the next couple of weeks to take a break. I won’t be blogging for another few weeks, and I’ll be much quieter on FB and twitter. Should be returning to my regular activity in August. Enjoy these dressings! 

Have you tried any/many of these dressings? What are your favorites? How do YOU enjoy them? 

Featured PP15 Recipe: Umami Almond, Quinoa, and Sundried Tomato Burgers (vegan, gluten-free, oil-free)


It’s been couple of months since I released my Plant-Powered 15 ebook, and I’ve been getting emails and FB comments from so many of you about the recipes. (Can I pause a moment to thank you for that? I LOVE hearing your recipe feedback, favorites, suggestions, modifications, etc. Very rewarding and inspires my creativity!)

Plant-Powered 15 ebook

Plant-Powered 15 ebook

There are a few recipes from the PP15 that are getting a LOT of buzz. One of the savory stars are these Umami Sun-Dried Tomato and Almond Burgers. Personally, I also love this recipe. Since it’s the season of grilling and picnics and BBQs, I want to share it with all of you! This burger uses raw almonds and pre-cooked quinoa for the base, along with a number of seasonings that ignite that umami essence. Those flavors, along with the richness of the almonds, are what makes these meat-free burgers irresistible! Top with sliced avocado, or the Wonder Spread from the PP15 ebook.


Umami Almond, Quinoa, and Sun-Dried Tomato Burger by Dreena Burton #vegan #glutenfree

Umami Almond, Quinoa, and Sun-Dried Tomato Burgers gluten-free, oil-free, soy-free option

RECIpage link to print/share

These have fast become one of my FAVE plant-powered burger recipes! The flavor is full of umami depth from the nuts, tamari, and sun-dried tomatoes. They taste fantastic paired with sliced avocado in burger buns or wrapped in whole-grain tortillas!

2 cups raw almonds

1 small-medium clove garlic, cut in quarters

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp tamari (or coconut aminos for soy-free version)

1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste

1/2 tsp dried rosemary (or 1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary leaves)

1/4 tsp sea salt

3/4 – 1 cup green onions, sliced

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed; preferably pre-sliced – or, chop before  adding to processor, see note)

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (cooled first; can substitute brown rice)

In a food processor, add almonds, garlic, balsamic, tamari, tomato paste, rosemary, and salt. Puree until the nuts are very finely ground, and becoming a little sticky. Be sure to grind them fine enough so that the almonds release some oils and become a little ‘sticky’, that will help bind the burgers – you don’t want almond butter, but a very fine meal that is becoming clumpy. Then add green onions and sun-dried tomatoes and pulse through until the mixture becomes dense and is starting to hold together. Add quinoa and process/pulse through again until well incorporated. Remove blade, and shape into patties (or refrigerate first for 1/2 hour, helps make easier to shape patties). To cook, heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Cook patties, about 5-7 minutes on first side, and then another 3-5 minutes on second side until golden brown. These patties hold their shape well, but if they are flipped a lot and overcooked they become more crumbly and dry. Serve with fixings of choice.  Makes about 6 patties.

Sun-dried tomato note: Some varieties/brands of sun-dried tomatoes can be very tough and hard, and others quite soft. If the ones you have are soft, go ahead and add them straight – but if they are very hard, it is useful to soak them in boiling water for a few minutes to soften (fully drain and pat dry before adding to processor).

If you have the Plant-Powered 15, please tell us what YOUR favorite recipe is! And, what tops your burgers – any special condiments or topping?