How to Make A Collard Wrap (with video)

Hello friends! Have you ever made a collard wrap? It’s really easy! I filmed this video during August, straight after a shop at our local famers’ market. I picked up these HUGE collard wraps and thought it was the perfect time to film a cooking video!

How To Make a Collard Wrap by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen, #vegan #glutenfree

Collard greens are one of my favorite leafy greens. They are very nutrient dense, like kale, just doesn’t get the same attention. That’s a shame, because they are amazing greens to include in our diet. I use them in smoothies and also often make collard wraps – which make an amazing vegan, gluten-free, plant-powered lunch!

I used to make them just for myself, but after filming this segment our 13 year-old said, “mom, can I try one?“… uh, YEAH!!!! With some of her favorite ingredients tucked inside (hummus, olives, avocado) she loved them. I was surprised how much – she asked for seconds, and often asks for them at lunch now!

I’ve included most of my tips in the segment, but did forget a few! So be sure to grab my ‘recipe’ below.

Collard Wraps by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen #vegan #glutenfree

Collard Wraps

link to print/share recipe

1-2 collard leaves per person (can use more if leaves are small)

1/3 cup hummus, bean dip, cashew cheese, nut dip, or other thick spread or dip to “hold” fillings (roughly, can use more or less depending on size of leaves)

Fillings of choice, examples include:

  • raw vegetables: chopped cucumber, chopped bell peppers, shredded lettuce, grated carrot, grated beet, sliced tomatoes (try to remove extra juices), minced fresh herbs (ex: basil, parsley, cilantro).
  • lightly steamed/broiled vegetables: Think veggies that benefit from brief cooking, such as asparagus spears, chopped green beans, broccoli florets, sliced zucchini (I broil them with a little Herbamere, love them that way and so does my wee girl!).
  • roasted or cooked vegetables: Think roasted cubed sweet potatoes (really good!) or winter squash, white potatoes, roasted rutabega, beets, parsnip, cauliflower, grilled or roasted mushrooms.
  • Condiments/preserved foods: Things that give a pop of flavor like olives, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, kimchi (if you’re a fan!), pickles, hot sauce, nutritional yeast, seasonings salts, etc.
  • seeds and chopped nuts: If you want to add some crunch, try pumpkin, sunflower, hemp seeds, or chopped nuts. A sprinkle of brazil nut parm or cheesy sprinkle is very good!
  • cooked grains or beans: sprinkle in some quinoa, millet, cooked lentils; short-grain brown rice good and sticky to help hold fillings.
  • sprouts (if you like them, I don’t like most sprouts – don’t kick me out of the vegan club!)
  • cubed avocado (now this I do like, and it deserves an entry of its own!)


  1. Choose your collard leaf/leaves. Select ones that are large enough to fill and roll, and also preferably without any tears or holes. If they have a few, no biggie. So it gets a bit messy! All good.
  2. Raw or steamed? I like to briefly steam my collard leaves, as shown in the video. But as you see in the pic above, that wrap  uses a raw leaf. When it’s raw, the leaf is a little tougher but also sturdier for fillings. With steaming, the leaf becomes more pliable to roll, but is more delicate. I prefer the flavor with that very brief steaming. No kidding, those 10-20 seconds of steam change the texture and flavor!
  3. Trim the stalk. About halfway down the leaf the stalk begins to thicken. Use a paring knife and carefully trim under that thick portion to the base, to remove all that heavy stalk. The leaf will be easier to roll – and chew!
  4. If you’ve steamed the leaf, lightly dry it! This is the step I omitted in the video. Just take a paper towel and dab off extra moisture. Otherwise, the collard will be slippery for rolling and messier to eat.
  5. Add your fillings! The fun part! Start with a base to “hold” the fillings – hummus, a nut pate, thick bean dip, slather of tahini – whatever you like. As long as it’s fairly thick to help hold some fillings… and tasty! :) Then, sprinkle on your remaining fillings, judging on the size of your leaf.
  6. Wrap and roll! Starting at the edge, begin to roll your wrap. As you go, tuck in the sides and continue to roll. If, after rolling, you’d like more fillings, you can usually open it up and tuck in a few extra goodies. If not, make another!
  7. Cut…and enjoy!

Generally, I like to pair a balance of some fresh/salty/pungent/sweet flavors in a wrap. So, with a spread of hummus, I might then add the broiled zukes and chopped cukes and bell peppers (fresh), then some olives (salty/pungent), and roasted sweet spuds or avocado (sweet). You can play up whatever filling you like. Once you get started, you’ll get the idea and not need to measure or even read the recipe!

As a final note, If you have very large kale leaves, you can use those too. Most kale leaves are not quite as large as collards, but you can certainly do smaller ones and fill a bunch! You can also use lettuce leaves for wraps. They aren’t nearly as sturdy, however, so fill lightly – and don’t steam the leaves.

Have you ever made a collard wrap? What are your favorite fillings?

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? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

photo credit:

Raw Orange Chocolate Pudding

ReciPage link to print/share

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

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

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

1 cup pitted dates

1/3 cup raw or regular cocoa powder

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

1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

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

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

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

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

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?!

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? 

Raw Strawberry Pie (vegan, raw, gluten-free, oil-free)

We are fortunate to enjoy the celebrations for BOTH Canada Day and the 4th of July! We live close to the U.S. border, so we have our own local festivities and fireworks for July 1st, and then take in the fireworks for Independence Day the following weekend.

Raw Strawberry Pie #vegan #glutenfree #raw

When a reader shared her recent love and photo of my Raw Strawberry Pie on my facebook page recently, I knew I wanted to post there recipe for you soon. I’ve been in such a flurry with end-of-year recitals, rehearsals, parties, and school activities that it just occurred to me that our holiday weekends are almost here! This pie from Let Them Eat Vegan is absolutely perfect. Not only is it seasonal, beautiful, fragrant and delicious – there is no cooking required! While that isn’t a problem for me (we’ve had weeks of cool temps and rain), I figure many of you aren’t interested in actually baking a pie!

But how about just making a pie? No heat required for this gorgeous, crowd-pleasing, bursting-with-summer-fresh-flavor pie! The recipe follows, along with a few other ideas for your Canada Day and Fourth of July parties.

Raw Strawberry Pie  by Dreena Burton #vegan #raw #glutenfree

Raw Strawberry Pie (photo credit: Nicole Axworthy) gluten-free, raw, soy-free, sugar-free

Click through to print/share this recipe

One summer after picking buckets full of local ripe strawberries, I wanted to make a pie deserving of their glorious, fresh flavor. I created this pie, and it did the strawberries proud!


1 cup raw pecans

3/4 cup raw walnuts

1 cup (packed) pitted dates

¼ tsp (scant) sea salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon


3 cups fresh strawberries (measured whole if small, or cut in half if large; these are for filling, you will need extra for garnishing if desired)

3/4 cup raw cashews, unsoaked (see note)

3-4 tbsp raw agave nectar (can substitute pure maple syrup if preferred; start with 3, adjust to taste)

1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Couple pinches sea salt

1 tsp lemon zest (stir in after pureeing)

Extra strawberries for garnishing, optional

Lightly oil a pie plate with coconut or another oil. Prepare the crust: Place all the crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse briefly until crumbly and the mixture will hold together when pressed with your fingers. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pie plate, pressing it evenly into the pan. Prepare the filling: Place all the filling ingredients, except the lemon zest (and starting with 3 tablespoons of the agave nectar/maple syrup), in a high-powered blender (I use Blendtec). Puree for a minute or so at medium-high speed until completely smooth and no texture of the cashews remains. Taste, and add the remaining tablespoon of agave, if needed, to sweeten, and puree again. Once smooth, stir in the lemon zest. Pour the filling into the crust, then cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and place the pie in the freezer for at least 5 to 6 hours to set. After this time, the pie will be partially set, but can be sliced. You can freeze it longer, and remove the pie about 20 minutes before serving, to slice easily. Serves 6-8.

Ingredients 411: It is preferable to use unsoaked cashews because they have less moisture, and then can absorb some of the moisture from the strawberries as the pie sets. If using local seasonal berries, they tend to be softer and juicier than imported. Opt for another 2 tablespoons of cashews to help absorb the extra juices.

Did I mention some other party food ideas? Yes!…


Raspberry Pudding Parfaits!: Layer my Raw Raspberry Almond Pudding as parfaits with non-dairy yogurt OR Lemon-Scented Whipped Cream (LTEV) along with fresh raspberries and/or blueberries!

Strawberry-Goji Smoothies: Easy-peasy, brighten up with a few fresh berries on each, voila!

Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches: Have you forgotten about my Snifferdoodles? Ok, keep it classic with chocolate chip cookies if you must. 😉

Apple-Of-My-Eye Pie: Nothing more American than apple pie, right? Us Canucks love it too.


Chickpea Ratatouille: It’s certainly bright and colorful and boasting red. Maybe add a bowl of blue corn chips on the side for a 4th of July potluck?

Thai Chick-Un Pizza: Ok, this has no particular Canadian or American theme, but hey, it’s great party food. And ridiculously delicious. There!

Veggie Burgers: Hearty recipes for burgers that HOLD together, and are full of flavor!

Dips: From a Creamy Artichoke Spinach, to Hummuses (Hummu? Hummi? we need a plural, people!), and Olive Tapenade, this dippy gal has got you covered!

Too hot to Cook?: Try one of these cool, hearty salads – OR – quickly transform your greens, leftover grains, and spuds with these no-cook pasta sauces.

What are you doing for your holiday weekend? Do you have any other easy, festive food ideas to share? Have fun! :)

(p.s. Don’t miss any plant-powered updates, subscribe here!)

Green Smoothies 101: How To Make a Green Smoothie (and how to make it taste GREAT!)

Are you a green smoothie-er? Have you tried them but didn’t like them? There are some tricks to make green smoothies (a) smooth! (b) taste good (c) extra nutritious, and we are going to cover all those today.

I started making green smoothies about 6 or 7 years ago, as I was writing eat, drink & be vegan. I remember it well. I went to a local raw foods class with my sister, and we sample a green smoothie that night. At first I was hesitant. “Drinking” greens seemed so odd! But, once I tasted it, I realized I could do this! They taste pretty good – and I’ve made them taste even better over the years as I’ve understood how to combine components.

Why bother with green smoothies? Why not just eat salads or saute greens?

1- Convenient. When hustling through the day – maybe commuting, eating lunch out of the house, running with the kids or to meetings – a green smoothie is a guaranteed quick and easy way to get the plant-powered goodness of green leafies in your diet! While I make them in the mornings, they can be made any time of day – for a light lunch, afternoon snack, or evening treat. Yes, they can be a treat. Promise.

2- Nutritious. In short, you can get plenty of fiber, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and abundant minerals and vitamins in a hydrating green smoothie, with ingredients that are also alkalizing for the body. Many of us may not eat a lot of raw kale or collards – or dandelion greens or parsley. Or, maybe not in the amounts that we put in a green smoothie. Before drinking green smoothies, I ate leafy greens, but not much kale or collards. Plus, every day I add a good amount of fresh parsley in my green smoothie. You now know that parsley is an nutrient-packed green, right? Add some to your smoothie, and it’s bright and energizing! Trust me, I add it every day and hubby has no clue he’s drinking parsley. Or dandelion greens. One day I’ll tell him.

3- Kiddos. My girls aren’t green smoothie drinkers, but I think that’s because I make them in the morning, and they have heartier breakfasts before school like oatmeal or waffles with almond butter. Our eldest likes them, and when she is training for hockey, she drinks them knowing they are giving her extra nutritional perks and helping boost her immunity. Our younger girls have a “greens” connection with them, and so while they will eat lettuce and asparagus, and green beans and zukes, they do have that mental block about drinking the greens. But, I hear from parents all the time that make green smoothies for their kiddos. So, give them a try, your wee ones just may become lean-keen-green-drinking-machines!

4- Digestible. For some people, having a liquid meal can be easier on their digestion. Just try not to drink your smoothie too fast. Take sips and allow it to meet the saliva in your mouth and swallow – rather than chug. I don’t think many of us actually chug smoothies, but when they taste very good we can drink them a little quickly!

5 – Allergen and Dietary Specific-Friendly. For those of you that are gluten-free or soy-free, plant-strong, oil-free, or nut-free, green smoothies are a beautiful way to incorporate many healthful ingredients with flexibility to YOUR dietary needs and preferences.

So, let’s get our green on! Here are some tips to get you drinking your greens:

Choose your greens. First, get to know your greens. If you are intimidated by dark leafy greens, that post will help you immensely. My favorite leafies to use are kale and collard greens, with a hit of parsley! They are robust, store well in the fridge for a few days, and are very nutritious with more absorbable calcium and iron than greens such as spinach and Swiss chard. But, spinach and Swiss chard still offer many nutritional benefits, so don’t rule them out. And, if the swiss chard is gloriously fresh from the market at your store and on special, while the collards look homely – the choice is simple. Also, milder tasting greens like spinach and chard – or even romaine – are great “starter” greens for making smoothies. If you are new to the green smoothie business, start with something like spinach or romaine, and work your way into stronger-flavored greens such as kale. Try blending spinach with kale; once you get the knack of fruit-to-greens proportions, this will also help you determine how much sweet fruit (e.g., banana, mango, and pineapple) to combine with the greens for the best flavor. Recently I’ve been using dandelion greens in my smoothies. I never thought I would. I grew up seeing them as weeds that my parents would curse for covering our lawn. So, they didn’t appeal to me. But, I tried them recently in my smoothies and now they are in regular rotation! They don’t store as well as kale/collards, so if you buy them, use them within a day or two. You can also experiment with other greens (ex: beet greens) and lettuces (ex: escarole, red leaf lettuce), though I wouldn’t recommend spicy greens such as arugula or mustard greens in a smoothie— they are just too strong and peppery. Save those for your sautés and salads!

Wash and stem greens. Some greens can hold more grit, so fully submerge the greens in a sinkful of water, then rinse and shake off the excess water. Be sure to dry your extra greens before refrigerating. Use a salad spinner or shake to dry well. Once they are mostly dry, I store in the fridge by loosely wrapping in a dish towel, and placing inside a large resealable plastic bag (leave unzipped). I find the greens keep well for a couple of days, don’t get soggy and rot, and stay nicely crisp. With such greens as collards, chard, and kale, you’ll want to separate the leaves from the thick stems. Holding the leaf in one hand, run your fingers of your other hand down the length of the stalk to strip the stalk (separating the leafy portion from the tough stem). The more tender parts of the stem (at the tops) will usually tear away with the leaves, and this is okay—they are tender enough.

Fruits – Which to Use, Proportions, and Frozen

  • Frozen bananas and mangoes: Adding these sweet fruits will (1) balance the bitterness and grassiness of the greens an (2) create a creamy consistency. Bananas are an obvious choice because most of us have them on hand. Greenish bananas, stay on the counter—you’re not welcome to this smoothie party! Let your bananas overripen, and then peel, slice, and store them (in large resealable bags or in other airtight containers) in your freezer. If you aren’t overly fond of bananas, try frozen mangoes or peaches! My friend Melissa West had to modify her diet and eliminate bananas. We talked about how to make smoothies without them, and frozen mangoes were my first suggestion. Check out Melissa’s video where she talks about bananas and migraines, and also gives great tips for a breakfast protein smoothie. Mangoes are very sweet, and also lend a subtly creamy texture. I keep bananas in my freezer, and regularly buy bags of frozen mangoes. Either or both combine well with other fruits—and those not frozen—for a delicious smoothie. Frozen pineapple also works very well, but it is VERY sweet, so use less, or add in combination with more veggies. If using bananas or mangoes that are fresh and not frozen, you may want to add ice cubes in place of water for your blending, to chill your drink, as using all room-temperature fruits will give you a warmish smoothie (not the greatest).
  • Seasonal Fruits: Also include seasonal fruits for your smoothies. In the winter, along with my frozen bananas/mangoes, I add either apples, oranges, pink grapefruit, or pears. In the spring and summer, you can use melons, peaches and nectarines, grapes and berries (red and purple berries will change the color of your smoothie, more on that soon). All these fruits will help counter any harsher notes in the greens.
  • Lemons/Limes: Citrus are very alkalizing for the body, and lately I’ve enjoyed adding some sourness to my smoothies with the addition of one small lemon. Simply peel and add (including any seeds). You may particularly enjoy lemons/limes if, in general, you don’t like a lot of sweet foods.
  • Berry Interesting: Fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are, of course, delicious in a green smoothie—and very nutritious. Even when not in season, most of have a frozen stash. The only thing you need to know about using red or purple berries is that the color of the smoothie changes. No longer will it be a vibrant inviting green color; rather, a more swampy brownish color. But if you can ignore the color aesthetic, by all means, include some berries! On the other hand, if you want to mask the green color (for children OR adults!), then blue or purple berries such as blueberries, blackberries, or açai pulp work magic.
  • Avocado: Green suprise! Technically avocado is a fruit, though not often thought of as a fruit because it isn’t juicy or particularly sweet. While it won’t lend much sweetness to your smoothie, it will add a luscious creaminess to your smoothie (as well as nutritional benefits), so try adding half an avocado to your mixture and see how you like it.

Other Veggies

Even though my focus is on getting the leafy greens into your smoothies, let’s not forget that there are other veggies worthy of joining the smoothie club. And green smoothie veterans might appreciate lessening the fruit proportions to favor more vegetables. I posted this chart on facebook recently, showing how cucumber is in the melon family.


I often add cucumber to our smoothies, it adds a light melon flavor without added sweetness. Also try adding carrot with mangoes/oranges/peaches! Start with smallish measures (perhaps 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup), as some vegetables impart strong and bitter flavor tones. Cucumber is rather mild, with a melonlike flavor, so you might try adding more. I have even added a small amount of beet to a berry-green smoothie. Yes I did.


Smoothies are the perfect place to get in nutritious bits and bobs that you might otherwise find tricky to include in your diet. Try:

  • Hemp, flax, or chia seeds
  • Nuts (or nut butters, such as like almond)
  • Goji berries, cocoa nibs
  • Blackstrap Molasses (will turn your smoothie dark, but good hit of iron, plus calcium)
  • Spirulina (confession: I have a hard time with spirulina, but I know others quite like it (and can eat it off a spoon – really?!). It is an extremely nutritious food source, so go for it if you can!)
  • Ginger – fresh ginger is a great immunity booster!
  • Nutrient-Dense Powders. I hesitate to call them ‘protein powders‘, because it conveys the message that we need to add protein to our smoothies. Still, many of these powders are very nutrient-rich, not just in protein but also fatty acids and vitamins and minerals. My favorite is the Vega Energizing Smoothie powders. vegaNote: I tried the Vega powders years back and the flavors just didn’t work for me. But, these shake ‘n go smoothie infusions taste TERRIFIC! I especially love the Tropical Twist and the Vanilla Almondilla. If you like making creamy smoothies, the chocolate is amazing too. I typically add 1- 1 1/2 scoops to our smoothie batch, which makes 2 smoothies. Melissa also talks about the Sun Warrior protein powders. I haven’t tried those yet (have you?). Side note: Melissa also has some juicing videos if you are keen to learn more about juicing.


You have all the elements, now you need to make your green drink deliciously smooth. Trust me when I tell you that you need to blend the heck out of your smoothie! A high-powered blender like a Blendtec makes this an easy job. But, before I had my rambo blender, I used a standard blender and also an immersion blender. They just required a little more time – and also the frozen fruit needed to be cut in smaller pieces prior to freezing. With a Blendtec, you can pretty much throw whole frozen bananas and big ol’ chunks of frozen mango in there – in can take it. Point is, you want to make it smooth, not still grainy or chunky or with bits of leaves floating about.

So, you truly need to blend it until beautifully smooth! It can be thick, as you can always thin with water, but definitely smooth. Ergo smooth-ie. Blend until the greens are so pulverized that they are no longer visible, other than infusing your smoothie with a beautiful green color. If using a high-powered blender such as a Blendtec, simply run the whole juice cycle, and if needed, pulse again afterward if any chunks of frozen fruit remain. Kale leaves can take longer to fully blend than spinach or chard (especially depending on your blender). I find that frozen fruits, such as banana and mango, also help the blender cut through the greens. Add 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup of water to get everything moving (you can often use less with a high-powered blender). Add more later to thin, if desired; the amount of water needed varies depending on the proportion of thick fruits, such as bananas, and the amount of very juicy fruit, such as melon or orange. Start with less, then add more if you need to. Better to have a thick smoothie that can be thinned rather than a watery smoothie.

Taste Test!

After blending, dip in a spoon to taste before serving up. If you need more fruit to balance the sweetness – or water to thin, add it now. You can also opt for coconut water to replace part or all of the water, or even non-dairy milk (though I don’t care for milk in green smoothies, but it can make them creamier). Once you’ve made a dozen or so green smoothies, you probably won’t need to taste-test, as you’ll have a sense of proportions needed.

I have a couple of greens smoothie recipes in my cookbooks, including this “Apple-A-Day Smoothie” (recipe here).


But, once you start making smoothies you’ll realize that you don’t need to measure ingredients. At first it’s helpful to understand proportions, but soon you’ll be a green smoothie pro and blend with creative abandon! Until you’re there, here are a few more examples of smoothie combinations. But, know that this list is by no means exhaustive. There are so many combinations, you just need to experiment to find your favorites. I’m including kale and collards here as the base green, just because they are the ones I use most and they offer the most absorbable calcium and iron. Certainly chard or spinach can be substituted for kale and collards. I’ve also started with 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of greens, but by all means increase the ratio of greens to 2 cups or more as you become accustomed to the flavor. These suggestions should yield two pretty large smoothies, but measurements are quite approximate, so modify as you need.

Orange Juicius: 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of collard greens leaves, about 1 1⁄2 cups of frozen banana chunks, one apple (core removed, skins intact), one orange (peeled), 1 to 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds, plus enough water to get it moving and thin out, if you like.

Tropical Twist: 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of kale leaves, about 1 cup of frozen banana chunks, 1⁄2 to 1 cup of frozen mango chunks, 1⁄2 cup of fresh pineapple (cubed), 1⁄2 cup of cucumber chunks (optional), 1 to 2 tablespoons of Vega Tropical Tango, 1-2 tbsp hemp seeds, plus enough water to get it moving and thin out, if you like.

Immunity Zinger: 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of kale leaves, 1 to 1 1⁄4 cups of frozen bananas chunks, one large or two small apples (core removed, skins intact), 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup of frozen mango chunks, about 1⁄2 tablespoon of peeled ginger, 1⁄2 peeled lemon, plus enough water to get it all moving.

Berry Blaster: 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups collard greens leaves, about 1 1⁄2 cups of frozen banana chunks, about 1 cup of fresh or frozen strawberries, one apple, 1 to 2 tablespoons of Vega Vanilla Almondilla, 2 tablespoons of goji berries, plus enough water to get it moving and thin out, if you like.

Purple People Feeder: 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of collard greens leaves, about 1 1⁄2 cups of frozen banana chunks, about 1⁄2 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries or blackberries, 1⁄2 cup of purple or red grapes or one red apple or pear, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, plus enough water to get it moving and thin out, if you like.

Smooth Talker: 1 to 11⁄2 cups of kale leaves, 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of frozen banana chunks, about 1⁄2 cup of honeydew melon (cubed), 1⁄2 cup of cucumber, one orange or 1⁄2 cup of fresh pineapple (cubed), 1⁄2 avocado, plus enough water to get it moving and thin out, if you like.

Orange Blaster: 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of kale leaves; 1 cup of peach, nectarine, or mango chunks; two oranges (peeled); 1⁄3 cup of chopped carrot; 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup of frozen banana; 1⁄2 cup of vanilla nondairy yogurt (optional); plus enough water to get it moving and thin out, if you like.

If you have Let Them Eat Vegan, you can find some of this smoothie information starting on page 26. I’ve edited/added/updated some things for this post, but if you have LTEV, you can quickly flip to reference when ready to blend!

So, do you green smoothie? What are your favorite combinations? Share some of your own tips and favorite ideas!

Raw Lemon-Lime Cheesecake with Fresh Mango Sauce (vegan and gluten-free) – Easter Menu and Tips, Part One

This post is “part 1” of an Easter post. I was going to give you savory and sweet recipes all in one post – plus Easter Egg Hunt ideas, but it was shaping up to be far too long.  So, today we talk about dessert recipes for Easter, as well as ideas for your vegan Easter Egg Hunt! Before the weekend, I will bring you another post with some savory dishes that I think are perfect for Easter and welcoming Spring!

Mention “dessert” and I think of chocolate. Wait, ice cream. Yes, definitely ice cream. Because chocolate is my afternoon treat. 😉 Who says we can’t enjoy both? As much as I love chocolate, I often prefer a lighter dessert or evening treat, especially now that the weather is warming up and the days are brighter. With Easter this weekend, I thought I’d share a dessert that is just perfect for a special occasion – not to mention sunnier days (rejoicing here on the “wet” coast)!


This is my Raw Lemon-Lime Cheesecake with Fresh Mango Sauce from LTEV. While many raw cheesecakes use coconut oil, this one doesn’t. My version uses coconut butter, which is similar to nut butter – it is the whole coconut meat pureed into butter. It makes the magic in this recipe (and in many dessert recipes, imho).  I discovered Artisana Coconut Butter about 5-6 years ago, and have loved it ever since. Slowly it has become more available in stores (I used to order it online), and slightly more affordable.  It’s not cheap, but it’s worth every penny (er, should I now say nickel?) for a homemade, delicious, healthy dessert!

Raw Lemon-Lime Cheesecake with Coconut Nut Crust and Fresh Mango Sauce gluten-free, raw, oil-free link to RECIpage to print/share

Raw cheesecakes trump any tofu or soy cream cheese version (at least for me)! I wanted to come up with my own signature raw cheesecake. This one combines the tang and flavor of both lemon and lime juice, and has a tropical twist with coconut in the crust and a fresh mango sauce for serving. The recipe makes a fairly large batch of mango sauce. You can halve the batch or save the extra to top other foods, such as yogurt or waffles. You can also try the Fresh Strawberry Sauce as a switch from the mango puree. Regardless of the sauce you choose, this dessert is heavenly.


1 cup raw almonds (soaked preferably, this is about ¾ cup raw, unsoaked almonds, see note)

1 cup pecans (soaking not necessary)

¾ cup pitted medjool dates

¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/8 tsp sea salt


3 1/4 cups soaked raw cashews (soak first, then measure – this is about 2 ½ cups unsoaked)

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tsp lemon zest

¼ tsp sea salt

½ cup + 1 tbsp raw agave nectar (little generous; can substitute maple syrup but the cheesecake will be darker in color)

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

1/2 cup coconut butter, packed (I use Artisana)

Mango Sauce: (see note)

1 1/2 cups frozen mango chunks

1/2 cup water

2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

¼ cup raw agave nectar (or pure maple syrup)

½ tsp orange zest

Pinch sea salt

Wipe the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan to lightly oil (can use coconut butter or oil). Prepare the crust: Place the almonds and pecans in a food processor. Pulse until very crumbly, then add the remaining ingredients and process until the mixture will hold together when pressed. Transfer the mixture to the prepared springform pan. To prepare the filling, place all the filling ingredients in a high-powered blender (see note). Puree until very, very smooth and lightened in color. Pour the mixture over the crust and tip the pan back and forth to distribute evenly. Cover the pan with foil and pop into the freezer to set (you can freeze overnight, if you like, but freeze at least 3 to 4 hours so it can become firmer). Serves 6-8.

To prepare the mango sauce: Combine all the sauce ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth; refrigerate in a covered container until ready to serve.  To serve, remove the cake from the freezer for 30 minutes to 1 hour to soften slightly before slicing. Serve with the sauce.

If This Apron Could Talk: It’s helpful to make the crust a day ahead if you have the time; it spreads out the preparation work and makes for easier cleanup!

If you don’t want cheesecake, what other desserts would be great for Easter?

Banana Butter Pie – p.253 Let Them Eat Vegan. I don’t have a photo of this recipe, and don’t have it posted. But it is AMAZING! It doesn’t have butter in it, rather NUT butter! So, if anyone wants to take a pretty pic of this pie, I’ll post it asap! (Deal?!) 😉

Fresh Orange Cake with Fluffy Macadamia FrostingFrosting recipe is here, both recipes from LTEV.

Gluten-Free Apple-of-my-Eye Pie – Recipe also from Let Them Eat Vegan.  Even if you don’t need a gf crust, MAKE THIS PIE!

Raw Raspberry Pudding – light, easy, bright and fresh – and can be made very last-minute.

Snifferdoodle Ice Cream Sandwiches – I had to sneak in ice cream somewhere! Recipe for Snifferdoodles also from Let Them Eat Vegan.

Hello Vegan Bars – Ditto, from LTEV – these are decadent and moreish!!

Raw Chocolate Dream Mousse Pie – Forget dessert, I’d have this for breakfast! 😉 Another LTEV dessert (just realizing how many desserts I have in that book)!

Now, let’s share ideas for Easter morning!

What do you do with your kiddos? What vegan Easter treats do you buy/hide?  I do a couple of things. I have a bunch of plastic eggs and I fill those with inexpensive, small surprises – stickers, vegan gummies, foil-wrapped dark chocolate eggs, erasers, key chain, etc. I hide those along with some extra foil-wrapped dark chocolate eggs around the house (some years it’s been nice enough outside to hide in the garden, but often it’s wet). Other years, I give them each a small stuffy (they can never have enough stuffies, geez!) and do less ‘little’ treats, hiding mostly the gummies and chocolate eggs.




School can be tricky, however. Several years they dyed eggs in their classes. One year, our daughter’s class needed SIX eggs. I was stumped initially, realizing that plastic eggs wouldn’t work for dyeing -styrofoam eggs might have worked but I couldn’t find them. Then, I thought about it and realized that many craft stores carry wooden items for painting. I managed to pick up six wooden eggs, plus a few more. They did not dye as well as I thought they might, but they were still pretty and the girls had fun.  And, many years later we still have the eggs!

So, let’s share our experiences as vegan parents. What are your Easter traditions? What vegan treats do you buy and hide? And, do you have any other alternatives to wooden eggs for class projects? Also, please share any favorite Easter dessert recipes!

Raw Chocolate Mousse Pie (vegan, gluten-free, and oil-free)

Valentine’s Day is certainly a day to celebrate romantic love, but it’s also a day to celebrate ALL love.  Love for your darling, your friends, your children, love for animals, for yourself… and love for chocolate.

I joke.  Sort of.  😀

Raw Chocolate Mousse Pie with Fresh Berry Sauce (from Let Them Eat Vegan)

Every year for Valentine’s I post a chocolate recipe. This year I decided to post a very healthful (but no less DELICIOUS) chocolate recipe – my “Raw Chocolate Dream Mousse Pie” from LTEV.  And, trust me when I say this pie is no less delicious because it is made with whole foods ingredients.  It is DIVINE, and scrumptious!  And, if you aren’t a big fan of chocolate, I have some other ideas for you at the end of this post.

For this pie you will need a food processor to make the crust, and a blender to make the filling. I get questions every week about which food processor and blender I use.  Many of you know that the Blendtec is my blender of choice. I use it every day – sometimes 2-3x/day! For years I used a KitchenAid food processor. I gave it a run for its money, and after 6-8 years needed a new machine. The Breville Sous Chef is now my new processor, and I’ve just begun experimenting with it.

I had heard incredible reviews about this machine, especially after participating in The Blender Girl’s recipe event back in October. There are a few key things I love about the Breville…

(1) The bowl is BPA-FREE! (not many processors offer this).

(2) The bowl has a 16-cup capacity (you know what that means? Quadruple batches of hummus, my friends!) plus a smaller insert for smaller batch needs.

(3) Extra-large food chute and a COOL accessory container (you can see both here and more on Breville’s website)

(4) Assortment of disc attachments for grating and slicing, including one with variable slicing, you can see it in this video.

Below, I’ve made a double-batch of Nutty Veggie Burgers with the Breville.  I sure appreciated the 16-cup capacity for this double-batch.  My last processor required MUCH scraping and removing portions of the mixture to blend properly.

The first time I used this machine the first thing I noticed is how much quieter it was than my old machine.  And SMOOTH!  Like buttah cashew cream.  It works through large mixes with little assistance needed for scraping down the sides… and, it is purty. 😉  I’ve always said that my Blendtec deserves a shrine. Now, the divine kitchen monument must be shared with my Breville Sous Chef!

Back to the PIE! Once you make the crust base in the food processor, you simply press it into the pie plate – how easy is that?  I like to prep the base first, and pop it in the fridge to chill while I make the filling.  Now, if you are using a high-speed blender (ie Blendtec, Vitamix) for the filling, it works through the ingredients pretty effortlessly, especially if you use the soaked cashews (you can use the unsoaked measure, just takes longer to puree smoothly – but, will be a touch firmer when set).  With a standard blender, you definitely want to use the soaked cashews, simply because they will smooth out much silkier than raw cashews.  Still, you will likely need to scrape down that blender a good few times and run it several minutes until it’s silky-smooth.

I love to serve this pie with a simple berry sauce. I have a couple in LTEV, one is “Fresh Strawberry Sauce”, and the other a “Warm Berry Sauce”.  I prefer the fresh (raw) sauce with this pie, and you can easily substitute other berries like raspberries (and frozen a-ok)!

Raw Chocolate Mousse Pie with Fresh Berry Sauce (from Let Them Eat Vegan)

Raw Chocolate Dream Mousse Pie gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free   LINK to SHARE/PRINT this recipe!

Creamy, chocolatey, luscious.  Yet no sugar, no flour, no oil.  Yes, chocolate dreams do come true—this one, with the help of avocado and dates for extra creaminess and sweetness. The filling is adaptable and can be accented with other flavors, such as orange zest (or orange oil), almond extract, or mint (leaves or extract)


1 cup raw almonds

3/4 cup raw pecans

1 cup (lightly packed) pitted dates

2 tbsp raw cocoa powder

¼ tsp (scant) sea salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (see note)


1 cup avocado flesh (cut in chunks or slices, roughly 1 large or 1 – 1/2 medium avocados; be sure they are soft and ripe, not hard)

1/2 cup soaked raw cashews

1/2 cup nut milk (or other non-dairy milk if non-raw)

1/2 cup pitted dates

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/3 cup raw cocoa powder

1/2 -1 tsp pure vanilla extract (see note)

1/8 tsp sea salt

Prepare the crust: Place the almonds in a food processor and pulse briefly until fine and crumbly. Add the crust remaining ingredients and process until the mixture becomes sticky. Stop to scrape down the bowl, if needed. The mixture should hold together when pressed with your fingers. If it’s still a little dry or not sticking, pulse again, add another date (or two, if small honey dates) and process again. Use 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon of water, as well, if not using vanilla extract.  Transfer the mixture to a glass pie plate (helps to wipe the surface of the plate with a little coconut oil, or line with few strips of parchment paper, just for easier removal). Press the mixture evenly into the pan.  To prepare the filling: Place all the filling ingredients in a high-powered blender and puree for a minute or so on at medium-high speed, until completely smooth and no texture of the cashews remains. Stop to scrape down the blender and redistribute the ingredients. Puree again until very, very smooth—like a velvety pudding. This will take a few starts and stops for scraping down – even with a high-powered blender. Once the mixture is readily churning and smooth, it’s ready.  Pour the filling into the crust, and tilt and smooth with a spatula to evenly distribute. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to set. (Optionally, you can also freeze the pie and serve at a later time, thawing most of the way before slicing.) Slice and serve.

Savvy Subs and Adds: If you’d prefer not to use vanilla extract, use the seeds from one vanilla bean (see “Plant-Powered Pantry,” page xlii), using half for the crust and half for the filling.  Also try adding a little orange zest to the filling, the orange/chocolate flavor combo is a winner!

Serving Suggestion: Serve as is, or topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries, or a ladleful of Fresh Strawberry Sauce.

Raw Chocolate Mousse Pie with Fresh Berry Sauce

And, here are a couple of very simple and playful Valentine’s Day ideas for you:

This is a ‘party platter’ with my Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls, popcorn, and goji berries.  Truth be told, if organic strawberries were available this time of year (and I mean not for $10/pint!!), I’d use those in place of the gojis.  What else could we use here if not a goji fan?

Cocoa Cookie Dough Ball Valentine’s Party Platter

And, how about some simple, quick, and very healthy heart-shaped fruits for Valentine’s Day?  Simply use a heart cookie cutter and press out shapes from watermelon, pineapple – and also cantaloupe and honeydew if your cookie cutter is small enough.  Serve straight up or thread on to skewers as “heart fruit pops”, or along with other fruits for  Honey-dew-you-love-me?  Can’t-aloupe-with-you, I don’t even know you!  😉

Melon Fruit Hearts

Finally, a few more recipes that so lovingly suit Valentine’s Day…

Raw Raspberry Pudding (so appropriately colorful and fresh!)

Lemon Kissed Blondie Bites (MWAH!)

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day?  Are you making special treats for your luvvy or your kiddos?  Share your ideas and links!