Lentil Walnut-Apple Burgers topped with “Almonnaise”

Fourth of July and Canada Day (July 1st) seem to launch summer – the food, the picnics, BBQs, and kids breaking from school. For us, summer essentially started two weeks ago. Our teachers went on strike, so the kids abruptly left school two weeks early. Our girls will be going into grades 8, 5, and kindergarten in September. Our eldest had her grade 7 graduation this year, and our youngest her preschool graduation. Milestones. There’s been a lot going on to wrap up our school year, and I’ve enjoyed some simpler with the girls these past couple of weeks. (Not completely simple as we just got a pup, more on that in another post!) :)

With the kids home unexpectedly early, training a new pup, and also getting ready for the cover shoot for my next book (this Sunday, more on that in another post too), I’ve really enlisted their help with more work around the house, including some of the food prep. The older girls mostly, as it’s far more productive, and they are really curious about ingredients and the process. For instance, one of their favorite lunches is a quinoa bowl. I usually speedily prepare it, but lately I’ve had them take turns. As busy as it can be in the kitchen (we don’t have a ton of counterspace), it’s really enjoyable. Feeling in the moment with them, enjoying the simplicity of preparing easy, tasty, healthy food. That’s been lovely. Mind you, there’s a little competition going on regarding whose quinoa tastes best! Geez! Well, better than squabbling over toys.

We also tried a new burger recipe, discussing what ingredients and flavors might work together well. Eldest girl is quite artistic so she was drawing characters on our recipe plan. That recipe still needs some development. 😉 But this burger recipe does not! These Lentil Walnut-Apple Burgers are tucked away in the burgers chapter in LTEV. I wanted to show people in that chapter just how fantastically delicious whole foods vegan burgers can be! Our family loves these, and I think the kids quite enjoy the small bites of sweet apple inside the otherwise very savory burger (as do I). Don’t skip the apple, I promise it works!

Lentil Walnut Burgers with Fresh Apple

Along with the burgers, I’m sharing my recipe “Almonnaise”. It’s a fresh take on mayonnaise, made by blending presoaked almonds with a few essential seasonings. No, it doesn’t taste quite like mayonnaise. Nor like vegennaise. It tastes different, but I think that different is better. With a creamy, rich texture and more-ish flavor that you expect from mayonnaise – just fresher and healthier. Scrumptious on veggie burgers and sandwiches, but also wonderful in green wraps, baked spuds, and wherever you’d like a dollop of creamy/salty/rich sauce. I love it, but then those of you that have LTEV know that I am a little saucy.

These burgers will be a hit year-round, and especially for your Fourth of July and Canada Day BBQs and celebrations. Enjoy! (p.s. If you’re looking for a festive dessert, this pie was a hit for many folks last year.)

Lentil Walnut Burgers with "Almonnaise"

Lentil Walnut Burgers (link to print/share)

These savory burgers will surprise you with little bites of sweetness, courtesy of fresh apple.  Plus, they hold together quite well, without being too starchy or heavy. Makes 9-11 patties.

1 tbsp olive oil or water (for saute, see note for skipping saute and cooking onions/garlic with lentils)

1 1/2 cups onion, chopped

3 medium-large cloves garlic

1/8 tsp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper (generous is good)

2 cups cooked green lentils (will need about ¾ cup dry lentils, see note)

1/2 tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce (omit for wheat/gluten-free version or use a gluten-free vegan worcestershire)

1 ½ tbsp mild miso (I use Genmai brown rice Miso)

1 tsp dried thyme (or 2-3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves)

3/4 tsp dried sage

½ tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp sea salt

¾ – 1 cup ground steel cut oats (or ¾ – 1 cup rolled or quick oats; see note for firmer burgers) (use gf-certified oats for gluten-free option)

3/4 cup raw walnuts (or can toast to enhance the flavor)

1 cup apple (firm, crisp apple like Gala, Fuji, or Yellow Delicious), peeled and diced (in small cubes) – *toss with a squeeze of lemon juice (see note)

In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the water/oil. Add the add onion, garlic, salt and pepper, and let cook 7-8 minutes until onions have softened.  Meanwhile, in a food processor, add the cooked lentils, worcestershire sauce, miso, thyme, sage, basil and salt, and blend through.  When onion mixture is ready, add this to the food processor and puree through again, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the oats and walnuts, and pulse through a few times to break up the walnut (but not fully pulverize, leave in a rough chop).  Transfer mixture to a large bowl.  Add apple and mix through until well combined.  At this point, you can refrigerate mixture until ready to fry in patties (refrigerating for at least 1⁄2 hour will make it firmer and easier to form). Take scoops of the mixture and form into patties with your hands. In a non-skillet over medium-high heat (use a wipe of oil unless you have a very good non-stick pan), add the patties, flatten gently on the pan, and fry for 6-9 minutes on each side, until golden and a crust has developed; flip them over only once or twice (the second side will cook quicker than the first).

Serving Suggestions:  Instead of whole-wheat burger buns, try serving in pitas, or a folded whole-grain tortilla with your favorite fixings!  Try a dollop of “Raw-nch Dressing”, p<>, or a large romaine salad tossed with “Classic Caesar Dressing”, p.<>.

Saute Note: Some days you might want to skip the step of sautéing the onions and garlic.  If you’re having one of those days, simply toss the onion and garlic in with the dry lentils and water (see lentil cooking note below), and cook through while the lentils simmer.  You can omit the oil and salt, and simply add a titch more salt with the puree (lightly round the ¼ tsp salt in the pureed mix).

Leftovers? Use leftover patties in sandwiches, much like a pate, or crumble and add to other fixings in a pita or wrap sandwich.

Oats Note: For ground steel cut oats, simply add steel cut oats to a food processor or blender and process until very fine, like a coarse flour.  If you don’t have steel cut oats, you can substitute quick oats for the ground steel cut oats.  These burgers form patties that will hold together, but are still fairly soft.  For firmer burgers, add another ¼ – 1/3 cup of oats.

Lentils Note: If cooking lentils yourself, use about 3/4 cup dry lentils to about 1 ¾  – 2 cups water.  Add a bay leaf, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer covered for about 35 minutes or longer, until lentils are tender and the water is mostly absorbed.  If the lentils are tender but there is extra water, either drain off the water, or remove cover and simmer until water has evaporated).  Of course, feel free to use canned or packaged cooked lentils in a pinch!

Apple Note: You can also grate the apple for the mixture if you prefer.  Use a large-holed grater, and then toss the grated apple with the lemon juice as per directions. Also, if refrigerating the mix for more than ½ – 1 hour, reserve the apples.  This mixture can be refrigerated up to a day or two in advance, however, the apples will lose their texture and taste if they sit in the mixture that long.  So,  if preparing burgers in advance, you can prepare the entire mixture and refrigerate, and then stir in the chopped apple later, before getting ready to pan-fry the patties.

‘Almonnaise’ (link to print/share)

This thick, rich sauce can easily take the place of mayo for your favorite burgers or in sandwiches.  You might just find yourself topping it on just about everything, from baked spuds to pasta, beans and rice, or just a big ol’ dollop on a raw salad.  Make a double-batch (see note); it is that good! Makes about 1 cup, single-batch.

¾ cup soaked (and drained) raw almonds (see notes)

1 tbsp red wine vinegar or lemon juice

¼ tsp dill seed (or ¼ scant celery seed), or omit either, see note

¼ tsp ground mustard (optional, see note)

¼ + 1/8 tsp sea salt

1/3 cup + 1-3 tbsp water

optional: 1-2 tbsp neutral flavor oil (ex: organic almond, avocado oil – omit for oil-free,  add another splash of water if needed)

Using a blender or immersion blender and deep cup or jar, puree all ingredients (starting with 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp of water) until very, very smooth, scraping down sides as needed.  (A high-powered blender works best to achieve a smooth consistency, but a standard blender or immersion blender can step in, just takes a little longer to smooth.)  If texture is very thick, add another 1-2 tablespoons of water (or more, if needed).  I like this mixture fairly thick, so if you want to thin it out more, go ahead and add more water until you have your desired consistency.

Almonds Note:  Soaking almonds makes them softer for pureeing, and will give a little creamier consistency (plus make the blending easier). If you don’t have time to soak the almonds, go ahead and still use ¾ cup of raw almonds – and just add more water.  You will need to start with ½ cup, and then add another tablespoon or two if needed to get the mixture blended and thinned out a little. I use raw almonds that have the skins intact, so this ‘naise has some flecks of color from the almond skins.  If you don’t want this color, feel free to use blanched almonds, or remove the almond skins after soaking (it’s easy, they slip off)!

Double-Batch Note: The blender has an easier time working through this mixture if you double the batch.  It’s not essential, but if you think you will use it up within 4-5 days, consider a double whammy!

Kid-Friendly:  I love this ‘naise best with the dill seed and also the dried mustard, but our kids like it without the dill (or celery seed) and dried mustard.  Also, our children like the addition of just 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast to this mix – give it a try!

Another shout-out to Emma Potts for these mouthwatering photos!

Do you have any inventive burger toppings? Share your fave toppings and inspire others too! 

Apple Hemp Muffins (vegan, wheat-free, and oil-free)

If you eat vegan or raw, you know that hemp is hot!  I’ve been using hemp seeds in my recipes for years (before it was um, ‘hip to eat hemp’).  When I started using hemp seeds and talking about them in my recipes, I got that “ohhhh, you are hippity dippity!” sort of reaction. People didn’t know that hemp seeds were a highly nutritious food – a ‘superfood’ if you will. No, instead they thought they’d get high from my brownies. Of course they wouldn’t! Because I saved it all for muffins. 😉

Jokes aside, it took a few years for the worth of hemp – high in protein, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants – to be recognized in the world of healthy eating.  Thank goodness it has, because it has made these virtuous bitty seeds widely available (and accepted)!

These Apple-Hemp Muffins I first created for my second cookbook, Vive le Vegan!.  That book came out in ’04… told you I’ve been a hempster for a while!  They are tender, moist, just-sweet-enough, and fragrant.

Recently I switched up the recipe to make them wheat-free and also oil-free.  These are recipe requests I am receiving so frequently that I want to oblige.  Wheat-free modifications are usually pretty easy, adjusting with spelt and oat flour (and usually needing slightly more).  Oil-free can be a little more challenging, because we want to keep those muffins MOIST and tender.  These muffins are still beautifully moist and tender – not to worry!  The other tricky thing with oil-free muffins is not having them stick to the muffin liners.  You can do a couple of things.  First, you can use silicone muffin pans.  I do not use them myself, but know they are particularly useful for oil-free baking.  If, like me, you don’t have silicone bakeware, the best thing to do is to let the muffin cool.  Completely.  If it is still somewhat warm, the liner is harder to peel away from the muffin.  And, if you are okay with using just a smidgen of oil – I mean just a little – you can add say 2 teaspoons to this batter.  That amount is pretty insignificant overall for 12 large muffins, and will help with that ‘sticky’ situation!

I make these muffins often for school lunches, because they are substantial, healthy, and of course nut-free.  If you want to perk them up for the kiddos, try adding… what else?… sprinkle of mini chocolate chips.  (Do I add this to every recipe?  Well, not to hummus – yet.)  😀

Enough of my rambling, right?  Here are the muffins!

Apple Hemp Muffins wheat-free, oil-free, soy-free

RECIpage link to print/share

Moist, lightly spiced muffins with the added nutrition of hemp seed nuts. These are easy and quick, and sure to please both kids and adults!

1 1⁄2 cups whole-grain spelt flour

1 cup oat flour

2/3 – 3/4 cup hemp seeds

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1⁄4 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 – 1 3/4 tsp cinnamon

1⁄4 tsp ground cardamom (can substitute freshly grated nutmeg)

1 cup unsweetened organic applesauce

1⁄2 cup pure maple syrup

3⁄4 cup plain or vanilla non-dairy milk

1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup raisins or chopped raw banana spears (use kitchen shears or knife to cut in small pieces about size of raisins)

Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients, sifting in the baking powder and baking soda. Stir through until well combined. In another bowl, combine applesauce, maple syrup, non-dairy milk, and vanilla, and mix together. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, and gently fold and mix through, until just combined (do not overmix). Spoon the mixture into a muffin pan lined with cupcake liners (this will fill 12 muffins quite full).  Bake for 21-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.   (See notes above about cooling to help remove from liner.) Makes 12 large muffins.  Hemp, Hemp, Hooray!  Enjoy, friends! 😀

Are hemp seeds new to you, or do you use them often?  What is your favorite way to eat them?

Wholesome Oat Snackles (vegan, oil-free, gluten-free option)

There are a few snack and cookie recipes that get whipped up in my kitchen every week, including Tamari Roasted Chickpeas, Banana Oat Bundles, Maple Banana Bread, Hummus (hummus, and more hummus), and these…

Wholesome Oat Snackles from Let Them Eat Vegan.  I created these out of sheer immediate snack-necessity!  I was in the kitchen, looking for the quickest healthy snack I could bake up.  I didn’t even want to puree the bananas for bundles or banana bread.  So, I took some of my favorite ingredients and combined them in these very healthy, low-fat – and also lower-sugar cookies.

photo from LTEV, Oat Snackles in background (Monsta! Cookies in foreground)

These are not a dessert cookie, at least not in my opinion.  They do not have much sweetener, and are more like a mini-muffin than a cookie.  Hence, the name of snackle.  You’ll find that word in Dreenadictionary. 😉  And, also why you’ll find this recipe in the breakfast section of LTEV rather than in the cookie chapter.  So, make them for school (GREAT for school because they have no nuts) or work lunches, for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon power snack.  But, please, not for dessert my friends!

If you make these and aren’t used to baked goods with less sweeteners, then try adding a few tablespoons of a healthier dry sweetener such as coconut sugar, date sugar, or sucanat.

I made these recently and thought they looked darn cute lined up in a row.  Like little soldiers.  Snack soldiers… Snackle Soldiers!  (That’s it, I’m renaming!)

Wholesome Oat Snackles Snackle Soldiers wheat-free, optionally gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free, sugar-free Link to print/share

Sometimes muffins and snacks can be a little on the sweet side for parents and adults who are looking to reduce the amount of added sweeteners in their diet. While most of my baked goods such as muffins are pretty healthful, these little snackles are particularly low in sweetener. They are great for packing in lunches, or to curb midmorning cravings. It’s like having your oatmeal without the bowl!

1 cup rolled oats (use certified gluten-free for that option)

1 cup oat flour (use certified gluten-free for that option)

1/3 cup raisins (or cranberries, or combination of both)

1/4 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut or hemp seeds

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp lemon or orange zest (optional, but adds beautiful essence)

¼ tsp sea salt

few pinches freshly grated nutmeg (optional, but adds extra flavor if not using zest)

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (see note for substitution)

1/4 cup pure maple syrup (see note)

2-3 tbsp non-dairy chocolate chips (optional if needing sugar-free)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, combine the oats, oat flour, raisins, hemp seeds, baking powder, cinnamon, zest, salt and nutmeg, stirring to mix well. Add the applesauce, maple syrup, and chocolate chips. Stir until well incorporated.  Use a cookie scoop (or take spoonfuls, about 1 1⁄2 tablespoons in size) to transfer mounds of the batter to the baking sheet. Bake for 14 to 15 minutes, remove from the oven, and let cool on the pan for about a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack.  Makes 12-14 snackles!

Savvy Subs and Adds: You can substitute 1⁄2 cup of pureed overripe banana for the applesauce. Since very ripened banana is typically sweeter than unsweetened applesauce (and also a little thicker), you can then reduce the maple syrup to 2 to 3 tablespoons and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of nondairy milk.

Sweetener Note: To make these snackles slightly sweeter, add either extra raisins, or 1 to 2 tablespoons of an unrefined sugar such as Sucanat or coconut sugar. You can also add another 1 tablespoon of maple syrup (note that adding much more liquid sweetener will change the consistency of the batter).

Have you tried the snackles yet?  Have you made them with any variations?  

Vegan Snickerdoodle Cookies and Ice Cream Sandwiches

C is for Cookie, S is for Snifferdoodles (aka Snickerdoodles, read on)… :)

These past few weeks I’ve been pensive.  I think more than I’d like to any given day, but this past month I have felt particularly heavy in thought. September always evokes much mood for me – apprehension about a the school year for our girls, a new routine/schedule to manage, and saying farewell to summer. While fall is a favorite season for many, it’s not for me. I prefer the brightness and warmth of summer, and my vata-nature always feels its best during those warm months. I have also been trying to determine where my work efforts are best directed. I am one person and one mama, with three daughters and a household to manage. I love to blog, to communicate – and of course to create my recipes. I have a stack of recipes needing edits, a backlog of food photos I want to blog and share, and several “ideas” I’d like to pursue. I need three of me to work all of this out!

When I’m in these pensive times, I find comfort in simple things. Food is one of them. If I’m not sitting with a hot tea and some dark chocolate for a few moments of comfort, then I might be baking – because that also reminds of the good and simple things in life.  Taking a handful of ingredients and turning them into something fragrant and sweet to flow through your home. To have a little goodie to give your kiddos, and see their smile when they take that first bite.

And cookies are one of my favorite things to create and bake. When I was testing this Snickerdoodle recipe for LTEV, our daughter kept calling them “Snifferdoodles”. I loved the name – and as you can see in the book, it stuck. Recently I transformed these Snifferdoodles into ice cream sandwiches for the girls (fine, for me  – because if a piece of chocolate and tea doesn’t give me a comfort fix, ice cream surely will). I’m sharing this recipe with you today, because maybe you are also feeling some ‘fall blues’, or finding yourself absorbed in thought. Let’s hope that it takes just a couple of batches of cookies to figure things out. 😉

Snifferdoodles wheat-free, soy-free (link to print/share recipe)

I had originally called these Maple Sugar Snickerdoodles. However, one day our middle daughter called them Snifferdoodles. I loved the name so much I had to go with it! They are delicious, and terrific for bringing to school or other parties, where allergies such as to peanuts, nuts, wheat, and even chocolate are always an issue.

3/4 cup + 1 tbsp spelt flour

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp oat flour

1⁄3 cup unrefined sugar

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp (rounded) baking soda

¼ tsp cinnamon (see note for anise “biscochitos” adaptation)

1⁄4 tsp sea salt

¼ cup pure maple syrup

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

3 tbsp organic neutral-tasting oil (ex: avocado, almond, etc)

For coating:

2 tsp unrefined sugar (fine textured)

1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients, sifting in the baking powder and baking soda, mixing well.  In a separate bowl, combine the maple syrup, vanilla, and oil. Add the wet mixture to the dry, and stir until just incor- porated. Place the mixture in the fridge for about 5 minutes.  While the cookie mixture chills, mix the coating ingredients together in a separate small bowl.  Remove the cookie mixture from the fridge, and take small spoonfuls of the batter (about 1⁄2 tablespoon each; see note) of the batter and roll in your hands to form balls. Place on the prepared (you will still need to coat them, so just place randomly on the lined pan until ready to move to that step). Continue until you have used all the batter. Roll each ball in the coating mixture, and then place back on the lined pan, this time spacing out the cookies evenly. Do not flatten them! Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven (if you bake for much longer, they will dry out), let cool on the pan for no more than a minute (again, to prevent drying), then transfer to a cooling rack.  Makes 15-18 snifferdoodles.

If This Apron Could Talk:

I make these cookies a little smaller than most of the others. They are perfect for little hands when bite size. Because they are smaller, you should get a yield of between 18 to 25 cookies, and the baking time will be only 10 to 11 minutes. If you choose to make them a little larger, the yield should be 13 to 15 cookies; bake for 11 to 12 minutes.

You may have extra sugar mixture after coating the cookies. Don’t throw it away! Use it to sprinkle on ice cream, bagels, toast, yogurt, or cereal!

Ingredients 411:

If the batter is a touch dry when mixing, use another 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon of oil and mix with another smidgen (about 1 teaspoon) of maple syrup. Depending on the brand of flour used and/or time of year, this is a good trick. Simply fold the oil and syrup into the batter, and repeat if needed. Just don’t overdo it—the batter should be thick and not too wet or oily, or the cookies will spread out flat and join when baking.

Make It More-ish!

After making these cookies, I learned about biscochitos, which are Mexican cookies flavored with anise and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. To make a biscochito instead of a Snifferdoodle, omit the 1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon from the batter and replace it with 3⁄4 to 1 teaspoon of aniseeds, crushed just slightly between your fingers before mixing in (if you love that licorice flavor, use the full 1 teaspoon, or more)!  The cookies will look the same, just taste different!

You can also make different shapes with the batter, if you first refrigerate it for 20 or more minutes to get firmer. Roll out about 1⁄4 inch thick and cut into shapes before dusting with the cinnamon sugar.

To make ice cream sandwiches: Let ice cream soften in the refrigerator.  Once ice cream is softened enough to easily scoop/spread, get started. Spread a layer of ice cream on the flat (under) side of one cookie.  Place the underside of another cookie on top, and lightly press together.  After making 3-4 sandwiches, transfer to freezer immediately to set.  Continue in batches, freeze until firm, and store in a sealed container.

*For those of you waiting on more from the Plant-Powered Kids series, my apologies as I won’t be getting a new post out this week.  Please subscribe to my blog for any new updates.  Enjoy the cookies. :)

Does baking or cooking bring you comfort as well?  What do you most love to create or bake?

Short and Sweet: Creamed Cheese Brownies with Salted Dark Chocolate Topping


Who am I kidding?  There’s nothing short about that recipe name!  But it IS sweet!  And this post will be short. Together: short and sweet!

Short post today because I’ve been up to my plant-powered eyeballs all week: prepping food samples for my book launch at Chapters tomorrow, preparing for in-laws visiting, and planning for when I take off to Summerfest.  Add that to daily life as a mom-of-three and the word “busy” just scratches the surface.

So, enough jibba-jabba.  Today you’re getting the recipe for my Creamed Cheese Brownies with Salted Dark Chocolate Topping (from LTEV).  Despite the name, there is NO vegan cream cheese in them (remember, I don’t use these vegan subs in LTEV).  These brownies are being tweeted left, right and centre lately, so here they are!

Creamed Cheese Brownies with Salted Dark Chocolate Topping wheat-free, soy-free RECIpage link here.

No processed vegan cream cheese to be found in these deep, rich, fudgy brownies. Cashews stand in for a cream cheese–like layer, which takes these brownies to, “OMG these are freaking good!” ’Nuff said—go make them.

Creamed Cheese Layer:

1 cup soaked cashews

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tbsp water

1 tbsp  pure maple syrup

2 tbsp vanilla non-dairy yogurt (if using coconut yogurt instead of soy, add another 1 tsp lemon juice)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/8 tsp (rounded) sea salt

Brownie Layer:

1 cup + 2 tbsp sifted (or light) spelt flour

¾ cup unrefined sugar

½ tsp sea salt

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 tbsp arrowroot powder

3 tbsp pure maple syrup

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

¼ cup + 1 tbsp plain or vanilla non-dairy milk

3½ tbsp neutral-flavored oil


1/3 – ½ cup chocolate chunks (use a good quality dark chocolate bar, and break/ cut into small chunks)

Few pinches coarse sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square cake pan with parchment paper. Prepare cream cheese layer: Puree all those ingredients with an immersion or high-speed blender until very, very smooth (a mini food processor can also be used, but it usually doesn’t produce as smooth a texture as does an immersion blender). Process for several minutes, if necessary, until very smoothed out. Prepare the brownie layer: In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt, and sift in the cocoa and baking powder. In a small bowl, first combine the arrowroot with the maple syrup, stirring until smooth, then add the vanilla, milk, and oil. Add the wet mixture to the dry. Stir until evenly mixed and thick. Transfer about two-thirds of the mixture to the prepared pan. Use a square of parchment to help the press mixture into the pan evenly and spread it out. Spread the cream cheese layer over the top. Then, as best as you can, spread the remaining brownie batter over the cheese layer. You can take pieces and lightly spread first with your fingers and place in patches over the cream cheese layer—and it doesn’t have to fully cover; there can be spaces—most will fill in and come together while baking.  Add the topping: Place the chocolate chunks on top, and then sprinkle with the salt. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan, running a spatula around the outer edge to loosen. (The brownies will appear not fully cooked, but do not cook longer—I repeat, do not cook longer! Instead, let cool and they will become fudgy!) Once cooled, score the brownies with a sharp knife to ease cutting the chocolate before it completely hardens. Then refrigerate brownies to cool more, cut into squares and dig in!  Makes 16-20 brownies.

If This Apron Could Talk: Trust the baking process! The amount of batter used for the base—and then topping— looks like it cannot possibly fill out to form a beautiful brownie. Lucky for us, the oven creates some magic in about half an hour!

Enjoy your weekend, and enjoy the brownies.  Tweet ’em, stumble ’em, pin ’em… just be sure to BAKE ’em!  :)(and for those of you asking, here is how you can subscribe to my posts!)

MONSTA! Cookies

I consider these cookies the sequel to my ever-popular “Super Charge-Me Cookies” from ed&bv.  And, like the super chargers, these come with a story.

Our family was visiting my sister one afternoon, and she asked if we’d like a cookie.  *uh, yeah*!  When I think of cookie, I usually envision a smaller, two-bite kind of cookie, more of a dessert than a snack.  But what she delivered was quite more than the delicate, after-dinner cookie I had imagined.  It was substantial and not cloying, leaving us feeling satisfied more than a cookie could.  It was more of a snack – and cookie – put together!  Could I call it a snooki(e)?  Nooo, we know where that would take us (and I haven’t even watched an episode).

All the drive home my mind was on developing another healthy, delicious snack cookie.  Something like my Super Charge-Me Cookie, but without nuts, or at least with a nut-free option.  Of course when I got home, the testing rounds began.  With one nibble, all I could think was “these are monster good“!!!  And, when I had my testers try them, one of them reported back with “Monsta, marvelous, magnificent, more-ish!”, which I used in the recipe intro…

MONSTA! Cookies from Let Them Eat Vegan wheat-free, soy-free LINK to RECIpage to print/share

Monsta, marvelous, magnificent, more-ish! These are jam- packed with healthful ingredients, and even though these are not your dessert kind of cookies, they will give that sweet tooth something to sing about!

1/3 cup organic extra-virgin coconut oil

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

¼ cup brown rice syrup (or more maple syrup)

2 tbsp coconut sugar or other unrefined sugar (optional, I often omit it, see note)

1 – 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup light or sifted spelt flour

3/4 cup oat flour (see note)

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp cinnamon (or ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg)

¼ tsp sea salt

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 tbsp flax meal (or 1 ½ tbsp ground white chia)

1/3 cup pecans or walnuts, lightly broken or chopped (for a nut-free version use ¼ cup of sunflower seeds)

¼ cup hemp seeds

¼ cup pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds if not substituting for pecans, above)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parch- ment paper. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the co- conut oil, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, sugar (if using), and vanilla. Mix on low speed to incorporate for about a minute. In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, except the nuts and seeds, and stir well. Add about half of the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Churn with the mixer to start to incorporate, and then add the re- maining dry mixture, as well as the nuts and seeds. Continue to stir on low speed, just until the mixture comes together and forms a dough on the paddle.  Scoop spoonfuls (11⁄2 to 2 tablespoons in size; a cookie scoop works very well but isn’t essential), and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 14 minutes, then remove from the oven and let the cookies cool for about a minute on the bak- ing sheet. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

If This Apron Could Talk: The unrefined sugar is optional— the cookies are still sweet and tasty without it, so if you don’t want to use any granulated sugar of any sort, then omit it. But, for a slightly sweeter taste, you can include the 2 table- spoons of sugar.

Savvy Subs and Adds:  If you prefer another oil to coconut, feel free to do so, just use a slightly scant measure. Feel free to add 1⁄4 cup of raisins, dried cranberries, or other dried fruit to the dry ingredients. You can include it as an addition, or as a replacement for some of the seeds or nuts.

Extra Tips: (1) One of my girlfriends gave me a tip that she first pulsed the seeds and nuts before adding to the batter – so they would be better ‘disguised’ for her kiddos.  I gave it a try, and it worked beautifully.  Thanks for the clever suggestion Sara!

(2) When I make these, I use a smallish cookie scoop and over-fill it, and then press it on to the parchment, like a big scoop of ice cream!  What is fun about that technique is the cookies keep these nooks and crannies and edgy bits… making them just a little more monstacular. :)  Once, I scooped and baked them ‘tidier’, and my husband said “I like them better with all the imperfect edges“.  I agreed!  (and that doesn’t happen often, lol!)  There’s something about baking them up with those nibbly edges that you just want to snap off and eat.  And, I’m notorious for doing just that.

Enjoy the cookies guys! :)

Reminder:  Subscribe to my posts to get more plant-powered goodness delivered to your inbox!

Finally, thanks to Ricki Heller for including this recipe in her Wellness Weekend!

Three-Bean Salad (vegan and gluten-free; oil-free option)

I never tire of beans.  I eat them every day, and continue to find ways to love them!  Nature has given us different colors, sizes, shapes, and textures to enjoy -from a tender scarlet kidney bean to harder, creamy-colored chickpeas to delicate, tiny pink lentils.  To top that, they are packed with nutrition, and offer much cooking versatility – from dressings to spreads to sauces to burgers to casseroles – and more!

I really enjoy taking a humble bean and transforming it into an unexpectedly delicious plant-powered burger, dip, or stew, adding layers of flavors from spices and herbs, and sometimes combining nuts or grains.  Yet sometimes, we want simplicity.  Either we don’t have much time, or we are pooped on our feet and want a quick fix!  That was me this weekend, by the way.  And, so I made this salad – just for me.  Not that I wouldn’t share it, but I made it with my own food desires in mind (rather than for the kids or hubby).

Three-Bean Salad from Let Them Eat Vegan

I was craving the tangy marinade and crunch of vegetables, and wanted that fast – and lots of it!  And, this recipe does make a generous batch.  Which is good!  Because here’s the only catch with this salad:  It’s best after it has at least a few hours to marinate.  The flavors will soak into the beans (particularly the kidney beans).  So, make it a few hours ahead of time, or even a day ahead.  If you are serving to guests and are concerned about the apple losing its crunch and color, then make the salad without and then add the apple just before serving.

Anyone can make this salad.  Even its name itself is uncluttered and approachable – “Three-Bean Salad”.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting in flavors or dynamic in textures!  Sometimes, recipes can sound unapproachable, and I wanted this one to sound very approachable and doable.  It doesn’t have any obscure ingredients, and requires no tools other than a cutting board, chef’s knife, bowl and spoon.  Yep, you can eat straight out of your mixing bowl if you like!

Just be sure to add the apple.  Don’t skip it.  Or the cloves.  Trust me.  :)

 Three Bean Salad (from Let Them Eat Vegan) gluten-free, soy-free  RECIpage link to print/share

Does this recipe sound familiar? I remember a version of it that my mom served for potlucks and “cold-plate” dinners. Variations of this salad are also sometimes found at deli counters for take-out. What is fairly constant among the adaptations is the combination of chickpeas and kidney beans in a vinegar-prominent dressing. My version uses green onions in place of raw red or white onions, a touch of natural sweetener instead of white sugar, very little (or no) oil, and the addition of raw apple to lighten up the flavors.  Serves 6 as a side dish.

4 cups combination of chickpeas, kidney beans, and black beans (rinse and drain first if using canned)

½ – ¾ cup green or red bell pepper, chopped (or combination of both)

¼ cup celery, finely chopped

½ cup green onions (mostly green portion, not as much white), sliced

3 ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 – 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (keeps salad moist but optional – omit for oil-free version)

½ -1 tbsp pure maple syrup

½ – 1 tsp Dijon mustard (use 1 tsp for extra ‘kick’)

½ tsp + 1/8 tsp sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

½ cup apple, chopped (cored first, peeling optional), and tossed in ½ tsp lemon juice

couple pinches ground cloves

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients (no need to mix the vinaigrette separately), tossing well to fully mix. Season to taste with extra salt and pepper if desired.

If This Apron Could Talk: This salad tastes best after it’s had about a day to sit and the beans have absorbed some of the marinade. Be sure to toss again to redistribute any dressing lingering at the bottom of your container.

What are your favorite beans or favorite bean dishes?

p.s. Don’t forget to subscribe to my posts so you don’t miss any recipes, updates, and giveaways!

How To Make a Vegan Ice Cream Cake (with Sparklers!) and Fluffy Macadamia Mallow Frosting

Spring is a busy time as we have one girl’s birthday in April, and then another daughter’s birthday a couple of weeks later in May.  Our eldest turned eleven in April and asked for an ice cream cake.  Supposedly it’s the ‘cool’ thing to have at parties now.  I wasn’t worried, I’ve made them before.  Actually, it’s one of the easiest cakes you can make – it just takes a few prep steps and planning.

Step 1:  Start with a spring-form pan, it makes for easy slicing and serving later!  Line it it with a layer of vegan cookies.  Here, I used the sandwich cookies and separated them because they are rich enough and almost too sickly to have a full cookie as a base and side.  You can use another cookie – or a layer of cake as well.


Step 2:  Choose your ice cream victims.  These were mine:

I liked the idea of layering different flavors, and varieties that had “extras” in them.  While lately I’m particularly partial to some of the Coconut Bliss flavors, these were on special at our local store, so it was an easy decision.  Plus, I knew our daughter would love the flavor combinations!

Step 3: Take one pint out in advance, about 20 minutes beforehand to soften at room temperature.  Keep the other pints in freezer.  Once softened, you carefully add scoops and smooth it out on the base.  I started with the Cherry Amaretto for the base.

This is the trickiest layer because the ice cream will lift up some of those cookies at the bottom.  But, if the ice cream is soft enough and you go with the flow (don’t stress, it’s only ice cream cake!), it works fine.  I had to reposition a couple of cookies but that was it.  To smooth out the ice cream, it helps to run a spoon under hot water, dry it off, and let the heat of the spoon help you smooth around that top layer.

Step 4: Pop the pan in the freezer to let that layer set up before adding the next layer.  It will take about an hour to set up again, maybe more.  Check it, and once it is hard and set, you are on to…

Step 5: Next layer!  Take out your next pint to soften, for me that was the Peanut Butter Swirl:

I think that was my favorite layer. :)  See how frosty the pan is in that picture?

Step 6: Now, the pan goes – yep – back into the freezer.  Same drill, give it an hour or so.

Step 7: Take out last pint to layer… here, the Cookie Dough:

I take back what I said.  I think that was my favorite layer.

Step 8: Back into the freezer (technically you could have far fewer steps if you used one or two large pints of the same flavor and simply mixed in some ‘extras’).

With that, you’re DONE!  You can garnish the top as you like – adding some cookie crumbles or crushed nuts or the like.  I kept it simple and grated a little dark chocolate over the top, just to make it look even more pretty.  Take the cake out about 15 minutes before eating, then open up your springform and you are ready to slice and serve!

We added sparklers to our daughter’s cake – boy, was that a hit!

And, I literally had about 5 minutes to try and snap a couple of pics of this cake before the masses swarmed in!

Aren’t those layers pretty?


The kids were happy campers.  Who am I kidding?  I was a happy camper.  Ice cream is my most favorite dessert!

On to cake #2 (actually cake #3, read on).  This was for our youngest daughter, who turned 3 in May.  Her birthday is so memorable because labor kicked in on Mother’s Day that year.  I was laboring all day with her and she was born the next morning.  I knew this little mite would have me running circles with that Mother’s Day prank she pulled. 😉  And I was right!

She’s now three and she still hasn’t eaten cake.  She just doesn’t want to try it.  I think the frosting freaks her out or something, like it’s some mysterious new food frontier that she doesn’t want to take part in.  (If only she knew!)  Actually, I’m quite happy that she isn’t interested in cake just yet.  But, we couldn’t have her birthday without one.

I made my “All-Purpose Vanilla Cake” from ed&bv, but used spelt flour instead of white flour – you need about an extra 1/4 cup – and I also reduced the sugar a titch.  Then, I frosted it with one of my newest and most favorite frostings – Fluffy Macadamia Mallow Frosting from LTEV.  I doubled the batch because I like extra!  I created this recipe as one of my soy-free frostings that are included in LTEV (since most vegan frostings are soy-based, and folks were asking me for alternatives).  This frosting is also gluten-free (and I have a gluten-free cake recipe in LTEV as well).

Sidebar note: This isn’t actually the cake from our 3 yr old’s birthday.  I made a similar one, but didn’t get time to take proper pictures.  So, THESE photos are actually from our the month before, when our eldest had her birthday.  Because, as moms know, you need to make a cake for the actual birthday, and a cake for the party!  So, that brought me up to 3 cakes in 3 weeks!  :)

Anyhow, back to the important stuff.  The frosting!  This frosting is like having a not-so-sweet marshmallowy dreamy layer on your cake.  It’s thick and luscious and frosting happiness!

YUM!  Can you see the flecks of vanilla seeds in there?  I love vanilla beans.  And Fluffy Macadamia Mallow Frosting.  

Whose birthday was it again? 😉

Have you ever made an ice cream cake?  Have you tried this Macadamia Mallow Frosting?  What are your favorite cake combos?

Mother’s Day Pressies & Krispie Chip Cookies

Hello folks!  Did you have a lovely Mother’s Day weekend?  I hope you all had a chance to enter the Mother’s Day giveaway I hosted.  If you didn’t know about it, PLEASE subscribe to my blog.  That way you won’t miss out on any goodies!

Speaking of goodies, this mama landed herself a shiny new iPhone 4S!  I joked with a friend that if hubby didn’t get my hints about this gift, he would be totally spaced out!  Poor fellas, sometimes they just can’t read our minds, right?  Why IS that? 😉

And, I also received a few beautiful gifts from our girls.  First, handmade cards:

The one in the foreground with the flowers is from our eldest, and she came up with poem for the inside:

HA HA!  “I’m so glad you didn’t have a son“!  I also laughed with the hot cross buns.  I’ve never made hot cross buns!  Hee.  I asked her if she was talking about my bottom, and she rolled her eyes saying “moooom, that is SO inappropriate“.  Indeed, mommy is *quite* embarrassing to this eleven-year old!

The other card was from our 7 year old, and it was gifted with this very special pen set.  They are set in the little pot with black beans (couldn’t be better suited to this ‘Queen-Bean’ veg mom)!  And, she also wrote something special inside:

As for my day, I can’t say I lounged around all too much!  In the morning I baked these “Krispie Chip Cookies” from Let Them Eat Vegan.  They are a variation on my Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookie (that recipe is here).  I use the Nature’s Path Crispy Rice Cereal, which isn’t as ‘snap, crackle, and pop-y’ as the original, but made with brown rice flour so a better choice in my books!

Don’t you just want to dunk one?!  I baked a LOT of these.  Our girls started at a new school last Friday, so I brought some of these cookies and also some BF Blueberry Muffins to the new teachers and principal.  It’s amazing how a little baked treat makes people smile.  I love it.

By the way, the winner of the Mother’s Day cookbook giveaway was Sherri, with this comment:

My favorite Mothers Day memory is going to my moms house and cleaning her bedroom for her for Mothers Day. She struggled with housekeeping and loved a clean house but living in the country with a huge garden..she was canning and cooking all the time and there was not much time for cleaning. I can remember the look on her face as she would walk in her room and just hug me for all the work I did for her. She died 8 years ago from breast cancer but she planted a seed in me for eating healthy. After the first couple of rounds of chemo she refused more txs and started juicing and not eating meat. We thought she was crazy at the time because we were all meat eaters but now I am walking in her path choosing to be vegan. I feel great and have a ways to go to lose weight but I am getting there. Happy Mothers Day Dreena!

Congratulations Sherri!  Please e-mail me with your mailing address so I can get a book sent out to you!

A couple of admin things before I go:

First, a couple of you did indeed add reviews on amazon for Let Them Eat Vegan.  **thank you**  I really appreciate it.  If you are loving LTEV and haven’t yet added a review, please pop over there and add a few happy words.  Helps a great deal, everything is about amazon with book sales!

Second, my friend Heather Nauta, the holistic nutritionist behind HealthyVeganRecipes.net and HealthyEatingStartsHere.com, is giving you a fun way to learn how to cook healthy and delicious meals with her new online cooking classes. Sign up starts Friday, May 18th, with an early-bird discount price of only $67 (55% off!) going until Monday, May 21st. She’s posting free videos this week with some of her best tips for healthy, quick and flavorful cooking leading up to the launch on Friday. Check out the first one here, to see her 3 steps to make your meals exceptionally healthy and a recipe for a super healthy avocado dip.  If you are interested, sign up right here!

Orange Apricot Tea Buns

Tea buns were very traditional when I was growing up in Newfoundland.  In fact, you can go to just about any grocery store – or maybe any house – and find fluffy raisin-studded tea buns.

While they were very traditional, I never loved them.  I guess it was that they didn’t have a lot of flavor other than the raisins and the fatty butter.  But, I love the notion of a tea bun.  Even if you don’t have it with tea, it just sounds lovely, doesn’t it?  I created this new recipe that in my mind is where a tea bun meets a scone meets a muffin.  They have the name of the tea bun, the texture closer to a scone, and the ease of preparation of a muffin!

Orange Apricot Tea Buns (vegan, gluten-free, oil-free) by Dreena Burton, plant-powered ktichen

Orange Apricot Tea Buns

ReciPage link to print/share

These buns are like a cross between a biscuit and a muffin. They are scented with fresh orange juice and a hint of almond extract, and they are made without any refined sugars, and also no oil.  The orange juice really lifts the flavors of these buns and if you don’t have dried apricots on hand, try substituting chopped dates – they are scrumptious!

1 1/2 cups oat flour

1 cup rolled oats

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp sea salt (touch scant)

1 1/2 tsp orange zest (see note)

1/4 cup dried unsulphured apricots, chopped (or chopped pitted dates)

1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

2 tbsp plain non-dairy milk

1 tbsp ground white chia seed

1/2 tsp pure vanilla or orange extract

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, combine oat flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda (sift in powder/soda), nutmeg, salt.  Stir through until well combined, and then stir in zest and apricots. In a smaller bowl, combine orange juice, maple syrup, milk, chia, and extract.  Stir through until combined. Add wet mixture to the dry and stir through until just combined. Using a large cookie scoop (or a spoon), scoop out mixture and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I typically yield 6 to 7).  Bake for 14 minutes.  Remove from oven, let cool for a minute on baking sheet, and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Makes 6 to 7 buns.

Orange Zest Note: My favorite way to zest citrus is with a kitchen rasp (also called a microplane grater).  These are very handy, inexpensive, efficient tools that can be used for zesting, grating garlic, chocolate, and more!

Enjoy the recipe, kids!