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My Mom bought me a bag of cranberries and asked if I would make her some cranberry oatmeal cookies.  Of course I wasn't going to say no.  Any excuse to bake cookies, I am in!  Oatmeal cookies are her favorite, and I think if she could eat them for breakfast every day she would.  She always told me when I was little that oatmeal cookies were healthier and the better choice than just plain chocolate chip cookies, and I agree!  You get the fiber of oats along with your cookie.  She was always trying to make recipes healthier when I would help her bake things growing up, like by adding apple sauce or mashed bananas instead of refined oil, and using whole wheat flour instead of white.  So, I think she kind of inspired me to try and make things healthier too.  I am always trying to improve upon recipes, and use the best ingredients that I can.  So back to the cranberry cookies.  I decided to make them just a tad more jazzed up than just just cranberries, and added in some home made white chocolate chunks, which my Mom loves as well.  The deli I work in makes a cranberry white chocolate chip cookie and it always smells amazing while baking, and I always say to myself, I need to make a vegan version.  I finally got around to it!

These cookies were easy to make, and ready in about 45 minutes if you count cooling time.  For assembling and baking, it is about 30.  Which really isn't a lot of time, and perfect for when you are craving cookies and want them now.  The dough from these was amazing by the way. I am a cookie dough girl all the way, and I actually prefer it to baked cookies most of the time.  So, I had to of course indulge in this dough.  That is the best part of baking cookies!  Second is of course eating the warm ones. These smelled amazing while baking and when they emerged from the oven.  Instant mood booster, the aroma of freshly baked cookies!  I always say I have the best work station in the world in the deli I work in because my work table is right next to the cookie cooling rack.

So how did these beauties taste?  They were fabulous!  Soft in the middle, and chewy on the outside just how oatmeal cookies should be!  A hint of caramel flavor from the coconut sugar, vanilla and a touch of cinnamon for sweetness all the perfect pairing with the chewy tart cranberries and sweet white chocolate!  My Mom loved them too, which was the most important thing.  Skip going to a bakery to buy cookies, and give these guys a try!

Vegan Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Makes 1 dozen large cookies

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the coconut oil, and sugar until well blended. Add flax eggs, vanilla, and beat until well combined (the mixture will become very thick).
  2. Mix in the flour, soda, cinnamon and sea salt until well blended. Mix in the oats until well combined, then add cranberries and mix until evenly distributed throughout the dough.
  3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack set at the middle position. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Roll the dough into 12 large balls, and spread them out on the 2 cookie sheets with plenty of room in between, and flatten them out slightly. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until golden, but not over baked. Remove them from the oven and immediately press in the chocolate chunks before they cool.  Let cool on sheet a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack lined with parchment to cool.
*For the flax eggs, whisk together 2 Tbsp ground flax seed, 1/4 cup and 2 Tbsp water in a small bowl.  Allow to sit in the fridge for 15 minutes until the mixture has set up (or become kind of thick).
*Get my white chocolate recipe at the bottom of THIS POST.
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An occasion such as Valentine's Day, deserves the perfect decadent rich chocolate.  So, I decided to make one last weekend.  Eric and I celebrated early since the actual holiday is during the work week and I am working.  We went for a long walk around Minneapolis in our favorite area, then hit up our favorite local brewery Insight, then enjoyed some warming ramen at Tori Ramen in St. Paul, because that is the restaurant Eric chose. It was perfect though, because I am recovering from a cold and some warming broth was just what I needed.  And of course I had the dessert covered with the chocolate avocado cake I made.  I don't know why I hadn't thought of it before, but the combination is a great idea.  Think of it.  Chocolate is heart healthy, avocados are heart healthy so it is a healthy cake (wink, wink).  And why not make your cake healthy and taste amazing too!  Don't worry, you can not taste avocado in this cake at all.  Just rich, decadence.

For the cake part, I used my classic date sweetened chocolate cake, made with mashed avocado in place of the nut butter.  And, let me tell you, it made the most rich tasting delicious cake batter that was actually oil free.  You bet I  scraped the bowl clean and enjoyed the last bit of batter!  That is one of my favorite things about baking cakes, getting to eat the batter. It baked up beautifully as well, and the aroma of brownies filled my kitchen and home.  That is seriously one of the best scents in the world.  Once it had cooled down and was ready to frost, it needed a decadent rich frosting to finish it off.  So, I blended up avocados, date paste, cacao powder, and a little sea salt and vanilla and it was so good!  It tasted like avocado mousse and fudge combined.  Once it was spread onto the cake, it was lovely.  I couldn't wait to try it!

This is the chocolate lover's dream.  It is just the right consistency as far as cake goes.  Moist, soft, and light, not dry or dense provided you don't over-bake or under-bake it. I am super picky as far as cake texture goes so I am always careful about the amount of time I bake my cakes. This one turned out perfect.  It had rich chocolate flavor as well, and that gooey luscious frosting tasted so good you would swear that it contained some non-vegan ingredients.  But nope!  This cake is actually gluten free, oil free, and fruit sweetened, so wins all around!  So the next time you are in the mood for classic chocolate cake, give this a try!

Vegan Chocolate Avocado Cake
Makes one 2 layer 6 inch cake

Ingredients:

6 inch cake pans

Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups packed soft medjool dates, pitted, soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained
  • 1/4 cup mashed avocado
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cups mashed avocado
  • 1/2 cup date paste* or maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 cup cacao powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F degrees and position rack in center of oven.
  2. Oil two 6 inch round cake pans with coconut oil and line the bottom with parchment.
  3. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt in a large bowl to blend well.
  4. Place dates, water, avocados, and vanilla extract into a blender, and blend until smooth, then whisk this blended mixture into the flour mixture until well blended. Whisk in the cider vinegar until bubbles form.
  5. Pour the cake batter into prepared pans, and place in the oven.
  6. Bake cakes until set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean, about 25-30 minutes (be careful not to over-bake or under-bake the cake.  Check it at 25 minutes and put back into the oven a little longer if it is not finished baking).  Remove from oven, let cool completely, then un-mold them onto two plates, cover and set aside.
  7. To make the frosting, combine all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until completely smooth.  Pour into a bowl and place in the freezer until the consistency of stiffly whipped cream (about 30-45 minutes depending on how warm it has gotten).  Once it is ready place in the refrigerator until ready to assemble.
  8. To assemble, place one cake layer on a plate, and spread about 3/4 cup frosting over it.  Place the other cake layer over that, then spread the remaining frosting on the top and down the sides of the cake.
  9. Decorate with sprinkles and enjoy!

*To make date paste, soak 1 cup dates in filtered water for 30 minutes, then drain, reserving 2/3 cup filtered water.  Pour the dates and 2/3 cup water into the blender and blend until smooth.  Store date paste in a jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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Since I really enjoyed the Red Velvet Cake Batter Dessert Hummus I made last week, I decided to make something else red velvet as well.  Because, why not?  Valentine's Day is just a few short days away so it will be festive, and I always love popcorn.  It is kind of surprising that I have never made red velvet popcorn before.  I have made many other sweet dessert popcorn recipes.  Like berries and cream, chocolate mint, and turtle.  I pretty much love using the flavors found in classic desserts in popcorn.  I first got the idea when I was at a Mall on vacation when I was visiting New Orleans, and I came across a popcorn shop.  They must have had hundreds of flavors in there.  Pretty much anything you can think of savory and sweet.  I figured most of it wasn't vegan and if it was, there was probably lots of refined sugar in it, so I just went in there to admire the flavors and maybe get ideas for making some at home. One of the flavors that I saw was red velvet cake. So, I thought to myself, I need to make that some day.  Well, it kind of got pushed to the back of my mind I guess, because I didn't remember that I wanted to make it until this week.  And, that was over a year ago.  I guess I had to be in the right mood too.  Any excuse in February to make things that are pink and red and hearts for Valentine's Day I am on it.  Of course this doesn't have hearts but it is pinkish red so I have that covered.

Also, I figured I could share it with Eric, because if I don't share my snacks with him, he will go out and buy even more unhealthy ones.  Also, he has a huge sweet tooth as well. This is pretty easy to make if you have plain popcorn on hand.  I like to just make mine in the Whirly Pop with coconut oil, because it turns out perfect every time.  But you could also just buy it.  If it already has salt in it though, just omit the sea salt from the coating in the recipe.  The red velvet coating is so delicious!  It has only 6 ingredients including sea salt, and it is colored naturally.  I don't bring artificial food coloring anywhere near my food anymore.  I actually used beet powder in this, which is my go-to red or pink food coloring.  It doesn't end up a bright red, but more of a pink red.  I am ok with that though.  You can usually find it at your local health food store in the bulk section.  I get it at my work, Fresh and Natural Foods. The coating tasted like vanilla cake batter and that brilliant red, pink color was beautiful!

But I decided to make it a little more over the top and add a white chocolate drizzle since I had some white chocolate on hand already.  If you don't want to do this extra step, I totally understand, and it will still taste amazing.  It just won't have white chocolate.  I also figured red velvet cake has frosting usually so the white chocolate drizzle is sort of the frosting.  Once the popcorn is all done it is so good!  Trust me, I ate half the pan before I knew it.  You will keep going back for seconds.  And thirds.  Lucky I had to save some for Eric or I might have eaten more. If you are looking for a sweet and crunchy snack, give this a try!

Vegan Red Velvet Popcorn with White Chocolate Drizzle
Makes 8 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup, warmed to liquid
  • 1/3 cup raw coconut butter, warmed to liquid
  • 1/3 cup raw cashew butter at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp red beet powder (vegan natural food coloring may be used instead, start by using just a few drops and add as needed)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 8 cups plain organic popped corn
  • 1/2 cup vegan white chocolate, store bought or home made (I made my own, recipe follows)

Instructions:

  1. In a glass measuring cup (or bowl) whisk together the maple syrup, coconut butter, cashew butter, sea salt and vanilla until well blended.
  2. Pour over the popcorn in a large bowl, along with berries and mix well. Spread out onto a lined sheet pan, and place in the freezer until it is hard.
  3. Enjoy!

Vegan White Chocolate 
Makes enough for the recipe, or about 16 small white chocolates

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Combine cacao butter, cashew butter, vanilla, maple syrup,  and sea salt over a double boiler, and whisk until smooth.  It is now ready to use in the above recipe.
  2. Or, if you just want to make white chocolates,  pour into a chocolate mold, and place in the freezer until set.
  3. Store white chocolate in the refrigerator.
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My boyfriend Eric has a passion for hot peppers and spicy food. When I first met him, the first food item I ever gave him was some of my home made habanero hot sauce because I knew it would impress him. I too love spicy food, so we have that in common.  There was a point in time I would put hot sauce on pretty much every savory food item I was eating, and I would sit and sweat while I ate dinner.  He would do the same, because he made his own home made hot sauce too.  Recently, he had a shaker full of habanero flakes, and he would put them on everything.  He is originally from Arizona, so none of the Minnesota wimpy tastes for him.  I am not a wimp about spice, but people here in Minnesota are notorious for thinking black pepper and ketchup are spicy.  What Eric really seems to love is sweet and spicy together.  The first Birthday cake I made him was a vegan chipotle turtle cheesecake.  It was pretty amazing and chocolate and chilies are a match made in heaven.

So, this week, I decided to make some dark chocolate chili truffles to share with Eric.  Because they sounded really good to me, and I knew he would love them too.  He loves chocolate way more than I do.  I wanted this to be a simple recipe because I didn't have a lot of time, so lucky for you, they are easy to make and contain only 6 ingredients.  For the filling I used almond butter as the base because it is creamy, delicious and sort of a blank palate. But of course you can feel free to use your favorite nut butter.  I think peanut butter or cashew butter would be amazing as well.  I simply combined it with cacao powder, maple syrup, sea salt, and of course a good amount of chipotle powder to give these a kick.  It is actually slightly more than I have listed in the recipe, because I don't want to kill anyone, but if you like super spicy too, just add a tad more.  This mixture tastes like the most amazing fudge, and I could sit and eat it with a spoon.

But I rolled it into truffles, and dipped them in my favorite vegan dark chocolate melted. They turned out super delicious!  Almost like something you would pay a lot of money for if it were in say, a heart shaped box around Valentine's day.  This is why I like to make my own candy, because it can taste just as good as the store bought, you know that good ingredients have gone into it, and of course what better way to show your significant other that you care, than taking the time to make something for them.  So, if you love chocolate and spicy things, give these a go!

Vegan Dark Chocolate Chili Truffles 
Makes about 10

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup smooth almond butter
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder (or as needed)
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups vegan dark chocolate chips, or chopped vegan dark chocolate

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl, mix together the almond butter, cacao powder, maple syrup, chipotle powder and sea salt until smooth and well combined.  You want it to be the consistency of dough, if it is still too soft (since peanut butter may vary in how liquid it is), add a little more cacao powder.
  2. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls, and place on a parchment lined tray.  Place in the freezer to chill for 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, when you are ready to dip the truffles, melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler until smooth.
  4. Dip each truffle into the chocolate (letting the excess drain off, I like to set mine on a fork to dip to make it easier) and place back onto the tray until they are all done.  Place in the freezer to set the chocolate until it is hard, which usually takes 5-10 minutes.  Enjoy!
  5. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator in a container with a lid for up to a few months.
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I am always up for trying new hummus as long as it is vegan and does not have any dairy thrown in.  Of course I love the classic with tahini, lemon and lots of cumin, and we make an amazing version of at my work.  But I like to switch it up when I make hummus at home.  There was a point in time I made it every week during the summer to enjoy with cucumbers fresh from the garden.  I would always add lots of chipotle and give it a good kick, since the cucumbers were cooling.  But the weekly hummus went by the wayside once Winter hit.  I have been making some every couple weeks though, but not of the savory variety.  It has all been sweet dessert hummus.  I keep seeing posts on social media about companies that make and sell their own dessert hummus, so it has been motivation for me to make my own because they always look and sound so good.  The latest one I made this week however, was not inspired by social media however, my Mom thought it up.  I shared some of my Chocolate Cake Batter Dessert Hummus with her when I made that one, and she said, "Why not make red velvet cake batter around Valentine's Day?"  So I had to keep my promise. Besides, it sounded amazing.

I have always leaned more towards vanilla than chocolate, as delicious as chocolate is.  So, this was right up my alley.  There would be no artificial red food coloring involved though. This was going to be all natural. Of course it had to be chickpea based, this was hummus after all.  But instead of the tahini that goes into savory hummus I used cashew butter.  You can of course use almond butter instead if that is your jam.  It had to have plenty of vanilla as well, and I sweetened it with maple syrup.  Lastly, for that beautiful color I used beet powder.  I thought about purchasing a red beet, cooking it and blending it into the hummus for color but that would have been too much work and I had the beet powder on hand already.  It was a lovely reddish pink color once finished, and it was beautiful just how it turned out.

It is delicious for dipping fruit in and I so wished I had some strawberries, but I didn't happen to have any on hand.  I think they would be amazing with it though, and how festive for Valentine's Day. Of course, you can eat it with a spoon, that is not frowned upon, at least not by me because I do it myself.  Or as pictured here, you could serve it with some chocolate short bread (make without the almonds for what is pictured here) or brownie brittle.  The chocolate is a nice contrast to the vanilla hummus.  Or, if you only like vanilla, I think a cookie to dip in it would be amazing.  I just didn't have any on hand.  So, if you are adventurous when it comes to hummus, and you like sweet things, give this a try!

Red Velvet Cake Batter Dessert Hummus
Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (or to taste, if you like it sweeter add 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup filtered water (or as needed)
  • 2 Tbsp red beet powder or as needed (or natural vegan red food coloring as needed)
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup raw cashew butter or almond butter

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth (adding a little more water if necessary).  Keeps in the refrigerator for about 1 week in a sealed container.

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Today is my blogaversary!  8 years ago I decided to start a blog, just looking to share recipes with friends and family.  I had previously just been posting them to Facebook but I figured that wasn't a very organized approach, and I wanted them all in one place, so I created a blog on Blogger.com.  I had a passion for creating new things and sharing them, but I never thought that I would go much beyond sharing things with only the people that I knew.  I also had no idea that basically anyone could create a blog.  It all had seemed so intimidating before that.  But soon, I joined some blog communities and as my followers grew, I thought to myself, this is fun and exciting and decided to stick with it.  It used to be so much easier to get your content out there on platforms like Facebook before they started making you pay to get views, and luckily I got in before that, so I gained much of my readers before they had that put in place.  Now, sometimes I feel like it is really hard to get my recipes out there because I can not afford to pay, and it becomes frustrating at times.  But I still keep going.  I no longer have my blog on Blogger, I have had my own website for the last 3 years and it is nice to have something to call my own.  Over the years my recipes have changed somewhat.  When I started out, I was a vegetarian, not vegan, but I still created many vegan recipes.  Finally though, back in 2012, I decided to go full vegan with the blog and remove all of the recipes with animal products, or revamp them.  It was a lot of work, but worth it!  Because I want you all to be able to come here and know that you will only see vegan recipes.  Also, when I first started my blog it was all desserts.  Because that is what I find the most joy in creating.  But I decided that I needed to share some savory things too, because I don't just eat desserts of course, and you all asked for it!  So now here we are 8 years later, and I think that alone is worth celebrating.  The fact that I have been sharing recipes for 8 years, and it seems like it is so much a part of my life that I have been doing it forever.  I don't know what I did with all my free time before I had a blog!

So, I thought I would make a special cake to celebrate, because every Birthday deserves a fabulous dessert!  Also, everyone should have the perfect chocolate cake recipe.  So, I went with that.  A moist, rich chocolate cake that is date sweetened.  This is my tried and true chocolate cake base recipe, and it always turns out for me.  Moist and soft thanks to the dates, and just sweet enough.  I like the idea of things that are sweetened with fruit as well.  Now normally I would have gone for a chocolate fudge frosting to make a chocolate on chocolate cake, but I wanted something with color that could look festive.  I chose a pink frosting, since I love anything girly, and I actually flavored it with raspberries.  It was a sort of a vegan "cream cheese" frosting that was a rich mixture of coconut milk and cashews and it was super delicious with the raspberries added!  I actually used freeze dried berries because they are packed with flavor and they do not add any excess moisture to the frosting.  Trust me on this one.

Lastly, I bought some vegan sprinkles just for this occasion.  They were cute, and pink and girly.  I just couldn't resist.  I don't eat or buy a lot of sprinkles, but this special occasion needed some.  If you don't prefer to use sprinkles on your cake, feel free to decorate with fresh raspberries or even crush the dried ones and sprinkle them around the edge of the cake like sprinkles.  The cake turned out so delicious!  The sweet berry frosting the perfect pairing with the rich chocolate cake!  The combination kind of reminded me of the raspberry cream chocolate that was always included in my box of Valentine's chocolates I would always get from my Grandma when I was little.  Those were always one of my favorites.  I think this cake would be perfect for Valentine's day!  Here's to another year of creating delicious recipes, and I want thank all of you that visit my website or follow my recipes!  You are the reason that I keep sharing!

Vegan Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Frosting 
Makes one 2 layer 6 inch cake

Ingredients:

6 inch cake pans

Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups packed soft medjool dates, pitted, soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Frosting:

For decoration:

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F degrees and position rack in center of oven.
  2. Oil two 6 inch round cake pans with coconut oil and line the bottom with parchment.
  3. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt in a large bowl to blend well.
  4. Place dates, water, almond butter, and vanilla extract into a blender, and blend until smooth, then whisk this blended mixture into the flour mixture until well blended. Whisk in the cider vinegar until bubbles form.
  5. Pour the cake batter into prepared pans, and place in the oven.
  6. Bake cakes until set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean, about 25-30 minutes.  Remove from oven, let cool completely, then un-mold them onto two plates, cover and set aside.
  7. To make the frosting, combine all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until completely smooth.  Pour into a bowl and place in the freezer until the consistency of stiffly whipped cream (about 30-45 minutes depending on how warm it has gotten.  Once it is ready place in the refrigerator until ready to assemble.
  8. To assemble, place one cake layer on a plate, and spread about 3/4 cup frosting over it.  Place the other cake layer over that, then spread the remaining frosting on the top and down the sides of the cake.
  9. Decorate with sprinkles and enjoy!
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Desserts are an essential part of Valentine's Day as far as I am concerned.  My first good memories of the holiday were of bringing goodies and cute little cards to school to exchange with classmates, and Grandma giving me heart shaped boxes of chocolates.  I was all about the chocolate, conversation hearts were cute, but were more suited for decorating things.  In high school a few years in a row I baked sugar cookies to share with others and they were always well received along with the chocolates.  And ever since then I have always made something to celebrate the holiday.  Although now it is usually lots of chocolates (Eric loves chocolate and sharing some is tradition) and some sort of cake, because that is my favorite.  Over the past few years I have accumulated loads of Valentine's day worthy desserts to share with you all, because any excuse to make anything chocolate, or pink, or with hearts and I am on it.  I am a total girly girl when it comes to that stuff.  I mean, if there were a natural non-refined way to add sparkles I would do that too...but I stick to the color for now.  Anyways, I have gathered together some of my favorite Valentine's Day worthy recipes so that you don't have to search hard for that special dessert.  As you may notice, I have a lot of cakes on this list, because cake is the thing I love to make the most.  I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's day, and get to spend it with people that you love, because everyone deserves to feel loved and appreciated. Be sure to do something nice for yourself too! And now, I give you my best Valentines Day desserts!  Enjoy!

Vegan Whatchamacallit Bars

Vegan Rose White Chocolate Hearts

Vegan Chocolate Raspberry Jam Cups

Peanut Butter Hearts 

Vegan Matcha White Chocolates

Raw Butterfinger Hearts

Raw Almond Butter Stuffed Figs

Chocolate Cherry Rose Cups

Raw Blood Orange Caramel Dark Chocolates

Vegan Raspberry White Chocolate Popcorn

Vegan Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Popcorn

Vegan Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies

Raw Red Velvet Bars

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Vegan Strawberry Sugar Cookies with Dark Chocolate and Lavender

Vegan Pin Velvet Cheesecake Swirl Brownies 

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Brownies

Raw Strawberry Chocolate Chunk Blondies

Vegan Red Velvet Chocolate Chunk Pancakes

Raw Love Berry Ice Cream

Vegan Pink Raspberry Heart Scones

Vegan Dark Chocolate Glazed Red Velvet Doughnuts

Vegan Chocolate Almond Raspberry Mousse Tart 

Raw Raspberry Linzer Torte

Vegan Dark Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake

Nut Free Vegan Double Chocolate Cheesecake 

Raw Strawberry White Chocolate Cheesecake

Vegan Strawberry Almond Layer Cake

Raw Red Velvet Cake

Mini Vegan Mocha Layer Cakes

Vegan Dark Chocolate Blood Orange Layer Cake

Nut Free Vegan Raspberry Swirled Vanilla Cheesecake 

Raw Red Velvet Cake with Strawberry Frosting for Two

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I have been admiring Ilene Godofsky Moreno's recipes from her blog The Colorful Kitchen for a long time, so when she offered to send me a copy of her new book "The Colorful Kitchen" to review I was excited!  I am always admiring her amazing looking sandwiches, bowls full of colorful veggies and decadent looking desserts.  Everything of hers always looks so delicious and vibrant, so I knew this would be a good book.   It has over 100 vegan recipes, almost all of which are gluten free and made without refined sugars.  It includes smoothies breakfast, salads, soups sandwiches, sides, snacks & appetizers, entrees and dessert.  So no matter what you are hungry for chances are you can find something to satisfy your craving in this book.

As I paged through it I couldn't help but notice how beautiful the photography was.  This is a big draw for me, a book with lots of photos.  It is almost as important as the recipes as far as I am concerned and this is a book full of food art as much as it is recipes.  She has each one photographed so you know exactly what you are making.  The recipes themselves are very well organized and easy to read and follow. Also they are simple enough to make so that someone who is new to cooking will enjoy them and be able to make them as well as interesting enough that someone who cooks a lot will appreciate them.  So, there is something for everyone here. I should point out that this would be the perfect book for a new vegan who is looking to eat healthy and feel good. Because everything in this book is whole foods plant based and deliciously made breaking that stereotype that vegan food is boring and bland.  She has a list of main ingredients in the book as well explained so you will know exactly what you are using and preparing.  As I paged through the book I saw so many things that I wanted to make!  She has delicious breakfast recipes like Carrot Cake Oatmeal, salads like Crispy Chickpea and Kale Caesar Salad, Snacks like Coconut Crusted Avocado fries, desserts like Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches and main dishes like Sweet Potato Skins, which is the first recipe I made, and the one that she has allowed me to share with you today!

I am a huge fan of sweet potatoes in any form, so this is the thing that caught my eye first.  They were super simple to make, and so good!  Roasted sweet potatoes have so much flavor, and filling them with things is one of my go to meals. Her recipe uses cooked lentils and black beans to stuff them with, and they are topped off with avocado and cashew sour cream.  This is the perfect balanced meal to keep you satisfied and feeling good.  It has it all, protein, fiber, veggies and healthy fats.  All of the recipes in her book are balanced this way, and if you eat this way, you will feel good.

It is not often I come across a cookbook where I want to eat all of the recipes, but this one is that way.  Usually there are things in cook books that I say to myself, well that sounds tough to make, or it has ingredients that are hard to find, or things that I don't think are that healthy but this book fits all of my nutritional needs as well as includes the types of things that I crave.  So you should definitely go check it out HERE!  Also, be sure to check out The Colorful Kitchen on Facebook and Instagram as well, it is definitely worth following! Guess what?! have another surprise for you!  If this book sounds like the sort of thing you will love, you can enter to win a copy of it for yourself!  Just leave a comment on this blog post!  Good luck!

Sweet Potato Skins

Ingredients:

Sweet Potato Base:

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 batch Lentils (see below)
  • 1½ cups cooked black beans (or one 15-ounce can, rinsed and drained)
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Toppings:

  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Cashew Sour Cream (see below) or store-bought vegan sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions

Instructions:

  1. To roast the sweet potatoes, preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a knife to poke holes in the sweet potatoes, and place them on the baking sheet. Bake for 45–60 minutes, until tender. Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven, and let them sit until they are cool enough to handle.
  2. While the sweet potatoes cool, combine the Lentils and black beans in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat them until warm, about 5 minutes. Season them with salt and pepper.
  3. Slice the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out about half of the flesh from each Reserve the scooped-out flesh for another use. Spoon the lentil and black bean mixture into the sweet potatoes.
  4. Top each sweet potato half with an avocado slice. Top with the Cashew Sour Cream and green onions. Add any sauce you like, if desired.

Lentils

  • 3 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup lentils
  • Dash of salt
  1. In a medium pot, bring the water or vegetable broth to a boil over high heat. Add the lentils and salt, reduce the heat to low, and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes, until the water is absorbed. If you are not using the lentils right away, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Cashew Sour Cream

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water at least 4 hours
  • Juice of ½–1 lemon, to taste*
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1–3 tablespoons nondairy milk
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  1. Drain and rinse the cashews. Transfer the cashews to a blender and add the lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup.
  2. Starting with 1 tablespoon at a time, add the nondairy milk as needed to blend, and blend until completely smooth. Add the salt and pepper and stir. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

NOTE: Use a whole lemon for a tangier sour cream and a half lemon for a more mellow version.

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I am in a chocolate mood lately.  So on my day off last weekend I decided that some brownie baking was in order.  The weather was pretty chilly so I didn't feel like spending much time outside, so it was the perfect time to be a kitchen hermit.  By that I mean spending most of my time there.  Not that I am not kitchen hermit already most of the time because I admit I kind of am.  I do work in a kitchen and spend time in the kitchen at home developing recipes after all.  Baking brownies is one of those things that always makes me happy.  I mean, you can not possibly be in a bad mood while baking brownies. Eating the leftover batter from the bowl, smelling the chocolaty goodness baking, and of course eating the finished product.  It all produces comfort, satisfaction and happiness.  At least for me.  So it is one of my favorite memories.  I remember when I was in high school my friend and I would bake brownies from time to time...then end up eating most of the pan of warm gooey brownies. And, I would also sometimes beg my Mom to buy me a box of brownie mix sometimes and make them. Because no bar really compares to classic brownies.  If you are craving brownies, it has to be brownies.  Rich, and fudgy, the middle pieces for me.  I know we all have our preferences but that is how I like mine!

I thought about making just classic brownies, because I was craving those brownies I had when I was little.  But in my typical way of thinking, I had to embellish them in some way.  Because I can never leave well enough alone with my recipes.  So, I decided to go wild and add in raspberries as well.  Yes, I know that is not super wild, but oh boy it made all the difference in those brownies.  I am still enjoying the raspberry jam from Eric's dad, so that is what I used in these and it was so good with the rich dark chocolate!  This is my classic brownie base that I use most of the time.  It uses avocado oil and almond butter to make it rich and delicious.  If you are going for a more low fat thing though, you could substitute apple sauce for the avocado oil, but then the brownies would be more cakey, which I do not prefer.  So, I go with the oil. They are coconut sugar sweetened and it almost gives them the same flavor as a brown sugar would.  An almost caramel flavor in the background which I love! The batter tasted amazing before it was even baked.  I should know, I tasted plenty of it.

My house smelled so good while these were baking!  Like raspberry pie and brownies combined!  The only bad thing about brownies is that if you want them to cut nicely you have to cool them completely which is usually a few hours.  And I did want them to cut nicely so I could photograph them for you all and have them look pretty.  But if you don't want to wait, go ahead and enjoy these babies warm while the chocolate chips are still gooey because I think that would be amazing.  Top them off with some vegan ice cream, even better!  They taste wonderful with the decadent rich chocolate brownie base studded with chocolate chips and sweet jammy raspberries throughout!  If you want to impress someone and show them how delicious vegan food can be, whip up a batch of these and share with them!  If you can share that is, because you may not want to share once you taste one.

Vegan Dark Chocolate Raspberry Brownies
Makes 16

Ingredients:

8x8 inch Pan

Brownies:

Directions:

  1. To make the brownies, pre-heat the oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Whisk together the sugar, oil and almond butter until well combined and the sugar is starting to break down. Add the flax mixture and and beat until smooth. Add the flour, cacao powder and sea salt and beat until smooth.
  3. Scrape the batter into a greased 8x8 inch pan, then drop the jam over it in 2 Tbsp amounts, and swirl it with a knife.
  4. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Place in the oven, and Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until set (but do not over bake).
  5. Let cool before cutting into bars.

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Since that nut free Vanilla Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake I made last weekend turned out so good, I decided that this weekend I needed to make a chocolate one for all of you chocolate lovers out there.  You know who you are, the people who can never resist anything chocolate, and always choose it over vanilla.  Eric (my boyfriend) is like that.  In fact, the first dessert I ever made for his Birthday was a raw Mexican chocolate cheesecake. I don't hate on chocolate just because I usually have a thing for vanilla.  In fact this week I have been craving something decadent and chocolaty so it is a win for everyone me making the chocolate cheesecake this weekend.  I didn't want to make anything that was too difficult either, and vegan cheesecakes are usually pretty straight forward.  What mattered to me here was that the cheesecake be rich, decadent and still be healthier than traditional cheesecake.  I think I achieved all of that.

For the crust, I my usual go to crust of oats, coconut and dates but with cacao powder this time to make it rich and sort of raw brownie like.  It was the perfect base for the richness to come.  The filling is a little unusual.  Like the other nut free cheesecake I made last weekend, I included chickpeas in this one for the creamy filling instead of my usual go-to cashews.  And you know what?  You can not even tell the difference once it is all blended up.  Once you add in the cacao powder you would never even know that they are in there!  Also, this cheesecake is completely fruit sweetened as well as an added bonus, because I used dates this time instead of maple syrup.  Dates are nature's candy, and I love using them in desserts.  Anyways, back to that cheesecake filling...it was delicious even before I poured it into the crust.  Like a dreamy chocolate mousse that I could eat out of a bowl.  I decided to stir vegan chocolate chips into it to make it even more delicious!

Since I made the cheesecake at night, I had to wait until the next day for it to set, but it was well worth the wait!  I topped it off with a gooey chocolate ganache, and I could not wait to dive in!  It was rich, delicious and everything I imagined it to be!  Perfect for all of you chocolate lovers out there.  I think this might be the perfect Valentine's dessert if you and your significant other love chocolate.  So if you are going out to dinner, skip the dessert and make your own, because it is much more fun to make your own, and then you will have leftovers for later too!  And, nothing beats cheesecake leftovers!

Vegan Double Chocolate Cheesecake (Nut Free)
Makes one 8 inch cake

One 8 inch spring form pan 

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup finely shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup gluten free organic rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup pitted medjool dates (if not soft, soak them in filtered water first and drain well)
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Filling:

Ganache:

Instructions:

  1. Oil an 8 inch spring form pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. To make the crust, place all ingredients in a food processor, and process until crumbs and starting to hold together (if they are not holding together when squeezed, add a few tsp filtered water and blend). Press into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  3. Meanwhile, to make the filling, combine all ingredients but the chocolate chips in a high speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Pour the filling over the prepared crust.
  5. Place cheesecake in the freezer to set for about 4-5 hours (or overnight in the refrigerator if you are not in a hurry).
  6. Remove from the freezer, un-mold and set in the refrigerator while you make the ganache.
  7. In the top of a double boiler, melt the dark chocolate and whisk in the coconut milk until smooth.  Pour over the top of the cake, and let it drip down the sides. Place in the refrigerator until it is more set, about 30 minutes.  Enjoy!
  8. Store any leftover cake in the refrigerator.

*I use Thai Kitchen full fat coconut milk.  If you are using a different brand, just make sure it is the thick type, 2/3 of the can at least should be very thick.

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