Category Archives: dessert

June 2019 Cooking Class – Taco Salad, Ranch Dressing and Oatmeal Cookies

June 23, 2019

June’s cooking class was all about summer fun. Cooking up something simple, nutritious and delicious in no time at all.  Inspired by Dr. Greger’s video Antioxidants in a Pinch : Dried Herbs and Spices, we focused on adding herbs and spices to our food as a nutritional booster. And as usual, the menu included beans, greens, and berries.


An exciting addition to this class was the presence of three young folk – 2 who were fifteen years old and a 10 year old, who love to cook. Hopefully they were inspired to think about the nutritional value of foods as well as deliciousness. With the kids in mind, instead of a salad we had raw veggies with a creamy ranch dressing/dip. Our main entree was a build your own taco bar. Dessert was fresh organic strawberries and oatmeal cookies. All whole food plant based, and gluten free. And as a bonus, we whipped up a fantastic Pesto with fresh basil from my greenhouse.

We started our class with a Tropical Green Smoothie. I will have to admit, this one was inspired by a McDonald’s commercial for their Banana, Pineapple and Mango Smoothie. But with added oats, greens, flax and spices, this one packs a big nutritional punch.

Tropical Green Smoothie with Oat Milk

For those new to green smoothies, start with less greens and build up. Some for the ginger and turmeric. Both Ginger and Turmeric are great spices with lots of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

This smoothie is made with plant milk. For a change, we used oat milk. Oats are locally grown and oat milk is easy to make from ordinary rolled oats. For the class, we used spinach, freshly picked from my garden, in the smoothie.


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 pitted date
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (gluten free if necessary)
  • 1 banana, fresh or frozen
  • 1 orange
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger (or ¼ to ½ tsp dry)
  • ½ inch piece fresh turmeric (or 1/8 to ¼ tsp dry)
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 to 2 cups kale or spinach
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks


Place water, date and rolled oats in a blender. Blend until smooth. (If you were making oat milk for use in another recipe, you would strain this milk through a nutbag or similar cloth to remove the pulp. For the smoothie, we left the pulp in) Note: you can substitute the oat milk with any plant milk of your choice, or with water.

Add the remaining ingredients to the blender with the oat milk and process until smooth.

Creamy Ranch Dressing

This Creamy Ranch Dressing also works perfect as a dip. Made with a combination of cashews and tofu it is smooth and creamy and lower in fat. The recipe is a slightly modified version of Kim Campbell’s in The PlantPure Kitchen. The dressing/dip adds the herbs parsley and dill to your diet.


  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup packed firm tofu
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried parsley (or 1 tbsp fresh)
  • 1 tsp dried dill (or 1 tbsp fresh)


(If not using a high speed blender, soak cashews for 2 hours. Drain.) Place all ingredients in a blender except for parsley and dill, starting with ¼ cup water. Blend until smooth, added more water if needed. Once creamy, taste and adjust seasonings. Then add parsley and dill and pulse to blend in.

Taco Bar

Tacos make a great weekday meal. Prepare your “taco meat” and sour cream ahead of time (both freeze well) for a fast, delicious, nutritious meal sure to please everyone. Serve it in a taco shell, lettuce wrap, in a burrito shell or as a salad. The taco filling is chock full of herbs and spices for flavor and nutrition.

This recipe was inspired by Angela Liddon’s Ultimate Green Taco Wraps in the Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook, the Amazing Cauliflower Tacos from and the Taco Salad at Circle Kitchen, a plantbased restaurant in Winnipeg.


  • Taco Meat:
    • 1 cup cooked green or brown lentils
    • 1 cup walnut pieces
    • ½ small head of cauliflower
    • 1 ½ cup beans, 1 can rinsed and drained (black, pinto, chili, etc)
    • 1 cup cooked brown rice, or more as desired
    • 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire Sauce (optional, gluten free if necessary))
    • 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari (gluten free if necessary)
    • 2 tbsp chili powder
    • 2 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp smoked paprika
    • 1 tsp garlic powder or granules
    • 1 tsp onion powder or granules
    • 2 tsp oregano
    • ¼ tsp black pepper
    • ¼ tsp salt


In a food processor, place walnuts and lentils and pulse until coarsely chopped (about the consistency of rice). Remove and place in a bowl. Place cauliflower florets in the food processor and pulse until about the consistency of rice. Remove and place about 2 cups of cauliflower rice in the bowl with the lentils and walnuts. Add tamari and Worcestershire, if using, and toss to coat. Mix spices in a small bowl and then add to taco meat bowl. Toss well to coat. Place mixture on a baking sheet and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes. Or place in a nonstick frying pan and heat on medium heat until cauliflower is cooked through. Add the beans and rice to the mixture.


  • Veggies:
    • 2 peppers, any color
    • 1 red onion
    • Salt and pepper to taste


Slice peppers and onions in long thin strips. Dry saute in a non-stick pan until onions are translucent. Add water or broth, 1 tbsp at a time if necessary to keep from sticking. Season with salt and pepper.


  • Cashew Sour Cream:
    • 1 cup raw cashews
    • ½ cup cooked white beans
    • ½ to ¾ cup water
    • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 1 to 3 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
    • ½ tsp onion powder (optional)
    • ½ tsp garlic powder (optional)


Soak cashews in water for 2 hours. Drain. Place all ingredients in a blender, beginning with ½ cup water. Blend until smooth, adding more water as necessary to keep moving.


  • Toppings:
    • Lettuce or greens
    • Tomatoes, diced
    • Avocado, diced
    • Green onions, sliced
    • Cilantro, chopped
    • Sriracha
    • Salsa
    • Lime wedges


For a Taco Salad – in a pasta bowl, place a bed of chopped lettuce or greens. Add a layer of the peppers and onions. Sprinkle with the taco meat. Top with tomatoes, avocados, green onion, and cilantro ,as you desire. Add Sour Cream and Sriracha (if desired) and squeeze some lime juice over it all.

The taco meat can also be served in a lettuce cup, taco shell or burrito wrap.

Oatmeal Cookies

This cookie recipe is inspired by Rip’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Raisin Cookies in the Engine 2 Cookbook and a date sweetened oatmeal cookie from  By blending your oats into oat flour in your food processor and then adding the dates, you  can finely chop the dates easily.

The dough should be sticky enough to form into balls.

The first time I made this recipe I used homemade almond butter which was on the dry side. I found I needed a touch of milk to get it to hold together. During the class, we made the cookies using purchased peanut butter and no milk was necessary.

Adding cinnamon to your cookies is a great way to enhance the nutritional value.


  • 12 Medjool Dates, pitted
  • 2 cups rolled oats, divided
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup chocolate chips, raisons, cranberries or walnut pieces


Pitt the Medjool Dates. In a food processor, place 1 ½ cups of the rolled oats and process until the oats are ground to a fine flour. Add the flax, baking powder and cinnamon and process until incorporated. Add dates one at a time and processes until finely chopped and incorporated into the flour mixture. Add almond butter and process until fully incorporated. Remove from food processor and place in a bowl. Add vanilla and maple syrup. Mix well. (Note: if your nut butter was very dry, you may find the mixture too dry to form a ball. If so, add a tablespoon or tow of plant based milk, one tablespoon at a time, adding just enough to allow the mixture to hold together.)

Add chocolate chips, dried fruit of chopped nuts. Mix well. Form into 1 to 2 inch balls and place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Bake at 350F for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet 5 to 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.


When packing up for the cooking class, I found the basil in my greenhouse ready for a good haircut. I took the basil with me and made up a batch of my favorite pesto from Served with Mary’s seed crackers. This recipe freezes really well and is a great way to put away an abundance of fresh summer basil to enjoy of the winter months.


  • 3 cups basil
  • ½ cup lightly toasted pine nuts
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt and pepper
  • About 4 tbsp water ( to thin)


Place all ingredients, except water, in food processor or blender. Blend, adding water as necessary to thin out.

Use immediately or freeze in ice cube trays for later use.

Don’t forget, summer is a great time to enjoy nature’s bounty of fresh fruit and veggies. Strawberry season is upon us, and nothing beats the taste of fresh organic strawberries.  They make a great dessert, and so easy you don’t need a recipe to prepare them. Eat your berries, every day!

May 2019 Cooking Class – Tex Mex, Apple Kale Salad, Raspberry Chocolate Parfaits

May 26, 2019 in Winnipeg and June 1, 2019 in Minnedosa

At this cooking class, we focused on simple to prepare, easy on the budget meals that are packed with nutrition and delicious enough to make for company. The dishes focused on beans, greens and berries, foods you should try to add to your diet everyday. We did greens three different ways – raw in a salad, blended in a smoothie, cooked in a casserole and boiled and served as a side. We enjoyed beans both in the casserole but also blended in both the cashew cheez and the salad dressing. And we had berries in the smoothie and the dessert! Yeah for beans, greens and berries!

Thanks to everyone who attended the classes and shared your food experiences. Special thanks to James for the exceptional pictures and to Shirley, Katherine (Winnipeg) and Darcy (Minnedosa) for their help. The recipes are at the end of the post.

For starters, we shared a brilliant blue smoothie, brimming with spinach, banana and lots of blueberries. This smoothie is a departure from my usual recipe of water, greens and fruit. I replaced the water with almond milk and added a touch of cinnamon to make what I call a dessert smoothie – so delicious we often have it for dessert! Yeah for greens and berries.


The main dish – a Tex Mex Casserole, an old company standby of mine because it can be whipped up easily from ingredients on hand, and appeals to most everyone. You won’t even notice the 2 cups of finely chopped kale hidden amongst all the deliciousness. To add a layer of richness to the dish, we also whipped up a quick and easy cashew and bean cheez to add to it.  Adding beans to your cashew cheez sauces is a great way to reduce the amount of nuts used.  We used 1/2 cashews and 1/2 cooked white beans.

While the Tex Mex recipe directions are to make up the casserole in a frying pan and then place in a casserole dish and bake, I often skip the baking step and serve it straight out of the frying pan.

Massage your kale with a pinch of salt for a tender salad

The salad, Apple and Kale Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing, is also an old favorite of mine and a delicious way to add more kale to your diet. Replacing half of the kale with romaine lettuce is a great way to introduce raw kale to your diet. And massaging your kale will tenderize it as well. The apples, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and red onion add more flavor and nutrition. I love the zippy maple mustard dressing. Its great on all sorts of different salads and is made with cashews and white beans. Hiding beans in your creamy sauces is a sneaky way to add more beans to your diet!

As a bonus, we even cooked greens! We boiled up a pot of kale and spinach, and served with a simple maple mustard sauce.  This maple mustard sauce is fantastic on all types of cooked greens.  When you can find you love cooked greens this way, you will find yourself adding them to almost every meal. Dark leafy greens are the healthiest food on the planet, offering more nutrition per calorie than any other food.

Whipping coconut cream for a dreamy topping

Dessert was a chocolate raspberry parfait.  While it did not include kale, or any other green, it did contain a vegetable – sweet potato, hiding in that delicious creamy chocolate layer.  And this dessert contains absolutely no refined sugar – its sweetened by dates. The dates and chia seeds help thicken up the chocolate and raspberry pudding layers and add plenty of fiber as well as sweetness. Since this dessert is nothing but delicious nutrition, you can eat it everyday. Pack the pudding layers into a small mason jar and its easy to pack in a lunch and transport. To spruce it up for a special occasion, serve it with a dollop of whipped coconut cream sweetened with a touch of maple syrup.

Blueberry Green Smoothie


  • 1 cup unsweetened plant based milk (almond, cashew, oat, soy, etc)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries


Place all ingredients in blender in the order shown. Blend until smooth.

Tex Mex Casserole


Spice blend: o 1 tbsp chilli powder o 1 ½ tsp ground cumin o 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika (or ½ tsp regular paprika) o ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (reduce or omit for mild) o 1 ¼ tsp salt o ¼ tsp ground coriander


o 1 onion, diced o 3 cloves garlic, minced o 1 orange bell pepper, diced o 1 red bell pepper, diced o 1 jalapeño, diced fine (optional) o 1 cup corn kernels o 1 – 28 oz can diced tomatoes o 2 cups finely chopped kale leaves or spinach o 3 cups cooked black beans (2 cans, drained and rinsed) o 3 cups cooked rice (brown rice or a brown and wild rice mix) o ¼ cup cashew cheese sauce (optional, recipe follows)


Combine spice mix and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375F, prepare a large casserole dish (4 to 5 quart)

In a large pan, sauté onion, peppers and until softened. Add a tablespoon or two of water if necessary to prevent sticking. Stir in spice mix, corn, tomatoes, kale, beans and rice. Saute until heated through. Stir in ¼ cup of the cashew cheese, if desired. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish and smooth out the top. Bake at 375F for 30 minutes or until hot. (dish can also be prepared and served hot out of the frying pan) Serve with optional toppings (chopped avocado, salsa, green onions, cashew cheese, tortilla chips).

Adapted from the Oh She Glows cookbook by Angela Liddon

Cashew and Bean Cheez Sauce


• ½ cup cashews, soaked and drained
• ½ cup cooked white beans (or chickpeas)
• Juice of 1 lemon
• ¼ cup nutritional yeast
• ½ tsp garlic powder
• ½ tsp onion powder
• ¼ tsp salt
• 1 tbsp miso (optional)
• ½ cup water


Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add more water if necessary to blend.

Apple and Kale Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing


• ¼ cup cashews, soaked until soft, drained and rinsed
• ¼ cup cooked white beans (or chickpeas)
• ½ cup water
• 2 tbsp maple syrup
• 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
• 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 1 clove garlic
• ¼ tsp salt
• 1 tbsp nutritional yeast

• 1 bunch of kale, de-stemmed and shredded fine (or a mixture of kale and romaine)
• sprinkle of salt
• 2 apples, cored and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
• ½ cup dried cranberries
• Sliced red onion
• Roasted pumpkin seeds


Place all dressing ingredients in high-speed blender and blend until smooth.

Place kale in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Massage salt into the kale for a few minutes. Add chopped apples, dried cranberries and red onion. Toss.Add dressing to coat and toss well. Top with pumpkin seeds and serve.

Steamed Greens with Maple Mustard Sauce


  • Your choice of greens – kale, spinach, chard, mustard greens, beet greens, etc
  • 2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp soy sauce, tamari, or liquid aminos


Wash and chop your greens. Boil or steam greens until tender. Drain well.
Mix mustard, maple syrup and soy sauce in a small bowl. Add to drained cooked greens and toss well. Serve.

Raspberry Chocolate Chia Pudding Parfait


Chocolate Pudding: • 1 cup plant based milk (almond, cashew, soy, etc) • 1/3 cup dates, pitted • ¼ cup cooked sweet potato pulp* • 1 tbsp cocoa powder • 2 tbsp chia seeds Raspberry Pudding: • 1 cup raspberry puree • 1/3 cup dates, pitted • 1 tbsp chia seeds Whipped topping (optional): • 1 can full fat coconut milk, chilled for 24 hours • 1 to 2 tbsp maple syrup • 1 tsp tapioca starch • ½ tsp vanilla extract


  • Sweet Potato Pulp – poke several holes in a sweet potato with a fork and bake at 350F for 1 hour or until fork tender. Peel off skin and mash pulp with a fork.
  • For chocolate and raspberry pudding: soak dates and chia seeds in the milk or raspberry puree for several hours or overnight. In a blender – Place dates and chia seeds soaked in raspberry puree and blend until smooth and creamy. Remove raspberry pudding to another container. Without washing out the blender, place dates and chia seeds soaked in milk in the blender along with the cocoa powder and ¼ cup sweet potato pulp. Blend until smooth and creamy. NOTE: If you find the puddings are not sweet enough for your taste, add a tablespoon or two of maple syrup. Whipped topping: Be sure to refrigerated the milk for at least 24 hours to ensure the fat layer is solidified. Open bottom of can of the refrigerated coconut milk. Pour off the coconut water and reserve for another use. Scoop out the solidified coconut cream into a small chilled bowl. Add 1 tbsp maple syrup, tapioca starch and vanilla extract. Beat with electric beater until cream is whipped. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Refrigerate until ready to use. Assemble parfaits by layering chocolate and raspberry puddings in a clear glass container (small jars or glasses work well). Refrigerate until ready to serve. Before serving, top with whipped topping, if desired.

Plant Based Eating Cooking Class – Minnedosa

April 6, 2019

After retiring out to the country four years ago, I finally had my first cooking class out here. We had 11 participants and we had a great class with lots of discussion, sharing and enthusiasm. This was also my first morning class, starting at 9:30 and finishing at 12:30.

As always, our class began with a green smoothie. My basic smoothie recipe is:


  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups greens (spinach, kale, beet greens, chard, parlsey, cilantro, etc)
  • small chunk of fresh turmeric (or 1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground turmeric)
  • small chunk of fresh ginger (or 1/4 tsp ground ginger)
  • pinch of black pepper (increase bio-availability of the turmeric)
  • 1 orange, peeled or 1/2 lemon peeled
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen fruit (banana, mango, pineapple, or mix)
  • 1 cup berries (blueberry, raspberry, black berry, sea buckthorn, or mix)

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. For this class, we used spinach for the green, and banana, mango and blueberries for the fruit.   Mmmm, love my green smoothies. A great way to add more dark leafy greens and berries to your diet, as well as the anti-inflammatory turmeric.

After a discussion on Dr. Gregor’s Daily Dozen and the importance of eating more fibre, especially from beans, we made a simple but delicious main dish of red beans and rice. This budget conscious dish using easy to source ingredients and is full of veggies as well a beans. Served over brown basmati rice for a serving of beans, veggies and whole grains. This recipe is an adaptation of the Creole Red Beans and Rice from PlantPure Kitchen by Kim Campbell. Delicious when topped with salsa and guacamole.

Creole Red Beans and Rice

  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 4 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 peppers (any color), seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 2 to 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 – 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 tso oregano
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 cans kidney beans, pinto beans or chili beans, drained and rinsed (3 to 4 cups cooked)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Sriracha, cayenne or hot sauce, to taste (optional)
  • Brown rice for serving
  • Salsa &/or guacamole for serving

In a large pot, add onions, garlic, celery, carrots, peppers and broth (or water). Sauté until onions are translucent. Add tomato paste, maple syrup, mustard, vinegar and spices. Add additional ¼ cup of water or broth. Stir until well combined. Add beans and stir to combine. Taste and adjust spices to your taste, adding hot stuff if desired. Let simmer on low heat for 30 to 60 minutes.  Serve with salsa and/ or guacamole.

A great salad to pair with the Red Beans is a creamy coleslaw. This coleslaw is packed with cruciferous veggies (cabbage family – red and green cabbage and kale) and full of great color.  The dressing is oil free and made with cashews which adds good oils, protein, fibre and a whole host of nutrients.


  • 1 cup kale, shredded fine
  • 2 carrot shredded or julienne
  • ½ cup green onions, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced thinly
  • ¼ cup raw cashews, soaked 2 hours, drained
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp cane sugar

In a large bowl, combine cabbage, kale, carrot, onion and red pepper.  In a blender, combine drained cashews with remaining ingredients. Blend well and pour over cabbage mixture. Combine well.

Greens are so full of nutrition, its important to try to get at least 2 servings (1 packed cup per serving) per day. Steamed greens is a great way to add lots of greens. We cooked up a huge pot of kale, which we served with a maple mustard sauce. You can steam or boil your kale, either way they are packed with nutrients.

Steamed Greens

  • 1 bunch kale, washed, destemmed and chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp soy sauce or tamari

Steam or boil kale for about 5 minutes or until tender. Drain well. Add mustard, maple syrup and soy sauce and mix well.  (also good with other greens like spinach, swiss chard, beet greens, collards, tat soi, gai lan, etc)

We almost always have a dessert after our evening meal. Nothing sticky or overly sweet, usually a bowl of berries. We try to have at least one serving of berries everyday, and ending your day with a nice bowl of berries fits the bill. In the winter, we use frozen berries, usually blueberries or cherries. Just thaw and eat. Reprogram your taste buds to enjoy the sweetness of fruit without added sugar.  This blueberry crisp is great for a more traditional dessert, without loads of fat or sugar. Sweetened with a touch of maple syrup and a crunchy topping made with nut butter and oats.

Blueberry Crisp

  • 1 orange, peeled
  • Zest of ½ orange
  • ½ lemon, peeled
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot, corn starch or tapioca powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 6 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen


  • 2 Tbsp almond, cashew or peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp apple or orange juice
  • Zest of ½ orange
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup rolled oats (gluten free if necessary)
  • ½ cup oat flour (blend oats in blender to a flour)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a blender, place orange, lemon, maple syrup, water, arrowroot, and cinnamon.  Blend until smooth.  Place berries in a 8 x 8 inch baking dish. Add contents of blender. Stir to coat.

In a medium bowl, combine nut butter with maple syrup, juice and zest. Add oats, oat flour and cinnamon. Mix until crumbly. Sprinkle topping on fruit. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes or until fruit is bubbling.  Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes until topping is lightly browned. Cool slightly before serving.

Serve with cultured coconut milk, banana nice cream or whipped coconut cream, if desired.

Thanks to Darcy and Laura for organizing the class. A big thank you to Vicky, my house guest from Germany who was my right hand in the kitchen. And a great big thank you to everyone who came to the class. I enjoyed our discussions.

Almost forgot. they had a great writeup in the Brandon Sun on the class.

Sweet Treats

December 27, 2018

The Christmas season is a time for sweet treats. But why can’t your sweet tooth be satisfied with whole plant based food rather than loads of refined sugar, butter and white flour. I love to have a sweet snack but like to feel that it is providing more than empty calories. Below is the assortment of sweets I made this season. They are all delicious and nutritious and can be consumed without added guilt.

As a bonus, all my Christmas baking this year was gluten free. Although I am not gluten sensitive, my sister and nephew are, and I wanted them to be able to enjoy it all.

All these treats froze well, which is helpful for preparing in advance.

Pecan Bars or Tarts

Pecan tarts made in silicone molds

This recipe is from Feasting on Fruit. The only modification I made was to add some oatmeal to the crust to reduce the amount of pecans used. They are not overly sweet and everyone seems to love them.


  • 1 1/2 cups (180g) chopped pecans (Used 1 cup pecans and ½ cup GF oatmeal)
  • 1 cup (70g) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 8-10 (150g) pitted medjool dates


  • 12 (200g) pitted medjool dates
  • 1 1/4 cup (300g) non-dairy milk
  • 3 tbsp arrowroot starch ((can sub cornstarch or tapioca starch))
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cup (150g) pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 350F.

For the crust, combine all the ingredients in a  food processor and blend until sticky and clumpy. (I suggest you process the pecans, oatmeal (if using) and coconut first then add the dates through the feeder shoot one at a time while the machine is running.)

Press firmly into a square pan (8×8″) lined with parchment paper. Set aside.

Without washing the food processor,  place medjool dates, milk, arrowroot, vanilla, and salt in a processor and process until smooth.  Add 1 cup of the pecan halves and pulse them in.

Spread the filling on the crust. Place the remaining 1/2 cup of pecans on top and press them in lightly.

Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350F or until the pecans on top are golden brown.  Remove from the oven. Cool. Then refrigerate overnight. Slice into squares and enjoy! Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Or you can make as tarts, as I did. I pressed the crust into the bottom of small silicone molds. Pour filling over the crust and decorate with 1 or 2 pecans, depending on the size of your mold. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes or until the pecans are golden brown. Cool overnight then remove from the molds.

Spice Date Cookies

Spice Date Cookies rolled in sesame seeds

This recipe is from Monkey and Me Kitchen Adventures and  makes about 20 small cookies. They are sweetened with dates and contain no oil, just a small amount of tahini. Roll them in sesame seeds for a unique look on your dessert platter.

  • 1/8 cup tahini
  • 8 medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • Pinch sea salt
  • Sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment or silicone mat.

Place tahini in a food processor and while running, drop the dates in through the feeding shoot one at a time.  Process until dates are finely minced. Add all the other ingredients, except sesame seeds, and process until the mixture forms a ball.

Scoop dough into 1 tbsp balls and roll tightly. Roll in sesame seeds. Place on cookie sheet and press flat with bottom of a glass. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool before removing from the baking sheet.

Rip’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Raisin Cookies

From Engine 2 Cookbook by Rip Esselstyn and Jane Esselstyn. These are really delicious but a bit too sweet for my palate. When I made the second batch, I changed the 1/4 cup maple syrup to 1/8 cup maple syrup and 1/8 cup pumpkin puree.

  • ¾ cup oat flour (use gluten free if necessary)
  • ¼ cup old fashioned rolled oats (use gluten free if necessary)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup (or 1/8 cup maple syrup and 1/8 cup pumpkin puree)
  • ¼ cup almond butter
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 1/3 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup non dairy chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F and line cookie sheet with parchment or silicone mat.

In a large bowl combine all ingredients and stir until well combined. (Note: you can make your own oat flour by blending rolled oats in a blender until a flour forms)

Scoop out dough in 1 ½ to 2 inch balls. Press down to form disk. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until light brown on the edges. Cool

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Ginger Molasses Cookies

This cookie recipe is also from Feasting on Fruit. They are sweetened with both molasses and coconut sugar.  The only modification I made was to add some fresh grated ginger for a more intense ginger taste. Rather than rolling the cookie dough balls in cane sugar, I opted to press them flat with the bottom of a glass coated with sugar. (moisten the bottom of the glass first so the sugar sticks) These cookies are quite soft.

  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ½ cup apple sauce
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground ginger (plus fresh ginger for stronger flavour, if desired)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch salt
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup tapioca starch
  • cane sugar for rolling (optional)

Combine almond butter, apple sauce, coconut sugar, and molasses in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Add lemon juice, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla and salt and beat until combined. Add the baking soda. Mix coconut flour and tapioca starch together. Stir into wet mixture and stir until combined.

The dough should be able to form into balls, if not add a tablespoon or 2 more of coconut flour (or you can drop them by spoonfuls onto your baking sheet rather than roll them). Press the balls flat with a sugar coated glass, if desired.

Bake at 350 F for 12 minutes. Let cool on the baking tray before removing.

Speculoos Cookies


This summer, we had three young folk from France staying with us, and Sandra made these for us. Speculoos is traditional for Christmas in Belgium (they lived on the border of France and Belgium). Traditionally, they are rolled out with an embossed rolling pin or speculoos molds, however, I just used a plain rolling pin. Plain but still delicious.

These are generally sweetened with a dark brown sugar, but I used coconut sugar instead. They only other modification to the recipe I made was to substitute the olive oil with almond butter. This recipe is from My Gut Feeling.

  • 1 cup brown rice flour + more to sprinkle
  • ½ cup tapioca
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • pinch of white pepper (I used black pepper)
  • ½ cup dark muscovado sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • 5 tbsp almond milk

In a medium bowl mix flour, baking soda, salt and spices.

Cream oil and sugar for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. If necessary, use a fork to better incorporate the sticky sugar lumps. Beat in half the flour mixture and the milk. Add remaining flour and mix to make a light dough (approx. 10 minutes).

Set aside in the fridge for 4 to 5 hours or overnight to allow the spices to permeate the dough and add extra flavor.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ªF and line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sprinkle the speculoos molds lightly with flour. Insert dough into the molds, press firmly and gently roll over using a rolling pin. Trim excess dough horizontally with a knife. Gently remove dough out of mold with fingertips and onto the baking sheet. This is a slow and delicate process but totally worth it. If you don’t have speculoos molds, simply spread the dough and cut it with cookie cutters.

Bake each batch for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the mold you use, or until cookies start to brown.

Let the cookies cool on the tray for 10 minutes before eating or storing in an airtight container.

No Bake Brownies

No Bake Brownies

  • 2 cups nuts (I used half walnuts and half almonds, other options are peanuts, cashews)
  • 1 ½ cup medjool dates, pitted
  • ¼ cup hemp hearts
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ cup brown rice crisps
  • Shredded coconut for topping

Note: that this is too much for a small food processor. Unless you have a 12 cup processor, process half the batch, then dump into a bowl and process other half. Add the crisps to the bowl with the complete mixture.

If using almonds, place in food processor and process until small pieces. Place remaining nuts in with almond pieces and process until small pieces. Add the hemp hearts and salt. Add dates one at a time feeding through the shoot while the machine is running.  Add cocoa powder and combine well. Add maple syrup and process until fully combined. Remove mixture to a large bowl and add rice crisps. Mix in by hand.

Press mixture into a 8×8 pan lined with parchment. Press in firmly. If desired, top with shredded coconut. Press coconut into brownie mixture. Chill for 1 hour, then cut into small pieces and store in freezer.

Coconut Cacao Quinoa Bars

Coconut Cacao Quinoa Bars

These bars are coconut heaven. I use coconut butter (which you can make in your VitaMix using just plain unsweetened coconut just like you would peanut butter) to hold them together, rather than coconut oil.

I found this recipe in a magazine (CookVegan Plant Power for the Planet, Early Summer 2016 edition )in the Glasgow airport while waiting for a flight home. I have since modified it to be whole food.

  • ¾ cup pitted Medjool dates
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 50 grams dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  • 1 ¼ cups shredded coconut
  • ½ cup quinoa flakes
  • ½ cup cacao nibs
  • ½ cup coconut butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp brown rice syrup


  • 100 grams chocolate
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut

Line a 7x4x3 inch loaf pan with parchment paper or use a silicone pan.

Process dates in food processor along with vanilla, salt and cinnamon into a rough paste. Add chocolate, coconut, quinoa flakes, and cocao nibs. Process till fully blended. Melt coconut butter and brown rice syrup together and add to the food processor. Process until well combined. Mixture should stick together when pressed with your fingers. If necessary, remove from food processor and blend with your hands.

Press the mixture into the prepared pan, pressing firmly. Smooth out the top. Freeze for 1 hour. Cut into bars.

Melt the chocolate for the topping over boiling water in a double boiler. Place coconut in a separate dish. Once chocolate is melted, dip each bar lengthwise in the chocolate so the top half of the bar is coated in chocolate. Wipe off excess and dip in the coconut. Place on parchment paper coconut side up. Store in fridge or freezer.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Bites

These are one of the energy balls I made for the Winnipeg VegFest.

Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons

This recipe is from Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows Everyday cookbook and is one of my favorite. They are super easy to make, look fantastic and taste even better. I use the VitaMix to make up a batch of coconut butter.

  • 1 cup raw almonds ground into a fine meal
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100 grams dairy free dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 275F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Place all ingredients, except dark chocolate, in a bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. Dough will be thick and sticky.

Using a small retractable cookie scoop, or 1 tablespoon measuring spoon, scoop dough out and roll into a firm ball using wet hands to prevent sticking. Place on baking sheet, flattening the bottoms slightly so you have a small round mound.

Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan. Bake an additional 15 minutes, watching carefully to be sure they don’t burn. If necessary, bake longer until the mounds start turning golden brown. Remove and cool on baking sheet until cool before removing.

Melt dark chocolate over hot water in a double boiler. When melted, dip the flat base of each macaroon in the chocolate. Place on parchment paper. With a spoon, drizzle remaining melted chocolate over the top of the macaroons. Cool until chocolate is hardened (can place in freezer to speed this up).

Cherry Cha Cha

Cherry Cha Cha

This popular dessert consists of a date nut base, a cherry filling and a whipped coconut topping. You can make each part ahead of time and assemble the dessert the morning of your dinner to save time. You can also substitute other fruit, like blueberry or peaches, for the cherries.  I used frozen pitted sweet cherries.

You can find the recipe with the June 2016 cooking class recipes.

Dessert Table

Don’t forget your desserts don’t all have to be baked goodies. Plain fruit is a good alternative too. My dessert table included pineapple, mandarin oranges, fruit compote and roasted unsalted mixed nuts.






Traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve Supper – Vegan style

December 27, 2018

Table all set for Christmas Eve

I grew up in a Ukrainian family, following most of the old traditions. Ukrainians have lots of great traditional food, but the Christmas Eve supper has always been my very favorite holiday feast. And when I became vegetarian at age 20, Christmas Eve became the only holiday where I could eat the traditional meal, as the Christmas Eve supper is meatless and dairy free. How perfect, celebrating the birth of Christ without killing any of his companions from the stable.

Ukrainian Christmas Eve can be celebrated on December 24 (Gregorian calendar) or January 6 (Julian calendar). There are lots of traditions associated with the Christmas Eve supper but this is about the food.

The traditional meal, Sviata Vechera or Holy Supper,  is 12 dishes:

  • Kutia (boiled wheat sweetened with honey and poppy seed)
  • Kolach (braided ring shaped bread )
  • Borsch (meatless beet soup served without cream on Christmas Eve)
  • Holubsti (cabbage rolls stuffed with rice or buckwheat)
  • Perogies, also called varenyky (dumplings stuffed with potatoes, sauerkraut or various sweet fillings like poppy seed, prunes or berries)
  • Mashed beans (cooked white beans seasoned with garlic)
  • Sauerkraut (some serve it only as a perogie filling but it can also be served as a side, sometimes with cooked dried peas)
  • Mushroom Gravy (a brown gravy usually made with pidpenky, a wild mushroom harvested in the fall)
  • Fish (while the meal is considered meatless, it does include fish)
  • Pickled Herring
  • Compote (stewed dried fruit)
  • Pampushky (sweet dough balls similar to doughnuts, stuffed with sweetened poppy seed paste)

While the meal is “meatless”, it does include fish.  More recently, more and more dairy is sneaking into the meal. Now it is common to see the perogies served with sour cream and the borsch with cream. Never-the-less, it is a pretty easy meal to convert to vegan, and even to whole food plant based (ie, no processed products, no oil).

When my maternal grandmother was alive, Christmas Eve was her domain. Later, my mother took over, and now it is mine. While it is a fair bit of work to put together all the dishes, much of it can be done ahead of time and it comes together pretty easy. I do it pretty much the traditional way, with a few tweaks – most notably the absence of fish and the addition of a salad.  Since I am always preparing the meal for non-vegans, someone usually brings a fish dish. [updated Dec 2019 – this year I am adding Chickpea No-Fish Cakes to the menu for a vegan fish option. Recipe added below]

For the last three Christmases, my husband and I have found ourselves alone as the kids have been unable to come home. We started a tradition we call “Only the Lonely”. We invite various individuals, who would otherwise be alone at Christmas, for a traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve supper. Its perfect because they don’t expect meat to be on the menu. We have a blast getting to know new people and singing all night long. My menu is:

  • Kutia (without honey)
  • Kolach (whole grain)
  • Borsch (meatless with cashew cream)
  • Holubsti (stuffed with rice)
  • Perogies ( 2 kinds – potato and sauerkraut)
  • Mashed beans
  • Sauerkraut
  • Mushroom Gravy (made with pidpenky picked in the fall and, when possible, a second gravy made with morals picked in the spring)
  • Salad (green salad or coleslaw)
  • Selection of my own garden pickled vegetables – beets, carrots, dilled cucumbers
  • Compote (stewed dried fruit)
  • Dainties
  • Nuts, fresh fruit



We only make Kutia at Christmas, and it has always been a favorite of mine. My grandmother’s recipe is below, along with my modifications. Traditionally, the meal begins at the sighting of the first star. A tradition my kids loved is the head of the household throwing a spoonful of kutia at the ceiling. The more kernals that stick, the more prosperous the coming year will be. This is not a tradition we do often. Beside, my version of kutia is more runny, not like a sticky porridge, so it doesn’t stick well to the ceiling.

Many kutia recipes roast the wheat before soaking and cooking it. However, my grandmother never did, and so I don’t either. I omit the honey used for sweetener and instead use a combination of maple syrup, brown sugar or my own homemade vegan dandelion honey.  Also, some serve it hot, some cold, some with nuts, some without. I have had kutia made several different ways, but this remains my favorite. Just plain sweetened wheat with poppy seeds, served cold.

  • 1 1/2 cups wheat kernals
  • 10 cups cold water
  • 1/2 tsp salt (reduce to 1/4 tsp)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (substitute with maple syrup, or dandelion honey)
  • 1 cup honey (omit)
  • 1 cup poppy seed

Wash wheat and place in a large pot with the water and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 3 hours, or until the wheat is tender but not mushy. While the wheat is cooking, Grind the poppy seed in a coffee mill. Place ground poppy seed in a pot and add water to more than cover the seeds. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Discard the water and put the boiled ground seeds aside for later.

When the wheat is cooked, drain off excess water leaving only enough to just cover the wheat. Add the sweetener. Start with 1/2 cup and add more if needed. (The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups in total (brown sugar and hone) which I find way too sweet. ) Simmer an additional 30 minutes, then cool. Once chilled, add the drained ground poppy seeds. Serve cold.



Traditionally the kolach is three rings braided rings of bread, stacked one on top of the other. It is placed in the center of the table with a candle in it and is not generally eaten until the following day.

Most kolach recipes call for eggs, but I make mine from any whole grain bread recipe I like. Recently, I have been making whole grain artisan bread from Its Always Autumn. Its the easiest bread to make. You mix up the dough one day, let it sit 8 to 12 hours, then pan it, let it rise and bake it. Is similar to a sour dough, but without having to feed a starter. The original recipe uses only whole wheat flour, but I modify mine by replacing some of the whole wheat with oatmeal, rye, spelt, or ground flax. For Christmas Eve, I made a double batch and braided the dough into three rings.


Borsch with cashew cream

Borsch is a beet soup, and in my family, it was never made with meat or meat stock. Since Christmas Eve was dairy free, the borsch was served as a rich red tomato based soup. Now I generally add cashew cream to the borsch. The recipe below makes enough to feed about 16 people, so you need a big stock pot to make, but you can half the recipe for a smaller batch.

  • 6 cups peeled and grated beets
  • 3 cups peeled and chopped carrots
  • 2 Onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 12 cups water and or broth
  • 2 tbsp Lemon juice or vinegar
  • 2 cups Potatoes, peeled and chopped to ½ inch cubes (red or banana potatoes)
  • 1 cup Green beans, chopped
  • 8 cups Tomato juice
  • 3 cups Small white beans (navy beans), cooked
  • 2 tbsp dried Dill, or ¼ cup fresh
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 cups green Peas

Grate your beets with the biggest grater size. Chop your carrots in a fine dice (or in the food processor, careful not too fine). I use a rough ratio of 3 to 1 beets to carrots (however much beets you have, use 1/3 the amount of carrots). Use red or banana potatoes as the white russets will fall apart and not keep their shape.

In a large pot place carrots, beets, onions and garlic. Cover with water to about ½ inch above the level of the veggies. Bring to a boil and simmer about 20 minutes, until the veggies are tender. Add lemon juice or vinegar.  Add potatoes and cook until almost tender, about 10 minutes.

Add green beans and cook another 5 minutes, until all veggies are tender.

Add tomato juice to taste.  Place about 1 cup of the white beans in a blender and blend until smooth with added water or tomato juice. Add to the soup to thicken it. Add remaining white beans. Taste and adjust seasonings adding dill, salt, pepper, tomato (juice or paste) and vinegar until it is to your liking. If desire, add cashew cream sauce (recipe below)Add peas at the very end, just before removing from the stove.

Optional cream sauce:

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic granules
  • Salt and pepper

Soak cashews in water for at least 2 hours. Drain and place soaked cashews in a blender with , onion and garlic. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.



Holopsti, or Cabbage Rolls, are filled with rice or buckwheat for Christmas Eve.  The trickiest part of making holubsti is getting the cabbage leaves soft enough to roll.

I used cabbage I grew myself in the garden this summer. Its not as dense as commercially grown cabbage so easier to get the leaves off in one piece. Core your cabbage then place in a large pot of boiling water and as the cabbage boils and softens, remove the leaves from the head, one at a time. Be careful not to overcook the cabbage, Then remove the large vein on each leaf. The large outer leaves will be big enough to make at least 2 holubsti while the small inner leaves will make one holubsti. I prepared the leaves then froze them. Once you thaw them later to make cabbage rolls they are very pliant but still hold together well.

I use a filling of brown basmati rice. Boil the rice until it is slightly undercooked. Season with onion sauted in broth, salt and pepper.

Fill each leaf with the rice and roll tight. This link gives you a good idea of the technique.  

Place holubsti in a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Cover them with tomato juice (I season the tomato juice with a bit of garlic and onion powder first). Bake at 350 for about 2 hours, or until the cabbage is fork tender. As you can see from the picture of my holubsti above, they are a bit messy. I would recommend baking them in the same pan you plan to serve them in as mine got a bit mashed when moving them from the roaster to the serving dish.


Potato Perogies

Perogies are everyone’s favorite Ukrainian food. Until just recently, I seldom indulged as the traditional dough contained oil plus they are served smothered in butter as well. However, the discovery of an oil free, whole grain perogie dough was a game changer for me. See my previous post on how to make this excellent perogie dough.

For Christmas Eve, I filled some perogies with potato filling (mashed potato, cashew cheese, onions sauteed in broth, salt and pepper) and some with sauerkraut (sauerkraut, onions sauteed in broth, small amount of mashed potatoes to help the filling hold together).

Sauerkraut Perogies

To make the perogies oil free, once you boil them, serve immediately with gravy. Its pretty difficult to keep them from sticking together. In order to do up enough to feed 14 people on Christmas Eve, I tossed the cooked perogies with onions that were sauteed in olive oil.

Usually, perogies are served with sour cream. However, for Christmas Eve they are served with mushroom gravy as the meal is dairy free. But I also made a Cashew Sour Cream to go with them. I use the recipe from Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows Everyday Cookbook.

Cashew Sour Cream


Cashew Sour Cream

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight (or at least 2 hours)
  • 1/4 cup water, more as needed
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder (optional)

Drain the cashews and place in a blender along with the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth, adding a bit more water if needed.

The original recipe does not call for nutritional yeast, onion or garlic powder but I like to add it. Note: this sour cream freezes well.

Mashed Beans

Mashed Beans

This is a dish my mother found in the Ukrainian Daughters’ Cookbook . Ever since she found this beans have been on our Christmas Eve menu. Its a fan favorite with everyone and, of course, I am super pleased to beans to the meal.

  • 3 cups cooked small white beans (Navy Beans)
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • salt and pepper

Mash the beans with a potato masher or hand held blender. Saute onion and garlic in a pan, adding broth as needed to keep from sticking. When onion is translucent, add the garlic and onion powder and about 1/2 cup broth. Simmer until liquid reduces by half then add the  mashed beans. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.



Saute onion, adding small amounts of broth to keep from sticking. Drain a jar of sauerkraut and add to the onions. Heat and serve.





Chickpea No-Fish Cakes [updated Dec 2019]

  • Chickpea No Fish Cakes

    2 cans hearts of palm, drained

  • 1 can chickpeas (or ½ to 2 cups), drained
  • ½ cup cashew/bean cream (recipe below)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tbsp lime or lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion (yellow, green or scallion)
  • 2 tbsp dry parsley
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 tsp kelp or nori flakes
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs (breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder)

In a food processor, pulse hearts of palm to a flaky texture. Remove to a large bowl. Flake chickpeas in the food processor and remove to the large bowl with the hearts of palm. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix well. Form into patties or nuggets. Roll in seasoned breadcrumbs

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serve with tartar sauce.

Tartar Sauce

  • ¼ cup cashew/bean cream (recipe below)
  • 1 ½ tsp relish
  • ½ tsp dill
  • ½ tsp lemon juice

Mix everything together well and let sit a few minutes to let the flavors meld.

Cashew/Bean Cream

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 1/2 cups cooked white beans (I use Navy but you could also use cannellini beans)
  • 3 tbsp miso
  • 1 cup water

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. If needed, soak the cashews first, but I find soaking is generally not necessary. If it comes out grainy, let sit for a couple hours and reblend.

Mushroom Gravy

Pidpenky Mushroom Gravy

We pick pidpenky in the fall, par boil it and freeze it for Christmas. But in the absence of pidpenky, you could substitute another wild mushroom or sliced creminis from the store.





Creamy Moral Mushroom Gravy

If I am lucky enough to have frozen morals left from the spring picking, I use them but substitute a cashew cream (like used in the borsch above) instead of the gravy in the recipe below. This year I had both moral and pidpenky gravy.




Saute onions and mushrooms using a bit of vegetable broth to keep from sticking. Once onion is translucent, add gravy. Heat and serve.


Creamy Cole Slaw

Although not traditional, I think a big meal such as this one needs more veggies, so I always add a salad. This year I did a cole slaw with green cabbage, carrots, red onion, apple and a creamy dressing. You can find my recipe here.



Compote – Stewed Fruit

Compote is cooked dried fruit, and it is usually sweetened with honey or sugar. However, I never sweeten mine as it is sweet enough on its own. Sometimes I wonder why I continue to make compote for Christmas Eve. No one ever eats it. Everyone is content to sample the sweets instead. However, compote (along with leftover kutia) is my all time favorite breakfast for Christmas morning. I always make a big bowl and put it out for dessert on Christmas Eve. No one eats it. I put it back in the fridge and then enjoy it in the morning.

You can buy a mix of dried fruit, or just use what you like. This year I used what I had on hand – unsulfured apricots, cherries, raisins, and apple slices. Place in a saucepan along with some lemon slices, a couple sticks of cinnamon and a few whole cloves (I used 5). Cover with water and leave to soak overnight or at least 4 hours. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until the fruit is just tender. Chill and serve cold.


Dessert Table

My dessert table consists of a bowl of compote, fresh fruit – this year that was pineapple and mandarin oranges, a bowl of mixed roasted unsalted nuts, and a tray of Christmas baking. See this post for the recipes I used this year. All whole food plant based, all delectable.


The menu above is good for 12 to 20 people. We had 14 people this year and I was able to send care packages home with everyone. I think the best part of Christmas Eve supper is leftovers. No cooking for the next few days. Kutia and Compote for breakfast. Borsch and Kolach (topped with hummus or pesto) for lunch. Holubsti, perogies, beans and salad for dinner.

I hope you had a joyous Christmas and wishing you all the very best in 2019.


October Cooking Class – Sheppard’s Pie, ColeSlaw and Apricot Bars

October 21, 2018

Fall is definitely in the air and its time for some good old fashioned comfort food. For this month’s class, we did a whole food plant based (no oil) remake on the traditional Sheppard’s Pie, make with lentils, mushrooms, peas and carrots and topped with creamy high protein mashed potatoes and served with more delicious gravy. The coleslaw is colorful and has a delicious  creamy dressing. To round out the meal we added a whole mess of cooked kale with a tangy maple mustard sauce. Its so good we even made a kale lover out of one of the students. And the apricot bars provides a delicious finish to a simple meal. Its also holds up well to travel so is great to pack for a lunch.

As always, our class started with a green smoothie, a delicious way to add more green leafy veggies to your diet. Todays smoothie followed the standard 2 cups water, greens and fruit but with a red twist. We used red chard, raspberries and a touch of beets to get a vibrant red smoothie. As luck with have it, our usual photographer James was unable to attend and I didn’t remember to get a picture. So you will just have to trust me that it looked great. You can substitute any greens for the red chard, but you won’t get the same smashing color. Feel free to add more beets if you like the taste.

Vibrant Red Smoothie

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 inch fresh turmeric root (or 1/4 tsp ground)
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 orange, peeled
  • small chunk of raw beet, peeled (about 1 1/2 inch square piece)
  • 1 cups red chard, kale or beet leaves (or any greens)
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 2 cup frozen mango

Place all ingredients in a blender in the order given. Blend until smooth and enjoy.

Sheppard’s Pie

Sheppard’s Pie and Gravy

This Sheppard’s Pie was inspired by daughter-in-law Megan. When I was visiting she made a lentil Sheppard’s Pie and I was blown away by how delicious it was. And she made it without a recipe and with simple basic ingredients. Mashed potatoes, cooked lentils, carrots, peas and gravy. It took me a while to replicate it (we ate a lot of Sheppard’s Pie this past month), but I think this version is pretty close.

While a traditional Sheppard’s Pie is made as a casserole – in a baking dish with the filling topped with mashed potatoes, then baked in an oven; I usually make a lazy version. After making all the ingredients – filling, gravy and potatoes – I just heat on the stove top and assemble on the plate. However, it is also handy to put it together ahead of time in a baking dish, ready to pop into the oven later. Your choice.

One of the class participants remembers her Mom making Sheppard’s Pie – the lazy version – and topping it with cooked corn. She said she added a sweetness to the dish. Give it a try.

Mashed potato topping – use leftover mashed potatoes or the following:
• About 4 large potatoes, peeled if desired and diced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 ½ cups cooked small white beans
• 4 to 6 tbsp unsweetened unflavoured plant milk (almond, cashew, soy)
• Salt and pepper
Place potatoes in pot and cover with water. Boil until just tender. Drain. In a blender or food processor, puree beans, garlic and milk until smooth. Add to potatoes and mash well. Season with salt and pepper.

• 1 onion, diced
• 6 cloves garlic, chopped
• 3 cups vegetable broth
• ¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
• 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
• 1 tsp white wine vinegar
• 3 tbsp corn starch or arrow root powder
• Salt and pepper

Sauté onion and garlic in 1 to 2 tbsp of the vegetable broth until soft. Transfer to a blender and add remaining ingredients, except salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Return to the pan and cook until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

• 1 onion, diced fine
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 cups mushrooms, diced fine
• 1 cup carrots, diced small
• 1 ½ cups cooked lentils
• 1 ½ cup gravy
• 1 cup frozen green peas

Saute onion, garlic, mushrooms and carrots in a small amount of water or vegetable broth, until onion is translucent and carrots fork tender. Add lentils and gravy. Mix well and remove from heat. Add peas.

Transfer to an 8 by 8 baking pan. Top with mashed potatoes and bake for 30 minutes at 350F, uncovered or until bubbly and top is slightly browned. Serve with remaining gravy.  Or use the lazy version – Cook until filling is hot. Serve with mashed potatoes and gravy.

Creamy Coleslaw


• ½ cup raw cashews, soaked and drained
• ½ tsp salt
• 1 tbsp lemon juice
• 2 tbsp white vinegar
• ½ tbsp Dijon mustard
• 1 tbsp sweetener (agave, cane sugar, etc)
• ½ cup water
• 1 tsp onion powder
• 1 tsp celery seed
• ½ tsp black pepper

• Shredded cabbage (red and/or green)
• Shredded carrots
• Green onion
• Red bell pepper, thinly sliced

Place cashews, salt, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, sweetener, water, onion powder, celery seed and black pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Mix veggies in a large bowl, toss with sufficient dressing to coat and serve.

Kale with Maple Mustard Sauce

Kale with Maple Mustard Sauce

This is my favorite way to eat cooked greens. It great with kale, spinach, chard, tat soi, bok choi, gai lan, beet greets, or any green you fancy.  Be sure to chop your kale finely. I bunch it up and cut it into thin strips like you would cabbage.  Its great hot, cold and in between. I even love eating the leftovers for breakfast.

  • one large bunch of kale, washed, destemmed and cut into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

Cook kale in plenty of water for 4 to 5 minutes. Drain well. Mix mustard, maple syrup and soy sauce in a small bowl. Pour over drained kale and stir to combine.

Apricot Bars

Apricot Bars

This recipe is a combination of several recipes but the basic idea coming from the Oat and Apricot Bars in The China Study Family Cookbook by Del Sroufe.

• 3 cups rolled oats
• 1 ½ cup pitted dates
• ½ cup walnuts
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• ¼ tsp salt
• ¼ cup apple sauce
• 1 ½ cup dried apricots (or substitute dates)
• 1 cup orange juice
• Grated zest of 1 orange

Soak apricots in orange juice for at least 2 hours. Add orange zest and puree until fairly smooth.
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9 inch square baking pan with parchment paper. (Note: I made mine in a spring form pan) Combine oats, dates, walnuts, cinnamon and salt in food processor until dates are mixed in well. Place in large bowl and mix in applesauce. Mixture should hold together fairly well. If too dry, add a bit more applesauce. Press 2/3 of the mixture into the prepared pan. Press in firmly. Bake 10 minutes. Remove and let cool at least 10 minutes. Spread apricot mixture over baked crust. Sprinkle remaining topping over the apricot mixture and press lightly. Bake 10 minutes. Remove and let cool before cutting.

September Cooking Class – Baked Beans, Broccoli Salad & Pumpkin Pudding

September 23, 2018

Another great class! This one focused on whole plant based food, easy on the budget, simple to prepare, totally nutritious and absolutely delicious.

As always, the class started with a green smoothie. This one was mango kale. If you are new to green smoothies, or introducing them to your kids, start with a bit less kale and gradually increase the amount. Thanks Cecile for the suggestion to add a pinch of black pepper to the smoothie to boast the turmeric absorption.  I have added this my recipe.




Green Smoothie
• 2 cups water
• 2 cups kale
• 1 orange, peeled
• ¼ tsp turmeric
• ½ inch piece ginger root
• Pinch of black pepper
• 2 cups frozen mango

Place ingredients in a blender in the order given. Blend until smooth.



Baked Pinto Beans

This is my whole food plant based adaptation of a family favorite from my sister-in-law Pat.

Be sure to chop the carrots and onions very fine (a food processor works great) as they are designed to provide a nice texture to the dish as well as sneaking in a bit more veg. If you don’t have a food processor, feel free to skip the carrots.

You can also substitute any other bean you like for the pinto beans.

Serve with steamed greens, a grain (rice, quinoa, barley, buckwheat), baked potato or a whole grain bun. For the class, we served this with Silver Hills Sprouted bread topped with smashed avocado.

These beans freeze really well. I like to freeze them in 2 cup portions. That way I can keep a constant supply in the fridge to easily add beans to any meal. And these beans are great for breakfast too.

• 4 cups dry pinto beans
• 1 tsp salt (optional)
• 1 large onion, diced
• 1 or 2 carrots, chopped fine
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• ¼ tsp pepper
• ¼ cup molasses
• ½ cup tomato paste
• 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
• ½ cup maple syrup
• ½ cup vinegar
• 1 tsp Dijon mustard
• ¼ tsp cayenne
• ½ tsp salt
• Couple shakes liquid smoke (optional)
• 3 cups water

1. Cover beans with plenty of water (about 12 cups) and let soak overnight. Drain and rinse. Place in slow cooker with salt, if using. Cover beans with water (about 6 cups) and cook on high 3 to 4 hours, or until just tender. Drain.
2. Place the beans in the slow cooker with the remaining ingredients. If necessary, add more water so that the liquid covers the beans. Cook an additional 3 hours on high. Add more water if it becomes too dry. Adjust seasonings to taste. (note, you can cook the beans one day and do the next step another.)
1. Cover beans with plenty of water (about 12 cups) and let soak overnight. Drain and rinse. Place in in a large pot with salt, if using. Cover beans with water (about 6 cups). Bring to a boil and simmer on stovetop until just tender, about 1 hour. Drain.
2. Place the beans in a large oven safe pan. Add remaining ingredients. If necessary, add more water so that the liquid covers the beans. Cook an additional 1 to 2 hours 300F. Check the beans every half hour and add more water if it becomes too dry. Adjust seasonings to taste. (note, you can cook the beans one day and do the next step another.)
Skip step one above. Use about 12 cups cooked beans in the recipe. Drain and rinse beans.

Sweet Chilli Broccoli Salad
This is a great side for any meal. To make it into a whole meal, add 1 can of drained chickpeas. This dressing is also good on a cabbage salad for a change from the usual coleslaw dressings. And the salad keeps well in the fridge so it can be made ahead of time and leftovers taste even better the next day.  A great way to add more cruciferous veggies to your diet.

The recipe is from The PlantPure Kitchen by Kim Campbell.

• ¼ cup lemon juice
• ¼ cup water
• 3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce (or 2 tbsp regular plus 1 tbsp water)
• 3 tbsp maple syrup
• 1 tbsp tahini
• ½ to 2 tsp sriracha (optional)
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled

• 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
• 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
• 2 carrots, peeled and shredded
• ¼ cup red or green onion, chopped

Combine sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Toss salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the sauce, toss and serve.

Steamed Greens

Greens are one of the most important part of your diet, so be sure to have 2 servings everyday, either in a green smoothie, mixed into a main dish, or served alone cooked. This simple to make dish is one of my favorites and is great with kale, chard, spinach or beet greens. For this class, we used kale. I like to shred the kale very fine before cooking.

  • 8 cups kale, destemmed and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • pinch of salt

Bring about 8 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add kale and cook about 5 minutes, or until bright green and tender. Drain and squeeze out excess moisture. Add mustard, maple syrup and a pinch of salt. Toss well and serve.

Pumpkin Chia Pudding

If you are looking for a great whole food alternative to pumpkin pie this fall, this is a great recipe. This pumpkin pudding is easy to prepare and tastes great.

The recipe is adapted from Forks Over Knives. I removed the chili powder and black pepper, reduced the cloves and increased the maple syrup. For the class, we served the pudding in small glass cups layered with granola, topped with a maple glazed pecan and served with Vanilla Nice Cream (recipe below). Any leftovers are great mixed with your morning overnight oats.

• ¼ cup chia seeds
• 2 cups almond milk or plant-based milk of your choice
• 2 cups pumpkin purée
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon ground ginger
• ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• ¼ cup maple syrup, or more to taste (or substitute date paste)

1. Mix the chia seeds and almond milk in a jar or bowl, and let the mixture set for 5 minutes. Whisk or stir the mixture vigorously to evenly disperse the chia seeds. Cover the jar, and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.
3. Remove the chia pudding from the refrigerator, and stir in the pumpkin purée, dry spice mixture, vanilla extract, and maple syrup. Serve garnished with coconut flakes. If desire, serve with whipped coconut cream or vanilla nice cream.

Vanilla Nice Cream

  • 1/2 cup plant based milk (I used Cashew)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 frozen bananas

Place milk and vanilla extract in a high speed blender or food processor. Pulse to combine then on high speed (or frozen dessert setting) add bananas slowly. Push down to combine well, if necessary. Store in freezer for 2 to 3 hours before serving to harden slightly. (If left longer it may freeze too solid to scoop out. If so, take out of the freezer and store in fridge for 1 hour before serving. ) Note, letting the bananas thaw slightly will help your blender to process this to a smooth texture. If necessary, add a bit extra milk to process.