Vegan Oatmeal Cream Pies

Oatmeal Cream Pie Cookies

Yes, I admit that I ate a lot of crap in high school. While I certainly enjoyed a variety of snack cakes like Ding Dongs, Swiss Rolls, and Devil Squares, one of my all-time favorite crap-snacks were Little Debbie’s Oatmeal Creme Pies. My girlfriend, Beth, and I would eat those things by the box and, if memory serves me correct, we’d routinely down an entire box before our basketball games. Clearly not the best food choice for sustained energy, but I claim ignorance for my poor choices of yore.

Thinking back to those b-ball days made me a little nostalgic and I couldn’t resist looking through old photo albums. This one was taken during our senior year in a game against our biggest rival, Ontonagon. It was during the district tournament and we ended up barely losing 43-41 so it also happened to be the final game of our high school career.

Baraga Girls Vikettes versus Ontonagon

But back to evil Debbie. It’s not just the high sugar, saturated fat, and cholesterol that make Little Debbie’s Oatmeal Creme Pies so repulsive to me now, but look at all of the artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives that are in them (I’ve highlighted the horror of horrors, but notice I’m not even marking corn syrup, which could be debated):

Corn SyrupFlour Enriched BleachedBarley Malt,NiacinIron ReducedWheat FlourFolic Acid (Vitamin aB)Oat(s)Cottonseed Oil Partially Hydrogenated,Soybean(s) Oil Partially HydrogenatedRiboflavin (Vitamin B2)SugarThiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1)Vegetable(s) ShorteningAmmonium Bicarbonate,Baking SodaDextroseEmulsifier(s)Contains 22% or less LeaveningMilkMolassesPolysorbate 60,Raisin(s)SaltSorbitan MonostearateSoy Lecithin,WaterWheyMono and DiglyceridesCorn Starch, Caramel Color, CarrageenanCocoaCoconutColor(s),Egg(s)Egg(s) WhitesApple(s) EvaporatedMilk Non-Fat DryRed 40Sorbic Acid, Freshness Preserved BySpice(s)Yellow 5Flavor(s) Natural & Artificial,Sulfite Treated

So now I present you with a healthier recipe for oatmeal creme pies made of whole ingredients, yet taste “like they have a pound of butter in them” (exact words from the mouth of one of my co-workers) and will surely give Little Debbie a run for her money.

You first want to whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and powder in a medium bowl. Then cream the Earth Balance, sugar, and molasses in your stand mixer.

Keep beating until the mixture is light and fluffy like the photo below. Then add vanilla and beat again.

Put your Ener-G Egg Replacer in a bowl, add the water and beat with hand beaters until stiff peaks form.

Ener-G Egg Replacer

Add this mixture to the bowl and beat again.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the bowl while the machine is beating on low speed. After you’ve added all of the flour, you may need to turn up the speed of your mixer in order to allow the dough to fully combine like the photo below on the right.

Remove the bowl from the mixer, add in the oats, and stir by hand. Grab your cookie scoop and drop cookie dough balls on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and space them 2 inches apart.

Bake for 11 minutes at 350 degrees. They will flatten during baking, but still remain a bit puffy when done so you will need to press them flatter immediately after pulling them out of the oven.

Transfer them to a cooling rack until completely cool and then turn them over.

While the cookies are cooling, wash the bowl of your stand mixer and make your cream filling by putting all ingredients together in a bowl and mixing until creamy smooth.

Cream Cheese Filling

I made sure I had 24 bottoms turned over on the cooling rack and then spread the cream on top of each one. I laid them all out like this and didn’t put their top on until I had spread each cookie with cream. That way if I had lots of left-over cream I could add more to each cookie or, similarly, if I was running short on cream I could steal some from the already creamed cookies. When you’ve finished adding the cream, place the remaining 24 cookies on top.

Vegan Oatmeal Cream Pies

Makes 24 cookie pies


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons Ener-G Egg Replacer
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats

Cream Filling

  • 8 ounces (1 container) vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti), softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) Earth Balance, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prep: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and make sure that your Earth Balance and cream cheese are softened to room temperature. Also, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cookie Dough: In a medium bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. In the bowl of your electric stand mixer beat the Earth Balance, white and brown sugars, and molasses on high until creamy and fluffy. You will need to periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and beat again, until combined. Add the egg replacer and beat until creamy. Slowly add the flour mixture to the bowl while it’s beating on low speed. Increase the speed after adding all of the flour until well incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer, add in the oats, and stir by hand.

Bake: Using a cookie scoop, drop the cookie dough 2 inches apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 11 minutes and don’t be alarmed if they seem too soft because these are supposed to be very soft cookies (and they will thicken slightly as they cool.) Press the cookies flat with your hands or another flat surface and then transfer them to a cooling rack until they’re completely cool.

Cream Filling: In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, Earth Balance, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy (about 3 minutes). Again, you’ll need to scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically so that everything is incorporated.

Completed Cookie: Spread the filling on the flat side of half the cookies. Place the remaining cookies on top to make a sandwich.

Oatmeal Cream Pie Cookies

Roasted Sweet Potato Banana Amaranth Pudding Porridge

Roasted Sweet Potato Banana Amaranth Porridge

Amaranth? What the heck is that? My quick answer to that question is that amaranth is to the Aztecs as quinoa is to the Incans. For many years it was the staple grain in the Aztec diet and, like quinoa did for the Incans, powered their civilization.

I remember when i first started cooking quinoa over ten years ago and, seeing as I had never eaten it before, or even heard of it, I had no idea what to expect in terms of flavor. At the time I remember that it wasn’t a runaway hit with me. It wasn’t that it was unsavory… I just didn’t LOVE it immediately. I didn’t LOVE it the way I do now. I suppose this is often the case with new flavors where they can take some getting accustomed to; an adjustment period. I may feel the same about amaranth. It too has a strong, distinct flavor when eaten alone so pairing it with the intense flavor of roasted sweet potatoes and bananas was a great first introduction for me (I’ve only eaten it in cornbread before). In fact, I loved this dish so much that poor Alex didn’t even get a chance to try it. Oops!

Amaranth Size Comparison

You can see how tiny amaranth is compared to other grains and, even when fully cooked, the tiny little pearls are still quite small. In the bottom right of the photo below you can see the little amaranth pearls mixed in with the roasted potato puree. The amaranth beads in this dish vaguely remind me of the pearls in tapioca pudding. They have a similar texture but, as someone who doesn’t like tapioca pudding that much, they are a lot tastier (and much smaller).

Roasted Sweet Potato Banana Amaranth Porridge

Like quinoa, amaranth also has a very high nutritional profile. It’s a very good source of protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and iron. And when eaten with the sweet potatoes and bananas in this dish that are loaded with vitamin B6, potassium, and vitamins A and K you have yourself a nutrient-packed power breakfast (or dessert, because you could totally eat this for dessert.)

Sorry to blather on about nutrition again, but I just can’t help myself as I’ve spent years studying how our bodies respond to food—our fuel. I find it so fascinating how food can be medicine when you eat certain things and stop eating others. But enough about that; here’s how to make this glorious, tastes-like-pumpkin-pie dish!

Olive Oil Sweet Potatoes

After peeling and chopping your sweet potato, put it in a bowl and drizzle extra virgin olive oil over it, add salt, and toss to coat each piece evenly.

(Somewhat bashfully, I will admit that because I was taking a photo while pouring the oil, I ended up adding waaaay more oil than I had intended. I probably used a 1/4 cup or more! Ooops!)

Place the chunks on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and place in a 400 degree preheated oven for 15 minutes. Then take them out, toss them with a spoon, and put them in for another 15 minutes. Do this once more (45 minutes in total) until they’re cooked through and look like the photos below.

While you’re roasting your sweet potato, you can also roast your banana. However, instead of taking 45 minutes, the bananas only take 30 minutes to fully roast.

Take them out at the 15 minute mark and turn each slice over. The photo above on the right is what they looked like right when I took them out of the oven after 15 minutes of roasting.

Here, on the left, shows the bananas after I flipped them over, before putting them back in the oven, and the right shows them after the full 30 minutes.

Now place your roasted sweet potatoes and banana in a food processor, add the spices, and start to puree.

Add non-dairy milk to the mixture until the consistency is thick and creamy like the photo on the right. Also, I have to note that at this point I sampled a lot. This puree tasted like I was eating pumpkin pie filling. It was so flippin’ good! So don’t feel guilty if you can’t keep your spoon out of it either—it’s been known to happen.

While your potatoes and bananas are roasting in the oven, measure your amaranth and place it in a large saucepan with the water. Cover it with a lid and bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat so that it maintains a low boil for 20-25 minutes or until all water has been absorbed. Towards the end of cooking stir it a few times to prevent sticking or burning on the bottom of the pan.

Add the sweet potato banana puree to the amaranth and mix it until well incorporated. Serve in a bowl and feel free to add toasted coconut, maple syrup (it’s actually so sweet that you might find this completely unnecessary), or non-dairy milk if you like.

Roasted Sweet Potato Banana Amaranth Porridge

Roasted Sweet Potato Banana Amaranth Pudding Porridge

Serves 4


  • 1 medium-small sweet potato, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or enough to coat all the sweet potatoes)
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 1 cup dried amaranth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (pre-grated is fine if that’s what you have on hand)
  • your choice of non-dairy milk, such as almond, rice, soy, flax, coconut, etc. (as needed)
  • splash of vanilla extract (optional)
  • maple syrup (optional)
  • toasted coconut (optional)

Roast: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place your sweet potato chunks in a bowl and add olive oil and salt. Toss until evenly coated. Spread them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Slice your banana into small pieces and place them in a single layer on another parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Place both sheets in the oven. Roast for 15 minutes, turn them over, and place in the oven for another 15 minutes. At this point the bananas will be done, but the sweet potatoes need to go back in the oven for another final 15 minutes of cooking. In the end the bananas will have roasted for 30 minutes while the potatoes will have cooked for 45.

Cook Amaranth: While the potatoes and bananas are roasting, measure the amaranth and place it in a large saucepan with the 3 cups of water. Cover with a lid and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once it has come to a boil, turn down the heat so that it maintains a constant simmer for 20-25 minutes or until all water has been absorbed. I suggest checking on it after 20 minutes and stirring it to make sure that the amaranth does not burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.

Puree: When the sweet potatoes and bananas are done roasting, place them in a food processor (I was able to do this in my mini food processor), add all of the spices, and puree. Add your non-dairy beverage of choice a little bit at a time until you reach the consistency of a thick pudding.

Combine: Add the potato/banana pudding to the amaranth and mix until they’re thoroughly combined. Feel free to add any of the optional toppings you desire.

Roasted Sweet Potato Banana Amaranth Porridge

Red Lentil and Millet Stew with Lemon

Thick Red Lentil Stew

As a vegan, I am often asked for examples of staples in my diet. In an effort to eat healthier, they want to know what kind of dishes are regularly prepared in my household. So today I figured I’d share a one-pot wonder that is frequently in our rotation. In fact, it’s so frequent that it often makes a once-a-week appearance at dinner and then shows up as leftovers in my lunch the next day.

Red Lentil and Millet Stew with Lemon

This Red Lentil Stew has so much going for it. Aside from it being incredibly tasty (even kids love this one!), it’s also a nutrient powerhouse. The lentils and millet pack a ton of protein in this dish, and together they actually make a complete protein, offering all of the essential amino acids humans need. There are some other interesting dances going on between foods in this dish. Let me explain. Iron is more easily absorbed by your body when consumed with vitamin C. Lentils are loaded with iron, while lemons and onion are loaded with vitamin C. So not only do they taste incredibly good together, but by joining forces, they make your body perform better. It’s like we evolved to want to eat lentil and millet stew.

Red Lentil and Millet Soup with Lemon

I could go on about all of the amazing nutrients in lentils (phosophorus, copper, folate, fiber, thiamin, B6, manganese, zinc, magnesium, and the already-mentioned protein and iron) and millet (thiamin, niacin, manganese, phosophorus, more protein, fiber, and magnesium) but I won’t. I’ll stop here and get on with the recipe! 😛

Chopped Fresh Veggies

You first need to chop all of your veggies and then saute them in olive oil over medium-high heat until softened. Meanwhile, rinse your lentils and millet in a fine sieve under cold water. Pour the lentils into the veggie pot, add your water, and bring to a boil. Simmer the mixture on medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes and then add the fresh squeezed lemon juice and salt. It’s as easy as that!

Red Lentil and Millet Stew with Lemon

This recipe provides six healthy servings


  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 ribs celery, finely diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup millet
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 7 cups water (plus more if needed to thin it a bit)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • salt (to taste)

Saute: Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large (~6 quart) saucepan. When the oil is heated, add the onion and celery. Cook for 10 minutes until softened. Add the carrots and garlic, and cook for another 7 minutes.

Measure and Rinse: While the veggie are cooking, measure the millet and lentils then rinse them under cold water in a fine sieve. After the veggies are done, add the lentils and millet to the pot along with the 7 cups of water. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil, stirring once or twice. Once it’s reached a boil, stir again, turn down the heat so that it maintains a simmer, and cover slightly with a lid. Let it simmer for 20-25 minutes and stir a couple times during cooking.

Finishing Touches: After it’s finished cooking, add the lemon juice and salt. In my experience, I’ve added at least 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, if not more. The salt really helps to bring out the lemon flavor and marry the other flavors in the dish very well.

Note: This makes a very thick stew and if you want it more soup-like add another cup (or more) of water at the end until it reaches the consistency you desire.

Red Lentil and Millet Soup with Lemon

Fat Free (or low fat) Microwaved Plantain Chips

Microwaved Plantain Chips

I have an interesting relationship with my microwave. Perhaps you’d call it an unwanted dependence? For example, every morning I use it to quickly cook my oatmeal. When I’m on the ball and actually bring my lunch to work I use it to reheat my leftovers. Even in the evening I find myself using it to heat any number of foods, drinks, or dishes. However, I wish that I didn’t rely on it so much. It just doesn’t feel right to be “nuking” so much of the food I eat. I know…I know…it’s silly to have any concern as microwaves have been proven to be completely safe so I really shouldn’t worry about it. Plus, ever since hearing my two-year-old niece say “mic-or-ave” I’ve felt a bit more affectionate towards it. Seriously, I’ve listened to this recording of her dozens of times and still laugh. Every. Single. Time.


So when I recently learned that you can actually make crispy potato chips by slicing a raw potato and putting it in the microwave for a few minutes, I figured I’d give it a try. However, I wanted to try it with plantains, which happen to be my biggest chip obsession at the moment. I figured that if it works with potatoes, it’s likely to work similarly with plantains, right?

And besides popping plantains in the microwave for 5 minutes can’t possibly be worse for me than the deep fried ones I am buying at the store nearly every day. So, yes, Mr. Mic-or-ave, you win this time in the “lesser of two evils” battle.

Size of Sliced Plantain Chip

As you can see, I used my mandoline to get super thin and even slices, which is an important step in the process of making these. If you don’t have a mandoline, try to cut them as thin and evenly as possible.

I brushed each slice with a bit of olive oil and then sprinkled salt on top. You can omit one or both of these steps, but I actually think that the slightly dry plantain does well with a bit of both. Again, I have to remind myself that the bit of oil and salt I put on them is far less than what I’m consuming from the bags I buy at the store.

You want to place the slices in a single layer on a paper towel lined plate. Then brush each slice with oil, sprinkle with salt, and place them in the microwave on full power for 3 minutes. As the end of the 3 minutes approaches you’ll start to notice your kitchen smelling like sweet plantains and when the time is up, pull them out of the microwave, turn over each slice, and then place them in for another 3 minutes on half power. At this point you’ll have deliciously, crispy plantain chips! That’s all there is to it!

While I was experimenting with this, I purchased a bag of plantain chips at Whole Foods so that I could eat them all see how the two compare and the best comparison that I can make is that my homemade version are like eating Baked Lays, while the store-bought are like eating regular Lays. The microwaved version tastes decidedly healthier, but they still satisfy the need for a delicious, crunchy snack. The chip I’m holding is my homemade version, which is also the one on the left in the photo below. You can see the comparison to the deep fried version on the right. Not too shabby!

Plantain Chip Comparison


  • 1 (or more) plantains (the riper the plantain, the sweeter the chip)
  • olive oil (optional)
  • salt (optional)

Slice Plantain: Cut open your plantain by running a sharp knife along the long side of it. Try to cut only as deep as the peel. Pull the plantain out of it’s peel and then cut it into very thin and even slices.

Microwave: Place them in a single layer on a paper towel-lined plate. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Cook in the microwave on high power for 3 minutes. Pull the plate out of the microwave and turn over each slice before putting them back in the microwave for another 3 minutes on half power.

Microwaved Plantain Chips vs Deep Fried Plantain Chips

Yummy Vegan Pancakes

Vegan Pancakes with Palm Oil Free Butter

When author and owner of, Erik Marcus, asked if I would be interested in taking on a photo shoot project for a groundbreaking new recipe from a well-known vegan cookbook author I was, naturally, ecstatic. I replied with an enthusiastic “YES!” without even knowing what the recipe was! So when he eventually sent the recipe including all ingredients and instructions, my boots began to shake and suddenly I became rather intimidated. The challenge was a palm-oil-free butter created by the genius chef Bryanna Clark Grogan and it appeared ever-so-complicated with all sorts of special ingredients. Liquid soy lecithin? Non-deodorized fair trade organic cocoa butter? All items not in my every day pantry and ones that I don’t have experience working with so the potential to mess it up was great. Plus I was running short on time and knew that I didn’t have days to play with it if I bombed on the first try.

Palm Oil Free Butter Ingredients

My fears were largely caused by the fact that I knew I wasn’t creating the butter and doing a photo shoot for myself. Other people were depending on me and expecting it to be fabulous. Pressure! Eeeek!

In the process of scrambling to get a silicone mold and acquiring all of the ingredients, I also knew that I had to figure out how I was going to plate and present the butter for the shoot. And one of the first foods that comes to mind when I think of butter is pancakes (right there behind toast). Who doesn’t love to slather butter all over their pancakes before dousing them with maple syrup? This is pure comfort food to the highest degree for me.

Vegan Pancakes with Palm Oil Free Butter and Maple Syrup

During an afternoon trip to Union Square and Sur La Table I successfully acquired all of the dishes and items I needed for a butter photo shoot and I’m happy to share the results of that shoot as this is one of the photos I sent and was used to feature this amazing new butter recipe:

Vegan Palm Oil Free Butter

As for the pancakes, this particular version has been in my recipe box for over ten years and is written on a pancake-batter stained notecard that I officially labeled as “Yummy Vegan Pancakes.” When I first went vegan I tried all sorts of different recipes tweaking them to my liking and landed on this particular one as a favorite that I consistently use. I hope you like it!

Pancake Ingredients

Yummy Vegan Pancakes

This yields roughly a dozen pancakes.


  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 4 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups vanilla soy milk, almond milk, or any other non-dairy milk
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 6 tablespoons applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • additional oil for greasing the pan

Dry Ingredients: Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt) in a medium bowl and mix well.

Wet Ingredients: Add the soy milk, oil, applesauce, and vanilla to another medium bowl and whisk until well incorporated.

Combine: Add the wet ingredient mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until the batter is moistened. A few remaining lumps is A-okay—do NOT over mix the batter.

Cook: Heat a lightly oiled frying pan or griddle over medium-high heat and pour 1/4 cup of batter. Cook until the bottom is browned, flip, and repeat on the other side. Serve with delicious maple syrup, vegan butter, and berries.

Vegan Pancakes with Palm Oil Free Butter

Pinto Bean Hummus (ish) Dip

Pinto Bean Spread

I spent the last week at my mum’s house in the ‘burbs of a tiny town called Baraga. To give you an idea of what I mean by tiny, the L’Anse/Baraga metropolitan area roughly consists of 4,000 people. I graduated with a class of 46 students. While it’s not quite a one-room schoolhouse story, this is a decidedly small population of people. Not only that, the closest “big” city is Green Bay, which is a four hour drive away and if you want something more cosmopolitan you’ll need to drive six hours to Minneapolis or seven hours to Chicago. Furthermore, my mum lives outside of the tiny town of Baraga where her house sits on four acres of land and where she owns another 40 acres across the street.

Pinto Bean Hummus

It’s a six mile drive to the nearest grocery store so when you’re out of a particular food like I was that day, you’re SOL, in a way. It was hummus that I was looking to make as I had been craving it all day, but there was a problem—I was lacking a lemon. Yes, it was a single lemon that stood between me and a freshly whipped up batch of hummus. So I decided to improvise and create a creamy bean spread with a different bean and a few different ingredients. And happy was I when this spread turned out so awesomely, despite the minimal ingredients I had on hand.

As I sat relaxing in the beautiful bay window in my mum’s dining room eating my Pinto Bean Dip, I was able to observe an industrious little squirrel who enjoyed hoarding and gorging on sunflower seeds from the bird feeders. He repeatedly ran back and forth from his stash under the deck to the tree where the feeders hung. After all of his hard thiefery work, he was so pleased with himself that he just had to do a little jig.

Squirrel Jig

While he was congratulating himself on the deck, the blackbirds safely returned to the tree to snack on any seeds that may have fallen to the ground. Every few seconds another bird would land for a snack until the ground looked like this.

Red Wing Black Birds Michigan

But that didn’t last long as Mr. Squirrel became a little envious and launched himself towards the birds, which in turn provided us with this beautiful site of colorful feathered wings.

Red Wing Black Birds Flying Michigan

It wasn’t just blackbirds that we saw. That morning we were graced with the presence of an immense variety of birds. Who would think that you can see goldfinches and purple finches, blue jays, red-wing blackbirds, mourning doves, chickadees, sparrows, and rusty blackbirds all in a 10 foot radius in Michigan? There were moments where all of the birds were in the tree together, but most of the time the colorful finches, sparrows and chickadees would feed together, leave, and then a variety of blackbirds would show up and all feed together like school children attending their separate specified lunch breaks.

Finches Jays Song Birds Michigan

Pinto Bean Hummus (ish) Dip


  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (to 2) teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of each paprika and cumin
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Puree: Throw all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Serve with fresh chopped veggies.

Note: While I thoroughly enjoyed this spread, Alex was not terribly fond of it, which is why I *had* to eat the entire dish myself…in one sitting. 🙂 All I’m getting at is that perhaps it’s not for everyone. I think that the vinegar what might have been what turned Alex off to it so if you’re not a huge fan of balsamic vinegar perhaps you want to start with a smaller amount and increase if you like it.

White Bean Hummus with Basil Pesto

Pesto White Bean Hummus

Does the world really need another hummus recipe? Yes. Yes, in fact, it does. Because while no bean can ever replace the beloved chickpea, sometimes you just need something different. A change of pace. That’s where the smooth and creamy white bean comes into play and works so well as a chickpea replacement in this dish.

White Bean Hummus Ingredients

It amazes me how many people consistently buy pre-made hummus from the store when it’s so ridiculously easy (and cheap) to make at home. The above photo shows all of the items you need to make this dish and once you’ve acquired and prepared them simply throw them in your food processor and whirl away until you get the creamy texture you see in the photo below.

A traditional way to eat hummus is with pita chips and you can buy them from the store or you can make your own. Just like hummus, these too are downright effortless to make and doing it yourself allows you to choose how much oil and salt you want to add.

Simply cut the pita bread in half and then in half again and once more until you are left with little triangles. Brush each one with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Pita Triangles

Then place them in a preheated 400 degree oven on a parchment lined baking sheet for about 8 minutes or until they’ve reached the crispiness you desire. Then serve them with this delicious white bean hummus.

Pesto Hummus Pita Chip

White Bean Hummus with Basil Pesto


  • 2 cans (or 4 cups cooked) white beans strained (I used a combination of cannellini and butter beans this particular time, but feel free to use whatever kind you like since there are so many varieties out there)
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic
  • water, as needed
  • salt, to taste

Puree: Place all ingredients in your food processor and process until completely smooth. You will need to stop the machine every so often to scrape down the sides of the bowl and add water as needed until you’ve achieved the right consistency.

Basil Pesto: Ingredients and instructions are listed here if you want to add this topping to your hummus. Even though it’s not necessary as the white bean hummus is delicious in it’s own right, the pesto adds an even greater kick if you’re feeling ambitious and excited to add that wonderful basil flavor.

Serving: Place the hummus in a dish, top it with the basil pesto, and serve alongside toasted pita triangles and/or chopped fresh veggies.

Pesto White Bean Hummus

Vegan Chocolate Marshmallow Surprise Cookies

Vegan Chocolate Marshmallow Surprise Cookies

Marshmallows and chocolate. In the shape of eggs. To my 5 year old mind, that’s what Easter was all about. For some reason, late March and early April is the only time of year you could find those chocolate covered marshmallows that came in styrofoam egg cartons. Of course there were peeps, but I never cared much for peeps. Actually, I’ve never been much of a plain marshmallow person ever; however, when you marry marshmallows and chocolate together that’s a whole nother story as it creates an irresistible combination to my palate.

Oh! And surprises! I can’t forget about surprises! Easter was all about surprises—from the surprise of where your Easter basket could be hidden to the mystery of what could possibly be hiding in your plastic Easter eggs.

So these cookies are a throw back to those Easter memories—a bit of chocolate enveloping a hidden marshmallow surprise.

Making these cookies is fairly easy. It just requires a couple additional steps with adding the marshmallow and the frosting. You first need to sift the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. This step is especially important if your cocoa powder is as clumptastic as mine was.

Next you need to cream the Earth Balance and sugar in your stand mixer for several minutes until they are well incorporated.

After it’s thoroughly creamed, put the Ener-G Egg replacer in a small bowl with the 2 tablespoons of warm water and then blend them together using hand beaters until it’s thick and foamy. When working with the equivalent of two or more eggs it’s quite easy to beat it to the point that you can create stiff peaks with it, but when using only one egg I find it difficult to get it to that stage. The foamy consistency of the middle photo below is about as thick as I can get a single serving. Add the “egg” and soy milk to the butter mixture and mix them for another couple minutes.

Next add the dry mixture in 1/2 cup batches until it is thoroughly incorporated and you have a batter that resembles the below photo.

Chocolate Cookies Dough

With a cookie scoop drop the cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet spaced about an inch and a half a part.

Pop them in your preheated oven for about 8 minutes. The photo on the left is what they looked like before I put them in the oven and the one on the right is what they looked like after 8 minutes.

While they’re baking cut your marshmallows in half. Note that you can totally omit this step if you want a higher marshmallow to cookie ratio. The very first time I made these a couple years ago, I didn’t halve them and they turned out just as awesomely.

Immediately after they’ve baked for 8 minutes and you pull them out of the oven, place a marshmallow half in the center of each cookie. Place them back in the oven and cook for another 2 minutes until the marshmallow is semi-melted. The photo on the left is pre-baking of the marshmallow and the photo on the right is what it looks like after 2 minutes in the oven.

Place them all on a cooling rack and let them cool completely.

Melted Marshmallows

While the cookies are cooling you can make the frosting by melting the Earth Balance and cocoa powder in a small saucepan over medium heat.

Place the 3 cups of confectioners sugar in a medium bowl and add the melted chocolate. Wisk them together until completely smooth with no lumps.

Then drop a tablespoon or two on each cookie and spread. Let the frosting harden on the cookies before putting them in a sealed container for storage.

Frosted Cookies

Chocolate Frosted Cookies

Vegan Chocolate Marshmallow Surprise Cookies

Vegan Chocolate Marshmallow Surprise Cookies


  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose white flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1/2 cup original soy milk (full fat and not unsweetened)
  • Dandies vegan marshmallows (you should be able to find these at most natural food stores)
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar (sifted if super lumpy)
  • 6 tablespoons Earth Balance
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup soy milk (full fat and not unsweetened)
Preheat: Turn your oven on to 375 degrees.
Dry Ingredients: Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
Cream Butter: Place the softened Earth Balance and sugar into the bowl of  a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream together for several minutes.
Combine: Slowly add the flour mixture a half cup at a time into the butter mixture and mix until they are well incorporated.
Bake: Using a cookie scoop so that you create evenly sized cookies, drop the dough about 1 1/2 inches apart onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes.
Add Marshmallows: After 8 minutes of cooking, pull the cookies out of the oven and slightly depress the center of each cookie while placing a halved marshmallow in the middle. Place the sheet back in the oven and cook for another 2 (to 2 1/2) minutes more. Pull them out of the oven and allow to completely cool on a wire rack.
Assemble Frosting: While the cookie are cooling, place the confectioner’s sugar in a medium bowl. Melt the Earth Balance and cocoa powder in a small saucepan over medium heat until completely smooth. Pour the melted chocolate mixture and soy milk into the bowl with the confectioners sugar and whisk together until there are no lumps.
Assemble Cookies: Drop a tablespoon or two of frosting on top of each cookie and let harden before storing in a sealed container.
Note: This yields about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

Vegan Chocolate Marshmallow Surprise Cookies

Dairy-Free Nut-Free Basil Pesto is the Best-o

Dairy Free Nut Free Pesto

I remember my first taste of pesto. It was a warm summer night on an island off the coast of Maine after I had just completed the 8th grade. My mom and I were on an epic, two week road trip along the East coast with my maternal grandmother.

There are a few memorable moments seared in my brain from that trip. Like when my grandmother told my mother that I was ungrateful after leaving my used towels strewn about the bathroom floor in our hotel room (oops! still feel bad about that!). Or when I had my first (and only!) lucid dream while napping in our rental house on Cape Cod as my mom attended a conference presented by Will Schutz (my cat’s name happened to be Schutz!)

Most of all, I remember trying pesto for the first time. We were having dinner at an old friend’s of my mom’s summer house and it first hit my olfactory senses as they were cooking dinner in the kitchen. I will never forget the feeling that strong basil aroma left in me and, to this day, whenever I smell that piquant herb it brings me back to that very moment in my life. Our hosts had prepared a lovely dish of pesto pasta and I remember the taste being just as remarkable, though surprisingly not as strong as the scent.

After that amazing night with pesto it wasn’t until years later when I was in college that I finally encountered it again. And ever since I’ve not let this heavenly dish go.


What’s remarkable is that I’ve found you don’t need to add much to pesto to create an amazing condiment. In fact, I think that the less you add, the stronger the basil flavor. Some foods play well with each other and can actually enhance the strength of each other’s flavor, but neither cheese nor nuts do that for basil.  I discovered this when I went vegan and started to omit the cheese. Also, at that time I was making my pesto with almonds because Alex is allergic to pine nuts. Soon after I tried it sans nuts entirely and found that I liked it even better. So here you have the only other players in addition to basil in this amazing pesto—lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic.

Pesto Ingredients

So few ingredients makes for a very fast meal. Throw them all in your food processor and blend away. I like using my mini processor for pesto since all of those fluffy basil leaves are reduced to this as soon as you turn on the motor.

Dairy Free Nut Free Pesto

Yes, all of that basil only produced this much pesto. It makes buying a few basil plants a worthy addition to your home garden.

Dairy Free Nut Free Pesto

A very easy way to enjoy pesto (besides pasta) is by toasting baguette slices in the oven…

and then smearing the besto pesto on them…

and then topping them with slices of fresh tomato.

Dairy Free Nut Free Pesto Toast with Tomato

Dairy-Free Nut-Free Basil Pesto


  • 4 cups fresh basil or one bunch, rinsed and trimmed
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • water (if necessary to thin it out if you don’t want to use more oil)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Puree: Blend all ingredients in your food processor until it’s completely pureed.
Also, the amounts mentioned above are general guidelines, but you can always make your own additions and subtractions. Perhaps you want a super garlicky pesto then go ahead and throw in several cloves of garlic. Or maybe you enjoy a stronger lemon flavor then go ahead and squeeze the juice of an entire lemon into the processor. Use more or less olive oil to adjust the consistency. It’s totally customizable to what you’re feeling at that moment.

Dairy Free Nut Free Pesto

Lemony Asparagus Artichoke Pilaf

As soon as asparagus shows up in the markets we all know that spring has definitively arrived. That moment emerged a number of weeks ago in San Francisco and I have been itching to make something with it ever since. I knew I wanted to do a pilaf with rice and lemon juice, and then the red pepper caught my eye at the store so I added that to my cart. I already had scallions in my fridge from another recent meal and knew they would make a great addition. So I thought I was all ready to make the dish when it struck me that I needed to add artichoke hearts. So back to the store I went.

Did you know that asparagus has magical powers. Oh, yes, it does! It can actually change the aroma of your urine—what other food do you know can do that? Moreover, not everyone has the ability to smell this transformation. Apparently, some people lack the gene to smell “asparagus pee,” while the rest of us (me included) can. For a long time I thought I was one of those people who lacked this gene; however, I later realized that was just because I never used to eat asparagus.

What’s interesting is that while only some people can detect asparagus-pee, I’m pretty sure I have yet to meet one of those people who can’t. Granted, my sample size is fairly small because I don’t talk about asparagus-pee with everyone I meet, but I’d say I know at least 20 people who have confirmed they have it and not a single person who doesn’t. So now I wonder what the ratio of asparagus-pee detectors to non-detectors there are in the world? How about you? Care to divulge whether you’re a detector or a non-detector? Or are you too shy or, as a European would say, prude?

Lemony Asparagus Artichoke Pilaf


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 14 (or so) asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces. Also, if your spears are very large and you have the time to peel them with a potato peeler, go for it. It makes them so tender!
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, chopped small
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups white rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • basil chiffonade (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups edamame (optional, see note)

Cook Rice: I buy my rice in bulk and first like to rinse it in a sieve before placing it in the saucepan so after you’ve rinsed your rice, place it in a medium saucepan with the water over high heat. Put a lid on it and let it come to a boil. Once it’s boiling, turn down the heat and let it simmer, covered until all of the water has been absorbed about 15-20 minutes.

Saute Veggies: Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. When the oil is warmed add the onions and let them cook for about 7 minutes then add the garlic, asparagus, and artichoke and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the red pepper and saute for another 2 minutes. I prefer my veggies to be just barely cooked so that they still have some crunch in them. Mushy veggies in a rice pilaf = disgusting.

Toss: After the rice and veggies are cooked, you want to toss them together in a very large bowl. I poured in a little rice and then added some of the veggies, tossed them, poured a little more of each and tossed again and continued to do this until all rice and veggies were used and distributed evenly. I then added the scallions, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Lastly, I chopped up some fresh basil chiffonade and used that as a garnish, which went very well with the rest of the flavors in the dish, but you can totally leave it out if you don’t have any on hand.

**Note: If you want to turn this into a main dish for lunch or dinner, I suggest adding edamame to it. Just microwave or boil the edamame until heated through and then toss it in with the rest of the veggies and rice. You could even add it along with the asparagus and artichokes as you’re sautéing the veggies.