Quinoa Stuffing

_MG_2207When Jasmine and I first discussed putting together a Thanksgiving feast to share with you all, the first thing she said was, “I have a quinoa stuffing and mushroom rice recipe!”  She made this stuffing last year for her family and everyone enjoyed it.  I’m not surprised since I know she’s a great cook!

Interestingly, as we were cooking away in the kitchen, Jasmine’s aunt stopped by, tasted the stuffing and said, “this tastes like fried rice!”  Since I like to use quinoa as a rice substitute, I thought maybe the quinoa just reminded her aunt of rice.  Finally, when I tasted the stuffing myself, I actually agreed with her aunt.  However, this dish has a holiday flair with the dried fruit, sweet potato, herbs, and pecans.  It is delicious!

My husband doesn’t typically like quinoa, but with all of the different flavors in this quinoa stuffing, he really enjoyed it!  This oil-free, high protein, and nutrient-dense stuffing is sure to please!

Jasmine and I created a bountiful feast for our readers to enjoy, which consists of 13 deliciously tantalizing recipes!  We’re referring to this collection of recipes as our Sweet Eclectic Thanksgiving celebration.  We hope you add this dish, as well as many of our other recipes, to your holiday tables!


Photo Credit: Jasmine Briones

Please make sure to tag us on Instagram: @yvonne_deliciously_vegan  @sweetsimplevegan Twitter: @yvonnemrod  @sweetsimpleveg 

and hashtag #SweetEclecticThanksgiving #MyEclecticKitchen if you recreate any of our recipes!  We would love to see your photos and Thanksgiving feasts!

Quinoa Stuffing
Servings: 4-6
Time: 40 mins
Diet: V, GF, SF, SRF
By: Jasmine Briones / Sweet Simple Vegan

4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups quinoa
1 bay leaf
2 cups diced sweet potato
2 small zucchinis, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 stalks celery
1 medium white onion, diced
¼ cup diced dried apricots
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Juice of ½ a lemon
1 garlic clove
1 Tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
¼ cup toasted pecans
sea salt, as needed
freshly ground black pepper, as needed

In a medium saucepot bring 1¼ cups of vegetable broth to a boil. Add the quinoa and bay leaf, salt, pepper and stir. Set to low heat and simmer with a lid on for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat (do not lift lid!) and allow the quinoa to steam for 10 minutes.

Heat ¼ cup vegetable broth in a pan over low heat. Add in the celery, white onion, garlic and sage. When fragrant, add in the sweet potato and zucchinis and cook covered for 5 minutes. Then remove cover and cook until slightly browned. If necessary, add more broth, but you want it to cook until almost dry (but avoid burning!).

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Mix the quinoa with the veggie mixture together and the last ½ cup of vegetable broth. Place into an oven safe dish and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Add in the green onions, apricots, cranberries, pecans, parsley and lemon. Toss to combine.

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Green Beans with Garlic and Lemon


Every holiday table should have a pop of green! I’ve never had kale during a holiday meal (maybe next year), but I’ve always had green beans or broccolini. These green beans are crisp, a little spicy, a little tangy, and full of flavor.  They’re a snap to make, too!

Hope this finds its way to your table this holiday season!

My friend, Jasmine, and I want to make your Thanksgiving one to remember!  We created a bountiful feast for our readers to enjoy, which consists of 13 deliciously tantalizing recipes that will make everybody’s taste buds dance for joy!  We’re referring to this collection of recipes as our Vegan and Gluten-free Sweet Eclectic Thanksgiving celebration!

Please make sure to tag us on 

Instagram: @yvonne_deliciously_vegan  @sweetsimplevegan

 Twitter: @yvonnemrod  @sweetsimpleveg 

and hashtag #SweetEclecticThanksgiving #MyEclecticKitchen if you recreate any of our recipes!  We would love to see your photos and Thanksgiving feasts!



Green Beans with Garlic and Lemon

Servings: 6-8

Time: 15 minutes




1 pound green beans, washed and trimmed

1 tsp cold-pressed olive oil

½ large shallot, sliced thin

3 garlic cloves, sliced thin

1-2 arbol chiles, sliced thin diagonally (can substitute ¼-1/2 tsp red chili flakes)

2 Tbsp vegetable stock

1 Tbsp lemon zest

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper



1. Bring a stock pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Blanch green beans in the boiling water until bright green in color and tender crisp, roughly 2 minutes. Drain and shock the green beans in a bowl of ice water to stop cooking.

2. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant and a little browned, about a minute or two. Add the beans, vegetable stock, and continue to sauté until coated in the oil and heated through, about 2-3 minutes. Make sure not to overcook–they’re great with a bit of a bite, crispiness. Add lemon zest, season with salt and pepper, and toss.

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Candied Yams (or Sweet Potatoes)

_MG_2321Last year I made a good candied sweet potato recipe.  However, I wanted to make an easier and better-for-you version of the side dish I grew up loving during the holidays.  This new recipe is so much simpler and contains far less sugar.  I even like the flavor better.  It’s still sweet, has a hint of orange and cinnamon flavor.  I love it. Although I prefer yams, feel free to use either yams or sweet potatoes in this recipe.  Also, this recipe can be made oil-free.  I added the oil just to give these sweet potatoes a glossy sheen.

My friend, Jasmine, and I created a bountiful feast for our readers to enjoy, which consists of 13 deliciously tantalizing recipes that will make everybody’s taste buds dance for joy! We’re referring to this collection of recipes as our Sweet Eclectic Thanksgiving celebration! We hope you and your family love it!

Photo Credit: Jasmine Briones

Please make sure to tag us on Instagram: @yvonne_deliciously_vegan  @sweetsimplevegan  Twitter: @yvonnemrod  @sweetsimpleveg and hashtag #SweetEclecticThanksgiving #MyEclecticKitchen if you recreate any of our recipes!  We would love to see your photos and Thanksgiving feasts!

Candied Yams (or Sweet Potatoes)
Servings: 6-8
Time: 1 hour
Diet: V, GF, GFV, DF, SF, SRF, NF


4 cups sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes

3/4 cup orange juice, fresh

1 ½ cup filtered water

1 cup medjool dates, pitted

¼ tsp cinnamon, ground

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp coconut oil (or grapeseed oil)



Note: Best made a day or a few hours in advance.

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Wash, peel, and cut the sweet potatoes or yams. Place them in an 8”x8” or 9”x9” casserole dish, and place the casserole dish in the center of a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper or a silicon mat.

3. In a blender, add the remaining ingredients: orange juice, filtered water, pitted medjool dates, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and oil. Blend well, until the dates are pulverized. If the mixture is a little chunky, that’s fine.

4. Pour the wet mixture over the sweet potatoes or yams and toss to coat. Place in the oven for about 45-55 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes, and cook until the sweet potatoes or yams are fork tender.

5. If made a day in advance, remove from the refrigerator and place in a 350 degree F oven for about 20 minutes.



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Vanilla Bean “Cheese”cake with Mixed Berry Compote


Of all the desserts I make, my husband says this is his favorite.  That’s how I know this recipe for vanilla bean “cheese”cake with a mixed berry compote is definitely a winner!

I can honestly say that after indulging in a slice of this vegan “cheese”cake, I felt no guilt.   Perhaps, this may be due to my active lifestyle or maybe it’s because this cheesecake is vegan and raw– it doesn’t contain any cholesterol and its powerful vitamins, minerals and enzymes still remain intact.

Instead of eating empty calories, we get a healthy handful of nuts, berries, and raw coconut nectar.  There is coconut oil in the recipe, which is high in fat.  However, coconut oil does not contain cholesterol.  The oil comes in the form of medium-chain triglcerides (or MCTs), which differ from types of fat consumed from both plant and animal sources, long-chain triglycerides (or LCTs).

“MCTs are easily digested, absorbed, and utilized in the body because their molecules are smaller       than those from LCTs. This means that unlike other fats, they require less energy and fewer enzymes to break them down for digestion. They are an excellent choice of fat for active people and athletes as MCTs digest immediately to produce energy and stimulate metabolism. They are also ideal for those who suffer from digestive disorders and are often given in hospitals to provide nourishment for critically ill people who have trouble digesting fat.” -Sarah Britton

That said, if we eat well throughout the day and exercise a few times a week, this is a perfect dinner dessert!

I hope you love it as much as we do!

Vanilla Bean “Cheese”cake with Mixed Berry Compote

Servings 8
Time 1 day
V, GF, DF, R


1/2 C raw almonds (pecan or walnuts will also work)
1/2 C soft Medjool dates
¼ tsp sea salt

1 ½ C raw cashews, soaked for at least 3 hours, overnight is best
2 lemons, juiced
seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1/3 C raw coconut oil, melted
1/3 C raw coconut nectar (or maple syrup if you can’t find this)

Mixed Berry Compote:
1 1/2 C frozen organic berries: blueberries, blackberries, raspberries
2 tbsp coconut sugar
Stevia, to taste


1. Place nuts and dates in the food processor with sea salt and pulse to chop until they are to your desired fineness. You’ll want a finer crust than a chunky one. Test the crust by spooning out a small amount of mixture and rolling it in your hands. If the ingredients hold together, your crust is perfect. If you don’t feel it’s holding together, try to mix the mixture with your hands until it comes together.  Scoop out crust mixture into a 6″ spring-form pan (if you don’t have a spring-form pan, use a 6 inch cake round, lined with plastic wrap), and press firmly, making sure that the edges are well packed and that the base is relatively even throughout.

2. If coconut oil is solid, place oil in a small saucepan on low heat until it comes to a liquid state.

3. Place all filling ingredients in a blender and blend on high until very smooth (this may take a couple minutes).

4. Pour the filling out onto the crust and smooth with a spatula. Place in freezer until solid, about 3 hours.

5. To serve, remove from freezer 30 minutes prior to eating. Run a smooth, sharp knife under hot water and cut into slices. Serve on its own or with a berry compote! Store leftovers in the freezer.


Option 1: If you want to enjoy the compote raw, mix together sugar and the berries.  Allow the berries to defrost. Sweeten with stevia or more sugar to taste.

Option 2: If you don’t mind heating the berries and want a more syrupy compote, like we enjoy, place the frozen berries and sugar in a small sauce pot on medium heat. Bring it to a boil for about 5-7 minutes, stirring every minute until it thickens a bit.  Remove from heat. Allow it to sit or pour the compote into a bowl and in the refrigerator to cool for about 5 minutes.  As it cools, it will thicken. Sweeten to taste with a little more sugar or stevia, if you so desire.

When ready to serve, top the “cheese”cake with a few spoonfuls of compote.  Enjoy!

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Quinoa Meatballs!


Who doesn’t like a good meatball?  Well I’ve always been a big fan of them– on top of my spaghetti, in my meatball subs, and even in my movies (“Wedding Singer”).  They are just so good!  I’ve tested a bunch of vegan and gluten-free meatball recipes, but for a while, I wasn’t a fan of any of them.  One day, though, I serendipitously came up with an idea for a new meatball while I was making veggie burgers. I thought to myself, ‘hey- this mixture would make a mean meatball’.  The next day, I made the veggie patty recipe again, and instead of forming patties, I formed them into meatballs.  They were perfect!  I love their sturdy texture, they hold up in my sauce quite nicely, they taste good and they are also packed with lots of protein, fiber and warming foods.  With a good marinara, these meatballs are a winner! (Also, you can use this mixture to make burger patties, too!)

Quinoa Meatballs

Time: 45 minutes

Servings about 40 meatballs




2 cups water

1 cup quinoa

3 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 onion, finely chopped

1/4 red pepper, finely chopped

3/4 poblano chile pepper, deseeded and destemmed, finely chopped (can sub with 4 jalapenos)

3 cups spinach, finely chopped

2 stalks of celery, finely minced

2 small carrots, peeled and minced

1.5 tsp celtic or Himalayan sea salt

1 tbsp of cumin

1/4 tsp + cayenne pepper

1 cup oat flour



1. Cook, drain and cool quinoa in filtered water.  Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, pasilla pepper, celery, and carrot and cook until onions are translucent.  You do not need any oil to sauté this mixture since the water from the onions and other veggies will seep out and will help cook the rest of the vegetables.

3. Add the salt, pepper, cumin, spinach and quinoa. Stir well and cook for an additional 3 minutes.  Remove the pan from heat and add the oat flour.  Stir well until everything starts to bind together and the mixture cools.  If it doesn’t bind together right away, add filtered water, a tablespoon at a time, at most 3-4 tablespoons.

4. Disclaimer: I recommend using gloves, or just have a slice of lime handy afterward because the hot peppers can burn your hands. Rubbing your hands with lime can help alleviate any burning.

Using your hands, form the mixture into meatballs, using 2 Tbsp of the mixture per meatball.


5. Heat a large pan over medium heat (I recommend cooking on a non-stick pan) with 1 tablespoon of oil or use non-stick cooking spray (I use coconut cooking spray) to prevent sticking to the pan.  Brown all sides of the meatball.  Alternatively, brown them in shallow bath of oil on medium heat and remove when browned.  Drain on a paper towel.

6. Add the meatballs into your cooked marinara sauce, top your pasta with meatballs, or stuff your sandwich with meatballs.

Makes 40 meatballs.

Note: This mixture can also be used to make burger patties! I usually make a few patties to freeze or to enjoy the next day. :)


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Asparagus Soup


Asparagus soup – one of my favorite meals as a child!  Strange, I know, but there is story behind it.  When I was 4 years old, my dad would sometimes watch me in the mornings while my mom attended school in the mornings.  I can remember my dad “attempting” to pick out my clothes, brushing the tangles out of my hair, and giving me messy ponytails.  He coached me on how to tie my shoelaces by having me practice tying bows on one of my dresses over and over again until I had it just right. My dad also encouraged me to practice reading by singing on the karaoke machine and flipping through our many volumes of the encyclopedia.  One day, I asked him to build me a tree house, and without saying a word, he stuck a cigarette in his mouth, and built the tree house.  I felt like a lucky girl!  I had my dad’s undivided attention (I am the youngest of 6 girls) and I could be a daddy’s girl for once.

Since all of my sisters were in school at the time, he’d usually take me out for lunch at Jimmy’s Restaurant. My dad always ordered me a big bowl of soup and after trying all of Jimmy’s soups, my favorites were the asparagus and the clam chowder.  I distinctly remember my dad noticing that I favored asparagus soup so after a while he only ordered me the asparagus soup.  I didn’t mind.  I loved  asparagus soup with 2 packs of saltine crackers on top.

Little did I know, the main ingredient in the soup was good for me.  Asparagus has tons of benefits!  The goodness is in the stalk, which is rich in B vitamins, known to regulate blood sugar levels; it is also a good source of Vitamin K, which is excellent for healthy blood clotting and strengthening bones, and vitamin A for better vision, potassium for smooth kidney functioning, and trace minerals that help boost immunity.  Asparagus is a good source of protein and fiber, making it great for digestion, and with it’s inflammatory compounds can help protect you from type 2 diabetes and heart disease.  Additionally, asparagus has antioxidants, such as glutathione, which protects the skin from sun damage and the effects of aging, and contains a unique carbohydrate known as inulin that remains undigested until it reaches the large intestine, where it helps to absorb nutrients better, cutting the risk of colon cancer.

Today I created an asparagus soup that’s super yummy.  This soup can be eaten raw, warmed, or cooked.  You decide.  I felt like eating it warm today so I simmered the ingredients in a pot on medium heat for about 7 minutes (until al dente) and then simply added half an avocado to my blender with the warm soup ingredients and voila, it was ready to eat. So good!  For a complete meal, this recipe is good for one serving, and as a starter, this will serve 2.

Since I always think of my dad when I see asparagus, I am dedicating this soup recipe to my dad who is no longer in this world.  I wish he had eaten more vegetables while he was alive so we could have shared more good times together.  For now, I am left with memories, and I will cherish all of the good memories of my dad, always.

This one’s for you, Papasan!

Dedication song, “Gold Dust” by John Newman.




Prep Time 5-12 minutes

Servings 2


1/2 pound (about 2 cups) asparagus, trimmed of fibrous bottoms and chopped into thirds

heaping 1/3 cup sweet onion

1 cup vegetable stock

1/2 cup almond milk

1/4 tsp sea salt

1-2 shakes cayenne pepper

2 tsp lemon juice

1/2 avocado (about 1/4 cup)



1. a) If eating this soup raw, place all ingredients into blender, except for 4 asparagus tops for garnish, and process until smooth.  Adjust sea salt, cayenne pepper and lemon juice to taste. Garnish with asparagus tops and enjoy!

b) If eating warmed or cooked soup, add all of the ingredients to a small saucepot, EXCEPT for the avocado.

2. Cover and place the pot on medium heat for 3 minutes.  Turn down the heat to a simmer (medium-low heat) until desired level of tenderness. If you want it less cooked, cook until the asparagus are al dente (with a bite, some crispness), about 7 more minutes. Otherwise, cook until tender.

3. Place the avocado in the blender, reserve 4 asparagus stems for garnish and texture, and carefully pour the soup into the blender and process until smooth.  Taste and adjust sea salt, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice to taste.

4. Pour into 2 bowls or one large bowl and garnish with the asparagus tops and enjoy!

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Lentil Soup


I was away, on the east coast, for about 2.5 weeks.  Peyman and I spent time with our niece, Roya, in New York and had an amazing vegan food adventure.  We tried new restaurants almost every day for lunch and dinner.  When we left New York, he flew to Europe for business and I went to Florida to meet my mom and sister’s family, who recently moved there.

Before my trip to the east coast, my sister and I discussed how I would consult her on cooking healthy, nutritiously and deliciously for her family.

Good thing they have a Whole Foods Market not too far away from her home.  We did some serious food shopping there for the week when I arrived.

One thing I love about cooking at home is that I’m in control of the amount of fat and salt in my food.  Eating out every day in  New York was a wonderful luxury and provided me with great research; however, it was so pricey and who knows if the cooks in the back were heavy-handed with oils and salt, if they used agave, had traces of gluten in their food, and what if the workers weren’t the most sanitary?! I’ve worked in professional kitchens– I know what can go on back there. EEeek!  I much prefer eating at home than going out all the time.  There are those days, though, when I need a break from cooking so we need to eat out to maintain my sanity.  That happens at least once a week.

While in Florida, we discovered that there is only one great Indian restaurant near my sister’s house and only one “vegan” restaurant in her city.  That “vegan” restaurant, however, was located one door down from a crematorium.  Sounds like a paradox, right?  I remember leaving the restaurant and smelling barbecue, but my mom, sister, and I noticed there weren’t any other restaurants around.  We were creeped out and don’t think we’ll go there again.  Too bad, though, because their food was good.  Just wish they had a better location where ashes weren’t floating in the air. Ewww…sorry for the visual.    

Anyway, we didn’t do much eating out while I was at my sister’s for a week and a half.

We started every day with a glowing green smoothie and I made quite a few dishes and desserts, including yellow curry, noodles with Asian peanut sauce, chocolate chai cookies, and my nutty creamy chocolate cake.  To my delight, my vegan and gluten-free recipes were a hit with the family, even the kids, and especially the vegan sweet treats!  It warms my heart to see them eat my food, smile, genuinely enjoy it and ask for seconds or thirds.

Speaking about warming the heart, it rains a lot in Florida, and usually the rain stops and the skies clear up.   One day, though, there was so much rain, thunder and lighting that my nephew and niece couldn’t attend their daily tennis academy.  I felt that a soothing, comforting and warming hearty soup was the best meal for a rainy day.  Since my sister had been asking me to make something with lentils since she picked me up from the airport, I decided to make a lentil soup.  While I was preparing it in the kitchen, my niece handed me a box of elbow pasta and said she really liked pasta.  At that moment, I decided to make my lentil soup an Italian lentil soup.  How would it be Italian? I decided to add some elbow pasta, and pasta is Italian!

It’s a super simple, hearty soup.  It’s super easy to make and soothing on a gloomy, rainy day.  I hope you enjoy it!

Here’s the recipe.


Italian Lentil Soup

Servings 6-8


1 medium onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

sea salt and cayenne pepper

4 roma tomatoes, diced

1.5 cup lentils

11 cups of low-sodium vegetable stock

4-6 fresh thyme sprigs or 1.5tsp dry thyme

1/4 tsp rosemary

1/2 tsp oregano, heaping

2 bay leaves

2/3 cup gluten-free elbow pasta or swirls (there are quinoa, corn, and rice pastas)

nutritional yeast, optional (for garnish)


1. In a large stock pot, add the onion, garlic, carrots, 1/8 tsp of sea salt and 3 shakes of cayenne pepper.  Saute for 5-8 minutes, over medium heat until tender. (You do not need oil since there is so much moisture from the veggies.  Stir occasionally, ensuring the garlic doesn’t burn and turn the soup bitter.)

2. Add tomatoes and their juices.  Simmer until juices evaporate a little and tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally for about 8 minutes.

3. Add lentils, mix to coat, then add vegetable stock and thyme. Bring to a boil over high heat.  Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes until lentils are almost tender.

4.  Stir in the pasta and simmer until the pasta is tender but still firm, about 8 minutes.

5. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and top with nutritional yeast, if you wish.


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Banana Pancakes



Pancakes make an appearance on my dining table at least once a week when Peyman and I have brunch.  When I first started making vegan and gluten-free pancakes, it took me a handful of trials to develop a delicious and nutritious gluten-free and vegan pancake.  This is an improvement compared to my first “Coconut and Banana Pancakes” recipe.  Still high in fiber and protein, these are a tad bit fluffier.  They also contain banana and dates, making them super filling and satisfying.  If you like banana in your pancakes and are craving a heavier pancake breakfast, you should try these. Just keep in mind that the bananas make these pancakes a little dense and a bit moist.

I might as well call them superfood pancakes because they do pack a punch when it comes to nutrition and health benefits.  The oatmeal, garbanzo flour and chia seeds supply the fiber and protein which keep you fuller longer and also aid in digestion.  Chia seeds have omega-3 fatty acids (important for brain health) and manganese (good for your bones and helps your body use other essential nutrients like biotin and thiamin).  Bananas contain potassium (helps your heart beat) and prebiotics (improve the absorption of calcium, strengthen your immune system, and assist you in resisting infections).  These prebiotics also limit injury in the intestines and reduce the chance of colorectal diseases.  And there’s even more potassium and antioxidants from the coconut oil. If I go on and continue to list the many potential benefits you can receive from these pancakes, you will be having these for dinner!


Banana Pancakes

Servings:  1-2

Time:  27 minutes

Diet: V, GF, GFV, DF, SF, SRF



4 large medjool dates

1 cup coconut milk (or any plant-based “milk”)

2 tbsp coconut oil

2 tsp vanilla

1 pinch of sea salt

2 large bananas

3 tbsp chia seeds

1 cup oat flour, gluten-free (can substitute with sorghum flour)

1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour

1/4 cup almond meal

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp stevia powder


Chocolate Sauce:

1 tbsp almond butter

2 tbsp cacao powder

1 tsp vanilla extract (no alcohol)

2.5 tbsp maple syrup




1. In a blender, add the medjool dates, coconut milk, vanilla, sea salt, bananas, coconut oil (melted, not solid), and chia seeds. Blend until the dates are pulverized (little bits of dates are fine).

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the oat flour, garbanzo flour, almond meal, cinnamon, and stevia.

3. Create a well (a hole) in the dry mix and pour in the wet mixture from the blender. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the blender. Fold the dry and wet ingredients together with a rubber spatula until combined.

4. Important step: Set the bowl aside for 15-17 minutes. The flours and chia seeds will absorb the liquid.  In the meantime, make the chocolate sauce.

5. After the batter has rested for 15-17 minutes, heat a non-stick griddle on a little less than medium heat.  Spray with coconut oil spray, or use a little coconut oil to coat pan. With a ladle, pour a circular pancake about 4-inches in diameter.  Flip pancakes when edges appear cooked and bubbles emerge on top. Cook the other side until it turns golden brown.

6. Serve immediately, topped with a drizzle of chocolate sauce and mixed berries or other fruit.

Makes six 4-inch pancakes.


Chocolate Sauce:

Combine and mix all the chocolate sauce ingredients together.  If you feel the sauce is too thick, thin it out with filtered water a few drops at a time.  Mix well.



Stack the pancakes in the center of a plate, drizzle with chocolate and fresh fruit.  Enjoy!



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Fig Tart. Work of Art.



My in-laws have quite a large back-, front-, side yard garden that I often refer to it as a “farm”.  I don’t know the actual square footage of the land, but I can describe it to you so you have an idea.  They have about a dozen pomegranate trees; I can’t even count how many citrus trees they have; they have peach, avocado, guava, persimmon and plum trees; berry and grape vines; they grow different kinds of tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, onion, and the list goes on…

There are so many things I love about the farm.  One of the best things is my father-in-law (Baba) uses organic methods.  They have 2 cats that roam free out there, and he is his own scare crow– if he sees a bird trying to eat his fruit, he’ll make a lot of noise, clap his hands, or speak to it in farsi and it’ll fly away.  Baba’s farm is his pride and joy.  At 83 years old, he’s out there from sun-up to sun-down, tending to his plants, watering them, talking to them, touching the leaves and getting his plump fingers smothered in dirt.  I actually can’t recall a time when I haven’t seen a leaf either in his hair or somewhere on his shirt.  The farm is his life. And I’m so happy he enjoys sharing it with his family.

When I visit them, I like to walk the grounds.  He finds me and always offers me a piece of fruit or even a fruit tree, then he encourages me to grab a basket and to pick fruit/vegetables to take home.  You know that term farm-to-table? Well, when I’m out there foraging, it’s often farm-to-mouth. There’s nothing more fun than picking mulberries and peaches, blowing off the dirt and eating them fresh off the tree! It’s really a beautiful thing!


It’s the end of summer and I guess that means it’s fig and peach season.  My in-laws have more than half a dozen fig trees and 3 or 4 mini peach trees.  Their peaches are so delicate and delicious that I can eat whatever I take home with me.  However, figs are a different story.  They are delicious, but they are a bit too sweet for me that I can only eat so many in a day.  Last week I baked a fig torte and shared it with Peyman’s family and my sister.  I was relieved that I was almost finished with my stash of figs.  Then last weekend Baba asked if I wanted to take home more figs.  I said, “Sure, but only a handful, 10 at most, please.” He came back with a box-full.  I ate as many as I could and contemplated making preserves (which would never get eaten because we don’t eat toast and neither do my sisters and my mother-in-law makes her own jam), so I decided to make what used to be my go-to dessert, a tart.  And I remembered that my former pastry chef, Breanne Varela (now Contreras), made a beautiful fig tart when we worked at Tavern.  I thought I’d create the same design and also make a frangipane filling.

If you’ve been a follower of mine on Instagram, you will have noticed that I haven’t made a tart since becoming vegan. That’s because in addition to becoming vegan, I stopped eating gluten and I wasn’t sure how a tart shell would turn out with both a gluten-free flour and coconut oil. (Mind you, I refuse to eat vegan butter…it kind of scares me. How do oils solidify to look like butter?  It looks a bit unnatural to me.  I think coconut oil is the best oil option, if you’re active. Love those medium chain triglycerides!)  Anyway, I was a bit fearful of making a gluten-free vegan crust, but now I am so happy I did because it came out beautifully and to my surprise, I have less guilt about eating a slice. Actually, I have no guilt at all!  I love that I can make a tart with no butter, eggs or processed sugar and yet it can still taste delicious! Also, instead of using dark rum in my frangipane, I simply used coconut palm sugar and cinnamon. It seems that I can use my old, tried and true recipes and sub out ingredients with new and improved staple ingredients; it seems to be working! Hallelujah!

If you’ve been following my blog for years, you know that tarts were my specialty in my pre-vegan days.  I never posted recipes of my tarts on my blog because I’d always wanted a cookbook (and still do) and I was afraid of plagiarism. (Nah mean?) Well, I still want a cookbook but I also like to share the goodness, and so you can get a taste of what my food tastes like.  It’s like being at the grocery store and tasting a grape before buying the $10 bunch; you need to be sure it’s good before you buy it.  A sample, if you will!  Well, believe me, this tart is really good.  And, great news, I have so many other great tart recipes up my sleeve!  So stay tuned and once my cookbook or whatever I put out is ready for the market, I hope you will want a copy!

For now, here’s my first vegan and gluten-free tart recipe!


Fig and Frangipane Tart

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Essential tool: 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom




18-20 figs or 1.5 – 2 pounds of figs, quartered length-wise


Tart Dough

1/4 cup ice cold filtered water

1 cup plus 2 tbsp oat flour (gluten-free oat flour)

1/4 tsp fine sea salt (I use Himalayan)

6 tbsp (3 oz.) coconut oil (chilled and chunked into tsp pieces. doesn’t have to be perfect)


Frangipane Filling

3 tbsp coconut oil

1/3 cup coconut palm sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp almond meal

1 heaping tbsp arrowroot

pinch sea salt

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup almond milk

1.5 tsp vanilla extract (no alcohol)

1/2 tsp almond extract



Tart Dough

1. Place oat flour, salt and cold chunks of coconut oil into food processor. Pulse until coconut oil pieces are pea-sized.

2. While continuously pulsing the oat flour, pour the cold water in (make sure no ice falls in. I just place the measuring cup in the freezer to make it ice cold). Pulse until it almost comes together. (about 3-4 times)

3. Lay out about 13 inches of plastic wrap on the counter (if you don’t have this, use parchment) and pour the dough and flour pieces onto the plastic. Form the dough into a disc shape, about 6 inches in diameter and wrap the sides, leaving about an inch of space when folding. Once it’s wrapped, use a rolling pin to roll out about an inch more.  Roll the dough from the center out. Place in the refrigerator.

4. Make the tart filling. Then spray non-stick cooking spray inside, all over the sides of the tart pan. Place tart pan on a half sheet tray, lined with parchment paper or a silpat (silicone baking mat).

5. When you’re done with the tart filling, remove from the dough from the refrigerator.  If it’s too hard, you will need to wait until it is soft enough to roll out without cracking. But you don’t want it too soft that it melts.  You will have to work quickly.

6. Open the plastic wrap, leaving the plastic on the bottom of the dough and either grab another piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper to place on top of the dough (or manipulate the plastic wrap you have to help you) and roll out the the dough to about an 11-inch in diameter circle.  The crust should still be a bit cold at this point so it’s easier to handle. Bring the sheet tray near you with the sprayed tart pan, and holding the dough circle from the bottom (or wrapping the dough on top of a rolling pin with the plastic on top), quickly flip the dough into the tart pan, then carefully peel off the plastic. Push the dough into the tart pan and onto the sides.  If the dough breaks, no worries, just press it together. If one side needs more dough, take some dough from a thicker side and press it into an area that needs more dough.  Do what you have to do to get what you see below.  If it starts melting and difficult to handle, put it back in the refrigerator to harden up a bit.  Again, make your dough look like below, with no wholes.


7. Place the tart shell back in the refrigerator or even freezer so it sets a bit. Go to tart filling, step 3.

Tart Filling

1. In a medium mixing bowl, add the coconut palm sugar, salt, cinnamon and wet ingredients: coconut oil, almond milk, vanilla and almond extracts. Stir to combine and to dissolve the salt and sugar. The sugar won’t completely dissolve and that’s fine. Add the almond meal and arrowroot and stir well to combine. Set aside.

2. Go back up to step 5 of the tart dough directions.

3. After the tart shell is set (hardened), take it out of the refrigerator, give the tart filling one or two last stirs, then fill the tart shell with the filling, spreading it evenly to cover the bottom of the tart crust.  Place back in the refrigerator and cut up the figs in the meantime. Cut them length-wise, first in half, then cut the halves in half to get quarters.


Assembling the the figs in the tart

Once the frangipane has been in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes, place the figs, pointy (stem) side up, round side down, pink side exposed, starting from the outside of the circle, just onto the frangipane, along the crust. The frangipane should hold it in place (but don’t push it through and into the frangipane. Just lay it gently in place). Let the figs touch shoulder to shoulder. For the second layer inward, stagger and repeat. Repeat the hird layer and so on until you get to the center.


Once you’ve made your fig flower, take a photo because it’ll look awesome raw! Then place the sheet tray with the tart shell on it in the center of the preheated 350 degree F oven for about 45-50 minutes or until the crust gets golden-ish, or like my photos. Since there isn’t butter or cream in the crust, you won’t achieve a true golden color.

It may bubble over a smidge, and when you take it out of the oven, it will look wet.  Be careful not to spill the liquid. Don’t be alarmed. It will set once it cools. Once it is almost cool, carefully remove the tart shell tart pan touching the sides/crust, leaving only the base intact.  (Bottom/base of the tart pan will be intact until you serve the last piece.)  Using 2 spatulas, I placed the tart on a cake stand. You can just put it on a flat large plate to save space and to avoid accidents, if you’d like. Carefully place the tart in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving. After 3 hours, the liquid will be set.

I had this with coconut whip for the first time and it was delish! But I also had it without the coconut whip and it was still luxurious.  Peyman has his hang ups with figs so I had to trick him into tasting a piece.  He said it was, “mmm…Good!”


I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!  Please let me know how yours turns out!

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