Fudge Brownies


This brownie recipe is what I would consider a classic fudge brownie.  It is comparable to one of my childhood favorites–Betty Crocker walnut brownies.  The differences are that it is made from scratch (not from a box), vegan and gluten-free, and there is not any cholesterol.  Since there is quite a bit of coconut sugar in this recipe, I cannot say that these brownies are healthy.  For all those who miss their pre-vegan and gluten-free days brownie, this is dedicated to you!  Always feel free to substitute the sugar with erythritol to make this sugar-free, and it should taste just as good!

Make brownie pops with this recipe!  Or if you have vanilla ice “cream,” make yourself a brownie a la mode, create a chocolate brownie ice cream by throwing in pieces of this brownie, or just enjoy these brownies just as they are!

Happy eating!

This recipe was inspired by ingredients that Vitacost.com kindly sent to me.  Click on the ingredients links to purchase the same ingredients I used to make my classic fudge brownies.  Click here for Vitacost.com savings.


Fudge Brownies

Servings: 9

Time: 3-4 hours

Brief:  This is a classic fudge brownie recipe. It’s reminiscent of a Betty Crocker chocolate walnut brownie, only this is vegan and gluten-free!

Diet: V, GF, DF, SF




2 ½ Tbsp flax meal

1/3 cup plus 1 ½ tsp filtered water

1 ¼ cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted*

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

½ cup coconut sugar

*Make sure the coconut oil is melted when you measure it.



½ cup sorghum flour

2 Tbsp brown rice flour

2 Tbsp arrowroot flour

¼ tsp sea salt

¼ tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp xanthan gum, optional


Other Ingredients:

½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped



1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 7”X7” or 8”x8” square pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a small bowl, combine the flax meal and filtered water. Mix and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, add all of the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Set aside.

4. a) Place the chocolate chips and coconut oil into a large heat-safe bowl that can sit right over a small saucepot with very lightly simmering water.  Stir the chocolate and coconut oil with a silicone spatula until the chocolate melts. Remove from heat.

b) Alternatively, in a medium microwave-safe bowl, add the coconut oil and chocolate chips and melt in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds until melted.

5. Stir well, add the flax mixture, vanilla extract, and coconut sugar.

6.  Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir well to combine.  Fold in the roughly chopped walnuts.

7.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and place a piece of parchment paper at the top and flatten it out with your hands or with a roller until smooth and even.

8. Bake for 30 minutes.  When you pull it out of the oven, it will be sizzling and bubbly, and will seem like it’s not fully cooked.  Don’t worry about that– it’s normal and will set as it cools and chills.   Do not slice into it.  I repeat, do not slice it yet because it will fall apart and crumble.  Allow the brownies to cool in the pan for about 1 hour.  When they are completely cool, place the brownie pan into the refrigerator until they are cold.  This makes them easier to handle and easier to cut.  I usually cool them overnight.  Once they are completely cold, remove them from the refrigerator and holding onto the parchment paper transfer them onto a cutting board.  Cut 9 square pieces or smaller pieces.

9. Best stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container and eaten cold!



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Almond, Cherry, and Chocolate Biscotti

Photo Credit: Miranda Rivera

Photo Credit: Miranda Rivera

When a fellow vegan, Justine from England, requested that I create a gluten-free vegan biscotti recipe, I asked if she had any preferences or wanted anything specific in the recipe.  Justine proceeded to tell me that she desired chocolate chips.  So in developing this recipe, I knew I had to somehow incorporate chocolate chips.  Since I already have chocolate chips in so many of my dessert recipes I decided to change it up a bit.

I searched my pantry for inspiration.  The first thing I discovered is that I did not have anise extract, which the dominant flavor traditionally found in biscotti.  I did, however, have almond and vanilla extract.  I decided to make my own version of biscotti with a dominant almond flavor. To make things more exciting, I added a zing with lemon zest and a deep, sweet flavor of dried cherries.  Once twice-baked and cooled, I decided to give them a little dip in chocolate and they turned out quite nice, if I do say so myself.

I made two batches—one with coconut sugar and one with Stevia.  The coconut sugar turned the biscotti brown and the biscotti with Stevia retained a nice creamy, golden color.  Although I do like the creamy color of the Stevia version, the coconut sugar biscotti in my humble opinion tasted better.  The quality of the cookie dough was much easier to work with as well.  Please note, since there are nuts and cranberries in the dough, some of pieces that are cut prior to baking the biscotti the second time may crumble a little.  No worries though.  Just pop those broken pieces in your mouth, chew and savor the flavor.

Since I am no longer a coffee drinker, I honestly did not think enjoying a biscotti was still possible.  Boy, was I wrong.  They simply are crispy cookies dipped in a bit of chocolate.  Now, who doesn’t like that?

Feel free to try this recipe and make an ice “cream” biscotti sandwich, enjoy it with coffee or tea, or eat it all by its lonesome.  Biscotti can also be a perfect edible gift for your family and friends.


 Almond, Cherry and Chocolate Biscotti

Makes 14 – 15 cookies

Time: 50 minutes

Diet: V, GF, DF, SF, SRF



¼ cup coconut oil, melted

1 ½ tbsp flax meal

4 ½ tbsp filtered water

½ cup coconut palm sugar

zest from half a lemon

1 tsp almond extract

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 2/3 oat flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp xanthan gum

¼ cup slivered almonds

1/3 heaping cup dried cherries


chocolate coating:

¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 tbsp coconut oil, melted



1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

3. In a medium bowl, beat together ¼ cup coconut oil, flax meal, filtered water, coconut sugar, lemon zest, almond and vanilla extracts until well-blended.

4. In a small bowl, combine and mix together flour, baking powder, and xanthan gum.

5. Stir into wet mixture to form a heavy dough.

6. Add almonds and cherries and combine well.

7. On the lined baking sheet, form into a log as long as the cookie sheet. Press down to ½ inch thickness. Bake for 25-27 minutes.


8. Remove from the baking sheet and cook on a rack. When cookies are cool enough to handle, slice crosswise with a serrated knife into ½ inch slices.  Since there are almonds and cranberries, they may crumble a bit.


9. Place slices cut side up on backing sheet. Bake for additional 7 minutes on each side.  Cookie slices should be lightly toasted.


10. Allow cookies to sit on the baking sheet for at least 3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

11. Make sure the cookies are fully cooled before dipping them in chocolate.  When the cookies are cooled, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

12. Melt 1 tbsp of coconut oil and the chocolate in a bowl over a double boiler by bringing a pot with 2 cups of water to a simmer and placing the bowl of coconut oil and chocolate on top of the pot, stirring constantly until it melts. Turn off the heat once it is almost fully melted. Wipe off any water from the bottom of the bowl and do not put any water in the melted chocolate or it will seize.

13. Dust off crumbs from the biscotti and either dip the biscotti and/or use a spoon to coat the bottom of the biscotti.  Place the dipped biscotti on the lined baking sheet, and place it in the refrigerator to set. Remove from the refrigerator once the chocolate is set and store in an airtight container.



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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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Oriental Cabbage Salad


While perusing the ready-made food section at Whole Foods Market, I spotted an aesthetically pleasing salad that I wanted to take home with me.  However, after reading the salad’s ingredients and discovering that agave nectar is one of them, I changed my mind and decided to make my own crunchy cabbage salad at home.

Have I ever mentioned that I never cook with agave nectar?   It is heated while processed so it is not truly raw.  It also has a low glycemic index, but actually contains more fructose than high fructose corn syrup!  No, thank you!

My natural sweeteners of choice are as follows:

1) Erythritol, a naturally-derived, sugar subsitute that contains almost zero calories and has a zero glycemic index. It is a sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in some fruits and fermented foods. Erythritol tastes, bakes, and measures like sugar, but has 70% the sweetness of sugar. It’s safe for diabetics, has no digestive discomfort, has prebiotic activity, and does not feed the bacteria in your mouth. Compared to stevia, it doesn’t have a bitter aftertaste. I use the Swerve brand.

2) Pure, 100% stevia extract, a natural, no-calorie sweetener, which is extracted from the leaves of a plant. Beware, it can have a bitter aftertaste if used in high doses. Also, be sure to purchase the pure extract. Not all stevia products should be treated equally. Some are very processed and include additives like lactose!

3) Raw coconut nectar for its low glycemic index and because it contains much less fructose (about 20%) than agave (which can contain up to 90% fructose).  Coconut sugar contains 12 of the B vitamins, including riboflavin, thiamine, pyridoxine, biotin, nicotinic acid, pyridoxal and inositol.  It also has minerals including calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, phosphorus and boron. Although coconut sugar has many benefits, it should be eaten sparingly.  It is high in calories and you would have to eat a large amount of it to satisfy your need for the nutritional benefits.  However, when you do enjoy your sugar switching from regular processed white sugar to coconut palm sugar is a good idea.   It could prevent blood sugar crashes that make us hungry and may lead to weight gain due to coconut sugar’s low glycemic index and lower fructose level.

Back to the cabbage salad (at Whole Foods it’s called “Cabbage Crunch”).  This is my vegan and gluten-free version of Chinese chicken salad or Oriental chicken salad.  It may not be the healthiest as it contains healthy fats and low fructose/low GI sugars, but it contains a lot of sesame seeds and tahini that are packed with essential minerals, manganese, copper, iron, phosphorus and calcium and Vitamin E.  This recipe also includes almonds, which are high in protein and fiber.  I use coconut vinegar in this salad because I personally feel that it tastes much better than apple cider vinegar, plus coconut vinegar has more nutrients—17 amino acids, minerals, vitamin C, broad-spectrum B vitamins, and has a nearly neutral pH.

I hope you enjoy this refreshing and delicious salad along with all of its benefits!


Oriental Cabbage Salad


Prep Time 10 minutes

Servings 2-4



4 cups green cabbage, shredded

1/2 cup green onion, chopped

1/4 cup sesame seeds (toasted sesame seeds is optional)

1/2 cup slivered almonds


3 Tbsp coconut vinegar (can substitute with apple cider vinegar)

1 tbsp sunflower oil

1 Tbsp tahini

1/2 Tbsp filtered water

1 1/2 Tbsp coconut palm sugar

2 drops stevia (or 1/2 tsp more coconut palm sugar)

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper



1. In a large bowl, add the shredded cabbage, green onion, sesame seeds and slivered almonds. Toss. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients and whisk together to combine.

3. Pour the dressing over the cabbage salad and toss well to coat.

4. Chill or serve on salad plates.  Enjoy!

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Yellow Curry


Yellow curry frequents my cravings about every other month which simultaneously satiates my palate and the health nut in me. The fact is that the rich and thick soup base is comprised mainly of coconut milk.  Although coconut milk is known to have many benefits, there’s usually another side to the coin.

yellow curry2


Coconut milk is not to be confused with the lower-calorie coconut water;  it is made from a brew of water and coconut meat. Rich and thick and more like heavy cream, coconut milk packs a whopping 445 calories and 48 grams of fat (43 grams saturated) per cup.  It’s high in saturated fatty acids and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which are both easily burned as fuel for the body.  MCTs are beneficial in that they don’t require bile acids for digestion, and they’re directly passed to the liver through the portal vein.  Moreover, although coconut milk is fattening, it doesn’t contain cholesterol. It comes in the form of medium-chain triglycerides (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

Attempting to use light coconut milk seemed to compromise the rich flavor.  I’ve come to the conclusion that full fat coconut milk is what the recipe calls for in order to create full addicting flavor that initially attracted me to it.

Coconut milk aside, there are other healthy aspects to the recipe.  It contains turmeric.  Ingesting turmeric helps make the skin glow and beautiful.  In addition, there are interesting tidbits to the primary active ingredient in turmeric which is called curcumin. It is being evaluated in clinical trials for treating cancer (UT, MD Anderson Cancer Center).  Researchers at the UCLA are investigating whether the spice may have benefits for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.  The anti-cancer potential of curcumin is also being investigated intensively at the College of Staten Island, CUNY.  Turmeric is also a potent antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties.  Medicinal properties of turmeric have been recognized for millennia in the traditional Indian and Chinese medical systems. Statistical studies suggest that populations that consume approximately 500 mg of turmeric daily have reduced incidences of colon cancer (Molecular Nutrition & Food Research  2008, Volume 52, issue 9).

 “It is evident from these facts that making turmeric an integral part of the daily American diet will have a tremendous positive impact on the health of our citizens.

Turmeric and Curcumin have anti-aging and detoxifying properties. The role of Turmeric in preserving youthfulness and beauty has been a part of the Indian culture for thousands of years. Curcumin and other components in Turmeric arrest cellular aging by capturing free radicals that cause DNA damage. Turmeric works on numerous biochemical pathways that beneficial to maintaining youthfulness, Curcumin chelates (binds) toxic metal ions; it is also a powerful ant-inflammatory agent.”

For more information on the health benefits of turmeric, check out http://www.spreadhealthfoods.com/.

Another dominant ingredient in this curry is kabocha squash, my favorite squash.  It is a low carb alternative to butternut squash.  A single cup of kabocha squash has only forty calories per cup compared to butternut squash, which has sixty calories, and it has less than half the carbs of butternut squash (7 grams vs. 16 grams) per one cup serving.

Despite its lower calorie and carb count, kabocha squash is an excellent source of beta-carotene, which can be converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is important for healthy white blood cells, for good immunity and for healthy night vision.  In fact, a serving of kabocha squash provides 70% of the day’s recommended requirements. It also helps to keep skin and hair healthy.  Also, beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and is a good source of iron, vitamin C and some B vitamins. It also contains fiber, and to boost the fiber content even more, cook it with the edible skin still on.

Now that I’ve disclosed some pros and cons, I hope you realize there are more benefits to feasting on yellow curry.  A good trick to make this even more flavorful is to make it in advance.  This curry tastes so much better the next day.  If you have time to make this in advance, I suggest making it one day ahead– store it in the refrigerator overnight, and enjoy it the next day.  Overnight, the flavors marry so well– it’s really beautiful and delicious.  There are so many levels of flavor in this dish. I love it.

I hope you try it and love it, too!


Yellow Curry

Servings: 4-5

Time: 30 minutes

Brief: A good trick to make this even more flavorful is to make it in advance.  This curry tastes so much better the next day.  If you have time to make this in advance, I suggest making it one day ahead– store it in the refrigerator overnight, and enjoy it the next day.  Overnight, the flavors marry so well.

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



2 large shallots or 1/3 cup red onion, chopped

2-inch piece of ginger or galangal, grated

5 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 red Thai, serrano, or jalapeno chilies or 1/2 to 1 tsp. dried crushed red chili flakes, adjust to your preferred spiciness

1 tsp ground coriander

2 1/2 tsp ground cumin

3/4 tsp ground turmeric

2 pinches of cayenne pepper

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup vegetable stock

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

2-3 cups kabocha squash or sweet potato, peeled and cubed

2 red jacket potatoes, cubed

1 handful of green beans, sliced

1 handful mushrooms, (crimini and or oyster), sliced

1 – 14 ounce can full fat coconut milk

3 Tbsp coconut aminos (or Tamari or Bragg’s liquid aminos)

1 stalk lemongrass, minced (or 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice)

2 Tbsp coconut palm sugar

2 Tbsp ketchup or tomato paste

1 tsp ume plum vinegar, optional

1/4 cup fresh Thai basil (or sweet basil)

1 Tbsp coconut oil or grapeseed or sunflower  oil

Note: It’s easier to mince lemon grass in a food processor



1. Heat a medium-large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Drizzle in oil and swirl around.  Add shallots, ginger, garlic and chili.  Cook and stir for 3 minutes.  Add the dry spices: coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne and bay leaves and cook for another minute while stirring.

2. Add the vegetable stock, carrot, squash, potatoes, and mushrooms, stirring well. Add the coconut milk and bring it to a gentle boil.

3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes (for a thicker curry, do not cover). While simmering, combine the coconut aminos, lime juice (or lemongrass), coconut palm sugar, and ketchup in a bowl and add it to the saucepan. Stir well. Continue simmering until the vegetables are cooked to your liking.

4. Taste the curry and adjust to taste.  Add more coconut aminos if you prefer it saltier/more flavorful. If it’s too salty or sweet for your liking, add more lime juice. Add more coconut sugar if you find it too sour. More chili or cayenne pepper can be added for more heat. Although, I enjoy this more overnight, you can eat it right away.

5. Transfer to a serving dish and top with plenty of fresh basil. Serve with quinoa, brown jasmine or black rice, or over a mixture of quinoa and brown rice.

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Gluten-free Vegan Potstickers!


Have you noticed that almost every culture has some sort of small, succulent parcel encased in dough that everyone goes gaga for?  Living in Los Angeles, which is one of the most ethnically diverse counties in the country, it is possible to drive down a street and easily pick up a samosa from an Indian spice shop, wontons or potstickers from the many Chinese restaurants, a gyoza from the Japanese ramen shop, and rolled tacos from one of the thousands of taco shops.

I grew up in a Filipino-American household where my mother served her 8-member household a mix of Filipino and “American” dishes.   On special occasions, my mom would make lumpia, a Filipino egg roll, from scratch.  I’ve loved them since I was a child and now the children (my 15 nieces and nephews) in my family love them too!   I don’t know what it is about these little packages of goodness that we can’t get enough of.   We just love them!  Unfortunately, as I live a gluten-free, vegan lifestyle I don’t have as many options to choose from when it comes to enjoying the little packaged treats.  That is, if I don’t make them myself.

Last week, I was craving gyozas, which are Japanese potstickers. I researched and spent a few days testing recipes.  My goal was to create a delicious potsticker that is vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free.  I like potstickers because I don’t feel as guilty eating them.  They are not deep-fried and only a tablespoon of oil is used to brown them.  My potstickers can be made even lower in fat.  To do so, simply add them to a pot of boiling vegetable stock or water for a few minutes and voila!


To avoid soy, I use mushrooms and walnuts.  This way, I get my protein along with vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, manganese, copper, iron, potassium, and a nice, long list of other minerals and health benefits.  Other ingredients include ginger, garlic, scallions and cayenne pepper, dijon mustard, and ketchup.  If you’re against using ketchup, you can substitute the ketchup with finely chopped unsweetened dried cranberries.  Believe you me when I say that all the listed ingredients make a difference in that they add richness and more depth of flavor.

This recipe can take about 1.5 hours from start to finish and maybe even longer depending on how quick you are in the kitchen.  If you have a friend to help you out with the rolling while you wrap, that’ll save a lot of time!  These would be perfect to make on a weekend when you have a lot of time.

Whenever it is you choose to make the potstickers, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!


Healthy Habit.  A healthy habit I practice before enjoying my cooked meals is having at least 1/4th a cup of homemade kimchi and a large green salad, preferably a simple kale or cabbage salad.  The kimchi (or sauerkraut) is probiotic, increases my enzyme reserves, helps remove toxins and speeds cleansing, restoring the friendly bacteria in my body.  The nutrient-rich green salad provides me with more iron, calcium, antibiotics, and enhances satiety (feelings of fullness) and reduces the total number of calories eaten during my meal.



Prep time: 1 1/2 – 2 hours

Makes about 20 potstickers

Diet: V, GF, DF, SF




1 cup walnuts

1 heaping cup shiitakes (3.5 oz., approximately 13 shiitake mushrooms)

1 cup green cabbage, shredded

1/4 cup green onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp ginger, minced

2 Tbsp red bell pepper, chopped

1 Tbsp flax meal

3 Tbsp vegetable stock

2 Tbsp ketchup

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 tsp vegan worcestershire sauce

1 tsp coconut sugar

1 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp tapioca flour



1 cup tapioca starch

1 cup brown rice flour

1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum

2 tbsp sunflower oil or grapeseed oil

3/4 cups filtered water


Dipping Sauce:

2 Tbsp coconut aminos (or tamari)

1 Tbsp rice vinegar (or coconut vinegar)

1 Tsp minced ginger

sriracha, to taste




1. Place all the filling ingredients into a food processor and pulse 10 times.  Do not over process.  You want a chunky texture, not a fine mush.

2. Taste and adjust the heat. If you want more heat, add more cayenne pepper.

3. Place the filling in a bowl and mix well.



1. In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix all of the dry ingredients until completely combined.  Add the filtered water slowly while it is mixing, until it forms a ball.  You don’t want this to be sticky.  If it is too sticky, add a little more tapioca and brown rice flour. If it’s too dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time until the dough forms a ball.


2. Divide the dough in half. Roll one half of the dough into a rod on a clean surface until it is about 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Cut 10 pieces equally and set aside in a bowl that’s lined with a damp paper towel (not dripping). Each piece should be approximately 1 tablespoon. To avoid the dough from drying out, cover the pieces with a damp paper towel.  Repeat with the other half of the dough.


3.  If you have a tortilla press, this will make your job so much easier. Use it to make thin, circular wrappers. Alternatively, if you don’t have a tortilla press, between 2 pieces of parchment paper (not wax paper), place one round piece of dough towards the center and press down with a small saucepan or with the palm of your hand.  Flatten further with a rolling pin, making sure to keep it circular by rotating the dough as it’s being rolled.

4. Assemble the potsticker right after rolling out the wrapper.


1. Place 1 tablespoon of the filling mixture onto the center of the wrapper. Fold over, press to seal the edges, and shape as desired. I like to slightly fan the edges. Set on a half sheet pan, lined with parchment and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat this procedure until all of the filling is gone.

Makes about 20 potstickers.



1. Heat a 10-inch saute pan over medium heat. Brush with 1 tbsp of sunflower or grapeseed oil once hot.

2. Add about 7-8 potstickers at a time to the pan.  Brown all 3 sides. May take 1.5-2 minutes to brown on each side.


3. Once all sides are browned, with the cover of the pan in hand to cover immediately, gently and quickly add 1/3 cup water or vegetable stock to the pan and cover. Step back and be careful as there will be a lot of steam (and steam can give you a nasty burn).  I hold down the cover so it doesn’t explode off of the pan in the beginning.  Turn the heat down to low, and cook for another 2 minutes or until the water has cooked off. (You can also use veggie stock for more flavor)

4. Repeat until all the potstickers are cooked. Serve immediately, garnished with chopped green onion and with dipping sauce on the side.

**Alternatively, you can boil the potstickers in a pot of vegetable stock or filtered water, as you would pasta. Bring the water or stock to a boil and cook them until ready.


Dipping Sauce:

Mix all ingredients together and serve on the side.



If you wish to freeze your potstickers to enjoy on another day, place the sheet tray of potstickers in the freezer first. Allow them to freeze for at least 30 minutes, then place them in your freezer storage container of choice (ie. Ziplock or glass tupperware). Placing them in the freezer first will avoid them from sticking to each other.

When you’re ready to enjoy them, follow the cooking directions above.  You can cook them frozen. Just don’t move the potsticker once you place them in the pan.  Let them sit in the oil for at least 1.5 minutes or until browned. Once they are browned, they will release from the pan with ease. If you move them too quickly, the wrapper can tear.



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Persimmon Pudding

image-88Do you remember seeing persimmons for the very first time?  I do.  I thought they were a cross between a tomato and a pumpkin, and because of the little brownish specks in the fruit, I thought cinnamon was built right into them. With their sprinkles of cinnamon and pretty star centers, I often goofed around and called them per-cinnamons.

25 years later, I call them by their proper name and I know much more about them than just their appearance.

Interestingly, like the tomato, persimmons are technically berries.  They contain vitamin C and vitamin A beta-carotene.  They also have more dietary fiber, sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and manganese than an apple. Even better, persimmons contain phytochemicals and compounds such as catechin, gallocathechin (natural phenols and antioxidants), and betulinic acid, which is under preliminary research for potential anti-cancer activity. Armed with so much goodness, persimmons are considered a super fruit!

They taste like a cross between an apricot and a peach, and in baked goods, you won’t taste a distinguishable persimmon flavor; all that you will notice is that persimmons lend their sweetness and moisture.  In vegan baking, persimmons act as a great stable binder and would be a good substitute for eggs or oil.  I made this observation this week, when I baked with persimmons for the very first time.

I am so thankful and fortunate to always have a kitchen overflowing with fruit.  This is, in large part, due to my in-laws continuously stocking my trunk to the brim with a bounty of fruit from their “farm”.  Since it’s the end of pomegranate and persimmon season, my in-laws packed my car up with boxes of sour pomegranates and fuyu persimmons.  My mother-in-law pointed out that one box contained very ripe persimmons and that I needed to use them right away, before they spoil.  Sure, I could’ve made jam, but we don’t eat toast in our household so it would have gone to waste.


Besides using very ripe persimmons to dress my salads, I wasn’t sure what to make with them. Since they were super ripe, I had to figure it out in a hurry.  For inspiration, I went to Instagram and asked my followers what they would make with a box of almost over-ripened persimmon.  I received many suggestions for persimmon cookies (which I will try making next), persimmon pie, persimmon smoothies, persimmon muffins and bread, and one caught my eye– persimmon pudding!

My former boss, the very talented Breanne Varela (now Contreras), suggested persimmon pudding.  At first, I thought she meant ‘pudding’ as in chocolate or vanilla pudding that you eat with a spoon or Nilla wafer, then I googled it and realized that it’s actually a bread-type pudding, and I love bread puddings, so I thought ”oh yeahhh. Persimmon pudding it is!!”

After reading through many recipes and having a few test-runs, I came up with my own version of persimmon pudding.  The pudding itself is almost custard-like, and the outer part of the pudding is glazed with an ooey gooey coating.  It’s perfect for the holidays as it contains those familiar holiday spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.  It’s also festive because I threw some brandy into the mix!  Best of all, it’s gluten-free and vegan!  If you don’t make my vegan and gluten-free pumpkin pie for the holidays, this is a great alternative or it’s wonderful in addition to pumpkin pie!

Originally, the recipe was multiplied by 2, but because I like cleaner slices, I halved the recipe and used a loaf pan.  If you plan on taking this to a big family feast, I recommend making 2 loaves of persimmon pudding!

Best served warm with a dollup of hard sauce, I hope you and your loved ones enjoy this special dessert!


Persimmon pudding

Serves 6-8


Water Mixture:

3/4 cup coconut sugar

1/2 tbsp coconut palm nectar or molasses

4 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce

1/2 cup boiling water


Batter Mixture:

1 cup oat flour (gluten-free) or heaping one cup of rolled oats (pulverized in the blender)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup coconut sugar

5 1/2 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce

1/2 cup persimmon pulp (from ripe persimmons, almost over-ripe to the touch, peeled and seeded)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract (no alcohol)

2 tbsp brandy, optional (or dark rum)

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tbsp chia seeds

1/2 cup almond milk (or coconut or any other nut milk)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup golden raisins


Hard Sauce:

3/4 cup cashews (soaked for at least 3 hours or overnight in filtered water)

1/4 to 1/2 cup filtered water

2 tbsp coconut nectar

1 tbsp brandy, optional (alternatively, use dark rum or vanilla)



Persimmon Pudding:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. In a small mis en place bowl, combine the chia seeds and the apple sauce. Mix and set aside.

3. Spray loaf pan with a non-stick cooking spray. Combine all the water mixture ingredients in the loaf pan, adding the boiling water last.  Stir to dissolve the sugar, then place the loaf pan in the center of a half sheet pan and into the oven.  Leave the loaf pan in the oven while preparing the batter. The coconut oil will melt and the liquid will start to bubble.

4. Prepare the batter.  In a high powered blender (you can even use just a normal standard blender), if you don’t have oat flour, add your dried oatmeal and pulverize.  Add all the batter ingredients, including the applesauce and chia seed mixture, and EXCEPT for the walnuts and raisins into the blender.  Blend until combined, taking breaks to scrape the sides of the blender with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter mixture into a large bowl and fold in the walnuts and raisins.

5. Open the oven and carefully pull out the oven rack where the sheet and loaf pans are sitting.  Carefully, pour the batter, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula, into the water mixture. DO NOT MIX the water mixture and the batter, just carefully spread the batter so that it’s leveled and in each of the corners.  While it bakes, the batter will soak up some of the liquid.  It will also sort of steam the bread pudding and form an ooey gooey glaze.


This is what it looks like when it's taken out of the oven. You will notice that I didn't move the batter to the top and bottom left corners, so there was no bread in those corners.  Make sure you move the batter carefully into the corners!

This is what persimmon pudding looks like when taken out of the oven. You will notice that I didn’t move the batter to the top and bottom left corners, so there was no bread in those corners. Make sure you move the batter carefully into the corners!

6. Bake for 1 hour. Let it cool and set for at least one to two hours.  Don’t be alarmed..it will shrink.  Cut slices and scoop out slices with a spatula.  Serve warm and with either a scoop of ice “cream” or the hard sauce. Enjoy!


Hard Sauce:

1. Soak cashews in filtered water for at least 3 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Drain and place the cashews in the blender.

2. To the blender, add the brandy, coconut palm nectar and about 1/4 cup of filtered water.  Blend well until it starts to look creamy.  Scrapes down the sides with a silicon spatula.  Adjust the consistency of the cream (it should be pourable), with a little water, about a tablespoon at a time.  If it gets too runny, adjust by adding a few more cashews. Sweeten to taste. Adjust brandy to taste.

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Gnocchi with Roasted Butternut Squash






I lived in Santa Cruz, California, for 5 years.  Santa Cruz is a beautiful place known for a great many things.  There’s the Mystery Spot, a gravitational anomaly where balls roll uphill, not downhill; some believe that vampires live in the Santa Cruz mountains because of the movie “Lost Boys”; Santa Cruz is known for it’s great surf; it’s where the ocean meets the mountains, where bohemians and hippies frolic about; and where you can find some really fantastic restaurants.


I learned about the long list of great restaurants while I worked full-time at PricewaterhouseCoopers while attending school and being a choir director at the university part-time.  With my busy schedule, I didn’t have much time to make my own food so I’d eat out…a lot.  Influenced by my older friends from work, I was guided by ratings in the Zagat guide.


That’s when I found Star Bene on East Cliff.  The first time I had dinner at Star Bene, I ordered one of their specials– gnocchi with prosciutto and peas in a creamy gorgonzola sauce; it was heavenly.  Even though the dish wasn’t on their regular menu, I ordered the same dish every time I went back to the restaurant.  I was so pleased that they’d make it for me every time with no hassle.  It’s been 11 years since I’d eaten there.  Since then, I’ve transitioned to a vegan and gluten-free lifestyle, so I’m sad to say I’ll never have an amazing meal there again.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t had a good gnocchi since. Well, up until yesterday.

After seeing a few gnocchi posts on Instagram recently, I developed a hankering for gnocchi.  Since I had butternut squash on hand and watched Giada DeLaurentiis on television make a creamy pasta dish with butternut squash, I thought I’d do the same.


Mmmm…I loved the sweet- and spiciness of the roasted butternut squash and red onion, the savory light pillows of gnocchi, the saltiness of the vegan parmesan, creaminess of the sauce, crunchiness of the nuts and the depth and freshness of the basil.  It was a perfect, warming and comforting Fall dish.

I was very pleased with this gnocchi dish and hope you will enjoy it just the same.

Buono Appetito!


Gnocchi with Roasted Butternut Squash

2 Servings



1 pound of butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes

1/2 red onion, diced into 1/2 inch pieces

sunflower or cold-pressed olive oil for drizzling

Himalayan sea salt

cayenne pepper

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts and/or pecans, toasted

1/2 cup chopped basil leaves

4 tbsp vegan/gf parmesan cheese ( I use Go Veggie! brand. Found at Whole Foods)

“goat” cashew cheese, cream. (directions below)

about a pound of gnocchi (directions below)

Goat-less cashew cream:

3/4 cup cashews soaked in filtered water for at least 3-5 hours or overnight.



1 pound of red jacket potatoes

2/3 cup oat (gluten-free) flour

1 chia egg (1 tbsp chia seed mixed with 3 tbsp water. set aside for about 15 minutes until it thickens)

about 1/4 tsp Himalayan fine sea salt



1. Put oven rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat oven to  425 degrees F.

2. Spray a baking sheet liberally, or use a silpat or parchment paper to line a half sheet pan. Mix the squash and onion together and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with sunflower or olive oil and season with sea salt and cayenne pepper, to taste. Bake for to 40 to 45 minutes until the vegetables are golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.


3. While the squash and onion are cooking in the oven, prepare the gnocchi.

4. Toast the walnuts, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven until lightly toasted, about 6 to 8 minutes. Cool completely before using.

5. Make the goat-less cashew cream.

6. Once all components are prepared, assemble.  In a large bowl, add the cashew cream and vegan parmesan. Thin the cream and parm into a sauce by adding some of the hot, reserved salted water (used to boil gnocchi). Stir until it becomes a sauce-like consistency (like cheese-sauce).  Add the gnocchi and vegetables, basil, nuts.  Toss and serve. Garnish with vegan parmesan, chopped basil and nuts.




I recommend watching this demonstration video on how to make gnocchi!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_47FQRlGy9w

1. Boil the potatoes, with skins on, in lightly salted water until they are fork tender and when you see the skins breaking off.

2. While still hot, peel the potatoes.

3. With a potato masher or with a fork, mash the potatoes. Add oat flour, and chia egg and 2 generous pinches of sea salt or 1/4 tsp.

4. Knead the dough together for about 4 minutes.  It should look like a dough.  If it looks more potato-y, add a little more flour until it looks like a dough (up to about 1/3 cup more, if needed). Roll into a ball.

5. Take about a fourth of the dough and roll into a dowl or snake-like shape about 3/4 inches in diameter. Cut 1 inch pieces and flick off a fork. Repeat.

6. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi.  As they float to the top of the boiling water, remove them with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Reserve the salted water! Toss with a drizzle of  sunflower or olive oil until ready to use.


Goat-less cheese or cashew cream:

In a powerful blender, add the soaked cashews.  Reserve the soaking water.  Blend.  If the cashews aren’t moving in the blender, add some water. Not too much, only enough to get it going in the blender, about 3-4 tbsp. Scrape the sides and blend until smooth. It should look like a cream. Place in a bowl. Set aside.

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Kelp Noodles with Asian Peanut Sauce


Sea vegetables, rich in vitamins A, B and C, are considered to be vegan seafood. They are high in calcium, protein, carotenes and chlorophyll; and they contain easily absorbed and densely concentrated minerals, especially iron, potassium, magnesium and iodine. Sea vegetables include: kelp, nori, dulse, wakame, kombu, arame, and hijiki.

I eat quite a bit of this stuff.  On occasion, I make vegan sushi rolls or mini tacos with nori and gluten-free furikake.  I also incorporate dulse into in my salads, noodles, and even sauces to achieve a more salty flavor in my food without introducing more sodium.  In addition, I pick up at least one bag of kelp noodles every time I visit Whole Foods Market.

Without any preservatives, kelp noodles have a very long shelf life. Although I could wait 6 months to enjoy them, I’d rather eat them fresh.

Keep in mind, kelp noodles taste a little bitter and crunchy straight out of the package, but after soaking and slathering them with sauce, they can be turned into beautiful soft glass noodles. I find these noodles to be very refreshing, especially on hot days. When I enjoy them, I prefer eating them Vietnamese-style.  For this recipe, I use traditional Vietnamese ingredients, except for the fish sauce, while adding other ingredients to make up for the salt- and tanginess of the fish sauce.  I usually use whatever ingredients I have on hand to add into the mix. If I have bean sprouts and sugar snap peas, I add them in addition to the kale and cucumber.


Kelp Noodles with Asian Peanut Sauce

Servings: 1 – 2

Time: 30 minutes

Brief: Kelp Noodles with Asian Peanut Sauce are a refreshing meal or starter course. Perfect for warmer days or when you feel like eating something light.

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




12 oz. kelp noodles

½ lemon

1 cup shredded kale, stems removed, optional

1 tsp fresh mint, chopped

1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

2 scallions, sliced thinly at a diagonal

1 Persian cucumber, chopped, optional


1 Tbsp peanuts, chopped


2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 – 1 serrano chile, deseeded and minced*

2 tsp ginger, minced

1 Tbsp peanut butter

1.5 Tbsp coconut aminos**

2 tsp ume plum vinegar***

1 lime, juiced

1 Tbsp filtered water


*can substitute with jalapeno or Thai chile. Adjust amount of chile depending on your desired level of spiciness

**a soy sauce alternative. If you don’t have this and don’t mind consuming soy, use Bragg’s liquid aminos or tamari, along with 2 drops of Stevia

***if you can’t find ume plum vinegar, you can use unfermented miso paste if you’re okay with consuming soy products.



1. Remove the kelp noodles from their package and give them a rinse.  Place the kelp noodles in a medium bowl and cut them a bit with kitchen shears, just enough so they don’t tangle. Add juice from 1/2 a lemon, 1/4 tsp of sea salt and add filtered water, enough to submerge the noodles.  Allow them to soak about 20-25 minutes to soften.

2. In the meantime, prepare the sauce.  Add all the ingredients for the sauce into a medium bowl and stir to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste.

3. Prepare salad ingredients.

4. Once the kelp noodles have soaked, drain the water out of the bowl. Add the sauce to the kelp noodles and massage the sauce into the noodles with your hands.  Toss the remaining salad ingredients into the salad and enjoy!


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