German Chocolate Truffle Cake


For as long as I can remember, my mother has always been a big fan of cake.  My mother is originally from the Philippines.  There, they have meriendas, which is an afternoon snack and a time when they enjoy coffee with something sweet.  I grew up watching my mom enjoy her coffee with either a pandesol (Filipino bread roll), donut, Filipino rice cakes, and on special occasions a slice of German chocolate or Sara Lee three-layer chocolate cake.  Her favorite among them is the German chocolate cake.  So each year for her birthday, my sisters and I try to get her German chocolate cake.

I have always adored the way my mom says “chocolate” in her gentle Filipino accent, and the way she enjoys her cake makes whatever she eats look even more delicious. It’s no surprise that I inherited my love for chocolate from her.

As a tribute to my ever-supportive, hardworking, and chocolate cake-loving mother (mother of 6 daughters), I dedicate this German chocolate recipe to her.  It is not your typical German chocolate cake since this is a raw vegan truffle-cake version.  It’s smooth and decadent, but still with a nice crunch from the pecans and chewiness of the shredded coconut.

I hope she approves!



I want to give a huge thanks for kindly sending me ingredients that inspired this cake!  Click on the ingredient links to purchase the same ingredients I used to make the German Chocolate Truffle Cake.  Click here for savings. 


German Chocolate Truffle Cake

Servings: 8

Time: 1 day

Diet: V, GF, DF, SF, R




1/2 cup raw pecans

1/2 cup soft Medjool dates, pitted

½ tsp vanilla extract, no alcohol

¼ tsp sea salt



1 ½ cup raw cashews, soaked in filtered water overnight in the refrigerator.  Rinsed and drained.

1/3 cup filtered water

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp coconut nectar*

2 tsp vanilla extract

6 Tbsp unsalted almond butter

½ shredded coconut

¼ cup raw cacao powder


Note: *can substitute with maple syrup



shredded coconut, as needed

chopped pecans, as needed



1.  Make the crust.  Place the pecans, dates, vanilla extract, and sea salt in the food processor with the blade attachment and pulse to chop until you reach your desired texture (you will want a finer crust than a chunkier one).  Test the crust by spooning out a small amount and rolling it in your hands.  If the crust mixture holds together, your crust is perfect.  If not, try to mix the mixture with your hands until it comes together.  Pour the crust mixture into a 6-7” spring-form pan (if you don’t have a spring-form pan, use a cake pan 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 the coconut oil is solid, gently heat the oil in a small saucepan on low heat until it changes into a liquid state.

3.  Place all of the filling ingredients into the blender EXCEPT for the almond butter, shredded coconut, and cacao powder, and blend on high until very smooth (this may take a couple minutes).

4.  Divide the mixture in half by removing about 1 1/3 cup of the mixture from the blender.  Set aside.

5.  Add the cacao powder to the remaining mixture in the blender.  Blend until well combined.  Stop the blender and taste.  If you think it needs more sweetness, add about ½-1 Tbsp of coconut nectar and blend again.

6.  Pour the filling into the crust, using a silicon spatula to scrape out all of the mixture. Smoothen it out evenly with a silicon or offset spatula.  Place the pan in the freezer.  No need to wash out the blender.

7.  Add the remaining cake base to the blender and add the almond butter.  Blend well.

8.  Taste the mixture.  If you feel the filling needs a little more sweetness, add about ½-1 Tbsp of coconut nectar, and blend.

9. Pour the filling into a small bowl, add the shredded coconut, and mix well.

10.  Retrieve the pan from the freezer and pour the filling into the crust and smooth it out evenly with a silicon or offset spatula.

11. Lightly top the edges of the cake with shredded coconut and chopped pecans.

10.  Place the cake in the freezer until solid, about 4 hours or overnight.

11.  To serve, remove from the freezer 30 minutes prior to eating.  Run a smooth, sharp knife under hot water and cut into slices.  Serve when fully defrosted.  You should get 8 slices.  Serve on its own, or the way I like it, topped with chopped peanuts!  Enjoy and store leftovers in the freezer!


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Snackers Crackers


My snackers crackers are a delicious snack that happens to be good for you– a winning combination!  They are packed with super foods, whole foods, lots of protein, fiber, omega-3’s, healthy fats and minerals.

If you’re looking for a hearty, healthy snack, look no further.  These are quite easy to make; plus, they’re vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and refined sugar-free!

Some of my friends with kids use this recipe to make crackers for their kids, using fun cookie cutters to make them more appealing. Mother- and kid-approved, enjoy these by themselves, or with vegan “cheese”, dips, or smashed avocado.



Time 45 minutes

Servings about 40-45 crackers



1 cup almond meal

1 cup cooked quinoa

1/3 unhulled sesame seeds and or black sesame seeds

1/4 cup flax seeds

1 tbsp coconut aminos (or tamari)

1/4 heaping tsp coconut sugar

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp chives, chopped

1/2 tsp parsley, chopped

1/2 tsp oregano, chopped

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

4 tbsp pumpkin seeds

2 tbsp walnuts, chopped



1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place flax seeds in a bowl and cover with 1/4 cup of filtered water. Set aside for at least 20 minutes to soak.  Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients.

3. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast sesame seeds (if not already toasted) until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.


4. In a food processor, blend together the cooled quinoa, almond meal, soaked flax seed, chives, parsley, oregano, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, sea salt, coconut sugar, coconut aminos or tamari, coconut oil.  Process until a dough is formed.  It should form into a ball. If it does not come together, add filtered water, a tablespoon at a time.  Add sesame seeds and pulse to incorporate. The dough should be very sticky at this point. Place into a medium-large bowl.



5. Add pumpkin seeds and walnuts and mix, using your clean hands, to incorporate. Season to taste.


6. Between 2 pieces of parchment paper, roll out the dough evenly with a rolling pin to achieve a very thin, even slab. Remove the top layer of the parchment.  Using a knife, score the dough into desired shapes.

7. Slide the parchment paper onto a half sheet pan and place it in the oven for 25 minutes. Turn oven down to 300 degrees so as to not overly brown crackers. Bake for 10-15 more minutes or until crispy and golden.


8. When crackers are done, remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes.

9. Break crackers along score lines, let them cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Note: if crackers baked unevenly, meaning some crackers are crispy and others are not, place the uncooked ones back on the half sheet pan and in the oven until entirely dry.

10. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Crackers keep for one week.

Enjoy them with avocado or my Cranberry Dill Vegan Goat Cheese!




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Thin Mints


‘Tis the season to bake cookies and to eat chocolate and peppermint!

Growing up, I was the kid that loved Junior Mints, York Peppermint Patties, and Andes after-dinner mints. When I grew older, I discovered the Thin Mint and fell in love!  If you’re not from the United States, you may be wondering, “what is a Thin Mint?” Well it’s not a breath mint or a soft peppermint candy.  A Thin Mint is a crispy mint-chocolate cookie covered in a rich, smooth, mint-chocolate coating.  It’s so good!  Thin Mint cookies are also sold exclusively by the Girls Scouts during their cookie season.


A few years back, while working at the Tavern in Brentwood – Los Angeles, CA with former head pastry chef, Breanne Varela, we made Thin Mint cookies.  Breanne came up some of the most fun, nostalgic, and tasty sweet treats.  Recently, I skimmed through five of my old notebooks that were created during my time working in professional kitchens and found, among many others, Breanne’s recipe for Thin Mint cookies.  It’s amazing how much I learned from her – I will forever be grateful for all the guidance and instruction.  In the process of reading through my notebooks, I was inspired to not only make the Thin Mints but to make many more sweet treats!

As you may have already figured out, my vegan and gluten-free Thin Mint recipe cookie is adapted from Breanne’s recipe.  Believe me when I say this…they taste almost the same!  I hope you try this recipe and love it as much as I do!


Thin Mint Cookies

Time: 40 minutes

Makes about 24 cookies


Cookie Ingredients

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

6 tbsp coconut palm sugar (pulverized in the blender so it’s fine… or powdered sugar)

1 tbsp chia seeds

3 tbsp filtered water

1/2 tsp vanilla extract (no alcohol)

1  1/4 cup oat flour (gluten-free)

1/4 cup cacao powder

1/2 tsp peppermint extract


Chocolate-Mint Coating Ingredients

2 cups of vegan chocolate chips

1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp cocoa butter

1/4 tsp peppermint oil (must be peppermint oil or the chocolate will seize up and be ruined)



1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.

2. Place the chia seeds, room temperature water, coconut oil, vanilla extract, peppermint extract and coconut sugar in a high-powered blender for one minute or until the chia seeds are pulverized. Place the mixture in a bowl of a stand mixer, scraping out the contents of the blender completely with a silicone spatula.

3.  Using a paddle attachment, add the cacao powder, scraping the side of the bowl.  Add the oat flour, and mix just until combined.

4. Cut the dough in half and between two 12-inch wide pieces of parchment paper, roll one half of the dough 2/16 – 3/16th of an inch thick.  Using a 2 1/2 inch in diameter circular cookie cutter or glass cup, cut circles.

4.  Chill the cut circles on a cutting board in the freezer so they don’t break and are easier to handle.


2 minutes in the freezer should be fine. Once they are chilled and easier to handle, place the circles on a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silpat mat. 15 should fit perfectly on the sheet pan.  Repeat until all the dough is used.

5.  Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes.  Once the cookies are baked, keep the cookies on the pan for at least 4 minutes so they don’t fall apart then transfer them to a cooling rack.

6.  Put the chocolate chips and cocoa butter in a medium heatproof bowl.  Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat or set it to very very low; set the bowl of chocolate over the water to melt. Stir constantly until smooth. (Alternatively, melt the chocolate and cocoa butter in a microwave at half power, for 1 minute, stir and then heat for another minute or until melted. I, unfortunately don’t have much luck with this method.)  Make sure that your silicone spatula and bowl is dry.  A drop of water will seize the chocolate and you will not be able to neatly coat your cookies if your chocolate is seized.

7.  Once the chocolate and cocoa butter are melted and smooth, add the peppermint oil, not to be confused with peppermint extract.  If you add peppermint extract, the chocolate will seize and be unusable.  Taste the mint chocolate and adjust to taste. Add more peppermint if you want it super duper minty.  Mix thoroughly. Remove from the heat.



8. Line a sheet pan with parchment or waxed paper. Holding the cookie on a candy dipping fork or regular fork, dip the cookie into the chocolate then hold the cookie on the fork.  With your silicone spatula, pour some chocolate over the cookie and gently smoothen it out (alternatively, use a small ladle to coat the cookie with chocolate), letting any excess chocolate fall back into the bowl. Scrape the bottom of the cookie on the edge of the bowl so as to not drench the parchment with puddles of excess chocolate or “feet”. Repeat with the rest of the cookies.


9.  Before the melted chocolate sets on the cookies, sprinkle them with sprinkles of your choice.  It helps to sprinkle them at least a foot above the cookies.

10.  Chill the cookies in the refrigerator and enjoy once they are set!

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Persimmon Cookies and Muffins!


Have you ever used one batter to make cookies and muffins?  Before today, I didn’t think that was possible.  Well, guess what I did?  I made persimmon cookies and persimmon muffins using the same exact batter!  Sounds too good to be true?  I’m telling you…it can be done!  And, with this recipe both pastries turned out great!


If you have a persimmon tree, just inherited a huge bounty of persimmons like I did, or can find them at the market, I recommend making these cookies and/or muffins.  Your family, friends, and coworkers will love you for it.


Last weekend at my twin nephews’ birthday party, I shared these cookies with guests while discreetly conducting a taste test.  The common reaction was, “this doesn’t taste like a vegan and gluten-free cookie.  It’s delicious!  Can I have another one?”  It is these types of responses that warm my heart and make me happy doing what I do.

These are some of the best vegan and gluten-free cookies and muffins that I have had in a while. They’re not the crispy type of cookies or muffins.  Rather, they are actually quite moist from the addition of the applesauce and persimmon.


If you love the taste and smell of the holidays, you sure will be pleased with these.  While baking, your house will be filled with the most intoxicating holiday spice aroma.  You can taste all of the warm and familiar flavors of the season and the sweetness of the raisins, while getting a nice crunch from the walnuts.

I hope you and your loved ones enjoy them as much as my loved ones and I do!

Persimmon Cookies and/or  Muffins

Makes 27-28 cookies or about 12 muffins


2 cups oat flour (gluten-free) or 2 heaping cups of rolled oats (gluten-free)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 cup coconut sugar

1 tbsp chia seeds

3 tbsp applesauce, unsweetened

1 cup persimmon pulp (from ripe, soft persimmons)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract(no alcohol)

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 cup raisins

1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped



1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

2. If you don’t have oat flour and only rolled oats, place a heaping cup of rolled oats into a high-powered blender.  Blend on high until you have a flour-like consistency.  Remeasure the flour to ensure you have 2 cups exactly. Place in a large bowl. Add the baking powder and baking soda to the oat flour, mix well.  Set aside.

3. You will need to use the same blender (don’t need to wash it), just remove any remaining oat flour and save to use later.  Place the coconut oil, coconut sugar, chia seeds, applesauce, persimmon pulp, vanilla, sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves into the blender and blend until fully incorporated and chia seeds are pulverized. Stop the blender maybe 2 times to scrape the sides of the blender, ensuring all ingredients are getting blended together.

4. Using a rubber spatula, add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix well.  Fold in the raisins and walnuts.

5. On a half sheet pan lined with parchment or a silicon liner, scoop 1 ounce (or 2 tbsp)-sized cookies.  Press down on the cookies with your hand to flatten into a cookie shape, or use the side of a rubber spatula to flatten since they are a bit sticky.

**alternatively, add 2 scoops (or 4 tbsp) of batter to cupcake cake liners. Make sure to press down and flatten the muffin.

Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes.  Bake muffins for 25-28 minutes.  Repeat until all cookies and muffins are baked.  Cool cookies and muffins on a cooling rack. Enjoy!



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Apple Pancakes



On occasion, I receive requests from readers asking me to create recipes for them. One of my readers requested an apple pancake recipe containing apple, cinnamon, almond milk/almond flour, and buckwheat flour that would just melt in your mouth. When I read his message, I recalled my sister-in-law raving about an apple pancake recipe that contained eggs which she described as “paleo.”

Since my family enjoys pancakes on the weekends, I decided to veganize my sister-in-law’s recipe and add buckwheat flour to give the pancake more structure. These pancakes are light, guilt-free, vegan, gluten-free and sweet enough that maple syrup isn’t necessary.  By the way, I still like “My Favorite Gluten-free Vegan Pancakes and Waffles” recipe best!


Apple Pancakes

Servings: 1

Time: 25 minutes



1 medium apple, peeled and cored, cut into fourths

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp coconut palm sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract (no alcohol)

a dash of sea salt

5 Tbsp filtered water

2 Tbsp chia seeds

1/4 cup almond meal + 2 tbsp

3 Tbsp buckwheat flour



1. In a medium bowl, combine almond meal and buckwheat flour.  Set aside.

2. In a blender, combine apples, cinnamon, stevia, vanilla extract, sea salt, water and chia seeds. Blend on high until the apples are completely pulverized.

3. Using a rubber spatula, pour and scrape the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix to combine.

4. Allow this mixture to sit for at least 17 minutes. This is a very important step. The chia seeds will absorb the liquid and will bind it all together. Do not skip this step!

5. Spray a nonstick griddle with cooking spray and prepare like a regular pancake. This recipe will yield four pancakes that are 3 to 4 inches in diameter.



This is what the mixture looks like before adding the buckwheat flour.



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Raw Parsley and Kale Tabouli Salad with Hemp Seeds


I made tabouli for the first time a couple of weeks ago using Kimberly Snyder’s recipe from her book “Beauty Detox Solution”, and I really liked it!  It’s so fresh, tangy and delicious!

My husband (my best test-taster) though, didn’t love the  slightly peppery and almost anise-like taste of the parsley. Since it’s been warm out, I thought a fresh Mediterranean salad would be perfect to start tonight’s dinner. This time, though, I would only use half of the parsley I used last time and I’d add in kale to make up for the other half of parsley in the recipe. I’d also add cayenne for a little kick.

Without having told Peyman I changed up the salad, he told me, “I like the tabouli better today than the last time you made it”.  My eyes lit up and I explained to him why. Yay! Hooray! This tabouli is husband-approved. Success!

Here’s the recipe.


Raw Parsley and Kale Tabouli Salad with Hemp Seeds



1 small bunch of curly or Italian parsley

1 small-medium bunch of kale, stems removed (I like lacinato/dinosaur kale but any will do)

1/2 white onion, diced

1 organic tomato, diced

6 heaping Tbsp hemp seeds



Juice of 1 lemon

1 1/2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 C cold-pressed olive oil

1/2 t celtic or Himalayan sea salt

2 shakes of cayenne pepper



1. Chop parsley and kale (Will be quick if you use a food processor to chop the greens) and place in a large bowl with the onion, tomato and hemp seeds.

2. In a blender, combine lemon, garlic, olive oil and salt and blend until smooth.

3. Pour dressing over the salad and mix well.  It’s best chilled.

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