No Bake Sunflower-Flax Bites


The title of The Big Book of Gluten-Free Recipes: More Than 500 Easy Gluten-Free Recipes for Healthy and Flavorful Meals doesn’t lie: it is over 500 pages long and jam-packed with recipes.It covers everything  from breakfast to dessert, to sauces and more, and from omnivore meals to vegetarian and vegan friendly recipes.

I adapted a no bake bar recipe using sunflower butter instead of peanut butter, so Alistaire could enjoy them. Simple to make, even Walker can help me. The author offers up other suggestions, swapping in any favorite nut or seed butter, adding dried fruit/berries or nuts for the chocolate.

Delicious bars, but do remember they are very high in fiber…so yeah, don’t over indulge 😉


No Bake Sunflower-Flax Bites (As adapted from page 102)


  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats, GF if needed
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ½ cup natural sunflower butter
  • ½ cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup raw local honey
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


Line a 8×8 or 9×9 pan with plastic wrap.

Stir the oats, chocolate chips and flax together in a large mixing bowl. Stir the sunflower butter, honey and vanilla together until smooth, stir into the dry ingredients, working in till mixed.

Spread into prepared pan, packing down. Refrigerate for an hour or more, cut into squares. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.


FTC Disclaimer: We received a copy for potential review.


Book Review: Raw Essence (with recipes)


RawEssence: 165 Delicious Recipes for Raw Living was released last week, and lucky me, I had a copy show up about two weeks ago. I couldn’t decide what to try, first world problem I know, the majority of the recipes all sounded good – and the lush photography made it even harder. If you love eating raw, you must get a copy of this book!

But….knowing me, I ended up in the dessert section. I kept wandering back to the Sugar Pie on page 194-195. Which brings me to something:

If you are over a certain age (gah, am I in that crowd now?), there was a time when Brazil Nuts were hounded on for being “unhealthy”. This was mostly due to just how high in fat the nuts are (and they are really seeds if you will). And yes, they are fattening, no doubt about that, but what the 80’s low-fat craze left out was that was that the fat was a good fat. Brazil nuts are something to not over indulge in, but to enjoy in your diet in small amounts. And oh do they produce an amazing nut butter! But do be careful, while Brazil nuts are a source of many wonderful things, indulge in a few every day, but don’t go over board. So…having said that, enjoy this pie but remember, s small slice goes far. It is rich and filling. The pie lasts a long time, up to 10 days in the refrigerator for 4 months if frozen. And that is the beauty of raw desserts – you actually ‘fill up’ and don’t mindlessly keep eating.


This was a three-part recipe, but none of the steps were hard nor time-consuming. Having fresh date paste in the refrigerator is a great time saver, it is a wonderful fat and sugar substitute for a lot of recipes (use it for oil in muffins!). The paste is  in both the crust and the filling, so make it ahead….or be like me, washing my food processor 3 times in a row 😉


Date Paste (From page 25)


  • 2½ cups pitted dates (used Medjool)
  • 1½ cups filtered water


Soaking: In a container (used a small mixing bowl), cover dates with water and let soak for 2 hours. Press down thoroughly so all dates are moistened. Cover with a weight, if necessary.

Once dates are thoroughly softened, place them along with their soaking water in the food processor and mix until a paste obtained that is as uniform, sticky and smooth as possible.

Store for up to 3 months in the refrigerator.


It only took a minute or so in my food processor to make a smooth paste. I used Medjool dates, from Costco’s produce department, which are very soft to start with. Harder dates may need a longer soak time.


Coco-Pecan Crust (from page 195)


  • 1½ cups pecans
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3 Tbsp date paste
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves (I left this out)
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt


In a food processor, reduce pecans to powder.

Add remaining ingredients and blend into a crust of even consistency that can be formed into a ball.

Keeps up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Makes one 9″ crust.


For easy pie removal, line a glass or metal pie pan with plastic wrap, then pack in the crust mixture with hands. Pat down firmly with the back of a metal measuring cup. Chill until ready to fill.


Sugar Pie (from page 195)


  • 1 coco-pecan crust
  • 3 cups Brazil nuts
  • ¾ cup date paste
  • 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil


(While I followed the directions in the book, even with our powerful Vitamix Blender, if I were to make the filling again, I would just mix it all up in the processor and skip using the blender. The filling is thick and really works the blender hard.)

In a food processor, reduce Brazil nuts to a butter that is as liquid and creamy as possible

Pour mixture into blender. Add date paste, maple syrup, vanilla and salt. Reduce to a smooth paste of even consistency.

While blender is running, incorporate melted coconut. Continue blending until mixture is creamy and of even consistency.

Pour mixture into crust. Refrigerate pie for 3 hours to allow it to set.

Makes 1 9″ pie, 8 to 12 servings.

Keep covered and refrigerated for up to 10 days, or stored in freezer for up to 4 months (wrap slices individually).


FTC Disclaimer: We received a copy of the book for potential review.

Double Ginger Raw Fudge

Is this “fudge”? Well, not quite. Not if what you are expecting is the fudge you grew up on. It is delicious in its own right, as a snack, dessert or even melted into your morning bowl of oats (cut slivers and melt in).


Now though, you must really, realllllyyyy love ginger. If you don’t, I plead that you cut the ginger by half or leave it out. Even without any, it will be delicious. We like ginger though. Stronger the better. It should snap you in the throat while you are enjoying it, don’tcha know? 😉


Double Ginger Raw Fudge



Grate the solid bar of creamed coconut, using the fine holes on a box grater. Store in a 16 ounce mason jar until needed. If using coconut butter from a jar, scoop out and measure.

Line a small square or rectangle box with plastic wrap, set aside (a sandwich size container works).

Add the creamed coconut through cloves into a food processor. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape as needed. Pour into the mold, smooth out, and decorate with diced candied ginger, pressing down lightly.

Chill for a few hours to firm up, store in the refrigerator, tightly covered.


Raw Pecan Tarts

I was feeling the need for something sweet after a long and exhausting workout this morning. I tried to be at least somewhat good, and make a raw dessert for us all to enjoy. And not wolf down a pastry in my van, outside of Starbucks. Mission accomplished….I avoided Starbucks and processed goodies.



Simple, rustic and gorgeous to serve. And no guilt or self-hate needed….


Raw Pecan Tarts


Crust –

  • 1¾ cup walnuts
  • 3 Medjool dates, pitted
  • Pinch fine sea salt

Filling –

  • 1½ cups Medjool dates, pitted, measured after and packed tightly
  • 2 Tbsp filtered water
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • ½ cup pecans, divided


Line 3 Wilton Mini Cake Pans or similar small cake pans with plastic wrap. (These pans are sold in cake decorating sections in craft stores as well.)

Process the walnuts, 3 dates and salt in a food processor until finely crumbled. Divide between the 3 pans, pack down tightly, on the bottom and up the sides. A ¼ cup measuring cup works well for packing the crust down. Set pans in the freezer to set up.

Meanwhile, soak the dates for the filling in filtered water, for at least 30 minutes. Drain dates, add to a high-speed blender with the filtered water, vanilla and salt. Process until smooth, tamping during and scraping often. I did the filling on about setting 7. Scrape the dates into a mixing bowl.

Set aside 9 of the pecan halves, finely grind the remaining (a mini-food chopper works well). Stir most of the ground pecans into the dates. Spread in the crusts. Dust the remaining ground pecans over the top and top each tart with 3 pecan halves.

Chill for at least an hour before serving. To serve, pull the tarts up and out using the plastic wrap, peel off wrap and gently transfer to a dessert plate.

Makes 3 Tarts.



What makes my day the best though when cooking? Walker. He is now following me outside when I go to shoot photos of food, with his digital camera. Pushes his way in and gets his own photos 😉


Inspiration from Superfood Kitchen

An unexpected package came last week from Navitas Naturals….in it was the simply stunning cookbook Superfood Kitchen: Cooking with Nature’s Most Amazing Foods, by Julie Morris, that came out this winter. Tucked in with it was a package of Sweetened Cacao Nibs, a boozy tasting chocolate treat.  I have a huge love affair going on with their products, of which if you have a local Whole Foods, you can find a vast assortment of their products. Julie’s book uses a range of the ‘super foods’ that Navitas carries, although there are of course other sources, I happen to like Navitas due to the freshness and quality.


I snuck away and sank into the book, my mind dreaming of trying the recipes, inspired by the lush photography. The book is simply gorgeous. Plant-based diet, superfood heaven. Julie walks one through what a ‘super-food’ is, how to use them and why you should even care about them. If you love this way of eating, you must read this cookbook! There is a range of recipes, from to cooked, breakfast to dessert.


I tried out two recipes, one from the breakfast section, the other from desserts. The Raw Brownies I knew I would love, the Lemon Coconut Breakfast Bars I wasn’t sure about, but I decided to take a chance. They were simply amazing. Somewhere between oatmeal heaven and a portable bar. The lemon is so intense and fresh. Gluten-free, vegan and did I mention delicious? And oh yeah, they are great warm, but the next morning for breakfast, cold? Oh wow. These will be a staple in the ‘frig.


Lemon Coconut Breakfast Bars


  • 1½ Tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup oat flour (see notes)
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • ¾ cup + 2 Tbsp shredded natural coconut
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp organic coconut oil, melted
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce, preferably organic
  • ¼ cup liquid sweetener (used Lil’ Shuga), pure maple syrup or agave nectar
  • ½ cup Medjool dates, pitted and packed (about 5 to 7)


Preheat oven to 300°, lightly grease an 8×8″ glass baking pan with extra coconut oil.

In a small bowl, mix chia seeds and lemon juice together. Set aside for 20 minutes to allow chia seeds to become saturated and bulk, stirring once halfway through.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together the oat flour, baking powder, salt and ¾ cup coconut flakes. Sprinkle in the lemon zest and nix again until distributed. In a separate bowl, combine the coconut oil, applesauce and sweetener. Mix in the soaked chia seeds. Chop the pitted Medjool dates very finely, and mix in with the other et ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and stir until blended. Spread the mixture into the prepared baking pan, using a spatula to flatten out the surface. Sprinkle the remaining 2 Tablespoons of coconut on top, patting it down lightly into the mixture.

Bake for 25 to 33 minutes, until the edges begin to turn golden brown.

While warm, cut into 16 squares. Let cool a bit before removing. Store covered in the refrigerator. Eat warm or cold, both are delicious.

Makes 16 squares.


I used the whole chia seeds called for, they bake up nicely. However, if you are not used to them or don’t like how they can be crunchy/sticky, feel free to grind them in a spice mill before soaking.

Oat flour? Simply grind oats you have on hand and enjoy. Old-fashioned or 1-minute oats can be ground with a mini food chopper, oat groats grind up in a grain mill or Vitamix dry container. For gluten-free, buy oats certified, Bob’s Red Mill is a good choice.

The recipe called for maple syrup or agave nectar, I used Lil’ Shuga, a blend of organic cane and stevia. I found it wonderful for baking!


No-Bake Brownies (adapted from page 187)


  • 1 cup raw walnut pieces
  • 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted and packed
  • ½ cup Raw Cacao Powder or cocoa powder
  • Pinch sea salt
  • ¼ to ½ cup Cacao Nibs Sweetened or small chocolate chips



Line a 8×8″ pan with plastic wrap or parchment paper.

Place walnuts in a food processor and grind to form a course flour. With the machine running, add pitted dates, cacao powder and salt, processing until a moist, crumb-like dough has formed. If your dates were on the drier side, you may need to add a little water. Start with a teaspoon and process in, so that the crumbs of the dough stick together when pinched.

Spread crumbs in prepared pan, pack down firmly to compact. Sprinkle with cacao nibs, press down. Decorate with walnut halves, if desired.

Chill, then remove from pan by pulling up wrap, and cut into squares. Store in refrigerator, in an airtight container.

A certain small toddler helping himself…..



FTC Disclaimer: We received a review copy and products used in these recipes.

Cherry Berry Smoothie from Green Smoothie Joy

As January comes to a close, I know that a good half of the bloggers I follow were doing green smoothie diets this month. I, however, wasn’t. Like with anything, it takes me awhile to warm up to new foods/ideas. I am sure I can get to where I not only tolerate, but like them. is going to be a hard bridge to cross. While I like spinach in smoothies, things like spirulina and I are just not friends (this tale of woe goes to my Mom’s back-to-nature friend Tami, who was obsessed in the early 80’s with it. I hated being at her house. The green drinks never ceased. Hers never tasted like these, I can tell you!)


Having received two new smoothie books this month for review, I sat down and told myself to get cracking. After all, I have a high-speed blender, so quit making excuses.

As I read Green Smoothie Joy: Recipes for Living, Loving, and Juicing Green, I realized I could cheat…hehe. And build myself up to full-on green smoothies. Cressida’s recipes are friendly to new and experienced, with a vast assortment of flavors. The book is split into easy-to-read sections, starting with a how-to, then dipping into green smoothie recipes. Following it is a section on juicer/blender combo recipes. fruit-based smoothies, ones with yogurt, green smoothies that will fill you up and finally, the yummy ‘dessert’ smoothies (that my Teen will love).


One feature I liked was the size of the book, it is easy to hold while grabbing ingredients. The many full-color photos inspire one to love greens. Well, eventually they will 😉

I decided on a smoothie I wouldn’t make normally if Kirk was going to enjoy it with me. He isn’t a fan of seeds, so I leave items such as blackberries and raspberries out. I happen to love them. Even though my stomach doesn’t. If we want to talk about no self-control, it is me and fresh berries. A half-flat of raspberries? I’ll eat (gobble) them and then end up with a really bad gut ache an hour later. Huckleberries when hiking? Again, once I start eating them it is nearly impossible to stop. The gut ache is somehow worth it. Well, if I blend the same berries until smooth I don’t get the tummy ache. Same with apples and so on. It was something I noticed recently. I can eat what I love and not have the pain after. Hmmm, maybe this smoothie thing is a good thing. No stomach bloat? Easy digestion? I am listening! Maybe, next thing you know, I’ll be sipping on liquid spinach…..


Cherry Berry Smoothie (From page 135)


  • 2 cups cherries, pitted (used unsweetened frozen)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 cup raspberries, fresh or unsweetened frozen
  • 1 organic apple, cored
  • 1 Tbsp dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs
  • 6 ice cubes
  • Water (see below)


Add everything to a high-speed blender, pour in ½ cup filtered water. Process on high, tamping, until smooth. Add more water as desired – with frozen cherries mine was thick and frosty, wide-straw ready.

Makes about 32 ounces, so 2 full size servings or 1 massive jug.


I used an organic apple, scrubbed, leaving the peel on for more fiber. If your apple isn’t organic, I would recommend that you peel it first.


FTC Disclaimer: We received a copy of the book for potential review.

Cold-Fighting Smoothies

Kirk asked if I might make him a smoothie over the weekend, to help fight our sore throats and a general run-down feeling. Which had come from the toddler and baby both getting a horrible head cold/virus (from the gym’s daycare…sigh), and then sneezing/coughing on us for days.

Something cold and full of Vitamin C seemed perfect. I wasn’t in the mood for protein or greens, just lots of vibrant fruit!

I have made us a smoothie every day since, around mid-day, to give us energy and feel better. Each one I played with it a bit and have had 3 versions. All 3 are delicious, though I really enjoyed today’s, which I added Navitas Naturals sweetened Cacao Nibs to.


B-Berry Smoothie


  • 1 cup ice
  • 1½ cups frozen blueberries
  • 2 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1½ cups mango nectar (or orange juice)


Add ingredients in order listed, process on high in a high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix), tamping as needed, until smooth. Serve immediately with wide straws.

Serves 2, about 14 ounces each.

Blueberry & Strawberry Smoothie


  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • ½ cup frozen strawberries, unsweetened
  • 2 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1½ cups mango nectar (or orange juice)


Add ingredients in order listed, process on high in a high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix), tamping as needed, until smooth. Serve immediately with wide straws.

Serves 2, about 14 ounces each.


Chocolate Covered Berries Smoothie



Add ingredients in order listed, process on high in a high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix), tamping as needed, until smooth. Serve immediately with wide straws.

Serves 2, about 14 ounces each.


FTC Disclaimer: We received product sample used in the above recipe.

Raw Dessert: Avocado Cheesecake

Last week I was lured by a bag of large avocados at Costco, each one came out to $1, which is what the small Hass ones sell for on sale in town. I let two ripen on the counter and thought up ideas to use them in. Having seen a Pin for a raw avo cheesecake, I had to try it. I love raw desserts, especially the “cheesecake” ones. If anything, real cheesecake doesn’t interest me too much these days. It is simply too heavy and thick tasting. I liked her take on not having the filling nut-based, most vegan raw cheesecakes fillings are (don’t get me wrong, they are fabulous tasting, I just wanted something new).


In many raw cheesecake recipes 4″ mini springform pans are called for. I use mini 4″ cake pans that I line. Source online and in craft stores that have specialty baking items.


I adapted the recipe a bit and served it plain, and then tried it with homemade strawberry jam on top. The green speckled with ground vanilla beans is striking.



The taste? Delicious. Well, delicious for those who enjoy raw plant-based desserts 😉 There is the faintest hint of the avocado underneath, when eaten naked. I enjoyed it, and while Kirk did too I could see him trying to figure out what it was made of. Hah!

Avocado Cheesecake


Crust –


  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp Organic Creamed Coconut, finely grated
  • ½ tsp Ground Vanilla Beans or vanilla bean paste (optional, or use more vanilla extract)


Line 2 mini cake pans with plastic wrap (these are my go-to ones: Wilton Mini Cake Pans 3/Pkg-4×1.25 Round), set aside.

Add the almonds and coconut to a food processor bowl, grind on high until finely chopped. Add in the dates and water, process until mixed in, then add coconut oil, process on high until mixed in. Divide the mixture between the two cake pans, pressing down firmly with a spoon till flat, set aside.

Wipe out food processor bowl, split avocado in half, discard pit, scoop out flesh and add to bowl, with maple syrup, water, vanilla extract and salt. Process high until smooth, scraping sides as needed.

Mix melted coconut oil with creamed coconut and vanilla beans, stir till mixed, then add into avocado mixture, process on high until mixed.

Divide between the two cake pans, smoothing top. Gently cover each pan with a small sheet of plastic wrap. Refrigerate until set, about 6 hours, or freeze for an hour to speed it up. To plate, pull out of pans by the plastic wrap, flip over onto a small piece of clean plastic wrap, quickly flip onto a dessert plate.

Store wrapped in the refrigerator, eat within a day.

Makes 2 mini cheesecakes, serving 2 to 4.


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