Honey orange cake (gf + dairy free)

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Honey cake is a traditional dessert served on Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), along with other sweet foods, served to symbolize our hopes and wishes for a sweet new year. My version is loosely adapted from the Joy of Cooking’s wonderful vegan ultra-orange cake recipe. The cake batter rises due to the chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar, just like that science fair volcano experiment you did ages ago in elementary school! And, here’s the best part: because there are no eggs in this recipe, you can taste the delicious batter to your heart’s content without worrying about salmonella!¬†This recipe will give you get a nice moist cake with a rich and complex honey-orange-vanilla flavor, not too sweet but very satisfying. Using fresh oranges for their zest and juice is an absolute must for this recipe. I like topping these cakes with sliced almonds but feel free to get creative ūüôā Makes two 8-inch round cakes (or one thicker cake in a 9 x 13″ pan). Best served still warm from the oven.

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Cinnamon-peach chia seed pudding (gf + v)

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I remember, as a young Girl Scout, being taught how to collect wild chia seeds that grow in the chaparral of southern California. I remember learning way back then, that chia seeds were an important food for the Aztecs and Mayans and that they are incredibly nutritionally rich…But I forgot about all that until, in the last few years, chia seeds became a super-trendy health craze. Now I can’t browse the blogosphere without being inundated with chia seed recipes. But I must say, this is one trend that I think deserves all its hype. Chia seeds really are a superfood¬†– packed with protein, fiber, omega-3s, calcium, and antioxidants, filling yet low in calories, they make a perfect nutritional boost to many favorite foods. They also tend to¬†absorb water, becoming somewhat puffy and gelatinous, making them a perfect vehicle for making puddings!

My version of chia seed pudding is super duper easy and involves combining a few basic ingredients, a quick zap in the micro, and resting overnight in the fridge – it’s a perfect thing to throw together at night so you can look forward to¬†a delicious (think creamy coconutty pudding meets a cinnamony¬†peach cobbler!) and fortifying breakfast all ready for you in the morning. Also makes a super yummy and healthy dessert. Serves 1, but can be easily scaled up.

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Oatmeal-chia seed breakfast bake with stone fruit (gf + dairy free)

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The farmer’s market this weekend was full of gorgeous stone fruit, and the sun actually came out – summer is finally on its way! Here is a great way to capture those wonderful summer flavors¬†and make sure you have a delicious, healthy breakfast even if you need to eat on the go. You can prepare a large batch, slice and pack up to enjoy it all week long, but you may end up making quite a big dent in it when you are seduced by its delicious cinnamony smell hot out of the oven. This simple combination of high-fiber filling oats and chia seeds, lovely ripe plums/peaches/apricots or whatever other nice fruit you have on hand, and a simple cinnamony batter will put a smile on your face and power you through busy work mornings. This will become a staple recipe, and there are so many potential delicious variations: add or sub in¬†berries, apples/pears in the fall, frozen or dried fruits in the winter – it is really a recipe you can use all year long! (Hint: think beyond breakfast! this yummy treat also makes a¬†healthy dessert…and yes, I know what you are thinking – you have my blessing to serve it with whipped cream or a la mode ūüėČ

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No-bake lemon cheesecake bars (gf + v)

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What to do when life gives you lots of [gorgeous, fragrant, yellow] lemons? Well, besides lemonade, I had to think of something… After studying lots of classic baked lemon bar recipes and not feeling inspired, I ventured into the raw realm, but those recipes were also missing something. I wanted something…light, creamy, lemony but not too sweet, and healthy too.¬†So after some experimentation, I present to you this lovely springy/summery dessert. You don’t even have to turn the oven on. And the flavor is so rich and creamy, you won’t believe they’re vegan!

Makes one 11 x 7 small pan worth (about 8 servings). You will need a high powered blender to get the optimal filling texture, but it can all be done in a food processor if you don’t mind a little bit of graininess from the coconut. Adapted from The Organic Dietitian.

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Matzah toffee with pecans and sea salt (vegan)

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I can’t believe how time flies…my favorite holiday, ¬†Passover, is right around the corner!¬†This treat is a holiday dessert favorite…while I can’t pretend it is healthy in any way, this is definitely a fun and indulgent salty-sweet treat! Whoever first decided to combine the crackery crunch of matzah (the unleavened bread eaten to commemorate the Jews’ hurried escape from slavery in Egypt) with sweet toffee and dark chocolate was an absolute genius. Try it for yourself and see! Makes a full baking sheet worth – enough to serve as dessert for a group of at least 6 (it is super-rich so a little goes a long way) or to wrap up and give as gifts. This recipe is adapted/veganized from Jenn Segal’s “Matzah crack” recipe.

P.S. My husband has affectionately nicknamed this recipe “mazeltoffee.”

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Hamentashen (gf + dairy free)

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Hamentashen are traditional filled triangular cookies served on the Jewish holiday of Purim, which commemorates the redemption¬†of the¬†Jews in ancient Persia when an evil plot to destroy them was foiled by two¬†heroic individuals (an interesting etymologic discussion can be found here).¬†Purim is a time of celebration and merriment – people dress in costumes, put on funny plays and deliver gifts of sweet baked goods to friends. I look forward to these cookies every year and wanted to try my hand at making a gluten-free version. These are my kind of dessert – a light, not-too-sweet dough with a hint of vanilla and orange zest, and the filling possibilities are endless. I¬†filled these ones with tart black cherry butter and homemade apricot-nectarine preserves, but any jam or marmalade should work (if you want to get fancy you can make all sorts of homemade fillings – some of the most traditional are poppyseed, prune, and date).¬†A word of warning about this gluten free dough: it is very fragile and takes some patience and forgiveness to work with – in case you were wondering why these cookies look a little rustic…but the¬†taste is delicious! This recipe makes about 2 dozen cookies.

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Banana coconut pecan bread

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Banana bread is one of my husband’s favorite baked goods, so I knew the time was ripe (hehe) when I saw the last three bananas of my Costco purchase going past their prime on the counter. Here is a gluten-free, dairy-free variation that uses the natural sweetness of dates to bring the processed sugar way down, and is moist and not too crumbly thanks to the addition of applesauce and coconut milk. Easy, hearty, and refrigerates well. Works great as a packable on-the-go breakfast or a snack.¬†Toast a slice and spread it with peanut butter or cream cheese perhaps? Makes 1 large loaf.

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