Fig Tart. Work of Art.



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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Fig and Frangipane Tart

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Essential tool: 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom




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


Tart Dough

1/4 cup ice cold filtered water

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

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

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


Frangipane Filling

3 tbsp coconut oil

1/3 cup coconut palm sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp almond meal

1 heaping tbsp arrowroot

pinch sea salt

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup almond milk

1.5 tsp vanilla extract (no alcohol)

1/2 tsp almond extract



Tart Dough

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Tart Filling

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

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

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


Assembling the the figs in the tart

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


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

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

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


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

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Roasted Curried Vegetables



I learned so much working within Suzanne Goin‘s restaurants: Lucques, Tavern and Lucques Catering.  The sad thing is, I’ll never be able to make most things again because of the change in my lifestyle.  However, I can veganize things and make them more beneficial to our health.

For dinner last night, I wanted to pair our tabouli and hemp seeds salad with something Mediterranean and cooked since Peyman, my husband, likes a warm component in our dinner.  I checked the inventory of my fridge and noticed I had a whole head of cauliflower. Immediately, I thought I could make curried cauliflower with the recipe from Tavern but it’s for 4 pounds of cauliflower.  He loves variety and would surely get bored with just cauliflower, so I decided to add another pound of other vegetables to roast alongside the cauliflower; this way I could simply cut the recipe in half. My other adaptations are as follows:  I don’t have a Hungarian hot paprika, so I subbed in a smoked paprika and added cayenne pepper. Of course I used sea salt instead of kosher salt.  I also used less oil and subbed out red wine vinegar for an alkalizing apple cider vinegar.

I used to be a heavy user of red wine and balsalmic vinegars, but I want to keep our bodies more alkaline and less acidic, so I stay away from the other vinegars and mostly keep to my ume plum, coconut and apple cider vinegars.  Although I love how the red wine vinegar tastes in this recipe, I think it’s just as good using any of the other vinegars.  If you think it needs a bit more tang, add a squeeze of lemon (although I did not)!

I served this with my tabouli salad and on a bed of quinoa with little bits of dates.  Why dates? Sometimes, Peyman’s mom will add dried sour cherries to their rice and I didn’t have any dried cherries. It was between dates or raisins and I chose a date.  I was so happy to see Peyman finish his dinner and even reach for more veggies.  I was even more happy to hear him say, “I like it!”.  Hopefully, you’ll like this, too!

And  by the way, if you have leftovers, this tastes even better the next day!


Roasted Curried Vegetables

Servings – about 4


1 pound of cauliflower florets

about 1 pound of other veggies:

1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into rondelles then halved at a diagonal.

1 bell pepper, cut into big bite-sized pieces

shiitake, portabello and/or oyster mushrooms

1/2 poblano pepper, optional

1/2 of an onion, cut in half

1/2 tsp coriander, ground

1/2 tsp cumin seeds, ground

1/4 cup cold-pressed olive oil

1/4 cup ume plum vinegar (it’s alkaline) (can substitute with coconut vinegar or apple cider vinegar)

1  3/4 tsp curry powder

1  1/2 tsp smoked paprika

heaping 3/4 tsp sea salt (Himalayan or Celtic)

1/8 tsp or more (if you like it spicy) cayenne pepper

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

squeeze of lemon, optional



1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

2. Place cauliflower florets and other veggies on a half sheet pan. Pull apart onion quarters into separate layers and add to cauliflower.

3. Stir coriander and cumin in a small skillet over medium heat until slightly darkened and fragrant. About 5 minutes. (best to stir with a silicone spatula so it doesn’t burn)

4. Place cumin and coriander in a medium bowl. Add curry powder, salt, paprika, cayenne and whisk in oil and vinegar.

5. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss with your hands to coat.  You may want to wear gloves, but I didn’t.  Coat vegetables well! Spread vegetables in a single layer.  Sprinkle with more cayenne if you feel like it.

6. Roast vegetables until tender, stirring occasionally for about 35-40 minutes, until veggies are cooked through. Stir/toss with a spatula every 10 minutes until 35-40 minutes is up.

This can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Re-warm in 450 degree F oven for 10 minutes.  

Mound vegetables in a large bowl and sprinkle with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lemon, optional.  Or top off quinoa with a little chopped dried fruit (sour cherries, dates, halved raisins) with this roasted vegetable mixture.

I hope you, your family and friends enjoy it!  Cheers to good health!


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A Latke Brunch!


The last time I made a latke was in 2009, for my out-of-town-guests.  The day before I made them, on my birthday actually, I learned about latkes and how to make them at culinary school (Le Cordon Bleu). Since they were SO good, I wanted to share them with my friends who came from out of town to celebrate my big 3-0 in Los Angeles.  At the time, I didn’t have a food processor, only a grater. And there were 4 of us, so I made double the recipe.  This explains why I hadn’t made them until recently.  They can be a pain in the butt if you have to grate them manually.  BUT! You will be so happy you did after you eat these.  They are crispy on the outside, a bit creamy in the center, you can taste a delicate onion and potato flavor; combine that with sour “cream” and apple sauce and it is absolutely divine.  I love the combination of flavors: a little salty, a little oniony, sweet, crispy and creamy…ooooh la la.  I wish I could have one as I write this, but I have amazing self control so I will wait for another special occasion to have them.

Why did I all of a sudden decide to make them again? Last Sunday, we rolled out of bed late, I picked up my phone and saw a photo of latkes posted by @karenvegan on Instagram.  The latkes in the photo triggered a fond memory and inspired me to make them!  Since it was already 11:30am, and we had places to go and people to see, I started preparing the latkes and its accouterments as I drank my green smoothie.

Luckily, I had leftover cashew cream in the fridge.  I simply added lemon juice to it to make it sour “cream”. If you’ve never made a cashew cream base, here’s what you do… soak maybe 2 handfuls of cashews for 2-3 hours in filtered water.  Remove them from the water and into the blender with a little water. Blend for at least a minute. If it’s too thick, add a little more water. It should be creamy in consistency.  Really, that’s all I do.

As for the chunky apple sauce, all I did was peel a gala apple and diced it. Placed it in a bowl with about 2 tbsps of water and 2-3 dashes of cinnamon, covered it with a paper towel and nuked it in the microwave for about 5 minutes.  Closer to serving time, I added a little coconut palm nectar (like 1/2 tsp) (<– this is not necessary), tossed it and nuked it again for 2 more minutes.

Now for the latke…

Thankfully, Peyman purchased me a food processor for Christmas in 2009 which made grating a breeze.  I could simply fit my food processor with a grating attachment and voila! In a flash, my potatoes and onions are as they should be for my latkes.  I believe if one has a food processor and grater attachment, one would make more latkes.

I would have never made these if I didn’t have red jacket potatoes (a potato approved by Kimberly Snyder …she considers this potato a beauty food). On a whim, I purchased potatoes and kept them in the fridge. So glad I did!

Peyman never had a latke until last Sunday and he loved the end result.  Usually, he’ll give me a nod, some nods, a thumbs up…and/or I have to probe him for answers.  I asked him if these blew his mind and he said, “yes”.  Great news!

My birthday present, the latke recipe, I received in 2009 is the gift that keeps on giving.  I veganized and made the recipe gluten-free.  Here it is! Bon appetit!



Serving size 2 – 3



<1 flax egg (1 heaping Tbsp of flax meal with 3 Tbsp filtered water).

About 24 oz. of red jacket potatoes (About 8 small red jacket potatoes or whatever you think is equivalent to 2 large russet potatoes)

1/2 small onion, grated or minced

1 tbsp oat flour

1 tbsp arrowroot starch, optional (if yours doesn’t come together.)

1 tsp salt

3-4 shakes of cayenne pepper

1 tbsp parley, finely chopped

juice from 1/4th of a lemon

Sunflower or other vegetable oil for frying.  I used sunflower.



1. Prepare flax egg in a small bowl by mixing together 1 heaping Tbsp of flax meal with 3 Tbsp of filtered water). Set aside until it becomes egg-consistency, about 15 minutes.

2. Peel potatoes and keep them in a bowl of water until ready for grating (to prevent oxidization)

3. Grate the potatoes and place them into a large bowl.  Add the lemon juice and salt, toss with your hands to fully combine, and let the mixture sit for 15 minutes.

4. While waiting for the potatoes to release water, grate or finely chop the onion.  (I grate it in my food processor because it’s faster for me to do so, but chopping it is just fine).  Also, finely chop the parsley.

5. After 15 minutes of letting the potato rest, take a handful of the potatoes and squeeze out the liquid into the same bowl. We want to keep the liquid. Set the dried potato aside onto a plate and repeat with the remaining potatoes. Remember to squeeze into the bowl, not into the sink.

(I would start heating oil in a pan now. I use a saute pan and fill it 1/2 to 1 inch with sunflower oil.  Heat on medium to 350 degrees F)

6. Take the bowl of potato liquid and slowly pour the liquid out of the bowl while keeping the white milky potato starch at the bottom of the bowl.  This is called decanting. We want to use the starch of the potato to help bind the patties.

7. Add the potatoes back to the starch in the bowl.  Add eggs, onion, a dash more of salt, cayenne, oat flour, arrowroot and toss using your hands.

8. Once oil is heated, (you can test by taking a potato strip and putting it into the oil, if it sizzles and bubbles, it’s ready) form patties about 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter and lay into the oil using a spatula, dropping away from you.  Alternatively, you can drop the latkes by the spoonful.  I like making patties though. Let it cook until golden brown on each side. May take 3-4 minutes on each side.  Check for the golden brown color and flip once it’s golden brown.  If your patties are looking blackish, it may be that your oil is too hot, so turn down the heat a bit. Once both sides are golden brown, place on a plate, lined with a paper towel. And voila!

I love serving these with an apple compote or apple sauce. Also with a sour “cream”.  And to fill our bellies, we always start with a big salad.


I hope you Love these as much as we do!  Please let me know what you think!

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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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Raw Goji-, Cranberry and Coconut Truffles


I was introduced to date-nut balls, raw vegan bliss balls, raw chocolate truffles, whatever-you-want-to-call-’em, by Kimberly Snyder in her “The Beauty Detox Solution” book; she calls them raw cacao balls.

As you may already know, I come from a very large family. I am the youngest of 6 daughters and the auntie to 15 kids. When I go to a family event or just visit family, I’m usually never empty-handed.  Since having a sweet tooth is a common trait in my family, I usually come over with sweet gifts to bear.  I am delighted that my mom, sisters and their kids enjoy vegan and gluten-free treats!  And I am even more delighted when my raw vegan treats are a hit.  Some of the pickiest eaters in the family usually pick up a chocolate cacao ball, they don’t love it, then they try the raw goji-, cranberry and coconut truffles and they come back for more!

Here’s the super simple recipe.  I hope you and your family enjoy them!


Raw Goji-, Cranberry and Coconut Truffles

1 1/2 Cup , plus more, about a 1/2 Cup for rolling Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries

1/3 Cup Dried Goji Berries

3/4 Cup Almond Flour

1/4 Cup Coconut Nectar

1/4 Cup Coconut Oil, melted/in liquid state

2 tsp Non-alcohol Vanilla Extract or 1/4 tsp Vanilla Bean Seeds

Pinch of Sea Salt ( I use a fine Himalayan sea salt)


1.In a food processor,  add almond flour and coconut flakes and process until finely ground. For at least a minute.

2. Add the dried cranberries and goji berries and pulse a few times to combine and until you reach a texture of your liking.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut nectar, coconut oil, vanilla and sea salt until sea salt is dissolved then add to the mixture in the food processor into the bowl and mix well using your hands.  After all the ingredients are incorporated, I like to refrigerate the mixture just so it’s more firm and easy to work with.  This way, they’ll be more round and not flat-bottomed.

4. In the meantime, line a 1 quarter sheet pan or tupperware with parchment paper (and wash dishes?).  After about 7-10 minutes, remove the mixture from the refrigerator and scoop the truffles, about 8-10 of them.  I use a .8 of an oz. ice cream scooper.  I have also just used a spoon to scoop them. Once you scoop a ball, round it out with your hands then roll it into coconut flakes and place onto the lined sheet tray or plate.  Refrigerate immediately until hardened.



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Pasta with Tomato-Cream (Pink) Sauce


Back in the Spring of 2000, I had my first taste of tomato cream (pink) sauce while visiting a college friend in Santa Barbara, California.  For dinner, Reena took me to an Italian restaurant called Palazzio.  There, I ordered rigatoni in pink sauce and after just one bite I fell in love with the dish.


After testing some recipes for tomato cream sauce, I came up with my own take of the delicious pink sauce that is vegan and gluten-free.

Here is the recipe.  I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!  Buono Appetito!





Pasta in Tomato “Cream” Sauce

Servings 2 – 3




1/3 cup of cashew cream (1/2 cup cashew soaked for 2-3 hours)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 shallot, chopped

2 cups of marinara sauce (I typically use Trader Joe’s Arrabiata Marinara. Really yummy!)

1/4 cup of sundried tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup of basil, torn

1 tsp od sriracha

2-3 Tbsp of white wine, optional (I typically use a dry sauvignon blanc)



1/2 pound of penne, rigatoni, gluten-free


¼ cup of sliced almonds



1. Make the cashew cream by blend cashews with 1/4 cup plus 1-2 Tbsp of water for thinning until smooth.  Set aside 1/3 cup.  There will be some left over, which can be stored in the refrigerator to use later.

2. Bring salted water to a boil in a large saucepot.  Then add pasta and cook until al dente.

3. Heat a medium skillet, spray with non-stick cooking spray (I use coconut cooking spray), and saute garlic and shallots for 2 minutes.

4. Add tomato sauce and simmer for 1 minute.

5. Add cashew cream, wine (optional), and simmer for 2 minutes.

6. Add sun-dried tomatoes and stir well.

7. Add basil and simmer for 1 minute.

8. Add cooked pasta, remove from heat and stir, and serve.  Top with a small handful of sliced almonds.  Best served with salad!


Enjoy and please let me know your thoughts!


Pasta in Tomato “Cream” Sauce

Servings: 2-3

Time: 35 minutes

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




1/3 cup of cashew cream (1/2 cup cashew soaked for 2-3 hours)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 shallot, chopped

2 cups of marinara sauce (I typically use Trader Joe’s Arrabiata Marinara. Really yummy!)

1/4 cup of sundried tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup of basil, torn

1 tsp od sriracha

2-3 Tbsp of white wine, optional (I typically use cabernet sauvignon)



1/2 pound of penne, rigatoni, gluten-free


¼ cup of sliced almonds



1. Make the cashew cream by blend cashews with 1/4 cup plus 1-2 Tbsp of water for thinning until smooth.  Set aside 1/3 cup.  There will be some left over, which can be stored in the refrigerator to use later.

2. Bring salted water to a boil in a large saucepot.  Then add pasta and cook until al dente.

3. Heat a medium skillet, spray with non-stick cooking spray (I use coconut cooking spray), and saute garlic and shallots for 2 minutes.

4. Add tomato sauce and simmer for 1 minute.

5. Add cashew cream, wine (optional), and simmer for 2 minutes.

6. Add sun-dried tomatoes and stir well.

7. Add basil and simmer for 1 minute.

8. Add cooked pasta, remove from heat and stir, and serve.  Top with a small handful of sliced almonds.  Best served with salad!


Enjoy and please let me know your thoughts!




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Peyman’s Chocolate Chip Cookies


This recipe is dedicated to my husband, Peyman (Pay-mon).  He has simple taste when it comes to cookies.  He doesn’t like cinnamon and he doesn’t want a cookie tainted with chai rooibos.  Lately, I’ve been trying other peoples’ recipes.  He hasn’t liked any of them.  For some reason, a lot of vegans like to add cinnamon to their chocolate.  I don’t happen to love the combo either… well,only with my chocolate chai cookies.  Anyway, since Peyman’s been a good sport for the last few weeks with my recipe testing, I made him a treat today: simple chocolate chip cookies.  Nothing warms my heart more than seeing him happy after eating a vegan, gluten-free cookie. :)

Here’s the recipe.  And just a note, don’t be fooled by the dough– it won’t taste good until cooked, and once cooked, I’ve got to warn you, you may be hooked! Enjoy!


Chocolate Chip Cookies – Vegan and Gluten-free!

Servings: 24

Time: 40 minutes

Brief: These fluffy and chewy chocolate chip cookies are grain-free, easy to make, and so good!

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



1/2 cup coconut oil

2 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup lukewarm filtered water

1 cup coconut palm sugar

1/4 tsp sea salt

2 cups garbanzo bean flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Note: I like using Chocolate Dream dairy/gluten/soy-free semi-sweet baking chips



1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the coconut oil, vanilla, filtered water, coconut palm sugar, and sea salt.

3. In a small bowl, combine the garbanzo bean flour and baking powder and mix well.

4. Add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir to combine.

5. Fold in the chocolate chips.  Chill the batter in the refrigerator for about 7 minutes prior to scooping. (The more loose your cookie batter is, the more they will spread when they bake).

6. Scoop 2-inch cookie balls onto a half sheet pan, lined with a Silpat mat or parchment paper and press down to flatten them with your hand or a rubber spatula just a bit. You should be able to fit 12 cookies onto a half sheet pan.

7. Bake until they start to just brown at the bottom, for 9-11 minutes, depending on how powerful your oven is.

8. Allow the cookies to rest of the half sheet pan for about 2-3 minutes besides transferring them to a cooling rack.

Note: This recipe makes 24 cookies total. Enjoy and remember, enjoy everything sweet in moderation!




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Growing up, my mom didn’t make a real lasagna; we only had the hamburger helper or Costco heat-and-serve versions.  In her defense, my mom made a mean spaghetti and the most awesome twice baked potatoes and chicken a la king with biscuits! She’s a fabulous cook.  She just never took the time to make a lasagna.

When I was in high school, my sister Janet would take one of my sisters and I to a great spot in Little Italy, San Diego, called Mona Lisa.  During my first trip to the restaurant someone recommended the lasagna, so ordered it. It was so good that for every trip to Mona Lisa thereafter, I ordered the lasagna.  It was a thick, meaty, juicy, gooey, cheesy block of deliciousness.  So good. Soooo soooo good until I watched an episode on the Oprah Winfrey Show about irreversible fatty plaques in the heart.  It was then I had a paradigm shift about cheese, butter and my heart.  My life would never be the same again. This happened around 1996, when I was 16.  From then on, I became a little more health conscious and would have lasagna maybe once a year, or even once every 2 years.  Between 1996 and 2002, though, my healthy eating habits fluctuated and were out of whack due to my out of control thyroid condition (that was treated in 1998).

It wasn’t until I started dating Peyman and visiting his parents that I had lasagna more regularly (maybe once a month). My mother-in-law always packed delicious food for him on the weekends to enjoy during the week. One of her specialties is lasagna.  Her’s t isn’t ‘t too meaty, or too saucy or cheesy.  It even has spinach.  I thought it was good but still not the healthiest as it contains wheat pasta (I’m gluten intolerant) and I consider anything with cheese unhealthy.

Since Peyman hadn’t had lasagna in quite a long time, a couple of weeks ago I decided to surprise Peyman with a special lasagna, high in nutrition. It would be my first attempt at making lasagna! Coincidentally, that same day I watched “Forks over Knives Presents the Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue with Rip Esselstyn” and decided to try Rip’s lasagna recipe.  If Rip thought his lasagna was good enough to serve at his wedding, I thought it was good enough for my man.  I made it extra special by making my own high-protein quinoa pasta sheets.  Finally when it came time for Peyman to try it, he wasn’t too thrilled.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, he’s very picky.  First of all, he doesn’t like quinoa, rosemary and sweet potatoes; he noticed 2 of the 3 in his first bite.   Sadly, he didn’t finish his piece and I gave the leftovers to my sister, Riva, and her husband, Scott.

Funny thing, we saw Scott last weekend at their daughter’s birthday party.  Scott told Peyman and I that he really liked the lasagna!  Peyman couldn’t believe it!

Long story short, this inspired me to make a lasagna similar to Rip’s recipe but in a style I knew Peyman and I would definitely enjoy.  In addition to my adaptation being vegan and gluten-free, it is soy-free and a bit spicy with vegan rajas.  Good news, Peyman enjoyed this version very much! After taking a few bites he said with a nod, “this is much better!”. It warmed my heart.

Now, I’m going to share the recipe with you. Hope it satisfies you just the same!




Yvonne’s Lasagna

Servings 5-6

Time: 2 hours

Brief: This is my adaptation of Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 Lasagna. My version is both vegan and gluten-free, as well as soy-free. My version is also a little spicy with vegan “rajas”.

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

You’ll need an 8×8″, 9X9″, or 8X10″ baking dish.


Pasta sheets:

1 Tbsp flax meal plus 3 Tbsp filtered water

3/4 cup quinoa flour

1/4 cup oat flour

2 Tbsp filtered water

1 tsp sea salt

2 drops of stevia, optional


1 box of lasagna noodles, gluten-free



1 sweet potato, optional

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 head of garlic, mashed or minced

4 oz. mushrooms, sliced

1 large carrot or 2 small Carrots, sliced at a diagonal.

1/2 red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 poblano or pasilla chile, deseeded and chopped

1/2 cup frozen non-gmo sweet corn

8 oz. frozen chopped spinach

2 medium zucchini, cut in half, then slice lengthwise to get long, flat pieces

1 large eggplant, sliced thin rounds about 1 cm. thick

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

>1 tsp dried rosemary

1 jar of pasta sauce. I( really like using Trader Joe’s Arrabiata sauce)

1/2 tsp sea salt

crushed red pepper flakes, as needed

3 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 cup raw cashews, crushed or ½ cup cashew cream



Pasta Sheets:

1. In a small bowl, prepare the flax egg by mixing together 1 Tbsp flax meal with 3 Tbsp of filtered water. Set aside for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, prepare other ingredients. In a medium-sized bowl, combine flours and salt. Make a well in the flour, add the flax egg, and mix.  Mixture should form a stiff dough. If needed, stir in 1 to 2 Tbsp or more of filtered water.

2. Tear 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap (about 9X10″). Place one sheet on worktable, lightly dust it with flour. Take half of the dough, form it into a ball, dust the top of the ball with a little more flour.  Place the top sheet on top of the ball and roll out the dough about a centimeter or so thick, in the shape of your dish. When assembling the lasagna and when it’s time to add a sheet of pasta, flip the sheets with the pasta so that the bottom sheet now becomes the top sheet. Remove the top sheet from the rolled out pasta slowly so it doesn’t tear. While holding the pasta sheet on the parchment, transfer to the baking dish when it’s time to add the pasta sheet. If it doesn’t fit perfectly, cut the pasta accordingly and fill out the rest of the layer with scraps if there are empty spots, to make one complete layer of pasta.

3. Repeat step 2 when time comes to add another pasta sheet layer.



1. Cover sweet potato in a paper towel. Wet it, place it on a plate, add a little water on the plate and microwave for 5 – 7 minutes until the sweet potato is cooked.  Alternatively, bake sweet potato in the oven until cooked. (375 degrees F for about 30-40 minutes). Set aside.

2. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat, add onions. Cook for a minute then add the garlic and mushrooms. No oil is necessary. Cook for another minute and add bell peppers, poblano chile, corn, carrots, sea salt, oregano, basil, rosemary and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring until the onions become translucent.  Once translucent, add spinach. Cook for one more minute. Place the mixture into a bowl. Set aside.

3. In same pan, brown the slices of zucchini until they become a little caramelized on both sides, not burned. Place caramelized slices on a small plate and set aside.



1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. In an 8×8″, 9X9″, or 8X10″ baking dish, add a thin layer of pasta sauce.

3. Add a pasta sheet layer then cover with a layer of sauce.

4. Add a layer of the cooked veggie mixture (onion, garlic, mushroom, etc.)

5. Add a layer of eggplant. Overlap the eggplant with thin slices so you don’t see any veggie mixture.

6. Add a layer of sweet potato, either sliced or mashed.

7. Add another pasta sheet layer.

8. Add a thin layer of pasta sauce.

9. Add another layer of cooked veggie mixture.

10. Add another layer of eggplant, overlapping eggplant with thinner slices so you don’t see any veggie mixture.

11. Add a layer of zucchini.

12. Add last layer of pasta sauce

13. Add a layer of tomatoes

14. Sprinkle with crushed cashews or smother with some cashew cream sauce and a bit more marinara.

15. Cover with foil. Place on lined baking sheet, in case it bubbles over.

16. Bake in the center of the oven for about 1 hr and 15 minutes to 1.5 hours, until pasta is cooked.

17. Remove from oven. Remove foil and let it sit out for at least 10-15 minutes before serving.

18. Slice and serve!


Yes, it is a lengthy recipe, but if you do attempt to make this, please let me know how yours turns out! I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

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Quinoa Pizza


When making pizza, I normally use the crust recipe from Kimberly Snyder’s Beauty Detox Foods book. Kimberly’s pizza crust recipe yields delicious medium-thick pizza dough and serves about 3 people.

Most recently, I have been wanting to make a crust with fewer ingredients. I began searching online for quinoa pizza crust recipes.  In my quest for a quick and easy recipe, I found that most of the recipes required the quinoa to be soaked for 8 hours, but I didn’t have that much time.  So, I put on my thinking cap and created this pizza crust recipe together.

I’d describe this pizza crust as thin and crispy. I love it because it’s a personal pizza and it’s not too big. This recipe is packed with protein (from the quinoa) and fiber (from the oat flour)!

If you try making this, I hope you enjoy the simplicity, nutrients, and crispiness as much as I do!



Quinoa Pizza Crust

Serving Size:  One 6-inch pizza (good for one person)

Time: 40 minutes


1/4 cup uncooked quinoa

1/2 cup filtered water

1/2 cup oat flour (can substitute sorghum)

1 tsp coconut oil

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp garlic powder

1/16 tsp 100% pure Stevia powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp sea salt

2 shakes of cayenne pepper

1+ Tbsp water

optional: sriracha, other herbs like rosemary, thyme and parsley, chopped

Pizza Toppings of your choice.  Here is a list of pizza toppings I enjoy on my pizza: pizza sauce, 1/4 onion/shallot, 1/4 cup red bell pepper, crushed red pepper, mushrooms, basil, jalapeno, crushed cashews or cashew cream (which resembles cheese).



1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Place 1/4 Cup of quinoa, a dash of sea salt and 1/2 Cup filtered water into a small saucepan.  Cover. Bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, turn down the heat to a simmer. Keep covered.  The quinoa should cook about 15 minutes or until fluffy.

3. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper or a silpat mat.

4. In a small mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients then add the warm quinoa. Mix and mash together with your hands until it forms a dough. If it’s too dry, add a tsp of water at a time until the dough comes together. You don’t want it crumbly, but at the same time, you don’t want it too wet. The dough should just come together.

5. With wet hands, flatten the dough onto the lined sheet tray and into a round, 6-inch disc; about 1/8″-1/4″ thick.

6. Bake for 10 minutes, when it becomes a bit golden. Flip it. If you have trouble flipping, try using 2 spatulas so it doesn’t break, and bake for another 10 minutes (other side should also be a bit golden). This is necessary so your crust holds up to the sauce and toppings.

7. Remove the sheet pan from oven and place pizza sauce and toppings of your choice onto the crust. Place back into the oven for 10 more minutes and voila! You have pizza on a crispy quinoa oat crust!  To be extra careful, use 2 spatulas to lift the pizza onto the plate.  Usually though, my pizzas are crispy enough that one spatula works just fine.

I hope you enjoy it! Bon appetit!




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Buffalo Cauliflower


If you’ve always wondered why Buffalo wings are called Buffalo wings, I’ll tell you why. Buffalo wings were created in Buffalo, New York.  Traditionally, chicken wings are deep-fried in oil until they are well browned. They are then drained, mixed with sauce, and shaken with a spicy sauce to coat the wings.

After eating a Buffalo bomber at Veggie Grill for the very first time, I stepped into my test kitchen with the goal of creating a good vegan, gluten-free, soy-free version of the Buffalo wing.  The first time I made them, my husband thought they were delicious.  Coincidentally, the next day we went out for dinner at a nearby vegan restaurant and Buffalo cauliflower was on the menu.  We ordered them and my husband said he liked mine better, only he said mine needed a little more Buffalo sauce. I agreed and adjusted the recipe.

If you’d like a lower fat version, simply cut down the oil by substituting half of the oil with vegetable stock. I suggest substituting only half because I feel that the oil acts as a good buffer for the spiciness. Alternatively, you can use Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, which is vegan-friendly and also pretty tasty!

I also want to point out that I have made Buffalo oyster mushrooms, and they were actually quite meaty and good! I recommend throwing oyster mushrooms into the Buffalo batter as well! Serve them with my Ranch Dressing and celery sticks, and enjoy!



Buffalo Caulifllower

Servings: 2-4

Time: 30 minutes

Brief: We enjoy buffalo cauliflower on special occasions, like on Super Bowl Sunday, or when we have visitors. Make your sauce from scratch according to the directions, or purchase animal-friendly Franks Red Hot Sauce to make these buffalo cauliflower!



1 medium-large head of cauliflower florets



1 cup garbanzo flour

1/8 tsp sea salt

2 tsp garlic powder

8 dashes cayenne pepper

2 drops stevia

1 cup filtered water


Buffalo Sauce: 

¾ cup of Bob’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce

Alternatively, make it from scratch:

1/8 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 Tbsp onion, minced

1 1/2 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup  + 2 Tbsp  tapatio hot sauce

1/3 cup + 3 Tbsp sunflower or grapeseed oil



1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

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

3. In a medium bowl, combine and mix batter ingredients.  It should be pancake consistency.  Adjust with more flour, if needed.  Thinly coat the cauliflower florets and place them onto the baking sheet. Place in the center of the oven for 18 minutes.

4. In the meantime, whisk together the sauce ingredients, if you are making it from scratch. If not, measure out ¾ cup of the store-bought buffalo sauce.

5. Once the cauliflower florets are golden brown and crisp, remove them from the oven and coat the cauliflower with the sauce, reserving 1/4 cup of sauce.  Place the sauced cauliflower back onto the sheet pan and cook for another 5 minutes or until crisp.

6. After it bakes, in large bowl, toss the cauliflower into the remaining sauce and serve immediately with celery sticks and Ranch Dressing.


Note: See my recipe for Ranch dressing on the My Eclectic Kitchen app!



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