Free Silk Vanilla Almond Milk

Hey all!  Just thought I’d share with you, Silk is giving away 700 free half-gallons of their Vanilla Almond Milk every day through October 10th!  Click here to enter for your chance to win.


Free Silk Vanilla Almond Milk

I’m sure these coupons for the free half-gallons will be going quickly each day, but I grabbed one and I’m sure you can too!  The coupon should arrive by mail in 8-10 weeks.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Decadent… Delicious… Creamy… Salty and sweet…

These chocolate peanut butter cups are all of those and more.  I’ve been meaning to try to replicate these little treats at home for a long time, but never seemed to get around to it.  Most of the brands out there, even the natural ones, contain dairy, so they’re out for those of us who are lactose intolerant or vegan.  So today I finally got a wild hair and made some!  How is it that I didn’t know how easy they would be?!  It’s much simpler than I expected, even with the assembly of the little cups.  And only four ingredients to boot!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Decadent and sweet homemade vegan chocolate peanut butter cups.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 8
  • ⅓ cup natural, salted peanut butter or other nut butter/seed butter
  • 3 packets Stevia (or 2 Tbs agave nectar)
  • 1¼ cups semisweet dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil (optional, gives the chocolate a coconut flavor)
  1. Place peanut butter in a mixing bowl with stevia or agave and stir well. Refrigerate.
  2. Melt chocolate chips over a double boiler or in the microwave in 30-second increments. Once melted, stir in coconut oil.
  3. Arrange 8 standard (or 14 mini) paper muffin liners in a muffin tin or on a plate. Spoon in about 2 tsp of melted chocolate and use a brush or small spoon to coat the liner with chocolate halfway up the sides of the liners (or all the way up the sides for mini cups) . Refrigerate for 10 minutes to set.
  4. Spoon in 1 Tbsp amounts of peanut butter and smooth it into the chocolate cup. Freeze for 10 minutes.
  5. Cover the tops with equal parts of the remaining melted chocolate.
  6. Place back in the refrigerator to set. Cover gently and store in the refrigerator for up to one week. Freeze for longer storage (or a colder treat!).

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

I used peanut butter in these but sunflower butter would be so delicious – I will be trying them that way next time!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups3

Want to dive right through the screen yet?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups


Give them a shot, they’re really easy, I promise!  And way better than storebought, in my opinion.

What’s your favorite homemade version of a store-bought snack?  

Share in the comments!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

And friends, don’t forget to share pics of your own peanut butter cups!

Till next time,


Smoky-Spicy Black Bean Dip

Beans, beans, the musical fruit… Well.  I’m sure you know the rest!  Beans are such a healthy (and delicious) food, but I’ll be the first to admit that I have a bit of trouble digesting them without clearing a room.  But they’re just so GOOD!  And especially for vegans, they can be an important source of protein.  There is some controversy about the health benefits vs. potential drawbacks of beans.  As this article discusses, the lectins found in beans can be harmful to humans.  I don’t eat beans too often (mostly due to the flatulence issue!) but they’re so delicious that they’re definitely worth the occasional indulgence in my book.  Heck, eat ’em every day if you want.  Just as a tip, draining and rinsing your beans well helps with digestion, as does soaking them overnight and cooking them with a bay leaf or piece of kombu seaweed.  And a bit of Bean-o helps in a pinch!

Once upon a bean, a spicy chilli met a black bean and had a baby — the Smoky-Spicy Black Bean Dip was born!  It’s full of smooth, spicy, creamy, bean-y goodness.  I adapted it from this recipe, which needed a few tweaks to be vegan and even more delicious.  Enjoy!

Smoky-Spicy Black Bean Dip

Smoky-Spicy Black Bean Dip

  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1 tsp. canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce (more if you like it spicy!)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (if desired)
  • 1/4 cup vegan sour cream
  • 1/2 small jalapeno chili , seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • 1/2 cup minced cilantro

In a medium pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, coriander, cumin and paprika. Sauté, stirring frequently, until onions are softened, about 2 minutes. Add beans and 1/4 cup water. Simmer until water evaporates, 5 to 7 minutes. Cool 5 minutes.

Black Beans

In the bowl of a Vitamix high-powered blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade, process bean mixture until coarsely mashed.  Add chilies, lime juice, liquid smoke, and salt (if using).  Process until smooth.  Add vegan sour cream, jalapeño, and cilantro.  Pulse just until cilantro is incorporated.  Transfer to a bowl. Garnish with additional cilantro and serve.

Smoky-Spicy Black Bean Dip

This dip was great with crudité and tortilla chips, or you can stuff it into a pita like so:

Smoky-Spicy Black Bean Dip

So yummy!

Printable version:

Smoky-Spicy Black Bean Dip
A versatile spicy vegan black bean dip or spread.
Recipe type: Appetizer
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • ⅓ cup thinly sliced onions
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. liquid smoke
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1 tsp. canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce (more if you like it spicy!)
  • ½ tsp. salt (if desired)
  • ¼ cup vegan sour cream
  • ½ small jalapeno chili , seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • ½ cup minced cilantro, plus extra for garnish
  1. In a medium pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, coriander, cumin and paprika. Sauté, stirring frequently, until onions are softened, about 2 minutes. Add beans and ¼ cup water. Simmer until water evaporates, 5 to 7 minutes. Cool 5 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a Vitamix high-powered blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade, process bean mixture until coarsely mashed. Add chilies, lime juice, and salt (if using). Process until smooth. Add vegan sour cream, jalapeño, and cilantro. Pulse just until cilantro is incorporated. Transfer to a bowl. Garnish with additional cilantro and serve. Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

 What’s your favorite vegan dip recipe?  Share in the comments!

Italian Panini

I’ll admit – I don’t have a panini press.  Those wonderful grill lines that show up on the bread when you use that handy device have never appeared in my kitchen.  Thankfully, I can still make a delicious vegan panini in a pan on the stovetop, and so can you!

I always make paninis for other people but never seem to make any for myself.  I’m not sure why that is… It’s not like it’s a lot of work.  So today’s creation was a delicious veggie Italian panini.  My leftover roasted yellow peppers and onions were a perfect addition.  The sandwich turned out a bit wet, so be sure to dry off your vegetables (especially the olives and tomatoes) before popping it into the pan.  Feel free to add some vegan cheese if you want that melty goodness – I didn’t feel in the mood so I didn’t add it to the Italian panini this time.

Italian Panini

Italian Panini
A recipe for a vegan panini chock-full of veggies and Italian flavor.
Serves: 2
  • 4 slices bread (I used whole wheat but you can use any bread you desire; ciabatta or sourdough work great)
  • 2 Tbs Vegenaise
  • 2 Tbs Earth balance (or other vegan butter)
  • ½ cup fresh spinach
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • ¼ cup onion, sliced
  • ½ colorful bell pepper, roasted (raw would work ok too)
  • 8 large green olives, sliced
  • 2 pepperoncinis, sliced
  • Italian seasonings or fresh herbs for extra flavor (basil, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper)
  1. Assemble vegetables. Blot dry with paper towel to soak up moisture to keep sandwich from getting mushy.
  2. Spread ½ Tbs Earth balance butter substitute on each slice of bread. Set two of the slices in the pan, butter side down, over medium heat. Spread each with Vegenaise. Layer vegetables on the slices and sprinkle with desired seasonings. Top with the last two slices of bread, butter side out.
  3. Weigh down the sandwiches with a heavy pan or other heavy object, such as a wrapped large can of food. Cook the paninis 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serve.


Raspberry Lemon Bars (GF, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free)

Lemon bars have always been one of my favorite desserts.  That tart-sweet flavor just does it for me; not too sweet and not too sour, soft and sorta gooey and a bit of crumble in the crust.  Mmm.  And raspberries just go so great with lemon, don’t you think?  Today I got the motherload of raspberries off our one little raspberry bush – at least probably 6 cups!  This is the first year we’ve had so many raspberries, and I am so excited.  There are still more that need to ripen!  Guess I need to figure out some more recipes to use them in… Shouldn’t be too hard, as raspberries are just about the best fruit on the planet (IMHO). 🙂

Back to recipes though – Raspberry Lemon Bars!!  I’ve been toying with the idea of trying out more paleo-type recipes for the hubby and myself.  Still vegan of course on my end, but simply removing a lot of the processed foods and gluten/grains for the majority of our eating.  I think the paleo concept seems really simple and makes a lot of sense to me on an intuitive level.  Why wouldn’t we want to eat as closely to our ancestors as possible (leaving out all the processed crap)?  Makes sense to me!

But I also really feel strongly about being vegan.  I think that since we don’t have to kill needlessly with our technology and knowledge of nutrition these days, there’s no reason not to attempt to preserve life whenever possible.  And of course eat lots of delicious plant products!!  This paleo/gluten-free adventure is not something that I’m going to follow 100% but there are elements I’d like to incorporate.

So today, with this recipe, I thought I would try it out, at least somewhat.  Next time I want to try it with almond and coconut flours to make it really paleo friendly, so feel free to try that and let me know how it works if you’re feeling adventurous!!  But today all I had in my cupboard was gluten-free oat flour so I figured that would be next best and still a really clean healthy option, especially since I used stevia and agave for the sweetener.  So here it is, my first attempt at Raspberry Lemon Bars.

Vegan Raspberry Lemon Bars

Raspberry Lemon Bars (GF, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free)
A healthier version of the classic lemon bar dessert.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
  • For crust:
  • 1-1/2 c oat flour
  • 3 Tbs coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4 packets of stevia (or substitute ¼ cup sugar if preferred)
  • 3-4 Tbs water
  • For filling:
  • 2 cups raspberries, strained for the juice
  • 1⅓ cups water
  • 3 tbsp agar flakes
  • ⅓ cup agave nectar
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • ½ tbsp finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • Additional stevia or confectioners sugar, for sprinkling (if desired)
  1. Grease an 8x8 inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. For the crust, mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add coconut oil and mix until it looks crumbly. Add water, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture forms a pliable dough. Press evenly into the bottom of the greased pan. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile prepare the filling: In a saucepot, soak the agar in the water for 15 minutes. Use the time while it soaks to zest your lemons and squeeze your lemon juice. Mix the arrowroot into the lemon juice, raspberry juice, and agave to dissolve. When the agar has been soaked for 15 minutes, turn on the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes, or until the agar is completely dissolved. Turn down the heat to medium and add the arrowroot/juice mixture, then add the lemon zest and almond milk. Whisk constantly until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. It should not be rapidly boiling, but low bubbling is okay. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust. Let cool for 20 minutes and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours, until the filling is only slightly jiggly and has set. Sprinkle with stevia or confectioners sugar, if using. Slice in squares and serve.