Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Walnut Chocolate Cookies

30 Mar
My friend and I had planned a 5 day rock climbing trip to the Owens River Gorge in Bishop, CA. We were originally going to make our way up to Smith Rock, in Oregon, but the weather defeated us.  Smith Rock will have to wait for another time… sigh.  Owens is our staple sport climbing area, so we weren’t too upset about the change of plans… I mean, you can’t beat it… incredible basalt rock, tremendous variety and amount of climbing, a BEAUTIFUL setting.. and all within just a scenic 6 hour drive.  Love.

A shot from the drive on the other side of the Sierras…. love the colors.

As always, it’s important to have snacks and treats on these climbing trips!  I usually like to bake something that will be delicious and healthy, yet energizing…. and vegan is a nice option because they usually stay good longer.  So this time, a variation on the staple oatmeal raisin cookie!  Yummmm.  Of course I added walnuts and chocolate because they are both powerhouse ingredients.  Coconut milk and olive oil keep these tasty morsels moist and chewy.  I must say, these little guys might be my favorite “healthy” cookie yet… and are by far my favorite that I’ve made in a long while!  They are seriously amazing, slightly crispy edges with a chewy center, and packed with flavor.  They are a must try recipe!  As I write about these cookies, we have just come off the first climbing day of our trip (which was filled with amazing climbing, as usual) and these cookies definitely came in handy…. now I only wish I made more….

makes about 24 cookies (approx. 2″ diameter)
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 2 cups oats
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp coconut milk (you could use almond or soy if you don’t have coconut)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • optional – sprinkle of salt on top of each cookie


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Put walnuts into a food processor and process until just lightly ground, some will become powdery, but there should be small chunks (no bigger than the size of your pinky nail).
  3. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, 1 cupoats (save the other cup for later), cinnamon, and brown sugar.
  4. Add the walnuts, raisins and chocolate chips to the dry mixture and mix together.
  5. In a small bowl add the olive oil, maple syrup, coconut milk, and vanilla, and mix until well combined.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix thoroughly.
  7. Mix in the remaining 1 cup of oats by stirring or use your hands.
  8. Gather a small ball of dough (somewhere between the size of a ping pong ball and golf ball), and then flatten with your hands. Dip your hands in water to help keep them from sticking.
  9. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet.
  10. Bake for about 10 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven let cool and enjoy!



Piña Colada Scones (vegan, gluten free)

27 Mar

We’ve had quite a few rainy days here in the Bay Area lately, which makes me want to do two things: go on muddy trail runs up in the hills, and bake. I love running in the mud… it’s so soft and squishy.. and best of all, you get super dirty! Frolicking through puddles is my forte. And boy, do I frolic. It’s probably a good thing that not many other people like running in those conditions, because I’m pretty sure I look like a crazy person.  I’m cool with that, though.  Weeeeeeee!! Mud!!!

As for baking, what’s more awesome to come home to than a scone?  I LOVE scones..  they might be my favorite baked good.  Or at least right up there at the top of my favorites.  I don’t like my scones cakey or fluffy… totally the wrong texture for a scone, in my opinion.  I like them rustic and hardy, crumbly but not dry.  And as crucial an ingredient as butter normall is in scones, I prefer (as usual) to bake them without it.  They can still be super tasty without butter, trust me! Butter gives you more of a flakey cakey scone, anyways… so scones without butter are more my texture style.  Plus, I want to be able to eat one with my coffee before breakfast and not feel guilty about it.  This time, I wanted to bake something with coconut, I was craving that tropical taste… Then I remembered I have coconut flour, too!  Super coconutty!  I was trying to decide what to add to these coconut scones.. the first thing that occurred to me was pineapple… I even posted a “poll” to see what my friends thought I should add. The end result though, was pineapple.  Long story short.. these scones evolved in my mind to be vegan and gluten free!  Healthy, delicious, and a great texture. I bring you, Piña Colada Scones!!


makes about 12 scones

  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup gluten free oat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 5 tbsp agave nectar (or maple syrup)
  • 1 cup diced fresh pineapple


  • 4 tbsp confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp maple syrup or agave
  • 1 tbsp fresh pineapple juice


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together coconut flour, gluten free oat flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix in poppy seeds and chia seeds.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, combine coconut milk and coconut oil (heat the coconut oil slightly so it’s not solid). Add vanilla extract, agave, orange zest and juice, and pineapple.  Combine gently but thoroughly.
  4. Slowly add the liquid mixture into the flour mixture, and stir until the dough comes together (you might want to use your hands). If the dough is super sticky, add a tiny bit of coconut flour at a time until the dough becomes less sticky.
  5. Form the dough into a ball, then flatten the ball of dough on a cutting board or baking pan with your palms until it is about an inch thick. Use a sharp knife to cut the round into 12 equal pieces.
  6. If you cut them on a cutting board, transfer the scone slices to a lightly greased cookie sheet about an inch apart. Bake for about 15 minutes, until they start to turn slightly golden, and feel firm but still have a slight bounce back to them.
  7. Remove from oven, let cool, and enjoy!!

Rustic Banana Bread (vegan)

21 Mar

Today, I had a sudden craving for banana bread. I am a strong believer in feeding cravings and not ignoring them… so… I made my way to the kitchen and made myself some banana bread! As I organized my baking canvas and began assembling the typical baking ingredients, I paused…. I thought, “no… I want to do this with as few base ingredients as possible.” … so I put away the sugar, egg, vanilla…  and began mashing the bananas.  Seriously simple is no joke for this bread… I had it in the oven in less than 5 minutes. And in 30, I was satisfying my craving!!  Vegan, sugar free, oil free, and perfectly moist… this bread is a-mazing.



Makes one loaf

  • 2 medium bananas (preferably overripe)
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1 flax “egg” (1 tbsp flaxseed meal + 3 tbsp water)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • scant 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Mix together your flax “egg” and set aside.
  3. Mash bananas and applesauce together (should amount to about 1 cup combined).
  4. Mix together all dry ingredients plus walnuts and raisins.  Add flax “egg” and mashed banana/applesauce, mix until well combined, pour into prepared lightly greased loaf pan and sprinkle lightly with oats, sesame seeds, or sunflower seeds for looks (totally optional).  Bake for about 30 minutes (or until knife inserted comes out clean), let cool slightly before cutting – Enjoy!!!


Baked Oatmeal (vegan & gluten free)

20 Mar
Whenever I say the words “baked oatmeal”, peoples faces seem to turn to a look of curiosity.  This always surprised me… I mean, what’s weird about oatmeal that’s been baked? Maybe it’s just such a common “cooked” breakfast food, that when you replace the word “cooked” with “baked”, it evokes the eyebrow raise.  I have to say though, one of my favorite parts of baking is just that… getting the eyebrow raise out of people :)  That must mean you’ve created something new or interesting! Or, people think it sounds utterly disgusting… pish posh.  Whatever people might think, baked oatmeal is a keeper.  I’ve made it multiple times in multiple ways with multiple ingredients – this one is, so far, my favorite.  With lasting hints of coconut mixed with the familiar flavor of banana and the soft crunch of walnuts, you might find yourself whipping this simple recipe together more often than you imagine.  It’s so simple.  Also, its versatility is another great factor!  Whether it’s for a brunch gathering, a typical morning breakfast, or breakfast-on-the-go for you folk who just like to grab ‘n go… it’ll be a winner!
I like this simple variation quite a bit, but by all means, feel free to experiment and throw in your favorite oatmeal additions!! The whole coconut milk in this recipe is what makes it super delectable in my opinion, so I wouldn’t recommend replacing it with light coconut milk… but of course you can if you want… I’m sure it’ll still be tasty :)  After all, it’s oatmeal, baked!!!
makes about 16, if using a standard size muffin tin
  • 2 cups gluten free rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole coconut milk (not light, go for the full fat, it’s good-for-you fat!)
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter (softened)
  • 1 flax “egg” – 1 tbsp flaxseed meal + 3 tbsp water (egg replacer)
  • 1 or 2 ripe bananas, chopped into about 1/2″ pieces
  • honey to drizzle over the top after baked (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Mix together flaxseed meal and water, set aside  and mix occasionally (it will become somewhat gelatinous)
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together oats, baking powder, spices, and salt.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together brown sugar, coconut milk (shake the can well before opening!), almond milk, vanilla and softened coconut butter.  Stir in the flax “egg”. Blend until well combined.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet, and mix until well combined.  Gently stir in the “mix-ins” – bananas, walnuts, and raisins.
  6. Lightly grease a muffin tin, and spoon ingredients into prepared tin.
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until each muffin has set (should feel slightly spongy, but bounce back).  Remove from oven, drizzle with honey if desired, and enjoy!!

Kitchen Sink Cookies

16 Mar

These cookies have no flour in them. None. It’s like magic. They get their name from my quest to find something to put in them (the original recipe called for chocolate chips and nuts). I scoured the kitchen, and came up with about a cup of trail mix – dried cherries, raisins, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, cashews and the occasional hazelnut. Into the batter it went, and the result was delicious.

  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar (I used sucanat)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 C treats of your choices – dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, etc.
  1. Preheat oven to 325
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  3. In a large bowl, stir almond butter and sugars together until well combined
  4. Add egg, baking soda, honey, vanilla and salt and mix well
  5. Stir in your treats
  6. Using a teaspoon, scoop out small, walnut-sized amounts of dough and roll them in your hands to form a ball
  7. Place on cookie sheet about 1 inch apart
  8. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned (be sure to rotate your pans halfway through baking to ensure even browning)
  9. Cool for 5 minutes

Light and Fluffy Yogurt Pancakes

14 Mar

I am always on the lookout for a new tasty pancake recipe. I love pancakes, and I was striving to find a pancake that was light and fluffy, but not cakey… it’s hard to describe exactly how I want the texture of my pancakes… I guess it’s almost like a fluffy moist soufflé pancake.  I also always try to eat a balanced and healthy breakfast, so any breakfast recipe I try must at least be that.

Last week, I had some leftover ricotta from my peach ricotta soufflé recipe, so I decided to make ricotta pancakes.  Now, ricotta pancakes are certainly delicious.. and light, and fluffy.. but, they are cheese based, and I don’t really want to eat cheese for breakfast. It didn’t fit my “healthy and balanced” requirement.  While I shamelessly admit that I ate them all anyways, it got me thinking… why not do the same recipe but with yogurt instead of ricotta? So I did. And they were sooooo delicious!! I believe that I have almost found that perfect texture I have been looking for!! So for now, these will be my staple. TRY THEM!! I will continue to experiment (as always), and will most likely report back with new pancake recipes. After all, you can never have enough pancake recipes under your belt! :)



makes about 10 pancakes (using 1/4 cup measure, you get about 3″ pancakes)

  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (soymilk, hemp, rice, coconut would all work great too!)
  • 2 eggs (separated)
  • 1/2 cup flour (I used white whole wheat, but coconut flour or another gluten free flour would work nicely)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp agave syrup (honey or maple syrup are other options)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Separate eggs, set whites aside.
  2. Combine egg yolks, yogurt, almond milk, agave, and vanilla together in a medium bowl. Blend thoroughly.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients, then add the dry ingredients to the wet and blend until smooth and fully incorporated.
  4. In a small bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites into soft peaks.  Then add the egg whites to the batter and gently fold in until well combined.
  5. Heat and lightly grease the pan, and using a 1/4 cup measure, place a dollop of batter onto the heated pan (or however many you can fit).  Cook and flip like normal pancakes!  Enjoy them with maple syrup, berry compote, or whatever your favorite pancake topping might be.


Grapefruit and Olive Oil Cake (brought to you by Paula)

14 Mar

Yep, grapefruit and olive oil. Just crazy enough to work! I came across this recipe on my new favorite recipe blog – The Yellow House ( This was my first experience with the gluten-free all purpose flour by Bob’s Red Mill, and I have to say I was very pleased. I did add some xanthan gum to help fill gluten’s shoes, and I would not have known the end product was gluten free!


makes one standard sized Bundt pan, or a 9×5 loaf pan

  • butter for greasing pan
  • 2 grapefruits
  • 1 cup sugar (I used sucanat, though turbinado or even granulated would be fine)
  • scant 1/2 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 C gluten-free all purpose flour
  • 1/2 C brown rice flour
  • rounded 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For glaze:

  • 1/2 cup sucanat (or brown or muscovado sugar)
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 4 teaspoons grapefruit juice


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan or standard Bundt pan.
  3. Zest the 2 grapefruits into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add the sugar to the bowl, rubbing the zest and sugar together with your fingertips to help the sugar become infused with grapefruit oil.
  5. Halve one of the grapefruits and squeeze its juice into a measuring cup. Add buttermilk or yogurt to juice in the measuring cup until there is a total of about 2/3 cup of liquid.
  6. Pour the grapefruit juice/buttermilk (or yogurt) mixture into the bowl with the zest and sugar and whisk well.
  7. Whisk in the eggs and olive oil.
  8. In another bowl, whisk or sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  9. Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.  (Note: I wish I had used my stand mixer and really mixed this thing for a few minutes to help its structure develop – something to try in the future!)
  10. Pour the batter into the buttered and floured pan.
  11. Bake the cake for 50 to 55 minutes, until it is golden brown on top and doesn’t jiggle in the middle (Note: mine was more done than I would’ve liked after 50 minutes, but still tasty). A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.
  12. Remove the cake to a rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  13. When completely cool, mix up the glaze and glaze your cake!

At this point you’re probably wondering, ‘But Paula – why does your glaze look like peanut butter?’ Good question. Because I used sucanat I had to heat the glaze up to help the large crystals to dissolve. This resulted in losing some of the moisture in the glaze, and it seized up. I should’ve added more juice but I’d already eaten the grapefruit remains… oops…