Persimmon apple breakfast cake

Our heater is on the fritz again and when I woke up this morning it was 59 degrees in our master bedroom. I know that some people like to switch their heaters off at night so they can sleep in a cold room. I am not one of those people. Even our cat wouldn't lay anywhere but in front of the fire!


Since I knew it would be hours before the repair guy would arrive, I lit a fire in the fireplace and decided to bake a cake for breakfast. I had a couple of persimmons and some Granny Smith apples from my CSA box that I needed to use up, so I invented this moist breakfast cake. I loved the pecan and brown sugar topping- it was almost like a pecan pie but with much less sugar. Yum!


Persimmon Apple Breakfast Cake (vegan)
  • 3/4 cup pureed persimmon (peel and chop ~2 fuyu persimmons and puree in a blender or food processor)
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds (for protein and omega 3s)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp each: cinnamon, cardamom, fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Topping: 1/4 cup chopped pecans, 1 tbsp melted margarine (Earth Balance), 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp flour
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  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Combine the persimmon puree, non-dairy milk, vanilla, and oil in a small bowl.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients (all remaining ingredients except the apples and topping). Add the wet ingredients and the apples to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Pour the batter evenly into a cake pan lined with parchment paper.
  3. Melt the margarine in a small bowl or measuring cup. Add the rest of the topping ingredients and combine well. Sprinkle the topping over the batter. Bake for about 50 minutes or until browned on top and edges look done. Cool before slicing.

Ready to go into the oven:
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Finished baking:



This cake tasted delicious and even my "chunk"-avoiding kids liked it. I think next time I'll try reducing the oil to 2 tbsp and possibly cutting the sugar a little more too (I don't like things very sweet). If you don't have persimmons, I'm sure that applesauce or another pureed fruit would work just fine!

Driveway sledding and vegan sun-dried tomato and pesto torta

I'm finally thawing out after a cold but fun Thanksgiving weekend. We went with family to Lake Tahoe and holed up in a little cabin for a few days.


I looked around online for a Turkey Trot in the area for Thanksgiving morning but I wasn't able to find a race close enough. I am, however, thankful for that in retrospect! Thanksgiving morning was COLD!!


Instead of braving the sub-zero morning, I decided to wait until the sun warmed things up to a balmy 24 degrees to head outside to play with my kids.

We bundled up.


A lot.


Then we hit the "slopes" for some driveway sledding!

For the big "feast" (as my 4 year old calls it), I ordered a vegan meal from Whole Foods Market and made a few appetizers (vegan sun-dried tomato and pesto torta), side dishes (sweet potatoes, green beans, and vegan stuffing), and dessert (pumpkin gingerbread with spiced buttercream) to share with everyone. Everything was delicious- especially the sweet potatoes! I used a recipe from OSG and these were the best sweet potatoes I've ever had! Seriously awesome!

Since there were eight of us in a tiny cabin, you can imagine how crowded things were. I didn't take photos of our dinner but I did capture one of the appetizer dip that I invented for the occasion: Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Torta.


Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Torta
1 prepared recipe of cashew cheese (use 2 cups of cashews and as little water as possible)
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
  1. Divide cashew cheese into 3 equal parts. Line your container/mold with plastic wrap, letting it hang over the sides of the bowl. Place one part cashew cheese in the container and smooth over.
  2. Place second part of cashew cheese and sun-dried tomatoes (drained) in a food processor and process until smooth and well-blended. Add this mixture to the bowl on top of the plain cashew cheese and smooth over the top.
  3. Place third part of cashew cheese, basil leaves, and pine nuts in the food processor (washed after SD tomato layer), and process until smooth and well-blended. Add this pesto layer to the top of the bowl/mold and smooth over. Gently fold the excess plastic wrap over the top and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  4. To serve, uncover the torta and place a serving plate on top of the bowl. Flip the bowl over and carefully remove the plastic. Garnish with pine nuts and a basil sprig (if you're fancy!) and serve with sliced baguette.
Did you know?... Cashews provide heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, protein, copper, magnesium, iron, manganese, and immune-boosting zinc. The nutritional yeast in the cashew cheese adds B vitamins (including B12) and more protein to this healthy appetizer!

Heading home was a little sketchy. We left a day early, hoping to beat the crowds. The roads were frozen and it was snowing sideways!




Thanks to 4-wheel drive and window defrosters we made it home safely!

Cranberry tangerine muffins

You guys know how I feel about muffins, right? I'm just about burned out on all things pumpkin (well, maybe just one pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving...), so I have officially entered my "cranberry orange/tangerine" phase of the year. This seems to happen every November, which is fine with me- the combination is delicious!

I love these muffins and so do my muffin-loving kids. Enjoy!



Cranberry Tangerine Muffins
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • Juice from 2-4 tangerines (or oranges)
  • 2 Tbsp tangerine (or orange) zest (preferably organic or tangerines not coated with wax or another coating)
  • 1⁄3 cup flax meal (ground flaxseeds)
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (or more whole wheat)
  • 1/4 cup protein powder (optional, replace with flour if not using)
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄3 cup sugar
  • 1⁄4 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Coat a muffin pan with cooking spray.
  2. Pulse cranberries in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
  3. Pour zest and tangerine juice into a measuring cup for a total of 3⁄4 cup. Pour into a small bowl and add the flax meal, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Combine well.
  4. In a large bowl, combine flours, protein powder (optional), baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the wet mixture and mix with a rubber spatula just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in cranberries and nuts. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-23 minutes.

Roasted fall vegetables with tempeh and farro

This dish has recently become one of my favorites. The vegetables take on a natural sweetness when they are roasted in the oven and all of the flavors come together so well. It is like autumn on a plate!


Roasted Fall Vegetables with Tempeh and Farro
  • Several cups of chopped autumn veggies (carrots, sweet potatoes/yams, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, etc.)
  • 5 or so garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning (or fresh herbs like thyme and oregano), to taste
  • Several shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 package of tempeh*, chopped into 1/4 inch squares (*you can substitute another protein, such as chicken or white beans, if you wish)
  • 1/3 cup lightly toasted pecans, chopped
  • 1 bunch of hearty greens (such as rapini (broccoli rabe), kale, or turnip greens)
  • Cooked farro
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C). Line a large baking dish with parchment paper (for easy clean up). Toss the chopped veggies lightly with olive oil then season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. If using fresh herbs, wait until about half way through the cook time to add them. Tip: I don't peel or chop the garlic cloves. I roast them in their skins and then squeeze them out when they are fully cooked to keep them from getting too brown.
  2. Pour the veggies into the prepared pan and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes or until soft and lightly browned in places, stirring occasionally.
  3. While the veggies are roasting, saute the mushrooms in olive oil or margarine until well browned and set aside. Lightly brown the tempeh in olive oil then add the greens and saute until they are bright green in color. Combine the mushrooms, greens and tempeh, pecans, and roasted veggies and serve over farro or another grain.

A hot breakfast on a cold morning

It was really cold in my house this morning. Our heater stopped working yesterday and, even though I live in Northern California and not North Dakota, it still gets cold enough at night to cool the house down a few degrees. I lingered in bed for a few extra minutes before the thought of hot coffee lured me to the kitchen. Despite my love for green smoothies, today was a hot food kind of day.

After fixing "the usual" (oatmeal with applesauce and raisins) for my four year old and handing my toddler a muffin and a banana, I went about fixing some oats for myself. Don't let cooking oatmeal scare you away! It really doesn't take that long. In fact, you can cook rolled oats in about 1 1/2 minutes. Fast, right?

I call my oats "kitchen sink oatmeal" because I love to add all kinds of things to them. They are a fantastic vehicle for added protein, iron, fiber, and so much more. I use at least one kind of fruit and one kind of nut and/or seed. Here are some of my favorite combos:
  • Bananas, peanut butter, chia seeds and/or ground flaxseeds
  • Apples, walnuts, raisins, hemp seeds, and cinnamon
  • Peaches and/or fresh berries and raw almonds
  • Pears, almonds, nutmeg, and cardamom
This morning I mixed up rolled oats, pears, whole raw almonds, fresh grated nutmeg, cardamom, brown sugar, and a splash of vanilla soymilk. This bowl of steamy goodness and a perfect cup of French-pressed coffee started my cold day off right!




To make rolled oats quickly, combine 1/2 cup oats and 1 cup of water or milk and microwave for 90 seconds or until it reaches your desired thickness. Watch it closely to make sure that it doesn't boil over (especially if you use milk)!

Confused about what kind of oats to buy (steel cut, rolled, quick, etc.)? Check out this post for more info.

Meals for the week and split pea soup

I'm back! I didn't actually go anywhere but I've had a bit of a busy week, technically speaking. First, my website was hacked. This was not awesome. It didn't take my site down, but it did cause some issues and gave me a major case of the hebegebees. Hackers are so creepy. After I cleaned up much of the hacker mess, my site host had a server outage and that DID take my site down. For almost 24 hours. I had to re-do some hacker cleanup after my site was restored. Sooooooo, it has been a long week in terms of all things

I planned several meals for the next week or so. I'm not really all that organized about this process. My main goals were to use up some things in my pantry and to get through my CSA produce before it went bad. After listing out all of my "must use" ingredients, I came up with this list of meals for the next several days:
  • Pot of pinto beans with brown rice and avocado
  • Vegetable soup with "Harvest Grains Blend" (grain and bean combo from Trader Joe's)
  • Whole wheat pasta tossed with chard, sundried tomatoes, white beans, and a creamy pesto sauce (cashew-based)
  • Pita pizzas with cashew ricotta (there it is again- love it!) and steamed green beans
  • Veggie burgers and chipotle sweet potato oven fries
  • Stir fried bok choy and turnip greens with tofu, wild rice, shiitake mushrooms, and toasted pecans
  • Roasted turnips, carrots, and sweet potatoes with farro, tempeh, pecans, and shiitake mushrooms (this is a repeat- it was SO GOOD last week)
  • Potato leek soup with white beans added for protein
  • Breakfast dishes: Apple cinnamon crockpot oats and persimmon apple breakfast crisp
*A tip: Portion out leftover dinner meals into single-serving reheat containers and refrigerate or freeze for easy grab-and-go lunches.

I love these containers:


I will share a few recipes from this list as I cook these meals. Today, I'll share a super fast split pea soup recipe that I made last week.

Did you know...? Split peas area fantastic food- they don't require pre-soaking and they are loaded with iron, fiber, and protein!




Simple Split Pea Soup
1 1/2 cups split peas (green, yellow, or a mix), sorted and rinsed
6-8 cups of water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1-3 tsp liquid smoke (to taste, optional)
Sea salt (about 1 Tbsp) and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot and add the onions and carrots. Saute until the onions are lightly browned.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer, partially covered, for about an hour. Serve the soup topped with homemade croutons.
To make croutons, I chopped up the heals of a few loaves of bread that were lingering in my fridge for just such an occasion. I tossed them with olive oil, salt, fresh chopped parsley, and minced garlic and baked them at 300 degrees until they were crunchy (about 25 minutes, turning once or twice).


Now that it is November and the evenings are cooler, I have shifted my dinner plans to warmer foods. This week I am planning:
  • Split pea soup with added veggies and warm bread
  • Baked penne with cashew ricotta and sauteed green beans
  • Butternut squash and leek gratin (also with cashew ricotta...I'm hooked!)
  • Roasted root veggies with tempeh and farro
Farro is a hearty grain that lends itself well to combining with all kinds of foods. It will make a great vehicle for my roasted veggies this week and leftovers reheat well for a healthy and filling breakfast (just add a little milk of choice and top with fruit, nuts, seeds, etc.). One serving of farro contains 5 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and 10% of the RDA for iron.


To cook: soak the farro in cool water for at least an hour. Bring fresh water to a boil and add farro (1 cup of water for every 1/2 cup of farro) and simmer, partially covered, for 25-30 minutes (or until all liquid is absorbed).

What are some of your favorite fall meals?