Caramel Apple Cheesecake Parfaits – A Raw Dessert for Early Fall

If you’ve never tried a raw dessert, these Caramel Apple Cheesecakes are a perfect intro (especially on an autumn day). 

Raw Caramel Apple Cheesecakes #rawdessert #paleo #vegan

Layered Caramel Apple Cheesecakes – a perfect raw dessert for fall.

Raw food ‘cooking’ and I got off to an awkward, if memorable, start. I was already intrigued by the concept, and had sampled and loved quite a few raw dishes at some of my favorite vegan restaurants that featured raw cuisine (like Caravan of Dreams) when I was living in NYC (and was still a committed vegetarian).  Later, having relocated to Connecticut, when I saw that a local cooking school was offering a whole series on raw cuisine, I jumped at the chance immediately, securing my slot well in advance.

By the time the class rolled around, I was newly pregnant and in the throes of so-called morning sickness. For me, like so many other moms, this was really more like feeling intensely carsick 24 hours a day (if ONLY it were limited to morning). Very little food sounded appetizing at all, the least of which was vegetables – normally something I loved and thrived upon.  I still attended the class, never one to let money or learning opportunities go to waste, so although Lily was only about the size of a peppercorn at the time, she prevented me from tasting more than a few perfunctory nibbles of everything we created. Drat!

But first trimesters pass in the blink of an eye, and soon enough I was able to make the items I had missed out on at home, thanks to the booklet our instructor had given out. Though living exclusively or even primarily on raw foods doesn’t work for me, I appreciate many of the benefits: how nutrient-dense it is, how it’s naturally dairy-free (and much of it is quite paleo-compatible, actually, if you’re including it in balance).

It’s especially great for having the occasional dessert treat  – hence this creation. With the seasonal shift well underway, I was starting to crave some caramelly, cinnamon apple flavors. A bit of experimentation led to this! It takes a bit of prep and assembly, but the effort is totally worthwhile. Multiple household members reported back with enthusiastic reviews. (Then again, none of us are pregnant. Proceed with caution if you are.)…

Read More »

Raspberry Lemon Cheesecakes: An Homage to a Blue Ribbon Original

Raw Raspberry Lemon Cheesecakes, and a moment of gratitude for the cheesecake recipe that started it all for Donna and Anne.

Raw Raspberry Cheesecakes

Raw Raspberry Cheesecakes – Raw, vegan, paleo-friendly, gluten-free, and all the etc.

The first page in my battered and spattered recipe binder is a printout of an email sent to me fifteen years ago, kept safe from the ravages of my cooking habits by a plastic sleeve.

“Hey, we wouldn’t be a family unless we exchanged recipes now and then, would we? So, here’s the cheesecake recipe I was telling you about. It’s pretty good, and I have the ribbon to prove it (somewhere in my attic, okay, trust me!). I have changed the recipe a lot over the years to improve it, and so I feel justified in giving it my name!”

The days are long, the years are short, as the parenting saying goes. It’s hard to believe that it’s been fifteen years since Donna and I first reunited, but the calendars don’t lie – it was in October of 1999 that I was lucky enough to have a reunion that many adopted children only daydream about. After months of anticipatory email, we met face to face in the San Diego airport, only two years before routinely meeting people at the gate would become a thing of the past. My stomach felt positively carbonated as she emerged from the runway. I watched her looking around for just a moment, searching, and then our eyes met and the moment truly arrived. The mother and child reunion really was only a motion away.

Since that first whirlwind San Diego weekend, we have had one adventure after another, slowly integrating each other into our lives, getting to know each other through out Hotmail accounts, introducing one another to our friends and families, traveling together, sharing holidays, and yes, cooking and eating and cooking some more, making up for at least a little of our lost time. Discovering that we had this passion in common was a revelation; in fact, we inspired each other to delve more deeply into culinary creativity than we ever had individually.  Our collaborations eventually moved on to cookbooks, CIA Boot Camp, and finally this very blog – yet I still look forward to the visits where we whip up a feast for our loved ones, just for the sheer joy of it.

When I made that emailed Blue Ribbon Cheesecake for the first time, I felt as though I was tapping into a tangible part of my own ancestral history, but even beyond that, it was like being able to have a hazy glimpse into an alternate universe where my mom (not my birthmom, but simply my mom) taught me to make it herself, in our kitchen, me licking the beaters, all the clichés that go with halcyon kitchen memories. What would that have been like? But despite occasionally wondering about that universe, I’m deeply grateful to have what we have now.

In honor of the recipe that started it all, I made a “daughter” version of her “mother” recipe, using raw ingredients to make an adaptation that lines up with the way I eat most of the time now, having undergone some valuable dietary changes over the last decade. I already love experimenting with raw/vegan/paleo desserts, but if you’ve never given them a shot, they’re well worth it and, as you can see, really quite simple.

Happy Reunion Anniversary to my first mom. May we spend many, MANY more hours in the kitchen together!

Love and eternal gratitude,


Read More »

Sunbutter Surprise Cookies for Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

  Delectable Grain Free, Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies – with a surprise inside. 

Sunbutter Surprise Chocolate Chip Cookies

To be filed under “Like You Need An Excuse: May 15th is Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. I thought I’d share my favorite heath-packed (AND delicious) chocolate chip cookies. Look at that lovely plate above. Just what you think of when “Chocolate Chip Cookies” comes to mind, yes?

And then, just below the surface, lurks THIS:

What? How did this get inside my chocolate chip cookie? And why is it still unsettlingly delicious?!

Do not adjust your monitor. Those cookies really are deep emerald green in the middle. With zero artificial dyes or any other such ingredients.

Here’s the history. …

Read More »

Cranberry Maple Blondie Bars


Cranberry Maple Blondies: Gluten, dairy, and even grain-free.


I have a current reigning all-time-favorite brownie recipe, and that’s this piece of brilliance by Elana’s Pantry. I must have made them at least 5 or 6 times now, always with great results. The last time I made them, though, Trader Joe’s happened to be out of their roasted almond butter.* I decided to chance it and use the raw almond butter instead. Totally still successful – but the difference in color was noticable, even with the added cocoa.

So, it struck me that using the raw almond butter would make for great blondies, using the same method as the other brownies but changing up the flavors a bit. And lo, a fun new fall dessert was born. …

Read More »

Hazelnut Cappuccino Pinwheel Cookies – Grain and Dairy-Free

Hazelnut Cappucino Pinwheels

Hazelnut Cappuccino Pinwheel Christmas Cookies

Sometimes you’re just thrilled with an experiment that pays off, and this is one of those times –  even more so than when I first managed a gluten-free version of this a few years ago. This time the hazelnut espresso shortbread is rolled up with a cinnamon sugar cookie. The resulting flavor is a delectably nutty swirl of cappuccino.

The original heavenly shortbread, originally discovered on Epicurious, had been a regular in my holiday lineup for years until I gave up the gluten in 2008, and I can’t say how stoked I am with this version, rendered not only gluten-free but also free of grains, dairy, and even refined sugar. …

Read More »