Mini Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Do you remember “Soft Batch” chocolate chip cookies from back in the day? My Mom always had cookies on hand for dessert. I absolutely loved when she started buying the soft batch chocolate chip cookies.  The texture was the perfect balance between a cookie and raw dough. I recently saw a recipe on Pintrest for Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies. I decided to make a vegan version, because they looked so much like my beloved “Soft Batch” cookies. The recipe was very easy to veganize and the resulting vegan mini chocolate chip cookies are fantastic.

Mini Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies 1

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Penne with Creamy Vegan Vodka Sauce

What do you do when your 8 year-old son’s favorite meal title includes the word vodka?  You rename the dish. That is how Orange Sauce Pasta was born.  Don’t worry for my son, or any children you might cook this for. The vodka and tomatoes roast in the oven for 90 minutes, burning off all of the alcohol.  However, I didn’t want Trey running to school and saying his favorite dish was Vegan Vodka Sauce Pasta so we changed the name to the more child-friendly Orange Sauce Pasta.  This dish is not only Trey’s favorite dish, but a huge hit with ALL of the vegans and omnivores I have made it for. The sauce is richly flavored and the addition of cashew cream gives it a luscious texture. If you have any omnivores coming over for dinner who are a bit suspicious of vegan food this is what you make them. It has familiar ingredients and outstanding flavor.

Vegan Vodka Sauce

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Vegan Chex Mix Methodology

One of my favorite things about high school was the access to vending machines.  My mom fed us healthy food at home and packed our lunch every day.  When I arrived at high school and realized I had access to vending machines anytime I was hungry I was in heaven. I loved to buy a Diet Coke and Chex Mix for my morning snack. In retrospect I can’t imagine why I was so damn tired by lunch, but hey I didn’t know any better. Now that I do know better I like to recreate healthier versions of my old favorites.  I came up with a basic Vegan Chex Mix recipe that I like to use with whatever cereal, snacks or nuts I have on hand.

Vegan Chex Mix Bowl

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Hot Mess Vegan Ice Cream Pie

My sister, Hanna, and I have very different personalities.  As kids we fought constantly and generally drove each other crazy until I went to college. Much to my Mom’s chagrin once we no longer lived under the same roof we had a ton to say to each other. Suddenly we were racking up huge long distance phone bills.  Two people with such different personalities don’t make great roommates, but fortunately we are great sisters. Now that we are older we can laugh about our personality differences and all of our childhood arguments…including when Hanna dumped orange juice on my head…I deserved it!  At Christmas this year Hanna and I decided to collaborate and make dinner for our family the night after Christmas.  The dinner turned out well, but the dessert was a vegan ice cream pie that could only be described as a hot mess.

Vegan Ice Cream Pie 4 (1)

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Mini Vegan Pancakes perfect for sleepovers

What about parties and sleepovers?  How and what to serve non-vegan children that come into your vegan house can be a concern.  No one wants to be the parent where kids don’t want to come over because of the “weird” food. Vegan and plant-based food can seem very strange for children who aren’t accustomed to it.  My solution is to serve kids foods they are already familiar with.  That includes things like muffins, fruit, veggies & hummus, rice & beans, or PB&J.  None of those foods seem unusual and kids typically eat them with gusto. Last summer I saw a recipe from The Pioneer Woman for Mini Pancakes.  She cooked pancake batter in a mini muffin pan.  These mini muffins looked perfect for a breakfast post sleepover.  I decided to come up with a mini vegan pancake version.

Vegan Pancakes Labeled

My go to pancake recipe didn’t work all that well in the mini muffin pan.  I felt like it needed more of that “fluffy” texture that pancakes made with eggs have.  I veganized the Pioneer Woman’s pancake recipe and it was a success. Trey and his friend inhaled quite a few of these mini vegan pancakes after a sleepover.  They loved dipping them in little bowls of syrup.  I felt extra victorious since his friend is a picky eater.  With the mini pancakes and fruit I knew he had a decent breakfast to start his day.

Vegan Pancakes Pre Bake

When making this recipe be sure to let the batter sit for 10 minutes before scooping it into the muffin tins. That 10 minutes allows the ground chia to go to work.  The ground chia gives the pancakes a nice fluffy texture.  If you don’t want to see any specs of chia in your muffins use White Chia seeds.  You will see the chia seed specs in the batter, but not in the final product.

Vegan Pancakes Close

Feel free to add blueberries or chocolate chips to some of your mini vegan pancakes.  Trey prefers the plain version, but we have tried them with both blueberries and chocolate chips successfully.  You can also offer vegan whipped cream for dipping if you are looking for an even more decadent breakfast.  These keep well in the refrigerator for several days.  I warm them up in the toaster oven and then serve them to Trey with his breakfast smoothie during the week.

What is your favorite food to serve sleepover guests?

Mini Vegan Pancakes
Miniature vegan pancakes that are perfect for dipping into syrup or vegan whipped cream. A great breakfast for little hands to enjoy after a sleepover.
Recipe type: Breakfast
  • 1.5 cups Flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • 1.5 cups Unsweetened Almond or Coconut Milk
  • 2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Chia Seed
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tablespoons Earth Balance or Non-Dairy Butter of choice, Melted
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray or grease a mini muffin pan with a neutral oil (such as canola oil) and set aside.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Set bowl aside.
  3. Stir together the almond or coconut milk and vinegar and let it sit for 1 minute. Whisk in chia, vanilla and melted Earth Balance.
  4. Combine dry ingredients and wet ingredients. Whisk until smooth batter forms. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Fill the mini muffin tins ⅔ full with batter.
  6. Bake for 11 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Let pancakes sit in the pan for 1 to 2 minutes, then turn them out of the pan. Use a knife around the edges to remove any muffins that are stuck in the pan.
  7. Serve with maple syrup and or vegan whipped cream for dipping.

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Plant-Powered Families Giveaway & Review

**Giveaway has ended.  Congratulations to Susan on her copy of Plant-Powered Families!**

As I have mentioned Dreena Burton is one of my all time favorite vegan cookbook authors.  Her Vive Le Vegan cookbook was one of the first vegan cookbook’s I purchased that seemed written just for me.  Her cookbooks always include a variety of breakfasts, snacks, main dishes and desserts.  She uses healthy ingredients, but doesn’t sacrifice flavor.  Last week Dreena’s latest book, Plant-Powered Families, was released.   I received my copy from Amazon a few weeks ago and have had a great time cooking through the book.  I love the book so much I would like to offer a copy to one of my readers.  The contest details are below.

Plant-Powered Families (1)

The first thing to know about Plant-Powered Families is that it is much more than a collection of recipes. This is really a resource book for people looking for more information on raising vegan or plant-based children.  You don’t have to be a committed vegan or vegetarian.  Dreena provides excellent general advice on getting your kids to eat healthier foods, especially at lunch.  Her lunch box ideas are fantastic if you are looking to add variety to your children’s lunch.

Dreena provides sections that address some of the challenges vegan families may face.  She discusses how to feed picky eaters and how to plan and attend parties as a vegan.  The party section in particular is very helpful.  Her idea of serving pizza and hot dogs for parties really resonates with me.  Children’s parties are not the best time to try out your new kale and quinoa saute!  Keep it simple and serve vegan hot dogs or pizza…food that the kids will understand.  Your goal with a child’s party is to celebrate your child, not convert kids to healthy living in 2 hours or less.


As always Dreena’s recipes do not disappoint.  Recipes are broken down into several, easy to reference sections: Breakfasts, Lunches, Salad Dressings & Sauces, Dinnertime and Desserts.  Each of these sections is further broken down into categories.  For instance the Dinner section breaks recipes into: Soups & Stews, Pizza & Pasta, Burgers n’ Fries, and Casseroles & One Dish Wonders.

Plant-Powered Families French Toast

The first thing I made was the Cinnamon French Toast.  The french toast was completely delicious and very easy to make.  From start to finish we were eating within 15 minutes.  My kind of weekend breakfast! Fun and fast.

Plant-Powered Families Baked Tofu

I also made the Simplest Marinated Baked Tofu.  This recipe is a winner for both ease and versatility.  With just a few ingredients you can bake a batch of tasty tofu to use all week.  My son loved it in his sandwiches and I loved it on salad.  This is a recipe I’ll plan to have on hand most weeks.

Plant-Powered Families Teriyaki

The Ultimate Teriyaki Stir-Fry was a big hit after a cold baseball practice one night.  It was easy to throw everything together and the sauce had a ton of flavor.  Next time I will be adding chili flakes to the sauce, as we like spicy food.  If only a few of your family members like spice you could definitely add chili flakes or sriracha on top, as we did last week.

Plant-Powered Families CC Bars

My favorite Dreena recipe is her chocolate chip cookie recipe.  While this is not in her new book I am compelled to share it, as it is my absolute go to.  I have made it a hundred different ways at this point.  Last week I used half brown sugar and half white sugar in the batter.  I added 1/2 cup of crushed pretzels and then poured the batter into an 8×8 greased pan.  The bars baked for 15 minutes and were totally delicious.


**Giveaway has ended.  Congratulations to Susan on her copy of Plant-Powered Families!**

Since I love Dreena Burton and have found her recipes and ideas so inspiring I want to share her newest creation with you.   I will be giving out one copy of Plant-Powered Families to a reader in the US (sorry international folks).  Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below.  You have 3 ways to participate: like Vegan Gretchen on Facebook, follow @vegangretchen on Twitter, and/or leave a comment below sharing your favorite author’s name.  The giveaway runs until 12:00 AM on May 26.  Thanks for participating!

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*This is NOT a sponsored post.  Vegan Gretchen will be giving away one copy of Plant-Powered Families independent of the publisher*

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Can I shop vegan at Safeway?

People always ask me if they have to shop at Whole Foods if they want to be vegan.  Since I shop at Whole Foods I really had no idea.  10 years ago you definitely couldn’t find many vegan specific products (meat alternatives, cheese, non-dairy milk etc) at a “regular” grocery store.  I live in the Bay Area and the big supermarket here is Safeway.  Most of my friends shop at Safeway, so I decided to see how much of my typical shopping I could do there.  To say I was shocked would be an understatement.  You most definitely can shop vegan at Safeway!

As with my post on vegan finds at Target I was looking for vegan speciality items.  Safeway has a large selection of produce, pasta, grains, beans, bread and nuts.  Most every grocery store carries those items meaning you can technically shop at almost any grocery store as a vegan.  However, I like to add some fun vegan items into my weekly routine. It turns out Safeway carries many of those items.

Vegan at Safeway Store

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Vegan Chili Cheese Dip

Do you have any recipes that are so easy to make they are almost embarrassing?  This vegan chili cheese dip is mine. People go crazy for this dip.  It is perfect to bring to parties that will be filled with non-vegans or vegan skeptics. No one ever guesses that it is vegan and people inhale it.  The catch is that there are exactly 2 ingredients and it takes 5 minutes to make.  So while everyone raves about this fantastic recipe you will cringe a bit knowing exactly how much effort you put into making this dip.

Vegan Chili Cheese Dip

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Vegan Cuts Beauty Box Review

I absolutely love makeup and beauty products.  Starting in middle school I would spend/waste most of my money on makeup and bath products.  I loved the drugstore stuff and department store finds.  I especially loved the department store makeup when I found out you could return what you didn’t like.  I would try out new makeup for a few days and bring it back if I didn’t like it.  I am pretty picky about colors and I have very sensitive skin so I returned a lot of product!  I’m sure the women at the makeup counter loved giving free makeovers to a 14 year-old who bought one product…and then returned it a week later.

Nowadays I focus on makeup and beauty products that are cruelty free.  Fortunately that market is expanding rapidly.  10 years ago the options were few and far between.  Now there are many cruelty-free choices in a wide range of prices.  My favorite brands are Pacifica and Tarte.

Vegan Cuts Beauty April

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Lime Coconut Cake – Dessert or Snack?

My husband, Harrison, does not consider something dessert unless it has chocolate.  He enjoys cakes, cookies and pies that don’t have chocolate.  But he will NEVER consider them dessert.  They are more of a sweet snack.  He needs chocolate at the end of his meal.  I made a Lime Coconut Cake on Cinco de Mayo that both he and Trey really enjoyed.  Trey thought it was a great dessert, and Harrison thought it was a nice evening snack.

Lime Coconut Cake Whole

This Lime Coconut Cake is a great dessert if you can live without chocolate for one evening.  It is light, tender and has the ideal combination of sweet and tart from the lime and sugar.  We love to eat spicy food in our house and finding the right dessert after a heavy, spicy meal can be a challenge.  This cake is a perfect end to any heavier, spicier meal.

Lime Coconut Cake Mixing

The recipe is designed to make a small cake in a small bundt pan.  It is perfect for our family of 3, so that we don’t end up with leftover cake for a week.  Here is the bundt pan I used.  If you have a larger pan or want to make a larger cake just double the recipe.  Your cooking time will be longer depending on your pan.  I would add an additional 10 minutes of cooking time for a doubled recipe and then check on the cake.  You want to insert a knife or toothpick into the cake and have it come out clean.

Lime Coconut Cake Cooling (

The icing is my favorite part of the cake.  It is very tangy from the lime juice and lime zest.  You can sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar if you want to skip the icing, but try it with the icing at least once.  When you make the icing it may seem like it is not coming together and needs more liquid.  Be patient.  Mix it up completely before adding additional liquid.  It is important not to make the icing too runny.  You want it pourable, but fairly thick.

Lime Coconut Cake

Try this Lime Coconut Cake the next time you want a refreshing, sweet dessert.  Just make sure to have some chocolate on the side!

Lime Coconut Cake
A light and tender cake with the perfect combination of sweet and tart from the lime and sugar. A great ending to a spicy meal.
Recipe type: Dessert
  • CAKE
  • 1 Cup Unsweetened Almond, Rice or Coconut Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
  • 1¼ Cups Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • ¾ Cup Sugar
  • ¾ Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ¼ Teaspoon Salt
  • ⅓ Cup Canola Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Lime Zest
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ Cup Finely Shredded Coconut
  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
  • 1 Teaspoon Lime Zest
  1. Preheat oven to 375F and lightly grease a small bundt pan (see note). Set aside.
  2. Whisk the milk and lime juice together and let it sit a few minutes until curdled.
  3. Beat together the milk mixture, oil, lime zest, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Mix in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt and coconut. Mix until no large lumps remain.
  4. Pour mixture into the greased bundt pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Cool cake for 15 minutes. Remove cake from the bundt pan and allow cake to cool completely.
  6. Once the cake has cooled completely make the icing. Combine all icing ingredients in a small measuring cup or bowl. Stir until all ingredients are well combined. It will form a thick, but pourable icing. Add more lime juice if icing is too thick. Pour over the cake and allow it to run down the sides of the cake. Icing will harden within 20-30 minutes.
This recipe is designed to make a small bundt cake. For a larger cake or a larger pan double the recipe. Extend the cooking time by 10 minutes and then check on the cakes doneness by inserting a toothpick in the cake. The toothpick should come out clean.

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