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Gluten Free Vegan Desserts

April 18th, 2015

Mmmm, another vegan Polish Easter. Always a treat. :)

This Easter, as is often the case when bringing food to a potluck or shared meal, I was tasked with making the desserts. No problem there! I enjoy baking, and it’s nice to not be the only one partaking of a fresh pan of cookies, etc., LOL.

Special attention was to be paid to the following criteria: gluten and soy free, and no GMOs please. A fun little challenge. Soon I had a gazillion tabs open in my browser checking out recipes and thinking which I could combine or modify. Here’s what I ended up making:

Buckwheat Banana Bread

Buckwheat Banana Bread

Vegan Banana Bread

This was a moist and flavorful bread with a nice texture balance from the walnuts. The buckwheat flour was not at all overpowering, leaving the starring role to the bananas. The adults quite enjoyed it, but unfortunately, the little one isn’t a fan of bananas.

The recipe can be found at The Next Course. I used 4 large ripe bananas, dramatically cut back on the baking powder and soda to reduce the sodium, and replaced the coconut oil with applesauce (who needs all that saturated fat?).

Raw Carrot Cake

Raw Carrot Cake with Cashew Frosting

Raw Vegan Carrot Cake

This “cake” made only from dates, walnuts, almonds, carrots, and spices with a date/cashew/vanilla frosting was a huge hit. My friends’ 7-yo daughter asked for seconds and thirds. :)

The recipe can be found at Trinity’s Kitchen. Here again, I skipped the coconut oil. I also doubled the recipe and added a bit more carrot to make a 9×9″ cake. Lastly, my blender wasn’t quite up to the task with the frosting, so I used some cashew milk to help it along.

Nutrition and Supplementation for Vegetarians

March 8th, 2015

During the first half of 2009, the Vegan Done Light newsletter ran what turned out to be its most controversial series, a hard-hitting, no-holds-barred, analysis of the research on vegetarian nutrition and supplements.

I’d asked Michael Rae, once a vitamin industry insider, a long-time vegetarian (then, perhaps still?), and now VP of Research for the Calorie Restriction Society, whether he’d be willing to guest author an article for VDL.

As an avid life extensionist, he’d been dishing out such information in drips and drabs for years through his writings at his previous employ and via the CR Society’s mail groups, so he was a natural and logical choice. My challenge to him was to put it all down in one place. He agreed to take up the gauntlet and proposed a three-part split.

I don’t think either of us expected it to wind up being so time-consuming and comprehensive. In the end, with a missed deadline and an extra segment thrown in for good measure, a full five months of dedication had gone into it!

To be fair about the “controversy,” those issues received just as many — actually, MORE — complimentary email responses than angry ones. The thing is Michael brought no biases to the table nor axes to grind, so he spoke objectively and candidly to the findings, and that apparently didn’t sit well with everyone.

He covered topics such as…

  • How to analyse your diet for imbalances
  • The best food sources of Iron, Calcium, B12, and many more
  • The one nutrient he asserts you must take in supplement form
  • The full story on Omega- fatty acids
  • A slew of “conditionally essential” nutrients

All fully referenced for your further study and debate fodder. It really was a great series of which we were both very proud, he for writing it and me for publishing it exclusively in the newsletter. Good news…

He recently contacted me to ask if he could reprint it, and I happily obliged. You can now read that classic from the Vegan Done Light archives for free on the Calorie Restriction Society forums (no registration required):

Nutrition and Supplementation for Veg(etari)ans

For more from Michael Rae, check out his book Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthrough That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime, co-authored with Aubrey De Grey, Ph.D., shortly before the above.

Note: If you use the book link above, I get a small cut of the sale (at no extra cost to you). Thank you.

Mixed Berry Cobbler

January 16th, 2015

The following is a quick and easy, low-fat dessert from Off The Reservation by Glen Merzer, a novel with 20 vegan recipes by the author’s wife Joanna Samorow-Merzer, reprinted with permission.

I was sent a review copy, but have not had a chance to read it yet (sorry about that). On the other hand, there’s always time for a new recipe! :)

Recipe: Mixed Berry Cobbler


  • ½ C all-purpose flour (or for gluten-free version, rice flour)
  • 1 Tb arrowroot starch/flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ C almond milk (or soy milk)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tb maple syrup
  • 1 tsp zest of fresh lemon
  • 1½ C mixed berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries: frozen/thawed, or fresh)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar


  1. To create the batter: combine all-purpose flour, arrowroot starch, baking powder, and sea salt, and mix well in a bowl.
  2. In a measuring cup, mix and stir the almond milk, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and lemon zest.
  3. In the bowl with the dried ingredients, create a well in the middle.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture into the well.
  5. Stir gently until the consistency is smooth.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Put 1¼ C of the berries in a small baking dish.
  8. Spoon the batter over the berries.
  9. Scatter the remaining ¼ C of berres on top of the batter, and sprinkle with coconut sugar.

  10. Bake uncovered until lightly browned — about 40 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven and to retain moisture cover with a cotton cloth for at least 15 minutes before serving.
  12. Serve if desired with a scoop of non-dairy vanilla ice cream.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 40 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4


The result was a light and sweet treat that CRON-o-Meter calculated at 300 calories per ¼ recipe serving.

Note: If you use the book link above, I get a small cut of the sale (at no extra cost to you). Thank you.

Best Vegan Source of Vitamin B12

December 31st, 2014

In a review article published May 2014 as part of a special issue of the journal Nutrients entitled “Vegan diets and Human health”, authors Fumio Watanabe, Yukinori Yabuta, Tomohiro Bito and Fei Teng examined Vitamin B12-containing plant food sources for vegetarians.

Through a comparison of plant-based foods, they sought to determine the best source of naturally occurring vitamin B12. Included in the review were various kinds of beans, leafy greens, other vegetables, mushrooms, and algae. They also discuss milk and egg yolks, finding the former to be very low in B12 and the latter to offer poor bioavailability of the vitamin.

After considering factors such as the concentration, consistency, and type(s) of B12 compounds, gastrointestinal absorption, and the presence of pseudovitamin B12 (as in spirulina), they declared a clear winner:

A survey of naturally occurring and high Vitamin B12-containing plant-derived food sources showed that nori, which is formed into a sheet and dried, is the most suitable Vitamin B12 source for vegetarians presently available. Consumption of approximately 4 g of dried purple laver (Vitamin B12 content: 77.6 µg /100 g dry weight) supplies the RDA of 2.4 µg/day.

Watanabe F, Yabuta Y, Bito T, Teng F. Vitamin B12-Containing Plant Food Sources for Vegetarians. Nutrients. 2014; 6(5):1861-1873.

In addition to being a great source of vitamin B12, nori contains iron and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

The authors concluded the impressive results for shiitake mushrooms in the iron department and for vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), which they write are “also nutrients that vegetarian diets tend to lack.”

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