Vegan Dessert: Quinoa Cocoa Bites

Vegan Dessert: Quinoa Cocoa Bites

Vegan Dessert: Quinoa Cocoa Bites: aka Monkey Balls

I ran into a friend in the bulk food section of the grocery store and she mentioned she was looking for something to add to her kid-friendly dessert bites. She told me about her “super-easy” Quinoa Cocoa Bites that her kids adore. She graciously e-mailed me her recipe and we made them the next day.

The Gluten-Free Quinoa Cocoa Bites are a great kid-friendly vegan dessert. The kids loved both the process and the result, which they named “Monkey Balls”. It was a hit! The recipe can easily be modified to be nut-free (using Sunbutter sunflower seed butter) and using quinoa makes them deliciously gluten-free. Get creative. You can include just about anything that sounds tasty. Have fun and enjoy!

Ingredients for Vegan Dessert Bites: “Monkey Balls”    

4 ripe bananas, mashed 4T nut butter: peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower seed butter 2T black-strap molasses or honey (optional) 1T vanilla 2t cinnamon 4T shredded unsweetened coconut 2T ground flax seed 4-6 t cocoa powder or carob powder (optional) 1/2 c cacao nibs (optional) 1 cup cooked pumpkin (optional) 3 cups whole grain: dry Old fashioned oats or cooked Quinoa 1/2 c nuts: chopped almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, hazelnuts 1/2 c seeds: sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, sesame, chia seeds 1-2c dried fruit: raisins, chopped figs, dates, dried apricots, or Gogi berries

Mash bananas (potato masher), stir in nut butter, molasses, vanilla, cinnamon, coconut, flax, cocoa or carob powder, cacao nibs, pumpkin, oats or quinoa, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. Use ice cream scooper to scoop mixture into muffin tins. Place muffin tins in freezer until frozen. Remove “Monkey Balls” from muffin tins and store in freezer bags. Can be eaten frozen or slightly thawed. Enjoy the Quinoa Cocoa Bites!

A special “thank you” to Heather Bauer, wife of Lutheran Hospital CEO Brian Bauer and mother of two busy boys for her inspirational recipe!

Vegan Bananas Foster

Vegan Bananas Foster

Vegan Bananas Foster

Waking Up Vegan in a high end steakhouse is not as difficult as it sounds. Of all the restaurants that I frequent, it’s the steakhouses that knock the vegan modifications out of the park. They employ talented and experienced chefs, keep lots of veggies on hand, and make sauces from scratch. Waitstaff are often educated and motivated to create a fabulous dining experience for even the most difficult dietary restrictions. (I always win the award there…I introduce myself with “Here’s the deal…I’m TOTALLY flexible, and open to whatever the chef can make me…as long as it’s vegan, gluten free and organic.” …Only a talented server can listen to that without flinching…)

Desserts are part of the deal when dining for business, and everyone who “never eats this way” bellies up to the bar for the last round. There is safety in numbers, I suppose. It’s just plain polite to order dessert when someone else does. Friends don’t let friends eat cheesecake alone.

I was introduced to Bananas Foster, recently, and while I didn’t want any after a 6 course meal, I was challenged to create a vegan version that could rival the original. After googling several recipes, I knew only one thing.

Challenge accepted. I got this…

The rum sauce for the vegan bananas foster required no modification. A quick trip to the liquor store and I was set with my standard pantry stock.

The ice cream solution is so simple that I hesitate to share the secret. Of course, the grocery store offers many dairy free delights that would be acceptable. But I prefer unprocessed foods when possible. And once you’ve experienced what a Vitamix can do with a frozen banana, you’ll never need to drag that ice cream maker out of storage again.

It literally took me less than 10 minutes to make vegan bananas foster. And I still have my eyebrows despite adding extra rum to get the fire bigger. Thanks for the idea, Eddie Merlots…Cheers!

Vegan Bananas Foster Rum Sauce:
1/4 cup butter (have you tried my homemade vegan butter? Done in 5 minutes! OMG it’s good!)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp clove
1/4 cup banana liqueur
1/4 cup dark rum
4-5 frozen bananas
4 regular bananas

Combine the butter, sugar and spices in a skillet. I prefer cooking with cast iron skillets because it adds a significant amount iron to my food. Place the pan on low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.

Stir in the banana liqueur and place the bananas in the pan. When the banana sections soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum. Let it come to a sizzle, and use a grill lighter to ignite the sauce. I do think restaurants like a wall of fire for effect, but mine was boring and controlled, despite trying to make it bigger with extra alcohol.

Vegan Bananas Foster

When the flame subsides, serve over ice cream and drizzle extra sauce for a sinfully healthy dessert!

Vegan Ice Cream:
frozen bananas

This does require a high powered blender. I have burned up 2 food processors and a blender (true story) in attempts to avoid the Vitamix price tag. Ironically, the cost of those now-deceased appliances tallied more than the Vitamix. Lesson learned. If you decide to purchase one, please click through the link on my home page. A small referral bonus will help keep Waking Up Vegan free for you!

Vegan Bananas Foster

Sinfully healthy, simple and sweet, better than Brennan’s, Bon Appetite!

Chocolate Pumpkin Cups

Chocolate Pumpkin Cups

Chocolate Pumpkin Cups

If you are looking for an easy crowd-pleasing dessert, this will do the trick. Memories of Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups flow sweeter than the reality; high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, and a ridiculous amount of sugar are nothing to smile about.

These don’t qualify as health food, by any means, but they are certainly sweet treats that you can feel good about serving. And by “sweet treats”, I mean they are DECADENTLY DELICIOUS.

Ingredients for chocolate pumpkin cups:
1 bag vegan chocolate chips
1 can pumpkin (or use your own pumpkin puree)
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1/4 tsp each of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and clove)
1 tbsp brown sugar (optional)

Melt the chocolate chips in a heat resistant mixing cup. Boil the water until the chocolate is creamy and pourable.

Pour about 1 tbsp into mini muffin tins. Other molds are fine, and paper baking cups work too! Use a pestle (or your finger) to coat the sides with chocolate. Freeze for 5-8 minutes. Then add a bit more chocolate to thicken the walls. This makes them a bit sturdier in hopes they won’t crack. (But some will, unless you are just that good…)

Mix the remaining ingredients into a smooth paste. Add enough to each mold that it touches the sides (if you leave “air space”, they’ll crack easily…)

Pour a bit more chocolate over the tops, smoothing it to meet the sides, and swirl a pattern if you insist on a perfect presentation. Place in the freezer for about an hour.

Carefully remove from the tins with a thin knife. It’s an art, so go slow. If you do have chunks that separate, you can use a touch of warm water on your finger to reattach, and then freeze separately for a few more minutes. (I didn’t bother…no one cares if there is a crack as they pop them into their mouths…)

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pudding

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pudding

Print Recipe
Gluten Free Vegan Pumpkin Pudding
Colleen Kachmann is a certified integrative nutrition health coach and author of Life Off the Label: A Handbook for Creating Your Own Brand of Health and Happiness. See more at
  1. Place chia seeds and ground flax seed in small bowl with coconut almond milk and allow to set for about 5 minutes. Process dates in food processor or high-speed blender, then add pumpkin puree, vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and molasses. Add chia, flax, coconut-almond milk mixture and process until smooth, pudding like consistency is reached. Serve topped with cacao nibs or whipped coconut cream if desired.
Gluten Free Pumpkin Pudding

Pumpkin is not only tasty, but also loaded with vitamin A and fiber and that is so good for you. This Gluten Free Vegan Pumpkin Pudding is not only delicious, but nutritious. It is filled with nutrient-dense ingredients to satisfy your body and your taste buds!  Enjoy!


Gluten Free Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Gluten Free Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Gluten Free Vegan Pumpkin Pie with Coconut Cream Whipped Topping

My kids and I had a blast playing with pumpkins this harvest season!

The fun started on Halloween Eve, when we chopped the beauties open, slathered a bit of the pumpkin flesh on our faces for a delightful pumpkin facial, saved the seeds for roasted pumpkin seeds, (rinsed them in hot water in a collander and left them out to dry), and carved some fun Jack-o-lanterns for Halloween.

Carving pumpkins

A day or two after Halloween, the kids gave Mom permission to cook their Jack-o-lanterns, with a promise of some tasty pumpkin pie for the trade.  We cooked the Jacks and turned them into loads of pumpkin puree.

Cooking pumpkins

To top off the fun, we made some delicious pumpkin pies for dessert, which we enjoyed with some yummy Coconut Cream Whipped Topping.

Pumpkin is not only tasty, but also loaded with vitamin A and fiber and that is so good for you.

So, have some fun and enjoy this tasty recipe of the season!

How to Make a Delicious Vegan Pumpkin Pie:

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 c almonds
  • 1 c walnuts
  • 1 c pecans
  • 10 medjool dates
  • ¼ c molasses
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 2 t cinnamon

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Filling Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup silken soft tofu
  • 16 oz pumpkin puree
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • ¾ ginger
  • ½ nutmeg
  • ¼ t cloves
  • 1 t allspice
  • 1/3 light flavored olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • Egg replacer to replace 2 eggs (I used flax seed and water mixture, which I allowed to set)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • ½ c brown sugar
  • ½ c blackstrap molasses

1) Vegan Pie Crust:

Vegan pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make crust: place almonds, walnuts, and pecans in a food processor and grate until they become flour-like consistency.  Add all remaining ingredients for the crust and mix again.  Press dough into a pie dish.

2) Vegan Pumpkin Pie Filling:

Vegan pumpkin pie

To make pie filling: Combine all pumpkin pie filling ingredients (above) in food processor or blender and process until smooth.  Pour mixture into pie crust.

3) Bake: Bake in 350 degree oven for approximately one hour, checking for doneness.  For best results, chill before serving. Top with Coconut Cream Whipped Topping. Enjoy!

Vegan pumpkin pie

To make

Coconut Cream Whipped Topping

Whipped Cream

Coconut Cream topping:

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk, chilled in can overnight
  • 2 T powdered confectioners sugar
  • 1 t cinnamon1 t organic vanilla powder

Open chilled can of coconut milk without shaking it or turning it upside down.  Use a spoon to carefully remove the top layer of opaque white substance that gathered at the top of the can.  Add cinnamon and vanilla powder to the thick, coconut substance and whip with hand mixer until creamy (starting on low and progressing to a higher speed).  Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Tradition Pecan Gets a Delicious Makeover! Gluten Free and Vegan No Bake Pie

Tradition Pecan Gets a Delicious Makeover! Gluten Free and Vegan No Bake Pie

Traditional Pecan Gets a Delicious Makeover! Gluten Free and Vegan No Bake Pie

My husband loves pecans, and I love the no bake pie concept. This delicious dessert is fun, easy to make, needs no oven, and is much healthier than the traditional corn syrup and brown sugar filled pie. Enjoy!


2 1/2 c medjool dates, pits removed

1 c grated unsweetened coconut

1 1/2 c walnuts

1 t organic vanilla extract

Pie Filling

1/2 c almonds

1/2 c pecans

1 c organic raisins

1/3 c medjool dates, pits removed

1/3 c organic brown rice syrup

1/3 c black strap molasses

2 T organic vanilla extract

1 t cinnamon

1/3 c water or unsweetened almond milk

1/4 c Enjoy Life vegan chocolate chips and/or pecans, optional garnish

Sprinkle a bit of coconut into bottom of pie plate to prevent crust from sticking. Add pitted dates, remaining coconut, walnuts, and vanilla to food processor and mix until blended. Press into pie plate using waxed paper to prevent sticking. Combine all pie filling ingredients in food processor and mix until creamy. Add water or unsweetened almond milk to reach desired consistency. Fill pie crust with pie filling. Garnish with pecans or chocolate chips, if desired. Enjoy!