a balanced plate with room for dessert

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Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Hello there, muffins! These little lemony bites are a good reminder that spring is right around the corner. It’s just hiding under piles and piles of snow. Piles that keep getting bigger and bigger… but eventually the snow will melt. Until then, keep dreaming of sunshine and happiness and cram your face full of these delicious lemon poppy seed muffins.

Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins |

They’re whole wheat, but they’re not heavy. And the little sub of applesauce makes them just a teeeensy bit healthier. These are great to share, but they’re also great to keep for yourself. I made a double batch and shared a little and froze the rest. I now have a stash of these bad boys sitting next to my dairy-free cinnamon rolls.

Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins |

Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
makes 12 muffins

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plain soy milk
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil, slightly cooled
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
3 lemons, zested
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place liners into a muffin tin and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, poppy seeds, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add in soy milk, lemon juice, canola oil, coconut oil, applesauce, zest, and vanilla extract. Mix until ingredients are just moistened, being careful not to over-mix.
  3. Fill prepared muffin tin three-quarters full. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until muffins are lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


recipe slightly adapted from Prevention RD, originally from Vegan Brunch


Ooey Gooey Dairy-Free Cinnamon Rolls

I wish I could sleep in a bed of these cinnamon rolls – warm, fluffy, gooey deliciousness. I swoon a little every time I walk past a bakery and smell cinnamon rolls baking away. And then I cry a little because I can’t eat the dairy-laden treats.

Oeey Gooey Dairy-Free CInnamon Rolls |

So here’s my solution to my cinnamon roll problem. This isn’t a quick recipe, but the recipe is simple and the results are so worth it. I need to make a mental note to always make a double batch of these bad boys because they freeze beautifully. I let them cool and then individually wrap them in plastic wrap and store them in freezer bags. Then when I’m craving some cinnamony goodness for breakfast (or for a snack), I just pull one out and microwave it for a minute and ::bam!!:: (Almost) freshly baked cinnamon rolls.

Oeey Gooey Dairy-Free CInnamon Rolls |

The icing is probably unnecessary, but it makes the cinnamon roll real pretty 🙂

Ooey Gooey Dairy-Free Cinnamon Rolls
makes 1 dozen

for the dough:
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110°F)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg

for the filling:
2 1/2 tablespoons vegan margarine, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

for the icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

to make the dough:

  1. Heat milk in a small saucepan over low heat. Add in margarine and vanilla and stir until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, combine yeast with warm water in a small bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes or until mixture is foamy.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or in a large mixing bowl, combine 2 1/4 cups of the flour, sugar, and salt.
  4. Whisk egg into the milk mixture until well combined. Pour milk and yeast mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until dough forms a sticky ball. Add in remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time, kneading well after each addition, until dough turns smooth and soft but still slightly sticky. The amount of flour you use will vary, but I usually use about 3 1/4 cups.
  5. Lightly oil a large bowl. Form dough into a ball and place in bowl, turning to coat in oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

to assemble the cinnamon rolls:

  1. Lightly grease a large baking pan. A 9×13-inch pan works well, or a large pie or cake pan.
  2. Punch dough down and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Roll dough out into a 20×13-inch rectangle. Spread melted margarine evenly over the dough.
  4. Whisk together brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture onto dough, making sure to get it all the way to the edges.
  5. With the long end facing you, roll dough up evenly. Gently pinch the edge to seal. With the seam-side down, cut the dough in half. Cut each half into 6 equal pieces for a total of 12 cinnamon rolls.
  6. Place rolls cut-side down in prepared baking dish, making sure to leave a little space between the rolls to allow them room to expand. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove plastic wrap and bake cinnamon rolls for 25 – 30 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  8. Allow cinnamon rolls to cool slightly in the pan to soak up the cinnamon sugar before icing them.
  9. Whisk together powdered sugar, almond milk, and vanilla extract until smooth. Drizzle over slightly cooled cinnamon rolls.


heavily adapted from Food Network


Mini Vegan Apple Cinnamon Doughnut Muffins

These doughnut muffins are adorable. I mean, how can anything this small not be cute? They’re also dangerously addictive. And since they’re so small, it’s really easy to eat a lot of them in a short amount of time. Thank goodness that these are a bit healthier than the traditional fried doughnut!

Mini Vegan Apple Cinnamon Doughnut Muffins |

I think next time I might try stuffing these little bites with some raspberry preserves to recreate one of my guilty pleasures: jelly filled doughnuts.

Mini Vegan Apple Cinnamon Donut Muffins |

Mini Vegan Apple Cinnamon Doughnut Muffins
makes 24 muffins

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

for the cinnamon sugar topping:
2 tablespoons vegan butter substitute (I used Smart Balance)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, allspice, and cinnamon.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together applesauce, oil, sugar, and almond milk until well combined. Pour mixture into dry ingredients and whisk until well combined.
  4. Fill your prepared mini muffin tins 2/3 – 3/4 full with batter. Bake for about 18 – 20 minutes, or until a light golden color.
  5. During the last couple minutes of baking, melt your butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Combine your sugar and cinnamon in a separate small bowl.
  6. Once the muffins are done, dip the top of the muffin in the melted butter and then roll in the cinnamon sugar. Place on a wire rack and repeat with remaining muffins.

Tip: I used a toothpick to pick up the muffin, dunk it in the butter, and then roll it in the sugar. It saved my hands from getting burned and it was a little neater than using my fingers.

recipe slightly adapted from Milk Free Mom

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Vegan Cranberry Orange Muffins

Vegan Cranberry Orange Muffins |

A cup of coffee is definitely not the best part of waking up. At least not for me. These muffins, though? These muffins are worth waking up for. I am cranberry-obsessed. I seriously cannot get enough of this tangy fruit. I need to make a mental note to stock up on the fresh berries while they’re available so I can hoard them in my freezer and use them throughout the year (and not just during the holidays). If you’re searching for some easy brunch ideas for your holiday gatherings, give these muffins a try!

Vegan Cranberry Orange Muffins |

Vegan Cranberry Orange Muffins
makes 12 muffins

2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons orange zest (from about 4 large oranges)
1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (from about 4 large oranges)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries, roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a muffin tin or line with liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and orange zest. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in orange juice, canola oil, applesauce, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Mix by hand for 5 seconds or until wet and dry ingredients just start to come together. Add in cranberries and walnuts and continue to mix until ingredients are just moistened, being careful not to overmix.
  3. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until muffins are lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  4. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.


recipe slightly adapted from Post Punk Kitchen


Vegan Iced Pumpkin Coffee Cake

Vegan Iced Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping |

I’ve finally given in to pumpkin. Pumpkin treats, that is. I suppose it’s that time of year – leaves are turning, it’s getting colder, days are getting shorter… there’s even a threat of snow around here.

I love all things pumpkin except for pumpkin pie. Pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin cinnamon rolls… you name it, I’ll eat it. This pumpkin cake has won over my heart. It is definitely the pumpkin treat of choice for me. I will eat and eat and eat and eat until it’s gone. Seriously, it’s that good. Pumpkin cake with a streusel topping and some icing – what can be better than that?

I came across this recipe when I was looking around for a brunch dish for a work party. I made the coffee cake and it smelled (and looked) so good that I knew I couldn’t wait until the next day to eat it. So, I made another one. Big mistake. Mike and I ate about a quarter of the cake that night. And then we kept eating it the next day… and the next. And then it was gone. I was heartbroken when it was gone because I was also out of pumpkin. I stocked up on pumpkin this weekend so I can make sure we have a steady supply of this amazingness for a couple weeks 😉

Vegan Iced Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping |

Vegan Iced Pumpkin Coffee Cake
serves 10

for the streusel topping:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup dairy free butter substitute (I use Earth Balance)

for the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup pure pumpkin puree
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup plain almond milk

for the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8×11 or 9×9 baking pan and grease with butter substitute or nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. To make the streusel topping, combine flour, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in butter with a fork, two knives, or a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
  3. To make the cake, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, brown sugar, oil, maple syrup and milk until well combined. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, being careful not to over mix. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and use a spatula to smooth out the top.
  4. Sprinkle prepared streusel topping over the batter and gently press down into the batter. Bake in preheated over for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. When cake is almost done baking, make the glaze. In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and almond milk and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over cake. Serve immediately, or keep at room temperature for up two three days.

recipe slightly adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction


Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins

Lightened Up Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins |

I’m a cookbook junkie. I have shelves and shelves of cookbooks of all different types. I seriously love them. I honestly love just having them – I don’t cook a lot from them. In fact, most of my cookbooks get looked at once, maybe twice a year. As always, there are exceptions. Baked: New Frontiers in Baking is my most recent purchase and I’m obsessed with it. Every single dish I’ve made from it has been amazing. If you don’t own this book, I beg you – BUY IT!

Now, these muffins… so so good. In fact, I made these about 2 months ago for some friends. They were gobbled up before I even got a chance to take a photo for the blog. Thankfully, these muffins are also very easy to make and really tasty so I didn’t mind having to make these again! In fact, I whipped these up before heading to work on Friday. It only took about 20 minutes of prep time and another 20 for baking. I  made a few adjustments so they would be a bit healthier and I loved how they turned out!

Lightened Up Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins |

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins
very slightly adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

3 cups mashed, very ripe bananas (6 – 7 medium – large bananas)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup skim milk
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
3 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2-12 cup muffin pans with liners or grease with nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together bananas, sugar, brown sugar, butter, applesauce,  milk, and eggs.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, instant coffee, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and slowly pour in wet ingredients. Stir until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Fill prepared muffin cups with batter, filling each one 3/4 full.
  5. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing the muffins and placing on a cooling rack to cool completely.

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Chicken Gyros & Homemade Pocketless Pita

chicken gyros |

I love gyros. I love watching the cooks shave off pieces of the tender lamb from the… meat cone or whatever you might call it. This time, I tried making my own at home. I chose to make the pita versus buying it, but if you’re looking to save some time then by all means use a pocketless pita from the grocery store!

pocketless pita |

The entire process took me just under two hours, but the results were so worth it. My schedule was like this: marinate chicken and refrigerate, mix dough for pita and let rise for 30 minutes, make tzatziki while waiting for chicken and dough. Refrigerate finished tzatziki, roll out dough for pita, cook chicken and pita simultaneously. In between flipping pitas, slice tomatoes and onions. Assemble and serve.

Sure, it’s quite a bit of multitasking, but I think I made pretty good use of my time and when I got around to assembling, the chicken was still piping hot and the pitas were perfectly warm. The best part? I had all ingredients on hand already. Yes, I do keep a huge tub of Greek yogurt in my fridge at all times.

chicken gyros |

Chicken Gyros
adapted from Elly Says Opa and Kalofagas

For the chicken:
1.25 pounds chicken breast
4 cloves garlic, smashed
juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
salt and pepper

For the tzatziki:
1 – 17.6 ounce tub of plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 cucumber, seeded
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
juice from half a lemon
salt and pepper, to taste

For the pita:
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cup warm water (110°F)
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
canola oil

For toppings:

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
3 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced

  1. Make a marinade for the chicken by whisking together garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, yogurt, oregano, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken and rub the marinade in. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. 
  2. Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat and lightly coat with olive oil. Brown chicken on both sides and cook until juices run clear, about 4 – 6 minutes per side.  Let rest before slicing into strips.
  3. To make the tzatziki: shred or grate the cucumbers and squeeze excess moisture out. Make sure to get as much liquid out as possible! Mix together yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving to allow flavors to meld.
  4. To make the pitas: in a large bowl, mix together yeast, salt, sugar, olive and water and let stand for 5 minutes or until top is foamy.
  5. Using your hands, gradually add in flour 1/2 cup at a time to the wet ingredients. Knead until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
  6. Divide dough into 6 pieces and roll out on a floured surface into 8-inch rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Lightly poke the surface with the tines of a fork, being careful not to poke through the dough.
  7. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly coat the skillet with oil and place one dough round into the skillet and fry the bread until it starts to puff and bubble, about 1 – 2 minutes. Flip and fry the other side. Repeat with remaining dough.
  8. Assemble gyros by piling a pita with chicken, tzatziki sauce, tomatoes, and onions. Enjoy!