Rouxbe Essential Vegan Desserts – Graduation

I can’t believe it’s been two months since I graduated from the Rouxbe’s Essential Vegan Dessert Course. I just want to send a BIG thank you to all my culinary mentors at Rouxbe for this wonderful experience!

During this course, I learned to make delectable vanilla coconut cakes,  addicting drop biscuits, luxurious chocolate cakes,  graham crackers, rustic fruit desserts and a plethora of “Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts” to quote our fantastic teacher, Fran Costigan  aka Queen of the Vegan Desserts.

In order to graduate, we were asked to prepared five one-bite desserts.  This was my final dessert showcase:

{German}  Black Forest Parfait – Multiple layers of chocolate cake, coconut whipped cream and cherry syrup, topped with a wild Italian Amarena Cherry  preserved in syrup and a drizzle of Kirschwasser. 

{Nicaraguan} Mini Tres Leches Triffle –  Luscious Lemony Cream with vanilla coconut cake, coconut shreds, evaporated coconut milk, condensed coconut milk and aquafaba meringue, topped with a banana chip

{USA} Peanut Butter Mousse in Chocolate Candy Cups – prepared with firm tofu, maple syrup, peanut butter, Dutch-processed cocoa, vanilla and almond extract.

{Thai Inspired} Dragon Fruit and Raspberry Mini Cheesecakes – prepared with pecans, dates, cashews, coconut cream, coconut oil, brown rice syrup, vanilla extract and dragon fruit.

{ Spain – Inspired} Chocolate Cake with Orange Cream – a simple chocolate cake with a soft orange tofu cream topped with a small mandarin and mint

{Spanish Inspired} Mini Chocolate Cake with Orange Cream and Mandarins

Hope you enjoyed it! 
For more information about Rouxbe’s Essential Vegan Dessert Course, check out my previous post here. If you are thinking about joining this course ( who wouldn’t? *:x lovestruck ), drop me a line.  Join me on Facebook and Instagram at @sunshineandkale.






Graduated from Rouxbe Cooking School

Congratulate me, please! On November 13th, I received my Professional Plant-Based Certification from Rouxbe Cooking School! My final grade: 100%.

Rouxbe Graduation

In order to graduate, I had to pass a written exam ( 200 questions in 2 1/2 hours) and a practical. This consisted in holding a shindig party with a minimal of 5 small plant-based plates. This was Rouxbe’s criteria:

“You’ll need to take 5 photos. These photos need to demonstrate each small bite that you decided to prepare (e.g. shooter, canapé, skewer or small handheld recipe that you wanted to share at your party). Each photo must creatively capture Rouxbe’s website or logo in the background. Creativity, presentation and level of effort put into this activity does count here so have fun with it”

My shindig  party theme was Latin Fusion. This is what I ended up serving for a total of 21 guests ( including 15 adults, 5 kids and 1 baby).  

(Raw) Spanish Cucumber & Watermelon Gazpacho  


(Raw) Mexican “Tacos” with Cilantro Aioli


Cuban Papas Rellenas ( Stuffed Potatoes) With Meatless “Picadillo”

Papas Rellenas
Tostones Rellenos (Stuffed Green Plantains) With Jackfruit Carnitas

Tostones Rellenos
(Raw) Mojito Cheesecake With Chocolate Ganache Torte


This was my last assignment for Rouxbe Cooking school! I want to thank my mom,  the best cook I’ve ever known. I miss spending entire weekends with her in the kitchen! I want to thank my husband, Jason DG, for holding the fort at home throughout the course and for  all of the quality control testing ;-p

 I also want to send a BIG thanks to everyone that has inspired me on this wonderful plant-based cooking journey including Chad Sarno, Ken Rubin, Dawn Thomas and all of my Rouxbe classmates!! I am feeling grateful!

I promise to share recipes for all these dishes and more in 2015!

Feeling Grateful!

It’s been over 4 months since I started the Professional Plant-Based Certification at Rouxbe Cooking School and I couldn’t be happier. I am feeling extremely grateful for everything I’ve learned so far and the progress made. 

Yes, I still get the “BUT where do you get your protein from?” question. However, I no longer get asked  “What do you mean 100% plant-based? What do you eat, peas and carrots?”. Instead, I get asked for recipes, cooking advice and suddenly lots of invitation for dinner parties with explicit requests like “can you make your chocolate truffles?”. Hmmm

I promise to share many of these recipes with you soon ( probably after finishing the course in November). In the meantime, I am leaving you with pictures of some of my favorite class assignments. I hope you enjoy it!

Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Nectarines and No-Oil Sweet Balsamic Dressing

Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Nectarines and No-Oil Sweet Balsamic Dressing- SAK.JPG


Risotto Con Asparagi E Tartufo Nero

Risotto Con Asparagi E Tartufo Nero- SAK

BBQ Glazed Seitan Brisket with Cannelli Bean Puree and Balsamic Figs

BBQ Seitan Brisket-WM

Lacinato Kale with Cashew Bechamel Sauce

Lacinato kale with Cashew Bechamel Sauce-SAK

Tofu Ricotta Manacotti

Tofu Ricotta- WM

Vegan Fabada Asturiana with Kale

Vegan Fabada Asturiana with Kale-SAK

Black Bean Brownies

Black Bean Brownies-SAK

Chocolate Cream Pie with Drunken Raspberries

Chocolate Cream Pie-SAK

Thanks Rouxbe staff!

If you want to learn more about this professional plant-based certification course, check Rouxbe Cooking School.  They are the world’s leading online certification course for aspiring plant-based cooks, health care practitioners, wellness, health and food coaches, culinary students and instructors, or for those serious cooks who seek an intensive immersion in culinary skill and knowledge development with plant-based cuisine. 

Matthew Kenney and The Art Of Chocolate

“The greatest tragedies were written by the Greeks and Shakespeare…neither knew chocolate.”  ― Sandra Boynton

Here I am again again, at Matthew Kenney Santa Monica Culinary! 


I recently completed their Weekend Intensive: Knife Skills and Sushi Workshop. While this was an incredible experience, this chocoholic was reeeeally looking forward to her next weekend intensive: The Art Of Raw Chocolate.  



Few Ingredients: Coconut Powder. Oat Flour


Few Tools


Some Oils

Our instructors were beautiful Rachel Harper and Casey Dolezal.  We were four students in the class. Pascal and Sofie who were vacationing from Switzerland (of course, where there is chocolate there must be Swiss people) and Maddie who was also visiting but from Washington D.C.  

We started the class by learning a little bit about the history of cacao and how the Aztecs believed that cacao seeds were the gift of the divine ( more specifically the gifts of Quetzalcoatl, the God of wisdom). I truly believe this! These seeds had so much value they were eventually used as a form of currency.  C-H-O-C-O-L-A-T-E = Liquid Gold! 

We also covered some of the health benefits of raw cacao which includes:

-Promotes cardiovascular health
-Protects from environmental and metabolic toxins
-Increases the levels of specific neurotransmitters in our brains
-Raises the level of serotonin in the brain
-Stimulates the secretion of endorphins

We learned about the three main cultivar groups of cacao ( Criollo  sometimes referred to as the “King of Cacao”, Forastero and Trinatario) and the many types of chocolates made from the cacao beans. Finally, they introduced us to the most commonly used sweeteners and super foods used in raw cuisine. 

After this brief introduction, we were given our first assignment: To prepare Cinnamon Spiced Brigadeiro, using the following ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of soaked cashews
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3 teaspoons of cinnamon
3/4 cup of melted cacao butter
pinch of cayenne pepper and salt.

This was refrigerated for several hours to be used later for our chocolate truffles. 

Our second task was to team up in groups of two and prepare one batch of Fudge Brownies. This was also placed in the freezer for a couple of hours.


Our third task was Spice Mole Lettuce Wraps. For this, we prepared a green and red slaw with fine julienne carrots and cilantro mixed with a dressing of lime juice, rice vinegar, grape seed oil, cumin seed and salt. The sunflower mole was done by combining sunflower cacao butter with a vegetable sauce that reminded me of spicy Spanish gazpacho but thicker in texture. This was made with raisins, chipotle pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, dates, shallots, garlic, carrot juice, lemon juice, chili, cumin, cardamon, salt and pepper.

We assembled the wraps by placing some butter lettuce leaves on a cutting board, adding a couple of spoons of sunflower mole sauce, the cole slaw and finishing it with small dices of tomatoes and avocados.

We then dressed up the plate with the extra mole using a spoon and pouring the extra mole in fast swirling motion. I love that I always learn something new about presentation when taking these classes at Matthew Kenney Culinary.  I must admit that I am proud of the finished dish! It not only looks beautiful but it tasted equally delicious! I was happy to learn that this was also going to be our lunch as I was getting extremely hungry! 


My Mole Lettuce Wraps

With Sofie at lunch

With Sofie at lunch

 After a quick half an hour break, we prepared some hot chocolate with almond milk, cacao powder, coconut butter, vanilla extract, palm sugar and a pinch of cinnamon, cayenne pepper and salt. This was the perfect drink at the moment as the room was getting a little cold and we all needed a little kick. 

Hot Chocolate

After preparing and drinking the hot chocolate, we removed the fudge from the freezer, cut it into 2 x 3 inches reactangles and placed in the dehydrator.  


Next, we learned how to temper chocolate. In raw cuisine, this means bringing the chocolate to just 115 degrees Fahrenheit ( 46 degrees Celsius) , then cooling it down to 84 degrees  Fahrenheit ( 29 degrees Celsius) and then heating it up to 88 degrees Fahrenheit ( 31 degrees Celsius). 

My instructors

 We made 2 kinds of bonbons fillings, a cherry port and a hazelnut cream. 

Making bonbons

Maddie and I making bonbons

Pascal and Sofie

Pascal and Sofie aka The Swiss Team

 While we waited for the bonbons to harden, we prepared chocolate truffles which we covered in dark chocolate, hemp seeds, nuts and cacao powder.   

Chocolate hands

Chocolate hands

More chocolate hands

More chocolate hands


Our final product. Not bad!

My Instructors II

Our talented instructors, Rachael and Casey

As with my previous experience, the class came to an end before we knew it.  To combat the chocolate comatose, we headed next door to M.A.K.E, Matthew Kenney’s restaurant, and ordered fresh squeezed green juices! 


 What can a “chocoholic” plant-based cook-in-training say about a class called “The Art Of Chocolate” at the world-renowned Matthew Kenney Santa Monica Culinary Institute? Thank you Rachael and Casey! This class surpassed all my expectations! Oh how I wish I could sign up for Level 1 and 2! Hope to take class from you again!

Matthew Kenney Culinary School in Santa Monica

I have been a big fan of Matthew Kenny for many years. He is a chef, an entrepreneur, an author of over a dozen delicious-looking raw vegan cooking books and above all a true artist.

Matthew Kenney BooksFor many months, I’ve been trying to figure out how to make it to the Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy  in Santa Monica.  In the perfect world, I’d have signed up for Level 1 ( Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine) , Level 2 ( Advance Raw Cuisine) and Level 3 ( Professional Raw applications). But I would have had to take a leave from work and move temporarily to Santa Monica since this requires 4 weeks or 120 hours for each level. I have the feeling my family would object to that too! Although lately they seem to enjoy eating my class assignments  (I am currently working towards my professional plant-based certification at Rouxbe Cooking School, a program lead by Chef Chad Sarno).

I have no doubt I will make it to Matthew Kenney Culinary full-time some day. In the meantime, I am “getting a taste”  of his weekend intensive courses including a Knife Skills and (Raw Vegan) Sushi Workshop on June 29th and The Art of Chocolate on July 20th. After all, like Lao Tzu said: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”

Matthew Kenney Santa Monica

I want to be part of this picture. Photo Credit: Matthew Kenney Santa Monica

I signed up for these classes a couple of months ago and ever since I’ve been patiently waiting for the day to come. When last Sunday arrived,  I woke up with the biggest smile on my face, like a kid on Christmas morning. “Why have I waited this long to sign up for class?. 

I arrived at the Matthew Kenney Culinary Santa Monica around 10:55 am or five minutes before class started. I must say that this place is a little hard to find at first. It’s located inside The Market at Santa Monica Place and it’s adjacent to Matthew Kenney’s M.A.K.E restaurant.



M.A.K.E restaurant and entrance (to the right) to Matthew Kenney Culinary.

The Matthew Kenney Culinary has a state-of-the-art kitchen with beautiful granite countertops and glass walls, allowing the curious shoppers at The Market to take a nice peek at the on-going class.


Upon arrival, we were directed to our stations where we were given our high quality whites, black aprons and the program for the day. I was feeling like a professional chef already. I was also happy to learn that we were a small group, allowing for more 1:1 time.

Our instructor, Chef Sean Murray, proceeded with brief introductions and a quick overview of kitchen safety and the basics  ( how to hold a knife,  the “claw” grip, etc …).


We spent the first couple of hours going over the different cuts and performing fine julienne ( 1/16 inch x 1/16 inch x 2-2 1/2 inches ) on carrots, red peppers and cucumbers. My previously acquired knife skills came in handy. However, I soon realized that I have a long ways to go before becoming a “lean mean cutting machine”.  For this class, we practiced cuts with a ceramic Pure Komanchi knife which it’s not as sharp as my chef  Global knife back at home. We discarded a lot of produce since we were keeping only  the best fine julienne cuts for our sushi. 

We learned how to make pickled ginger combining rice vinegar with agave, water, beet juice and salt.  We prepared smoked shiitakes with tamari and sesame oil.  We learned how to incorporate smokey flavor into the mushroom by using a smoke gun which intensified the mushrooms’ rich umami flavor. 


After all ingredients were cut,  our instructor taught us how to roll sushi properly and plate it nicely with the previously marinated pickled ginger. Presentation is everything, after all! IMG_2955

The class split up for lunch for about 30 minutes or so. And what it took 2 hours to prepare, took 5 minutes to devour! 

My first attempt at making sushi

My first attempt at making sushi

I sat in the M.A.K.E restaurant with my new friend and classmate, Clare L. We enjoyed our colorful dishes and a little bit of chef treatment. As we were still wearing our chef whites, a couple of people stopped by our table  to ask us for our restaurant business hours.  This made me giggle inside. We could have told them that we didn’t work there but we assumed our “chef on a lunch break” role and directed them to “our” waitress for further info. At the studio where I practice yoga, I often get confused for one of the instructors.  I kind of like it!


After lunch, we went back to class and spent the rest of the course learning how to make different rolls, including a jicama “rice” one, and Dragon roll ( with the avocado outside) and a Temaki sushi, also known as Cone Sushi or Hand Roll sushi.


Chef Sean showing us how to prepare a Dragon Roll


Our cooking instructor, Chef Sean Murray, was excellent. He was able to answer many of our questions but what I truly enjoyed was his focus on technique and presentation. Every single aspect matters when preparing sushi.

Temaki Sushi

Before we knew it, it was already 4 pm and class was over! I was feeling accomplished, happy, a little tired and  hungry. I grabbed a really quick bite and headed back to San Diego ( again) with a big smile on my face. I had just completed my Knife Skills and Sushi Workshop at none other than the Matthew Kenney Culinary Santa Monica! Oh, I really want to sign up for level 1,2 and 3!


Many thanks to Matthew Kenney and his staff, Chef Sean Murray, for this amazing weekend intensive course! It’s all I ever wished for! Well, meeting Matthew Kenney will be next! 

I am looking forward to my next class in a couple of weeks:  The Art of Chocolate. Yes, (raw vegan) C-H-O-C-O-L-A-T-E! Now we are talking!