Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

These Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins are made with Aquafaba. What is Aquafaba? Literally, it means “water bean” in Latin. It’s the liquid that most of us pour down the drain after opening a can of chickpeas. It’s a great egg white substitute for confections such as cookies, cakes, brownies and also savory dishes too like mayonnaise, butter, and cheeses. Aquafaba can act as a binder, leavening agent, emulsifier, and practically anything that an egg white traditionally does.  Needless to say, the discovery of aquafaba has revolutionized the world. Vegans and people with egg allergies can now enjoy meringues, mousses, and macaroons. YES!


My Baked Alaska, prepared with Aquafaba

I recently purchased Zsu Dever’s book, “Aquafaba: Sweet and Savory Vegan Recipes Made Egg-Free” and immediately fell in love with her recipes.


Imagine my surprise when a few days later I learned that she would be speaking at our Rouxbe Vegan Desserts Course lead by Chef Fran Costigan. This is what we call synchronicity!

Zsu Dever has an extensive background in the restaurant business and vegan cooking. She hails from a long line of culinary professionals and restaurateurs too. She proved to be very knowledgeable about cooking with aquafaba and was able to answer ALL our questions (YES, there were many of them!). After this live event, I decided to prepare her Vegan Poppy Seed Muffin. I reached out to Zsu to make sure it was ok to share it with you. Enjoy it! 🙂

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins POPPY SEED MUFFINS
Serves 12
The lemon is subtle if you use only the zest, so if you love it with more of a lemon punch, add the optional extract. (from Aquafaba, copyright © 2016 by Zsu Dever. Used by permission.)
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  1. 2 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  2. 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  3. 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  4. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  5. 1/3 cup aquafaba (see Note)
  6. 1/3 cup canola or other neutral oil
  7. 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated organic sugar
  8. 1 cup nondairy milk
  9. 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  10. 3/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract, optional
  11. 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from approximately 2 lemons)
  12. 3 tablespoons coarse or raw sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 12-well regular-size muffin tin with paper cups or spray the wells with oil. Set the tin aside.
  2. Combine the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Place a separate medium bowl on a folded kitchen towel. Add the aquafaba and, using a large whisk, whisk it until it is frothy, about 1 minute. Add the oil slowly while whisking to emulsify. Add the sugar in the same way. Add the milk, vanilla, lemon extract (if using), and zest and whisk well.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the milk mixture and, using a wooden spoon, mix the batter until almost no more flour is visible. Lumps are fine; do not overmix.
  5. Fill the wells about three-quarters full with the batter and sprinkle the coarse sugar on top. Bake the muffins until a toothpick inserted into the muffin in the middle well comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.
  6. Cool the muffins on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before removing them from the tin. Cool the muffins completely before storing in airtight containers, where they will keep for a few days.
  1. Although aquafaba is best if homemade using the recipe provided in the book, you can use aquafaba from canned chickpeas. Use the organic, low-sodium, canned chickpeas and strain off the liquid into a measuring cup using a fine mesh strainer. Note the amount of liquid you acquired, then add it to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces by 1/3. Cool the aquafaba completely before using.
Sunshine & Kale
Before serving, I prepared a simple Lemon Glaze (1 cup of organic powdered sugar + 1 tablespoon of lemon juice) and drizzled it on top. The muffins were light, fluffy, lemony and not overly sweet or tart.

This is by far the best lemon poppy seed muffin I’ve ever tasted in my life! Thanks Zsu!


My Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins with Lemon Glaze Recipe: Zsu Dever Photo Credit: SunshineandKale

To learn more about the history of Aquafaba, click here

To learn more about Zsu Dever, check out her page Zsu’s Vegan Pantry

{Raw | Gluten-Free} Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake

I am currently attending the Rouxbe Essential Vegan Dessert Course.
My first assignment is to prepare a vegan pastry or sweet baked recipe that I am familiar with and that is part of my regular repertoire.  
My go-to dessert is cashew cheesecake. In the spring season, I like to prepare cashew cheesecake with lemon and lavender or pineapple and rose petal syrup. In the fall, I like to mix it up a little bit, adding seasonal ingredients and spices like pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg. 
For this first task, I prepared my {Raw | Gluten-Free} Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake, a Thanksgiving must-have! Enjoy it!

Pumpkin Cheesecake – Mise En Place


Pumpkin Cheesecake – In Process

{Raw | Gluten-Free} Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake
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  1. 1 cup pitted Medjool dates (approximately 8)
  2. ½ cup almonds
  3. ½ cup pecans
  4. 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
Pumpkin Cheesecake Layer
  1. 1 1/2 cup of raw cashews (soaked in water for 4 hours)
  2. 1/3 cup agave
  3. 1/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
  4. 1 tbsp cinnamon
To prepare the crust:
  1. Place the almonds and pecans in the food processor and pulse for about 10 times. Add the dates and keep processing until a ball is formed. Press this mixture into the bottom of a mini springform cake. Place in the refrigerator.
To prepare the pumpkin cheesecake:
  1. Blend the rest of the ingredients until smooth. If it’s too thick, add more water or agave. If it's too watery, add more dates. You should have a creamy consistency.
  2. Pour mixture onto your crust.
  3. Let it set overnight or for at least 12 hours.
  1. I like to top my pumpkin cheesecake with maple syrup, whipped coconut cream and nuts.
  2. This recipe makes 2 mini cheesecakes.
Adapted from The Nutty Scoop
Adapted from The Nutty Scoop
Sunshine & Kale
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{Vegan & Gluten-Free} Christmas Mini Puddings

Christmas pudding or plum pudding is traditionally served on Christmas dinner in Britain. It’s made out of dried fruits held together with egg and suet, moisturized with golden syrup or molasses, and flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and other spices. It is normally prepared with thirteen ingredients, to represent Jesus and his twelve disciples. It’s usually stirred from east to west in honor of the three wise men that visited baby Jesus. Each member of the family traditionally stirs the pudding mixture and makes a wish secretly. A silver coin is then placed in the mixture and the person that finds it is supposed to find wealth. Sometimes, a ring is placed in the mixture, instead of a coin, to foretell a marriage or a thimble for lucky life.


In Spain, we follow a similar culinary tradition to celebrate Epiphany or the Three King Days, on Jan 6th. We prepare a cake called Roscón de reyes or Rosca de reyes (kings’ ring). It’s a brioche-like sweet bread topped with figs, cherries or dried and candied fruits. Like in the Christmas pudding, there is usually a trinket hidden in the cake. The person that finds it has good luck for the next 365 days. However, they have to pay for the next year’s roscón or Epiphany party.


These traditions are beautiful and the desserts are delicious but let’s be honest, preparing these pastries is time-consuming and not necessarily healthy.

This year for Christmas, I am preparing something equally delightful and healthy. I am making Christmas Mini Puddings, a la British style but with a twist. They are vegan, gluten-free and very easy to make. It only takes 5-10 minutes to prepare. Can you believe it? The original recipe was published by Teresa Cutter, The Healthy Chef, for the Natural Awakenings magazine. I then added a (vegan) maple vanilla frosting to cover each Christmas pudding. This is easily my new favorite Christmas treat! Enjoy it!

Merry Christmas! !Feliz Navidad! Frohe Weihnachten!

No-Bake Christmas Pudding Cake


{Vegan & Gluten-Free} Christmas Mini Puddings
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  1. 10 Medjool dates
  2. 8 oz dried apricots, chopped
  3. 1 ½ cups almond meal
  4. 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  5. 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  6. ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  7. ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger
  8. 2 tablespoons of orange juice
  9. grated zest from one orange
  1. Combine dates, orange zest, apricots, vanilla, almond meal, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a food processor. Process until mixture is combined and looks like fine crumbs.
  2. Spoon mixture into a large bowl and add 2 tablespoons orange juice then mix again. Your pudding mix should come together in the hands when lightly squeezed. Divide puddings into 6 small puddings ( or 12 mini ones).
  3. The best way to do this is to line the base of your desired mold with plastic wrap and press the pudding mixture into it firmly. Invert the pudding and remove the glad wrap. Repeat until all the puddings are formed.
  4. Pour a little bit of maple vanilla frosting** or melted white chocolate over the top of each one of the puddings You can garnish them with dried cranberries, goji berries, nuts or more orange zest.
  5. Arrange onto a serving plate and set aside until needed. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks
  1. ** To prepare the maple vanilla frosting, combine the following ingredients in a blender until smooth: 1/2 cup of raw cashews ( soaked for at least 4 hours), 1/4 cup of (melted) coconut butter, 1/4 cup of maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of water, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of salt.
  2. Store any leftover frosting in the fridge.
Adapted from The Healthy Chef
Adapted from The Healthy Chef
Sunshine & Kale

Some people have asked me what the difference is between a (British) Christmas pudding and what they call in the US Christmas fruitcake. The main difference is that the Christmas pudding is steamed and the Christmas fruitcake is bake. Also, Christmas pudding is usually flamed after Brandy has been poured over it. This is an ingredient that you could be easily incorporated into my maple vanilla frosting for the adults in the family! Bon Appétit

The Force Awakens – Star Wars Cookies

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is set to be released on December 18th, just one day away. My little Storm Troopers at home have been waiting for this movie with great anticipation, so last week when I walked by William Sonoma and saw these Star Wars cookie cutters I couldn’t say no. 

Star Wars Cookie Cutters II Star Wars Cookie Cutters

There was just one itsy bitsy problem: I am a cook, not a baker. Give me three random ingredients and a knife and I’ll make something delicious for you. Now, give me flour and baking powder and I am lost. To me, baking is a science. You add an extra 1/2 of a teaspoon of baking soda to your mix and your cookies will end up with the wrong color, flavor or texture.  I usually follow my instinct when I am in the kitchen. I hardly ever follow instructions to a T. When I want to try new recipes, I tend to read the instructions twice, memorize them and start cooking without referring to them. You can’t do this when you are baking, unless you have extraordinary talent or lots of experience preparing desserts.

For this Star Wars project, I not only wanted to bake cookies but I wanted them to be vegan and gluten-free.  Let the force be with me!

I tried several recipes and failed miserably. Then, I came across Erin McKenna’s book “BabyCakes Covers the Classics: Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes from Donuts to Snickerdoodles”.  For those that don’t know Erin, she is the owner of Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC ( originally called Babycakes), the world’s premier vegan gluten-free bakery in Lower East Side Manhattan. Her bakery focuses on the under-served people with gluten, dairy, egg, and soy sensitivities, the health-minded, and, most importantly, allergic kids who are often unable to indulge.

Star Wars Cookies - In Progress

I reached out to Erin to make sure it was fine to share her recipe since it’s copyrighted. I forwarded her the pictures of my final product and she replied almost immediately with   “Permission granted–nice work!!” .  I feel honored!

Enjoy this treat, everyone! I know… I know, there is sugar in the cookies but you have to put a little bit of life into living sometimes.

DISCLAIMER: These cookies might transport you to a galaxy far far away!

Star Wars Cookies DONE 

Star Wars Sugar Cookies
Yields 24
These cookies might transport you to a galaxy far far away!
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  1. 2 1/4 cups rice flour, plus more for dusting
  2. 1 1/2 cup vegan sugar
  3. 1/4 cup arrowroot
  4. 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  5. 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  6. 1 teaspoon of salt
  7. 3/4 cup melted coconut oil or canola oil
  8. 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  9. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  10. 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  11. 1/2 cup of cold water
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the rice flour, the sugar, arrowroot, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt. Add the melted coconut oil, applesauce, vanilla extract, and lemon extract to the dry mix. Stir with a rubber spatula until a very thick dough is formed. Gradually add the cold water and stir until the dough is slightly tacky.
  3. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Dust a clean work surface with some rice flour. Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness.
  5. Cut out the cookies with your desired cookie cutters** and transfer from the work surface to one of the prepared baking sheets with a spatula, placing them 1 inch apart. Repeat with the remaining of the dough.Bake for 7 minutes, rotate the baking sheets, and bake for 7 minutes more, or until slightly golden.
  6. Let the cookies cool on a rack for 10 minutes.
  1. **I used William Sonoma's Star Wars cookie cutters
  2. *Recipe from BabyCakes Covers the Classics: Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes from Donuts to Snickerdoodles by Erin McKenna. Published here with permission from the author.
  3. Photo Credit: Ciry DG aka @sunshineandkale
  4. Enjoy
Sunshine & Kale

{Raw} Date Energy Truffles

♪ Talk to me, baby
I’m going after this sweet-sweet craving, whoa-oh
Let’s lose our minds and go crazy-crazy
I-I-I-I-I-I keep on hoping we’ll eat DATE TRUFFLES by the ocean ♪

Yogi Runner

A little bit of stretching before running the RnR Seattle Marathon

These Raw Date Energy Truffles will jump-start your day. I usually eat them before my long runs on the weekends or as an afternoon snack to replenish my energy levels. For the endurance athletes out there, if you are looking for an alternative to GU Energy gels, Clif Bar Shot Bloks, etc… give this recipe a try! It will keep you going! Of course you don’t need to be an endorphin addict to enjoy these delicious energy truffles. My kids love it too!


{Raw} Date Energy Truffles
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  1. 20 medjool dates, pitted
  2. ½ cup of raw almonds
  3. ½ cup of pecans
  4. 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
  5. 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
  6. ½ tablespoon of vanilla extract
  7. 1 pinch of salt
  1. Soak the dates in hot water for 10 minutes.
  2. In a food processor, grind the almonds and pecans until fine.
  3. Drain the dates and add to the food processor with the peanut butter, cocoa powder and vanilla extract. Process until the mixture forms a ball.
  4. Roll into small bite-size truffles.
  5. Roll the truffles in shredded coconut, chopped nuts or coconut powder.
  6. Let your date truffles refrigerate for an hour or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  1. It makes about 24 small truffles.
Sunshine & Kale

Easy Vegan & Gluten-Free Pumpkin Mousse

It’s Thanksgiving Weekend in the US! This means, we are busy in the kitchen preparing family meals!

We usually celebrate Thanksgiving as well as New Year’s with Cuban food. In the menu, this year we have:

Tostones rellenos – Stuffed green plantains
Frijoles con arroz – Black beans with rice
Yucca frita – Fried yucca with garlic and lemon
Vegan “Lechon” – Made out of jackfruit and Cuban seasonings.

My kids have requested, in addition to Cuban foods, Thanksgiving stuffing and dessert. I think this will do it:

Fruity Turkey

However, I have the feeling they want a richer dessert so I am making them a delicious vegan & gluten-free pumpkin mouse. This is pretty easy to prepare. It only took me 20 minutes. I hope you enjoy it!

Pumpkin Mousse

Easy Vegan & Gluten-Free Pumpkin Mousse
Serves 8
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Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Pumpkin Mousse
  1. 1 can organic pumpkin puree
  2. 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  3. 3 tablespoons of maple syrup
  4. 1 tablespoon of pumpkin spice
  5. 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  1. 1/2 cup of raw pecans
  2. 1/2 cup of raw walnuts
  3. 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  4. 1 tablespoon of ground ginger
  5. 6 medjool dates, pitted and soaked
  6. a pinch of salt
  1. Place the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator and leave it until well chilled (preferable overnight). Scoop out the top layer of fat and transfer to a bowl. You won’t be using the liquid for this recipe but you can save it for a smoothie later.
  2. Whip the coconut cream with a stand or hand mixer until peaks form. Add the maple syrup, pumpkin puree, pumpkin spices and vanilla extract. Continue whipping until all ingredients are well combined.
  3. In a food processor, combine the pecans, walnuts, shredded coconut, ginger and salt. Pulse a couple of times. Add the soaked dates and process until the mixture sticks together and starts to form a ball.
  4. In a dessert glass, place 1-2 tablespoons of the date mixture in the bottom, followed by the pumpkin mouse.
  5. Garnish with ginger snaps and chopped salted nuts or shredded coconut and pecans.
  6. Serve immediately; or refrigerate, and garnish with nuts just before serving.
  1. You can also omit the date mixture all together. The pumpkin mousse is delicious and it can stand on its own! 🙂
Sunshine & Kale
Have a Happy Healthy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thankful Turkeys

Chocolate Cherry Avocado Mousse with Coconut Whipped Cream – Happy Valentines Day!

When I think of Valentine’s Day, I think of chocolate, cherries and kale. Yes, kale is always on my mind! This year, I am celebrating this special day with my loved ones and 2 desserts. First, I prepared Jason Wrobel’s chocolate covered kale chips.

Chocolate Covered Kale

This picture doesn’t do justice. It’s truly amazing. After tasting my first batch of chocolate kale chips,  I felt like Roberto Benigni when he received his Oscar for “Life is Beautiful” and shouted “I would like to be Jupiter and kidnap everyone and lie down in the firmament”. Yes, it’s really that good! For recipe, click here

The second dessert I made was a simple and delicious Chocolate Cherry Avocado Mousse with Coconut Whipped Cream.

Chocolate Cherrie Avocado Mouse with Whipped Coconut Cream

2 medium size avocados
2 cups of frozen cherries
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of nut milk ( preferable almond milk)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3 dates, pitted
a pinch of salt
1 can of organic coconut milk

Put all the ingredients in a food processor ( except for the coconut milk). Pulse until creamy. Remove from blender and transfer to a bowl.

For the Coconut Whipped  Cream:
Place a can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight.
Remove the can from the refrigerator and flip upside down so that the liquid stays on the top. Set the liquid apart ( we won’t be using it for the whipped cream)
Scoop out the solid coconut cream and whip.
Optional: Add vanilla extract and cinnamon.

In small dessert glasses, place layers of chocolate cherry mousse and coconut whipped cream.

Chocolate Cherry Avocado Mouse with Coconut Whipped Cream
Serves 4
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
  1. 2 medium size avocados, pitted
  2. 2 cups of frozen cherries
  3. 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  4. 2 tablespoons of nut milk ( preferable almond)
  5. 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  6. 3 dates, pitted
  7. a pinch of salt
  8. 1 can of organic coconut milk
  1. Put all the ingredients in a food processor ( except for the coconut milk). Pulse until creamy. Remove from blender and transfer to a bowl.
For the Coconut Whipped Cream
  1. Place a can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Remove the can from the refrigerator and flip upside down so that the liquid stays on the top. Set the liquid apart ( we won't be using it for the whipped cream)
  3. Scoop out the solid coconut cream, transfer to a bowl and whip. Optional: Add vanilla extract and cinnamon.
  4. In small dessert glasses, place layers of chocolate cherry mousse and coconut whipped cream.
Adapted from The Detonixta
Adapted from The Detonixta
Sunshine & Kale
 Happy V-day, everyone!

Raw Coconut Hazelnut Truffles

As you probably know, three days ago (May 15th), I started culinary school at Rouxbe Cooking School. The first two days, I set up my profile, wrote down my cooking goals for the next 6 months and watched the orientation videos. Overall, it looks like a pretty solid program that is going to keep me crazy-busy in the kitchen. On the other hand, the great news is that I am going to be eating most of my assignments. I love this perk!

Today,  I worked on my first homework assignment: Make Your Go-To Dish. We were asked to prepare a plant-based recipe that is part of our regular culinary repertoire. “It can be a simple dish, such as a starter, a soup, a favorite salad, or even a more involved entree”.   As part of the assignment, we needed to upload 3 pictures of our  favorite go-to dish: Grading criteria:

  • 1 “mice en place shot” – max 6 points
  • 1 recipe in process shot – max 6 points
  • 1 finished dish shot – max 8 points

After much deliberation, I decided to prepare my latest favorite concoction. This is what I submitted to the school:

Raw Coconut Hazelnut Truffles

This is my go-to energy-boosting snack. These raw coconut hazelnut truffles are the perfect snack and post workout treat. The recipe is simple but packed with flavor.

Photo 1 – Set up


Photo 2 – Recipe in process


Photo 3 – Finished dish



1 ½ cup of (wet) hazelnut pulp (from homemade hazelnut milk)
12-14 Medjool dates
½ cup of coconut flour
2 tablespoons of organic virgin coconut oil
1 ½ teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup of organic coconut flakes (for rolling)
Dipping sauce (optional)
1 cup of frozen raspberries
1 Banana


Place dates in the food processor and puree until a thick paste is formed. Transfer the date paste to a mixing bowl and combine with the rest of the ingredients. Using your hands, roll the mixture into bite-size truffles. Roll each truffle into the coconut flakes. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

For the dipping sauce, place the raspberries and banana in the food processor and puree.

This recipe makes approximately 15 truffles.

Enjoy it!