A few days ago, someone from a local Facebook group I belong to asked if I had any information on collagen and collagen formation in the body. Oddly enough, I’d just watched a new story on the subject, so my interest was already peaked. I did a little research, and this is what I found.


Collagen Type I is found primarily in skin. Collagen Type II is found in joint cartilage.

  • Collagen works with keratin to provide skin with strength, smoothness, elasticity and resilience. As we age, our bodies stop producing as much collagen.
  • Skin is made of three layers: epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. Collagen is produced in the middle layer, the dermis. Topical attempts to increase collagen must get through the epidermis to the dermis to be effective. The epidermis is porous, so this is not unheard of. However, some topical treatments can actually harm the skin and make it appear older. It’s even harder to increase collagen production in hair and nails through topical applications. That’s why internal attempts to increase collagen production are preferred.

There are many plant foods that can increase collagen production in the body.

Soy – contains genistein that not only helps increase production of collagen but also helps block enzymes that break down and age skin.

Dark Green Vegetables – contain lutein, an antioxidant that helps increase natural collagen production, and Vitamin C. You need about 10 mg daily of lutein to help increase collagen production (4oz spinach/2oz kale).

Beans – contain hyaluronic acid, a powerful anti-aging enzyme. Just two tablespoons of beans a day can provide the hyaluronic acid you need to reap its benefits.

Red Fruits & Veggies – contain lycopenes, which are powerful antioxidents that can increase collagen production. Cooking helps concentrate the lycopenes in these foods. As a side benefit, these same antioxidents help prevent sun damage, but you need about 6 servings (1c raw/.5 c cooked) daily to see a true sunscreen benefit.

Fruits & Vegetables High in Vitamin C – are natural sources of college production.

Prunes – contain antioxidents that prevent free radicals from breaking down and aging skin. Blueberries contain similar anti-aging antioxidents. You’ll need to consume 5-6 prunes or about ½ pint of blueberries to see maximum benefits. Side benefit – prunes are great for your bones! They help your body’s uptake of calcium, and the extra calories from adding prunes to the diet seem to be negligible – probably from their high fiber content.

Omega 3 and 9 Fatty Acids – help create an ideal environment for collagen production. Skin cells are surrounded by a fatty layer made from fatty acids and other fats. Theoretically, the higher your Omega 3 and 9 fatty acid intake, the stronger that fatty layer will be, which will plump your skin and reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles. (Hydration creates a similar affect, so drink your water!)

Fruits & Vegetables High in Vitamin A – also naturally help keep collagen levels high.

Cacao – can increase blood flow to the skin, which helps nutrients get where they need to go.

Avocado & Avocado Oil – is packed with plant sterols that can help reduce the appearance of age spots and blemishes when applied topically. It has also been shown to stimulate collagen production when applied topically.

Lysine, Manganese, and Copper – can help increase collagen and elastin production. However, lysine is found predominantly in animal products (red meats and cheeses), and excess copper can collect in brain tissue, which can ultimately lead to dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease. (See Dr. Barnard for more information on heavy metal buildup and memory issues.)

Collagen creams are seemingly not very effective. Collagen supplements can be. But…even though a collagen supplement says it’s vegetarian or vegan, you really have to look at the ingredients. If it says “marine sources,” it might include plankton and/or shellfish shells. Otherwise, vegan/vegetarian sources should be made of seaweed or a mix of vitamins. (Be careful of large amounts of fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A. Diets already heavy in fresh fruits and vegetables are also full of natural sources of Vitamin A.)


Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – Overt Fat Free

I need to write a post about the current state of my diet, but long story short, I’ve gotten a handle on my moving + holiday eating frenzy and feel like I’m in a good place right now. Basically, I’m eating within a ration of 80% carbohydrates and 10% each fat and protein. And while my diet is high raw, it is not all raw, so it’s not the 80-10-10 of The 80-10-10 Diet – just the ratio.

Back to why we’re here today…I made cookies!

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Yup. Delicious, nutritious, overt-fat-free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies made with only four ingredients (five if you count the optional cinnamon) and sweetened only with fruit. 80-10-10 for the win!

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Overt Fat Free)

2 c old fashioned oats

1/2 c super thick date paste

1 medium banana, mashed (about 1/4 c)

1/4-1/2 c raisins (soaked if dry)

1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

First, make date paste by blending soaked dates. Try not to use any of the date soaking water, so the paste is extra thick and sticky. Then, mash the banana using a fork (or pulse it in a mini-chopper). Don’t blend it because the liquid banana will add liquid to the dough.

Add oats and cinnamon to a bowl. Stir to combine. (Optional: Add a dash of salt.) Add mashed banana and date paste. Stir to combine. Add raisins. Stir to incorporate. [If  dough is too dry, add more date paste.]

Scoop dough onto a parchment or Paraflexx lined dehydrator tray. [I used an ice cream scooper.] Use the back of a spoon to flatter the cookies into desired thickness. Shape edges for prettier cookies (and so no little bits dry and fall off).

Dehydrate at 145F for about 30 minutes to quick set the cookies. Reduce heat and continue to dry at 110F for about 60 minutes. Flip cookies and continue to dry for 60-90 more minutes.

Makes 10 cookies at about 160 calories and 1.5 grams of fat each.


EFA’s: If your diet is a little low on EFA’s (essential fatty acids 3-6-9), try adding a flax “egg” (1 TBSP flax meal + 1-2 TBSP water). You might need to cut back on the date paste if you.

Baking: If you don’t have a dehydrator or don’t feel like using one, you can try baking the cookies. Try a low oven of around 200F and check on the cookies every 5 minutes. I’m guessing it will take somewhere between 5-10 minutes to dry out the cookies. (Be careful; without fat, these cookies will go from not-quite-done to burnt in the blink of an eye.)

Storage: Completely cool the cookies and store in an air tight container. You can probably store these outside of the frig, but I like to keep all of my goodies in the frig. [Remember, glass will help keep baked goods crispy, and plastic will help keep them soft. So, store according to texture preference.]

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Merry Christmas + Happy New Year!


I hope you’re having a very merry time with friends and family and are taking advantage of some much needed downtime.

I’ve got some exciting things in the works for Veggie V for 2014, including a brand new website!

Until then, I’ve got some recipes to share with your in the coming weeks – and a few product and book reviews, too!

But first, I’ve got an exciting give-a-way coming your way in just a few days!! Consider it a late Christmas gift from me to you 😀 Details available on Friday.

While you’re waiting, check out my Veggie V Christmas dinner…

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Mashed potatoes (boiled golden potatoes whipped with veggie broth), mushroom gravy, stuffing (commercial brand), sauteed greens (kale and spinach sauteed with onion), and pressed, extra firm, sprouted tofu marinated in low-sodium tamari. Sooooo goooood!

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Dessert was my favorite kombucha – GT’s Multigreen! Yum! (I made cinnamon apple pear sauce in the Vitamix that was going to sprinkle with goji berries and shredded coconut for dessert, but I think it’s not going to get eaten until breakfast *wink*)

And, there was only one casualty!

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I’m always afraid I’m going to peel my fingers when I’m peeling potatoes or carrots – and it finally happened! No worries, though. I was able to get the bandage on by myself and continue with my dinner makin’.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!


Virtual Vegan Potluck: Pumpkin Date Roll-Up

I can’t believe it’s that time again…the holidays!

I know. You thought  I was going to say Virtual Vegan Potluck. Well, that too 😉 Both snuck up on me this time. When did it become fall?! When did Annie start asking for VVP participants?! I seem to have missed both of those. Sigh…story of my year.


But, I have something to share with you! Yea! It’s fall-esq. It’s fat free. It’s super easy to make, and it only contains two ingredients. That’s right. Two. Ingredients.


Here goes. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Date Roll-Up

1 c dates, pitted and chopped

1/2 c pumpkin puree

Optional: Fall seasonings: pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, etc.

Pit and chop dates and place them in a food processor (with the normal “S” blade). Process until a mass forms. [If you’re dates are really dry, soak them first, or add a little bit of water to the food processor. You want the dates to be a big, sticky ball of deliciousness, but you need to be able to handle the date ball easily.] Remove date ball and place on a large piece of parchment paper (or a silicone baking mat). Press the dates out into a uniform, flat shape. [You can try to make it square, but I never have any luck doing with that.]

In a bowl, add the pumpkin puree and chosen seasonings. Stir to combine.

Add seasoned pumpkin puree to half of the date sheet. Use parchment help you roll the dates around the pumpkin. You’re looking for a pinwheel shape.

Wrap date roll in the parchment paper and freeze for about 15 minutes or refrigerate for about 30. You want the dates to firm up before you try to cute through the roll.

Cut and serve as is or dehydrate for a less sticky, more grab-and-go friendly treat.


Dates: I used  a combo of medjool and deglet noir dates. I should have soaked them first because they caused my heavy duty Cruisinart food processor to smoke! I haven’t tried to use it since; I’m afraid I burned out the motor :-/ For your roll, please soak your dates if they aren’t super moist. It will save you a lot of trouble later. Use all medjools or a combo of your favorite dates.

Keep it raw: If you want to keep this dish 100%, use raw pumpkin and puree it in a food processor or a high powered blender. I suggest straining your raw puree before using. (You can do this in a nut milk bag/cheese cloth and just let it drain, or try your luck with a fine mesh strainer sitting over a blow.)

Add some fat: If you aren’t concerned with keeping this treat low-fat, try adding your favorite nuts to the date bag. You’ll definitely need some moisture with the dates and nuts to make them process and stick together. Soaking both your dates and your nuts will help this. (I like to use almonds  with my dates.) You can also turn your pumpkin puree into a pumpkin cream by swirling in some sweetened cashew cream. (Blend some soaked cashews with a dash of vanilla and your favorite liquid sweetener. Add a splash of non-dairy milk if the mixture won’t blend, but you want the cream to be very thick.)

Wrap it up: Dehydrate your date roll slices until they’re almost dry, then wrap them up like candy in parchment or wax paper. Tie off the ends with pretty ribbon, and you’ve got some low-fat, healthy, vegan, almost raw candy gifts! The dates are full of potassium and magnesium; the pumpkin is full of vitamins A and C and a little iron, and the cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant.


I hope you enjoyed my contribution to the party. Check out the amazing foods people are bringing to the party by using the “Go Forward” and “Go Backward” navigation buttons below. [If you want to start from the beginning, click here.]


Vegan MoFo: My Favorite Thing is…Oat Flour!

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Ok, so my MoFo’ing is off to a slow start. Here we are at day 6, and this is my first real post. At this rate, I won’t get to share very many of my favorite vegan things :-/

Regardless to my pace of posting (posting pace?), I wanted to get this month rolling with one of my very favorite ingredients…oats! And, more specifically, oat flour. Why oat flour versus the whole oat? Sometimes I react to whole oats, specifically oat meal. I use make a point to purchase organic, gluten free rolled oats (or steel cut/oat groats), but sometimes, when I eat oat meal, I almost feel asthmatic. I would probably feel the same if I ate an entire batch of whatever it is I make with the oat flour, but I’m usually able to control myself. Usually 😉

Back on track…Why do I love oat flour so much? It’s crazy versatile! I’ve had great luck substituting it one-for-one for in everything I’ve tried. (Given, I haven’t tried it with every recipe.)  But, I’ve great luck with pancakes, muffins, and…cookies! Yummy, yummy cookies.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/2 c oat flour

1/2 c rolled oats

1 c peanut butter

1 c fruit spread/jelly

1 flax egg (1 TBSP flax meal + 1-2 TBSP water – combine and allow to gel)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking powder

Splash vanilla (about 1 tsp)

Sprinkle salt (if peanut butter is unsalted)

Combine dry ingredients (oat flour, oats, salt, baking soda, baking powder) and stir to combine. (I do this with a fork, but a sifter would work wonderfully. Just add the whole oats secondary.) Add wet ingredients (peanut butter, jelly, vanilla, flax egg). Stir just to combine ingredients. Scoop by large scooper (I used an ice cream scooper.) onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Flatten a little after scooping.

Bake at 350F for about 10-12 minutes. (Check after 8 minutes if your oven runs hot.) Time will depend upon your oven and thickness of cookies. Remove cookies from cookie sheet right away (the oat flour will draw moisture and make the bottom of your cookies soggy), and cool on a wire rack.

My batch of dough made 16 large cookies, but don’t let that stop you from making them; they freeze well and reheat great too!



I thought these cookies are naturally sweet from the sweetness of the whole fruit spread, but if you’re feeding these to people who eat ‘traditional’ cookies, you might want to add a little liquid sweetener or your favorite non-nutritive sweetener. Additionally, if you want to turn these soft, cake-like cookies into muffins, try thinning out the batter with a little non-dairy milk. Mix-ins would be good too! Try crushed peanuts, diced pieces of whole fruit, chocolate chips, etc. Go crazy!

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Book Review: Vegan Cooking at Home

When I reviewed Samantha Shorkey’s  Jacked on the Beanstalk: Plant Based Fuel for Vegan Athletes, I mentioned Samantha was a part of The Vegan Project, a blog dedicated to the journey of adopting a vegan lifestyle. Samantha, along with her blog mates Bridget Burns (author) and Jennifer Boyle (co-author and co-founder of The Vegan Project), and a bunch of other contributors, put together an eBook collection of some of their favorite home-cooked, vegan recipes.

According to Bridget:

About This Book

I’ve been eating vegan for almost four years, and I’ve rarely felt deprived. How do I do
it? I make sure I’m set up with the ingredients and tools to have food that I can eat on
hand, always.

The following recipes have been designed with ease in mind and I’ve relied on them
many times over the years. We have a term for it around here – home food. It’s not
something you’d entertain with, but it’s something you eat often in the comfort of your
own home…so simple, yet so good.

In this book you’ll also find tips for choosing healthier foods, a seven-day meal plan, a
guide to vegan snacks, and a shopping list – everything you need for successful and
delicious vegan cooking at home!

Vegan Cooking at Home: Plant Based Eating Made Easy offers tips for weekly shopping and big batch cooking, recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and sample meal plans. With recipes like Tofu Scramble (Who can’t use another tofu scramble recipe? I’m always on the lookout for a new twist on mine!), Kale Caesar salad (Helllloooo Kale!), Tempeh Tacos (mmmm….tacos….), this ittle book is a hit. And, at about $12US, it’s a good value, too. (Or, you can buy the combo pack, a copy of Vegan Cooking at Home and Jacked on the Beanstalk, for a significant savings.)

Book Review: Jacked on the Beanstalk

Over the past few months, I’ve become more interested in athletic conditioning/bodybuilding and the “proper” vegan diet for hard core athletes. And although I’m finding there is no perfect or proper diet (but there are endless arguments about it), I thought I’d continue with the theme of my last post and asked Samantha Shorkey of Jacked on the Beanstalk and The Vegan Project for a chance to review her latest eBook, Jacked on the Beanstalk: Plant Based Fuel for Vegan Athletes. Samantha is a vegan athlete and bodybuilder/bikini competitor. She knows vegans can rock the stage and has the first place victories to prove it.

Here’s a blurb about the book (in Samantha’s words):


Welcome to the very first “Jacked on the Beanstalk” recipe e-book for vegan athletes!  It’s pretty cool that
more and more vegans are competing and excelling in professional sports—proving just how fit and
JACKED we plant-eaters can be!

For those who don’t know me, I’m just a regular ol’ vegan girl who recently won first place in my first-ever
bodybuilding competition (bikini division) in British Columbia, Canada.  I demonstrated that you don’t have
to eat meat, eggs or any animal product to build lean muscle.

I’m very excited to share this recipe e-book that The Vegan Project and I had such a blast working on.  
Jacked on the Beanstalk is not necessarily geared toward vegan bodybuilders or bikini competitors but
rather anyone looking to lose weight, gain muscle and fuel intense training sessions on a whole food, plant-based diet.

Jacked on the Beanstalk offers readers clean and simple meals that can be made in big batches to keep even the busiest vegan athlete on track all week. Starting off right with a list of the top 10 foods for vegan athletes (hellllloooo oats!) and ending with a sample, a glimpse at a hearty, vegan athlete meal plan, this handy little eBook offered recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner: everything from protein pancakes to tofu mushroom stir fry – two of my personal favs! Oh, and did I mention the desserts? What? You thought vegan athletes didn’t eat dessert? Well, my friends, you thought wrong. How about black bean brownies, raw fruit pie or carrot cake balls? Sounds good to me!

If you’re interested in boosting your athletic performance through your vegan diet, check out Jacked On the Beanstalk. It’s worth the minimal investment (about $12 US).


Guest Post: Mattie Attends the Austin Naturally Fit Super Show

Hello, Everyone! Today I have a real treat for you…a guest post! Mattie Hernandez Horsley from Mattie’s Raw Fitness Beauty is sharing her experience at the recent Austin Naturally Fit Super Show. Enjoy!

Vegan & Bodybuilding…Is it really an Oxymoron???

On July 26 and 27, the city of Austin and the Naturally Fit Super Show were taken over by 15 Vegan competitors as they took the stage to prove that muscle can definitely be built on a vegan diet.  The Plant Built Muscle Team was started in 2012 by Giacomo Marchese and Dani Taylor in order to bring Vegan Athletes together to compete in one location and to make a statement about the vegan lifestyle.  Their vision came to fruition as the 15 competitors placed in 5 out of the 7 categories in the competition.  The overall male and female winners were both from the Plant Built Muscle Team.  It was really exciting to watch all the vegan muscle on stage and to see the victories at the end of the show.

I participated in the event as a spectator and supporter of the team.  After meeting many of these athletes on Facebook and hearing about this show that was going to take place close to where I live, I made plans to attend this history making event.  I was privileged to be able to be behind the scenes and hang out with the team as they prepared and competed over the weekend.  I was able to observe the preparations prior to the competition and also talk to a few of the athletes about their diets and how they trained for the show.  As far as diet , some of the most popular foods I observed them eating were things such as sweet potato, tofu, brown rice cakes, almond butter, grapefruit, and green smoothies.  The athletes were limiting their water intake in order to get the shredded look [from dehydration].  After 2 days of competition, the winners were announced and the vegan athletes took many of the top spots.  One of the things I found interesting was when the announcer would state which competitors were part of the vegan team…there were many!  I believe the vegan team had the biggest fan support there as well; you could hear loud cheers every time a vegan competitor went on stage.  Another highlight of the weekend was the opportunity to finally meet Robert Cheek, author of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness and owner of the website.  Robert has been travelling for years spreading the word on vegan bodybuilding, and he has been a great voice for promoting the vegan lifestyle.

Each competitor had their unique style of training and diet.  For the females, the average calorie intake was from 1600-1800 with a special diet closer to competition in order the decrease body fat.  Some athletes used supplements and others chose not to use them. Plant Fusion was a sponsor for the team, so the athletes were provided with Plant Fusion Protein powder to help them in their training.  As far as the length of training to prepare for the show, some trained for many months, and one competitor only had 12 weeks to train.  Many of the athletes hired trainers, nutritionist, and posing coaches while others did it all on their own.  Regardless of training style and diet, the competitors came together in the end to rock the stage and show off their plant built muscle.

Although the show was very exciting to watch, the best part was after the competition was over.  Immediately after all the winners were announced, the entire team came back to the  and Plant Fusion booths where vegan cupcakes and cheesecake were waiting for them from Capital City Bakery (a local vegan bakery).  I was able to get a taste of the cupcakes, and they were so delicious and moist, it was like heaven in your mouth.  It was entertaining to watch the athletes pig out on the vegan goodies as people walked by the booth in shock as they watched these athletes slam down these vegan sweets.  That evening we all headed out to Arlo’s Food Truck to enjoy their famous vegan bacon cheeseburgers.  There were so many of us that they had to shut down because they ran out of food.  From the food truck, we then ventured over to Sweet Rituals Ice Cream shop, where we indulged in vegan ice cream and waffle cones.  I observed one of the competitors eat five scoops of ice cream and two waffle cones, while another athlete ate an ice cream sundae, two scoops of ice cream and a brownie.  It was amazing to see how much food these athletes could put away.  I could only manage one scoop of ice cream and a waffle cone.  I guess after many months on a strict competition diet, these athletes deserved a pig-out session.

This event was a great experience for me as a fitness professional in a field that has been controlled mainly by “meat eaters.”  It was great to see vegan athletes begin to take their place in the competitive world of bodybuilding.  The vision of Giacomo and Dani is to grow the Plant Built Muscle Team to include other competitive sports until vegan athletes begin to take over.  They have stated they will begin the application process  in September  for any vegan athletes interested in competing next year.

Overall, my weekend experience was something I will always remember.  It was a start of many great things to come for vegan athletes.  These 15 athletes set the standard of greatness for all upcoming vegan athletes to follow.

As the athletes stated, “The only thing they killed was the stage!”


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Torre Washington


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Trisha & Mindy

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Dani & Clients



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Vegan Ice Cream Treats After the Show






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Pam & the Guys






Steak Salad

really wanted to post this recipe last week – for Father’s Day – but I didn’t get around to it *sigh* Being sick off and on for three weeks has not been good for my blogging schedule!

Regardless of the timing, this simple salad is delicious and hearty enough to stand against any meat filled concoction you might run into at an omni cookout – and filling and tasty enough to made anybody (dad included) feel full and satisfied after digging in.

Steak Salad

1 lb lacinato/dinosaur kale, stemmed

1/2 – 1 avocado

1 pt cherry tomatoes

2 lg portobello caps, stemmed, ribbed, and sliced

1/2 – 1 lemon, juiced

Seasonings to taste (salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, etc.)

First, stem and clean your kale. Then massage it with the avocado. Really get in there and mash it all around. Rub it with your fingers under the kale is a bit wilted and the avocado is well incorporated. Arrange massaged kale on a serving platter or large plate. Then, slice tomatoes in half and place them artfully over the kale. Finally, slice the portobello caps into thick slices and arrange on top of the tomatoes. Finally, dress the salad with freshly squeezed lemon and whatever seasonings you like. (I like salt, pepper and a little dried oregano.)







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Recipe Review: Strawberry Shortcake

It’s strawberry season here in Ohio – heck, it’s strawberry season just about everywhere in the US – and I’ve been eating more than my share of red, ripe berries lately. But, there are only so many naked berries a girl can throw down, and last night, I couldn’t get the thought of strawberry shortcake out of my head. So…a little Google’ing later, and I found this grain-free, vegan strawberry shortcake recipe from Healthful Pursuit. (Note: Not all of Leanne’s recipes are vegan. In fact, many are not, but she does have quite a few plant-based recipes posted, and those that are not can usually be easily modified.)


I decided I had to make these shortcakes around 8 pm, and by 830, I was eating a giant plate of berries on top of a fresh-from-the-oven shortcake. Yum!


As with any recipe, I have to put my own spin on things 😉 For this recipe, I omitted the cinnamon and added a splash of vanilla extract instead. I also used coconut oil instead of Earth Balance because that’s what I had on hand. The shortcakes didn’t rise much, but that could have been my old baking powder – or the coconut oil. Regardless, I didn’t mind my more cookie-like shortcakes. The taste was great, and I loved that the recipe is grain free.


My recipe made four very large shortcake cookies. I ate one and put the other three in the freezer. Ok. I ate one with strawberries, then ate half of one on it’s own, then put the remaining two and half shortbread cookies in the freezer 😉 Strawberry season will be with us for a couple more weeks; those remaining shortbreads won’t go to waste! (Although, they might go to my waist. Sigh)


Recipe alteration ideas: This recipe doesn’t make a very sweet shortbread cookie. It’s not supposed to. The berries and additional topping more than make up for the lack of sweetness in the cookie. But, I couldn’t help thinking these would be great a little sweeter – as more of a true cookie than a shortbread cake. So, I think the next time I make these (Yes; there will be a next time!), I’ll go ahead and add the cinnamon and a little more coconut sugar, then roll the dough into balls and roll the balls into a cinnamon sugar mixture ala snickerdoodles. Or, add a little more sugar and the cinnamon to the batter, then top the unbaked cookies with coconut sugar before baking for a more traditional sugar cookie. These would also be great frosted or as cookies in a cream or ice cream filled cookie sandwich. Yum!

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Join our Raw Fusion Rest group on Facebook for this month’s challenge – lowering the fat in your high-raw, vegan diet.