Girl Scout Cookie Time 2017

It’s Girl Scout Cookie Time!

I am guilty of peddling cases of those cookies all those years ago. I only made it as far as a Junior Girl Scout, as there were no troops for my age group in my area past the 6th grade. I still support the GSA at Cookie Time, though I usually do it in the form of a donation rather than buying a box of cookies that I won’t eat. Not because they aren’t delicious, but because I am a dedicated vegan.

As a vegan, there were no varieties that I could eat, up until recently. There was news on the radio the other day that Thin Mints are now vegan (!) I knew that there are only two companies in the US that make Girl Scout cookies, and one of them was proactive and offered several vegan varieties. Of course, that was the company that wasn’t the distributor in my area 😦 Now the other company has come on board and offer my favorite cookie, the Thin Mint , as a vegan option. (YAY!)

So now I can go track down a local troop selling cookies in my area . (There’s an app for that BTW) to buy some Thin Mints. The other varieties , sadly are not yet vegan.

That doesn’t mean that I can’t make my own (I could make Thin Mints too, but I want to support the Girl Scouts so while they are available and vegan, I will do that). Because it is Girl Scout Cookie Time, this entry is dedicated to the Samoa, the chocolatey, caramelized coconutty shortbread-like cookie that you can’t eat just one of. I made batch of these and took them into work and they were gone in a flash. (Yes, there were THAT good!)

There are several steps, but none are too difficult. They don’t even take all that long to make.

For the cookie:

2 c unsweetened coconut chips, lightly toasted
1/2 c unrefined coconut oil
2 TBSP vegan margarine
¾ c brown sugar
1/3 c nondairy milk
1 TBSP ground flax seeds
1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 c unbleached flour
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

For the caramel:

1 TBSP vegan margarine
1 c brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ c brown rice syrup
1-14 oz can of full-fat coconut milk
½ tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp tapioca starch/flour, dissolved in 2 TBSP water or coconut milk

For the chocolate:
1-10 oz bag of vegan semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper – this is necessary to keep the cookies from becoming permanently part of the baking sheet… it’s not a step that is worth skipping. Parchment paper is cheap. I had actually run out of it and made a special trip to the grocery store just to buy it.

There are many ways to toast coconut, including in the conventional oven, on the stovetop, or in a toaster oven. It is also an option to buy coconut that is already toasted if you don’t want to deal with this. I like the stovetop method best, using a dry cast iron skillet. It gets very hot very fast though, and it needs to be watched carefully so the coconut does not burn. Once the cast iron skillet is hot, remove it from the heat. Add the coconut chips to the skillet in a single layer so it cooks evenly. If it won’t all fit in there at the same time it’s OK. It can be toasted a little bit at a time. Give it a quick toss to lightly toast the coconut and then transfer it to a plate or bowl to stop the cooking process and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine coconut oil, vegan margarine, and brown sugar. Using a hand mixer, cream the sugar, coconut oil and vegan margarine together. Add nondairy milk of choice (I used plain, unsweetened almond milk) and pure vanilla extract and mix again until smooth.

In a separate bowl, combine unbleached flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until well incorporated. Fold coconut chips into the dough.

Scoop out a small amount of dough onto the prepared baking sheet and flatten into small circles about 1/4”-1/2” thick. I like a crispy cookie, so I tend to make them thinner. These will not spread much, so you can place them close to each other on the baking sheet, just make sure they are not touching. Bake at 350ºF for 6-10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to set for at least 5 minutes.

Remove 2 TBSP coconut milk from the can and mix with 1 tsp tapioca starch/flour and set aside. In a heavy saucepan, melt vegan margarine on medium low heat. Add brown sugar, brown rice syrup, salt and remaining coconut milk. Mix with a hand mixer until smooth. Increase heat to high and add dissolved tapioca starch/flour and bring to a boil. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon until it thickens. Reduce heat to low, and add in pure vanilla extract. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler and set aside. To make the chocolate a little thinner, you can add a little bit of cocoa butter (available at most good culinary shops), but it isn’t necessary if you can’t find it in your area.

Once the cookies are baked and cool, turn all the cookies upside down and spread a small amount of melted chocolate on the bottom side. Allow the chocolate to set, which can be done by placing the whole baking sheet of cookies in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes or so. Once it is set, flip all the cookies over.

Spoon a small amount of caramel on the top side of each cookie, followed by a drizzle of chocolate on top of the caramel. Refrigerate again for 15-20 minutes to set the chocolate up, and enjoy any time of year, not just when it’s Girl Scout Cookie Time!


Good Things Utah Vegan Cooking Segment!

On Monday, 27 March 2017, I shared my recipes for vegan chocolates on ABC 4 Utah’s morning show, Good Things Utah.  Thanks to everyone on the show-I had a great time 🙂

A few notes that I did not have time to talk about when doing the segment:

Vegan Peanut Butter Cups can be made gluten free by using gluten free Annie’s GF cinnamon sugar snickerdoodle cookies (pulse in a food processor to get crumbs) in place of a graham cracker pie crust shell (I use these in lieu of just buying graham crackers because almost all of them have honey in them, which is not vegan. It’s tough to find organic graham cracker pie crust shells in SLC this time of year, so you go with whatever you can find). You can buy GF graham crackers, but none I’ve seen are also vegan. If you have extra time, you can make your own GF graham crackers, using this recipe here:

Vegan Peanut Butter Cups can be peanut free too (WHAT!!!) …. You can use one of my very favorite products, called SunButter. It tastes a lot like peanut butter but it is made with sunflower seeds! Make sure you buy the SunButter brand though, as it is the best tasting (not getting any kickbacks-just personal opinion). It’s kind of expensive, but SO worth it! Sometimes it’s on sale or you might get a manufacturer’s or store coupon for it in the mail (Got a $1 off coupon in the mail from Smith’s last week-it might also be on their website to load onto your Fresh Values Card it you have one-definitely check it out).

If you are out of powdered sugar or don’t want to pay $4 for a bag of organic vegan powdered sugar, you can make your own!  I use unbleached cane sugar/evaporated cane juice. Cane sugar is vegan if it is unbleached-pure white bleached sugar goes through a bone-char filter to get it to be so white. It doesn’t change its properties per se, but it is kind of like having something nonvegan sharing the same plate as your vegan meal. It’s a matter of principle…

For every 1 cup of unbleached sugar, use 1 TBSP non-GMO cornstarch. You can do it in a high speed blender (VitaMix, BlendTec or other blender-use dry canister). You want your unbleached sugar to be superfine in texture, so I actually run it through a clean coffee grinder (mixing the two in a bowl first, then in small batches, running it through the coffee grinder, then transfer to an airtight container for any unused portions).

For the vegan truffles, you can make these nut-free too. If you can’t use cashews (too expensive, sold out everywhere, allergies, whatever the reason), you can use tofu instead. It’s a mousse filling, so it also doubles as a pie filling! Though soy based, it gets a bad rap. Its health benefits outweigh any negative press it has gotten (it will not give you Moobs and medical studies have been inconclusive about causing cancer).

There’s no real measuring that needs to happen with any of these recipes-I never measure anything… But for those who need ratios:


1/2 jar peanut butter OR SunButter

1/2 c powdered sugar

1-9″ vegan graham cracker pie crust


1 part unsweetened coconut flakes

1 part sliced almonds

2 parts Brown Rice Syrup

Mix everything together in a bowl-let it sit for a bit for the coconut to rehydrate. I usually start with 1/4 c almonds, 1/4 c coconut flakes and 1/2 c Brown Rice Syrup. A little bit goes a LONG way. Adjust amounts of Brown Rice  Syrup if too dry, add more coconut or almonds if too wet. These are like an       Almond Joy-if you can’t eat almonds, you can leave them out and then it’s more like Mounds. When I started making these, I used Agave Nectar, which works too, but it’s not as thick as BrownRice Syrup, and I like the BRS version  much better. You can buy it at Sprouts and Whole Foods (and possibly other       places too).  Make sure to wipe down the lip of your jar of Brown Rice Syrup  because it is VERY sticky and if you put the lid on without doing this, it will be hard to open it the next time you want to use it.


Cashew Creme (soak cashews at least 2 hours, drain & rinse, then transfer to a blender and add just enough cold water to barely cover. Blend until smooth). Start with 1/4 c cashew creme and add 1/4 c melted chocolate chips and blend again until well incorporated. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides & blend again. Transfer to candy molds and refrigerated until solidified. These can have either a hard candy shell or you can just roll them in cocoa powder, nuts, coconut, etc. If choosing the hard candy shell, prepare in the same way as PB Cups & Almond Delites. (see video)


KUTV 2 News SLC promotes a vegan diet!

Watch the video here


Diet Change After Cancer Fight

(KUTV) A simple change in her diet gave one woman the hope she lost after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Kate Dowden learned she had cancer in 2010. She had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. During her treatments, Kate’s doctor also encouraged her to change her diet. “She told me that ‘Kate, you should eat meat only as a condiment, rarely or never.’ And then she kind of sent me on my way and I was like ‘what does that even mean’.”Dowden, a registered nurse and Westminster College graduate, turned to scientific journals. She found there was a correlation between food and chronic diseases. “There was evidence that diet is linked to cancer.”

So the nurse changed to a plant-based diet. She doesn’t eat processed food or meats. Everything Nurse Kate cooks is fresh and organic. “This is a diet that you eat if you want to live a nice, long, rich, healthy life.”

Nurse Kate says the diet has given her a sense of control over her health. But she admits there are side effects. “Weight loss, increased energy, increased athletic endurance. There are some pretty big side effects. People should be aware of that.”

Nurse Kate is also educating people about a plant-based diet. She teaches cooking classes at Harmons City Creek. She has also launched her own website,

Nurse Kate has also provided the following recipes for you to try at home.

Portobello Tacos ”
Kate Dowden, RN!
Resilient Body Nutrition” ”
3-4 large portobello mushrooms thinly sliced”
1 sweet onion finely chopped”
1 yellow onion chopped”
4-5 Romaine lettuce leaves thinly sliced”
2 avocados chopped”
3 medium tomatoes chopped”
2 limes”
1 cup No Chicken Broth (Pacific Foods) ”
4 cloves garlic roughly chopped ”
1/2 t cumin”
1/4 t pasilla pepper powder”
1/4 t mexican oregano”
1/4 t sweet paprika”
dash cinnamon”
dash allspice”
salt and pepper to taste”
12 corn tortillas (I prefer Rico’s handmade) ”
(makes about 6 tacos)! ”
Instructions: Prepare toppings: slice avocado, chop tomato, thinly slice lettuce, finely
chop sweet onion, wedge 1 lime and set aside. ” ”
In a large non-stick pan on med-hi heat add chopped yellow onion 3 cloves chopped
garlic and 2 T no chicken broth. Sauté until onions begin to brown. If there is some “bits”
of brown on the pan that’s ok. Pour in 1/4 c broth to deglaze pan. Add thinly sliced
mushrooms and spices. Simmer for aprox 15 min on med-low heat adding broth as
needed. Juice one lime into mixture right before serving. ”

To prepare tortillas ”
Juice one lime into spray bottle with one clove garlic and 4T water (best if left in
refrigerator overnight) Plain water will also work. ” ”
Heat small non-stick pan on high heat. Spray water on one side of tortilla and place wet
side down into pan until air pockets form on tortilla, spray opposite side and flip tortilla
with tongs until air pockets form. Place hot tortilla in tortilla container or aluminum foil,
keeping covered until all tortillas are toasted. (Optional shortcut: wrap a stack of tortillas
in a wet paper towel or clean dishcloth and place on a glass plate. Microwave for 1-2min
until hot)” ”
Using 1 or 2 tortilla (for better structure) place approximately 1 Tablespoon of mushroom
mixture in each tortilla. Load in toppings and sauce as desired.” ”

“Creamy” Cilantro Lime Sauce ”
Kate Dowden, RN”
Resilient Body Nutrition” ”
In a high speed blender:”
1/2 C raw cashews”
1/2 pkg firm non-gmo organic tofu”
3 T apple cider vinegar”
Juice of 2 limes”
1/2 t salt”
1/4 c no chicken broth”
1/2 t cumin”
Aprox 2 T fresh onion (a piece the size of a walnut)”
Aprox 1 cup fresh cilantro”
blend until smooth!
add pepper to taste”
(yield aprox 17 oz)

(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcasting.)



Diligently working  on my second cookbook, Vegan Wanderlust: Your Guide to Being Vegan Anywhere In The World!   This is the current cover art, which may change before it it published, but I really like it.  What do you think?

It is full of travel tips and will have a massive amount of recipes from all over the world.  This is an extremely research-heavy endeavor, and therefore the reason why it is taking longer to compose and create than my first book, Recipes From The Kitchen Of A Self-Proclaimed Veganista,  which is available in both eBook and traditional paperback formats from Amazon and Barnes & Noble (online) or directly from me.  If you get it from me, you will get an autographed copy 🙂

Vegan Wanderlust will also be available in both eBook and paper formats.  I suspect it will be too many pages to qualify as a paperback, so may need to be a hardbound cookbook.  The artwork and photos will be awesome though, so it may be out on you coffee tables to show off to everyone that stops by.


About The Veganista’s Kitchen

The Veganista’s Kitchen is a website dedicated to the vegan lifestyle, a lifestyle that you can take with you, anywhere in the world, and not have to worry about having to compromise your beliefs. It isn’t just for the vegan however, as it can benefit anyone with an interest in finding new recipes, travel, and general information about living a healthier, greener lifestyle. It is also designed to be a companion website to my books, Recipes From The Kitchen Of A Self-Proclaimed Veganista and an upcoming book, Vegan Wanderlust: Your Guide To Being Vegan Anywhere In The World! (due to be released in the near future-stay tuned!).

A little about me:

I have never been a huge fan of meat or fish or poultry or even milk (only used it on cold cereal). I was probably destined to become a more compassionate consumer as a result of my less than enthusiastic relationship with animal derived ingredients-it just took me a while to fully realize it.

I gave up all pork products at the age of 8 due to a sensitivity to preservatives, particularly nitrites, which are used in pretty much all cured meat products. Something about nitrites (and actually sulfites too) triggers a response in my nervous system to set off a severe hemiplegic migraine attack. At the time, I didn’t know what was going on – I’d slowly lose my vision, half my body would go into paralysis, and then excruciating pain would set in. Eventually my vision would return and the paralysis would go away, but the pain lingered for no less than 24 hours and on occasion, it would torment me for as long as an entire month. I didn’t make the connection until one day there was nothing to eat in the house except peanut butter and hot dogs. I took a big scoop of peanut butter, ate that, and then chased  it down with a hot dog (terrible combination, I know). Within minutes of ingesting the hotdog, I knew then that I would never eat cured meat products again in my life.

At the age of 12 I decided that I no longer wanted to eat red meat. It was partially a textural thing, but I wasn’t a big fan of the taste and I was tired of having to chew it so much because it made my jaws hurt. A good enough reason to never eat it again. At the age of 15,  I decided to give up meat entirely.  I found out about factory farms and how horribly treated the animals were. Dairy is basically the by-product of the veal industry, and I should have given up all  dairy after discovering this, but it isn’t as easy as some would have you believe.  It was really difficult to get away from because it is found in so many things. For example, misnamed “non-dairy creamer” contains casein in it, which is a milk-derived protein. Just because there are miniscule amounts in there doesn’t mean it should be qualified to be called non-dairy.  For me, it was probably cheese that was especially hard to phase out, so I am glad that there are new and better vegan substitutes being discovered and invented every day!  (As I love my enchiladas and lasagne & nachos, grilled “cheese” sandwiches and even vegan mac ‘n’ cheese).

At the same time, I became an avid animal rights activist.  I thought I was the only vegetarian in my entire school, but now I find out that many of my high school friends have become a vegetarian (and some are even vegan now) as a result of my activism all those years ago. I guess they did pay attention to what I was saying afterall 🙂  I was voted “Most Likely To Save The World”, which probably isn’t too far from the truth. I strongly believe that one person does make a difference in the world, and every little thing someone does leads to something bigger as a whole.

I was lacto-ovo vegetarian for the first 6 months, then lacto-vegetarian for the next six years. I did a fair amount of cooking throughout high school at home, and all my own cooking during my poor college student years. Although commercially available vegan substitutes for things like meat & cheese  & milk were available, many were really horrible and also too expensive to purchase on a regular basis for a student only working part time earning minimum wage.

As a result, most things I had to make completely from scratch because non-vegan counterparts just were either too expensive or not available commercially on a regular basis in my area. The biggest obstacle in going from lacto-vegetarian to vegan was finding products without dairy-derived ingredients. Otherwise I know I would have made the change much sooner. Dairy is everywhere and it really doesn’t need to be. Being forced to make everything from scratch was a good thing though, as it improved my cooking skills considerably. Everything tasted better than what I could purchase an equivalent for at the store, and I could control all the ingredients that went into the final product to suit my own tastes rather than what the commercial producers thought my tastebuds would prefer…

It hasn’t been the easiest lifestyle, being a vegan, but I have to tell you, it really made an astronomical difference in my life and how I perceive the world. I love to travel, and finding vegan-friendly places to eat is quite a challenge. Eating out all the time is both expensive and probably not all that healthy. When we travel, we like to find places that are self-catering, where we have a way to prepare our own meals. This way, there are no surprises, no disappointments (and no grouchy husbands). The main perk in all of  this is how it opens up the opportunity to live like the locals do, by visiting all the local markets and being able to experience everyday life wherever in the world we happen to be.  Traveling as if you are a local is far more of a rewarding and memorable experience than being just another tourist.

As this blog develops and grows, I want to include photos and videos of all the recipes I have created as well as tips and tricks to be able to rely on what you can get locally anywhere in the world. I try to stick with ingredients that are available pretty much anywhere; for ingredients that are not available everywhere, I will offer up substitutions that can be used in in their place. If you happen to live someplace that doesn’t have certain ingredients, let me know what those are and will do my best to find suitable substitutions for your area.

Thanks for checking out The Veganista’s Kitchen Blogsite!


Vegan Wanderlust: Your Guide To Being Vegan Anywhere In The World!

Currently, I am working on my second book, entitled “Vegan Wanderlust: Your Guide To Being Vegan Anywhere In The World!”  It is still in its infancy, with only about 30 pages completed – it is easily going to be 10x that when I am finished with it… I work on it as often as possible though, because I really want to get it out there, but I’ve been super busy lately and just haven’t worked on it as much as I would like to.

This book is resource heavy, with lots of references that relate to not just travel and veganism, but also to historical and cultural events and customs as well.  As such, it requires a vast amount of research involved in writing it  (much more so than my first book, Recipes From The Kitchen Of A Self Proclaimed Veganista, where most of the time involved was making every single recipe, making sure everything was measured {which BTW is something I rarely EVER do, with exception to baked goods where it actually matters}, and getting a photo of nearly every recipe in the book.)

This time,  most of the recipes featured will require finding out what the local specialties are in the different parts of the world and how they can be adapted to be vegan friendly.  Some specialties will never be part of this book , as they would be very difficult to veganize without knowing what they are supposed to taste like, and I’m not about to abandon my vegan heritage to find out what traditional Mjólkursoðinn tastes like… (which BTW is one of the national dishes of Iceland-apparently the main ingredient is Atlantic Puffin, which also happens to be the National Bird… seems a bit hypocritical to me, but to each their own…)

One of my goals is to visit every region that I cover in my book, so I can write from first hand experience.  The internet is a great resource for finding facts and figures, but it isn’t the same as actually being there in person. Accidentally stumbling upon that secret hole-in-the-wall pub or diner where only the locals hang out is only going to happen when one is actually exploring and meandering along the unbeaten path.  It is unlikely these gems are listed in any guidebook or on a random blog, and if they are, reading about them is not the same as being there in person.

Wanting to travel the globe has been #1 on my Bucket List of things to do before I die-it’s not cheap though.  I need to find more innovative ways to fund my adventures 🙂



Recipes From The Kitchen Of A Self-Proclaimed Veganista is now complete! Currently awaiting the arrival of a printed proof from CreateSpace to make sure it looks great in print. In addition to being available as a printed book, it will also be available as an eBook via Nook, Google eBooks and hopefully iBookstore (awaiting approval…). Being a full-color vegan cookbook, reading it on an older black & white Kindle isn’t an option, but it should be ok on the Kindle Fire. It is set for worldwide distribution, but if for some reason you can’t order it where you are, hit me up at and we can work something out.