sunny solstice cookies with cacao

If there’s any holiday I can get excited about in winter, it’s the one reminding me that winter, with all it’s darkness and erratic weather, will end. On the solstice, I am all too eager to celebrate, helping push the pendulum towards longer days, and the spring to come.

This recipe attempts to honor everything about this time of year, when the body craves density and creaminess, and the soul craves color and light. The interweb is bloated with holiday cookie recipes that involve rolling, cutting, sprinkling, or glopping with icing, so I see this as a simple healthy alternative that can save you time but still satisfy the sweet tooth. These guys are dairy, grain, and nut-free (not an easy feat for a cookie), so they can make a nutritious homemade treat packed in a school lunch, or to take to parties in which there may be nut, gluten, and/or dairy allergies. Plus, there’s no messy icing, meaning they can travel or ship without congealing into a disastrously UNfestive mess more unwelcome than a fruitcake. There are people out there I am lucky enough to still call friends who have been in the receiving end of such messes. P.S. I am so sorry guys. I know it was, like, 10 years ago, but I should have known better.

Not only does the sunbutter make the cookie exteriors glossy (the refrain to REM’s ‘Shiny Happy People’) has been running through my head ever since I took them out of the oven), but the little crunch of cacao nibs is like a little surprise inside! If you prefer dried fruits or actual dark chocolate chips inside, swap out the nibs in their favor. Enjoy!

sunny solstice cookies with crunchy cacao
Yields 14
A completely grain and nut--free treat that's creamy, delicious, portable, and fun to eat despite not being covered in sticky frosting.
Write a review
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
18 min
Total Time
38 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
18 min
Total Time
38 min
149 calories
12 g
13 g
10 g
4 g
1 g
39 g
105 g
9 g
0 g
9 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 149
Calories from Fat 88
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 10g
Saturated Fat 1g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 7g
Cholesterol 13mg
Sodium 105mg
Total Carbohydrates 12g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 9g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1 cup sunflower seed butter
  2. 1 egg, beaten
  3. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  4. 1/3 cup local honey
  5. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  6. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  7. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  8. 1/4 tsp salt
  9. 1 cup cacao nibs
  10. 3/4 cup chopped dried dark cherries (optional)
  11. Coarse sea salt, to sprinkle on top (optional)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together all of your ingredients except the chocolate chunks until they come together and mixed thoroughly.
  3. Once the batter comes together, fold in your cacao nibs and optional dried cherries.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and scoop your batter onto the baking sheet to form 12-14 cookies.
  5. If you're in the mood, arrange a few nibs and/or dried cherries on top to make a smiley face.
  6. If you like a little sea salt on the top of your cookies, sprinkle a little onto each cookie before putting it in the oven.
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
  1. Here is a good resource on making your own sunflower seed butter:
  2. Also, my title is a mouthful (I have a weakness for alliteration), so feel free to change it. Shiny Happy Cookies works, too.
Adapted from PaleOMG
Adapted from PaleOMG

paleo pumpkin spice muffins

Have you seen the “exposés” about canned pumpkin not actually being pumpkin (like this one on the kitchn)? Even as a #snacksnark who can’t resist a good food industry conspiracy, I know there’s a good reason for this, and it’s simple: butternut is better. The color is brighter, the flavor sweeter, and the plants are very productive, something I appreciate as a gardener.  No matter what else I’ve f*$#ed up in the weeding, watering, and composting department, the butternut is forgiving, sprawling across the lawn and giving birth to, in a better year, dozens of large, delicious lunkers I can stow away in the basement for a hungry day.  Pumpkins and what we know as winter squash come from the same genus, and have very similar nutritional contents (lots of vitamin A & potassium). So I will unabashedly tell you that these pumpkin muffins are made with homegrown butternut, though certainly I will also use kabocha squash or seminole pumpkin later in the fall and winter. If you want to geek out a little on pumpkins and winter squash, here’s a nice little piece on a blog called Botanist in the Kitchen.

I’ve never been into pumpkin lattes, but I can understand their appeal– warm, rich, spicy, and entirely seasonal. These hit that same spot. Even the first test batch of these vegan and grain-free pumpkin muffins got high marks from my toddler taste-tester, who would devour three in a sitting before I could take a decent photo. The texture of these more resembles a traditional muffin (whoo-hoo!) than some of the other paleo muffins using grated veggies, which I attribute to the moist binding properties of the squash.

Ingredients: butternut squash, local pastured eggs (Modesto Farm), organic coconut flour, organic coconut oil, organic raisins, organic dates, filtered water, spices (I’ll tell you which ones if you ask nicely), baking soda, vanilla extract



Sometimes, you just really want a cookie. Something warming and chewy and crunchy and flavorful all at the same time. And sometimes, if you are me, you cannot resist trying to screw up a perfectly good thing by making it with vegetables and without grain.  This one took a bit of experimenting, but, as luck would have it, these ended up being delicious: a nutritious snickerdoodle packed with zucchini, sunflower, and hemp seeds. The seeds add a creamy “nuttiness” that pairs well with zucchini, which also has a way of tasting nutty. Instead of rolling them in sugar (one of my favorite holiday kitchen tasks as a little girl), I created a blend of dried date powder and cinnamon.

Ingredients: organic zucchini, organic raw sunflower seeds, organic dates, organic coconut flour, raw hemp seeds, organic coconut oil, lemon juice, vanilla extract, sea salt, organic cinnamon  

sunshine carrot cookies

If you’ve ever traveled with a toddler on a group vacation, then you might be familiar with the need to explore a new area much earlier in the morning than you might otherwise want to.  Last week, my husband and I flew to Oregon, where we drove to a nice spot along the Deschutes River for a family reunion of about 18 folks on my mother-in-law’s side. Our bodies loyally remained on East Coast time until, conveniently enough, the day we were flying home. Our son’s body seemed slowest to acclimate, as he was up between 5 and 6 every morning, when my still-sleeping brother-in-law would mumble at him groggily from under a pillow on the fold-out couch when reduntantly asked “what’s Uncle Bobbins doing? Is he sleeping? Is he sleeping?” On the second morning, we attempted to mitigate this kind of irritation by hightailing it to Bend, about 15 miles to the north, where we found very little open at 7 am. Except, that is, Sarah’s Raw & Vegan Cafe, a hidden jem in the back of a chiropractic office that offered a slew of different medicinal smoothies, a bunch of old toys, crayons, and (seriously) a sandbox out back. Perfect.

Not one for sweets so early in the day, my inner child was nevertheless wooed by the prospect of a snickerdoodle– curious what a raw and vegan version would taste like. What is a snickerdoodle without a generous coating of granulated sugar and cinnamon, anyway? At $3 a pop, finding an answer was a bit of an investment.  Fifteen dollars later, I had tried every flavor she offered, and quickly decided I would attempt a nut-free version as soon as I got home.  I even made a visit back the next day to buy a large stash for the flight home, and you can rightly surmise than none of them lasted long enough to see the inside of an airport, or get caught on camera.  I guess I was concerned with the more practical matter of taking home the list of ingredients.

Of course, I had to try to find a way to get some veggies in my version, and had acquired a large bag of small carrots from Elena Day (of Elena Day’s Pies & Produce) the day before our trip. So I revisited an old “carrot cake cookie” recipe attempted from This Rawsome Vegan Life (which is a rather inspiring site, by the way, if you have enough bandwidth to load and scroll past the zillion of food-porny photos accompanying each recipe– you know, in order to actually GET to the recipe?).  I did not manage to achieve the same perfectly crumbly texture that Sarah did (I think I that might require limiting the vegetable content and using more dry sweetener), but the result for these cookies is a crunchy exterior and a moist, chewy interior.  Fionn loves them and can eat several in a sitting, which is a lot for him!

Ingredients: local carrots, organic raw sunflower seeds, filtered water, organic dates, organic coconut flour, organic flax seeds, raw hemp seeds, organic coconut oil, sea salt, vanilla extract, organic cinnamon, organic ginger, organic nutmeg

#raw, #vegan, #paleo



carrot chia muffins with coconut & ginger

#paleo, #grainfree, #nutfree, #vitamin a

Early iterations of our paleo mini muffins at City Market were probably a little underwhelming. I have my son’s third birthday to thank for getting serious about making a grain-free cupcake that would pass muster in his preschool class rather than cause a dozen little faces to contort condemningly. Applying some of the cupcake principles to the muffin formula, including eliminating tapioca flour, gives them a little more “lift.” I got a lot of great feedback from customers on August 29th, when I sold these for the first time. The greatest part of these guys, though, is that they are literally mostly eggs and carrot, like a vitamin A-packed frittata, sweetened only with dates and raisins and packed with fresh ginger.

I tell everyone unfamiliar with paleo baked goods to be aware that a truly grain-free muffin will have a denser, moister, eggier texture than the fluffy, cake-ish muffins we’ve grown up on. But won’t sit in your belly like a load of bricks!

Ingredients: local pastured eggs (Modesto Farm), locally grown carrots, organic coconut oil, organic coconut flour, organic dates, filtered water, organic chia seeds, baking soda, sea salt, fresh ginger, vanilla extract, ginger powder

paleo zucchini mini muffins

Months ago, I swore to myself I would never again use coconut flour. In fact, I said it out loud, in the presence of others, more than once. Frustrated with weird, unreliable textures characterizing many a baked good I tried to make in the pursuit of nut-free paleo baked goods. If you read sites like Paleo Mom, Against All Grain, or other grain-free food blogs, then you probably know that coconut flour brands matter, as does the quantity and temperature of the eggs. Well, I couldn’t handle all the variables, knowing that coconut flour is very non-local (in fact, much of it comes precisely from the opposite end of the planet) or explaining to people why my muffins had the spongy texture of frittatas, and I back-burnered the challenge to make completely grain-free muffins that were primarily locally grown ingredients. But knowing how much kids love muffins, I set to work again, and think I’ve created the ideal morning treat that’s perfectly sized for little hands! By weight, the proportion of coconut flour to other ingredients is pretty small, and the eggs pack some quality protein, too. Applesauce and dried figs add a subtle sweetness, with no other added sugars.

Ingredients: local pastured eggs (Modesto Farm), zucchini (Little Hat Creek Farm), organic applesauce, organic coconut flour, organic dried currants, organic dried figs, coconut oil, tapioca flour, sea salt, vanilla extract, baking soda, cinnamon, fresh ginger, nutmeg


superstar & mighty mint bars

This is the perfect portable “treat” for the kiddos (you don’t have to tell them that there’s little bits of kale inside), or a great chewy re-fuel after a workout. In slightly more than 200 calories, each bar is a good source of protein (10 grams!), iron, Vitamin E, fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, & manganese, a very good source of Vitamin K, and contains about 1,900 mcg of omega-3 fatty acids from four kinds of seeds. Since just enough certified organic raisins and dates are used to hold the bars together, it wouldn’t technically be lying to call this a “chewy raisin bar” for the little ones particularly wary of new foods.  This is nutrient density at it’s best! 

mighty mint omega bar

Flavors include superstar (vanilla rosemary) and mighty mint (cacao nibs with peppermint)

Ingredients (superstar bar): organic raw sunflower seeds, organic raw pumpkin seeds, organic seedless raisins, organic medjool dates, organic flax seeds, organic chia seeds, raw hemp seeds, local organic kale, sea salt, vanilla extract, lemon extract, fresh rosemary


Order here.

Mint Mayhem

Minty Superfood Saucers with Kale (Beta)

We have a small bed in our garden that gets full sun, drains very quickly, and has come to be known as the “death bed.” This is partly an homage to Patton Oswalt* as well as an admission that every time we’ve attempted to plant even heat-loving vegetables there (sweet peppers, eggplant, and basil), each are met with a stunted, slowly dessicating demise.  So when I came into a chocolate mint plant at a Master Gardener sale a couple years ago, I knew exactly where to put it.  I discovered chocolate mint about 15 years ago, on the organic farm where my husband and I both once worked (when we had spry knees, hideous tan lines, and could be bribed into long hot hours of heirloom tomato transplanting with cans of Natty Boh). There, it sprawled vigorously along the outside walls of the greenhouse, out-competing other weeds. Sometimes, at the end of a hot day, I’d grab a sprig and rub the crushed leaves on my neck so that I could hide from my own stench for a while. It made a refreshing, richer-than-peppermint sun tea, too, which I guess is what I should have been drinking more of instead of Natty Boh. In any case, no one who has ever tried to grow a little mint will be surprised when I say our little chocolate mint turned the death bed into a vibrant purplish-stemmed jungle of fragrance, even creeping several feet out into the lawn. Even I can’t drink this much tea.

Thus, my inspiration for a Minty Kale Superfood Saucers was born. I had debuted the saucer at City Market this past Saturday, but wanted to experiment with new flavor that didn’t come out of a bottle, or resort to adding cacao nibs. Who wants to risk a potentially napless afternoon with an energetic toddler simply for a snack that had even a tiny bit of caffeine? Caffeine can be mommy’s little helper, sure; but only when it’s in HER hands.

If you haven’t heard my empty calorie rant, or my frustrations with “energy bars,” then I will only say briefly here that these saucers, like all my experiments, are designed to have a significant amount of vegetables (organic kale from Brightwood Vineyard & Farm) and lots of healthy essential fats from whole food ingredients. No isolates, syrups, sweeteners, unpronounceable preservatives, gluten, nuts, or dairy.

After getting some feedback from vegans on Saturday, I made a few changes in this beta recipe (Mint Modification V1.0), that allowed to me make a completely raw, vegan version. That means the texture is slightly different, with the sunflower seeds, chia, and flax more thoroughly puréed. Nevertheless, I am always looking for ways to improve size, texture, shape, and other attributes in order to make things most appealing to kids. Who cares how many vitamins are in something if it never gets to their mouth?

Ingredients: organic raw sunflower seeds, organic pumpkin seeds, organic unsulfured apricots, organic medjool dates, organic flax seeds, local organic kale, organic chia seeds, organic virgin coconut oil, chocolate mint, sea salt, organic vanilla extract

By now I understand why most energy bars are in opaque packaging. They are ugly, and I lack the food-porn photoshopping skills or hipster craftiness to make them look sexy with a little jute twine and parchment paper. Little help, anybody?

Until I find the magic packaging solution for these, each bag has four saucers, which are about 100 calories a piece and packed with vitamins and healthy fats from seeds. Order here for pick up at ACAC downtown on the mornings of Tuesday June 2nd or Thursday 4th. Add a comment if neither of those times work for you and you want to arrange another meet-up.

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*If you have read this far and are afraid to raise your hand and ask what the heck Patton Oswalt has to do with gardening, well, he doesn’t. But please watch his “Death Bed” stand-up sketch after the kids have gone to bed. There are rather superfluous F-bombs.