Chocolate Chunk Nut Butter Blondies (with Teff Flour)

chocolate chunk nut butter blondies with teff flour

Are you enamored with teff flour yet? I am! Teff flour is my new baking darling. Making cookies? Teff flour. Making brownies? Teff flour. Making snack bars? Heck, yes, teff flour!

Even the Globe and Mail is publishing full page articles extolling the virtues of teff, and when the Globe and Mail gets on board, you know teff is making it mainstream. According to the Globe, teff is great for iron, protein, and fibre. Particularly of note, teff’s fibre comprises a lot of resistant starch, a particular kind of starch that resists digestion in your small intestine. This starch makes it into your large intestine and is turned, by the bacteria there, into good stuff for your body (basically it feeds the bacteria and they turn it into short-chain fatty acids). All very positive.

Teff has been called the endurance grain, the stamina grain, the energy grain, and more. Or maybe those are names I’ve made up. Either way, consensus is that teff should be in your diet prontissimo.

chocolate chunk nut butter blondies with teff flour

So let’s talk blondie bars. Also, don’t get too excited, but I’m going to be trying teff BROWNIES soon. Yes and yes.

But back to the blondies. These are another very easy intro recipe for teff. Easy to make gluten-free, simple ingredients, and really pretty forgiving. You can’t go wrong with nut butter and chocolate chunks in anything. You can’t teff this up.

The original recipe is from Vegan Richa; I just upped the teff factor. I took them to the office for a farewell party and my sister called them “the best bars ever”. They would make an awesome lunch snack (we are in the back to school zone) or a tasty and healthy-ish option for a work snack shindig.

Enjoy! Also I promise I’ll stop with the teff play on words very soon. I’ve pretty much run out of ideas anyways.

chocolate chunk nut butter blondies with teff flour

Chocolate Chunk Nut Butter Blondies (with Teff Flour)

  • Author: Original recipe from Vegan Richa; tweaks by Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, oil-free


  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablepoons non-dairy milk
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 tablepoon flax seed meal or ground chia
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup almond butter or peanut butter or other smooth nut butter (I used a mix of almond and peanut)
  • 1/2 cup teff flour
  • 1/4 cup  + 2 tablespoons coconut flour (or more teff, if you don’t have coconut flour)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup gluten-free/dairy-free chocolate chunks


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, flax/chia, maple syrup, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Stir in nut butter until completely combined.
  4. In a separate bowl medium-sized bowl, whisk together teff and coconut flours, cornstarch, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until well-combined (without, you know, stirring the thing to oblivion).
  6. Spread batter into a (very lightly) greased 8×8 pan and bake for 18-25 minutes, depending on your oven’s hotness. They should pull away from the edges of the pan just slightly and look dry on top.

© Backyard Owl

23 Delicious and Indulgent Clean Eating Dessert Recipes for the Holiday Season

23 dessert recipesIf you are anything like me, you spend a good deal of time in December planning what to bake (or non-bake, for my raw friends) for the holiday season. You want recipes that are straightforward, healthy, simple, delicious, and produce results that are pretty, because, heck, if it’s ugly, no one wants to eat it. And, preferably, you want to find recipes that everybody can enjoy, including your family or friends who can’t have gluten, or need lower sugar recipes, or are allergic to nuts, or breakout in hives just thinking about soy, and so on.

And can I also say that so many people have a very specific concept of ‘indulgence’ around the holidays, and most certainly, the festive season IS a time to indulge in appreciation and gratitude and to really savour what we have available to us. But if your definition of indulgence results in digestive turmoil, weight gain, sluggishness, eating too much and feeling uncomfortably full, or just generally feeling like crap, then you need to redefine how you approach the season.

Desserts can be rich, indulgent, AND healthy, and they can give you all the joys you seek without the subsequent payment later.

dark chocolate bark with cranberries and pumpkin seeds

So, with that all in mind, I’ve scoured the internet (well, not really, although I did look a bunch of places) to create a Delicious Holiday Dessert line-up for you. Indulgent, simple, beautiful, and tasty, these recipes should give you a good place to get started celebrating the season. This list covers all the holiday essentials: scones, pies, tarts, fudge, favourite squares, and a helluva lot of dark chocolate. All recipes are vegan, and the majority are gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free (and pretty darn clean as far as it goes). And while you’re checking out the recipes, just look at the beautiful photographs and appreciate the genius of these inspired bloggers. Stunning.

Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Cups

23 Delicious & Indulgent Clean Eating Dessert Recipes for the Holiday Season

  1. Vegan & Grain Free Magic Cookie Bars – Eating Bird Food
  2. Dark Chocolate & Pumpkin Pie Truffles – Kris
  3. Raw Coconut Lemon Bars – Pure Ella
  4. Vegan Dark Chocolate Cookies – Vegan Richa
  5. Clean Eating Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding – Chocolate Covered Katie
  6. Gluten Free Banana Nut Bread Pudding – the Lean Clean Eating Machine
  7. Maple Pecan Chocolate Bark – Clean Eating Chelsey
  8. Dark Chocolate Bark with Cranberries and Pumpkin Seeds – Backyard Owl
  9. Coconut Chocolate Bark with Goji Berries and Pecans – Bit of the Good Stuff
  10. Superfood Chocolate Bark – My Whole Foods Life
  11. Festive Apple Cider Scones (gf) – Backyard Owl
  12. Banana Espresso Scones with Oat Maple Crumble (gf) – Backyard Owl
  13. Paleo Sugar Cookies – Elena’s Pantry
  14. Almond Flour Sugar Cut Out Cookies – The Urban Poser
  15. Perfectly Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies (v, gf) – Backyard Owl
  16. Clean Eating Snickerdoodles – The Gracious Pantry
  17. Easy Raw Chocolate Fudge – The Detoxinista
  18. Vegan Raw Nanaimo Bars – Radiant Rachels
  19. Vegan Gluten Free Apple Pie (with Coconut Oil) – the Fitchen
  20. Sweet Potato Pie with Pecan Crust – Backyard Owl
  21. Chocolate Espresso Tart (v, gf) – Jennifer Katzinger
  22. Raw, No-Bake Dark Chocolate Mint Thins – Pure Ella
  23. Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Cups with Sea Salt – Backyard Owl
Do you have any other favourite holiday dessert recipes? Share them below!
© Backyard Owl

Oh So Good Black Bean Brownies (vegan, gluten-free, naturally-sweetened)

Black beans. Dates. Cocoa Powder. Chia Seeds. Almond Milk.

Some kind of new age smoothie? NO! Brownies, friends, brownies.

Naturally sweetened black bean brownies

Let me lay the scene: these black bean brownies are my homage to the amazing black bean brownies at Minimalist Baker. You can find that recipe here. When I first found the Minimalist Baker’s recipe online, something called to me with the lure of the siren song, saying, bake me, bake me. And so I did, and on that day, my brownie tastebuds were forever changed.

While it’s true that the most discerning brownie palate might not mistake these brownies with the triple chocolate fudge ones from your local coffee shop, there is some unexplainable je ne sais quoi that these brownies have that make them irresistible. I find now I actually somehow crave these brownies above any others. They are fudgy, just the right amount of sweet, and chocolately, yet with a hint of something more complex. And remember: these are made of beans. Let me say it again, so you can feel appropriate awe: These. Brownies. Are. Made. Of. Beans.

Naturally sweetened black bean brownies

So, back to the story. Much as I loved the original recipe, I wanted to know if I could make these brownies with a natural sweetener, namely, dates. As suspected, the recipe held up beautifully. So, friends, let me introduce you to Black Bean Brownies that are sweetened with dates.

Bake, enjoy, marvel. These are proof that with a little ingenuity (of which the majority must be said to be owing to the minds at Minimalist Baker), every dessert can have some nutritional value. And lest we gloss over that value, let’s take a moment: these brownies are totally gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, and contain antioxidants, minerals, protein, and fibre. Lots of fibre.

Which brings me to my final note about these brownies, and it’s an important one: the thing that makes these brownies amazing (they are made of beans!) is the very same thing that warrants a brief warning: namely, they are made of beans. Your mouth might not know the difference, but I can assure you, your body (primarily your digestive system) will. What I’m saying is, though you may wish to eat three or four of these beauties in one go, I would advise gentle restraint, lest you pay the er…price. Catching my drift? Good.

Do you have a favourite black bean brownie recipe? I’d love to hear about it!

Naturally sweetened black bean brownies

Black Bean Brownies, Sweetened with Dates

  • Author: MInimalist Baker + some tweaks by Backyard Owl
  • Recipe notes: vegan, soy-free, wheat-free, grain-free, gluten-free, nut-free
  • Yield: 12 brownies
  • 1 3/4 cup black beans, rinsed well
  • 2.5 tablespoons ground chia seeds + 8 tablespoons water or non-dairy milk
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup date paste (roughly 1/2 cup very soft dates – really squish them into the measuring cup – softened even further in 1/2 -3/4 cup water and warmed over low heat until very soft and paste-like. Check for pits.)
  • 3/4 cup -1 cup dairy-free mini chocolate chips (grain-sweetened, if you want to keep with the naturally-sweetened idea, but otherwise, whatever you’ve got)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Measure beans, chia seeds, non-dairy milk, vanilla, salt, espresso powder (if using), oil, date paste, and baking powder into some kind of high-powered blender.
  3. Blend until very smooth, then blend a bit more. If you’re having trouble getting it smooth, feel free to add another few tablespoons of non-dairy milk, as needed.
  4. Pour blended bean mix into a bowl and stir in cocoa powder, adding chocolate chips near the end.
  5. Scoop into muffin tin, smoothing down the tops if batter is stiff.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until tops are dry, and the brownies pull just slightly away from the edges of the tin.
  7. Let cool, then transfer to a container and refrigerate or freeze. Note that when removing these from the muffin tin they will be soft, but heck, that’s what a fudgy brownie is all about!


© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly

Easy Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Cups (vegan, gluten-free)

Sweets for the sweet!

Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Cups

I could probably just leave it at that, but I’ve never been that good at brevity, so let me add that these dark chocolate almond butter cups are everything you might want in a special treat: cinnamon-y, chocolate-y, nutty, a touch salty. Are visions of sugarplums dancing in your head? They should be. These aren’t exactly the neatest of kitchen experiments, but you just have to embrace the mess, and recognize that the drips and drizzles are part of what make these a loving handcrafted treat – perhaps a gift for someone special for Valentine’s Day, or perhaps a gift for yourself (since you are someone special too).

Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter CupsThe premise is simple: pour some melted chocolate into the bottom of a silicone or paper-lined mini-muffin tin, spoon some almond butter filling in once the chocolate has firmed a little, and then spoon some more melted chocolate on top. Then, sprinkle with some sea salt. Once firm (using the chilling benefits of either your local fridge or freezer), pop them out, and you’re done!

Easy Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Cups

  • Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Cups200 g dark chocolate (if you run short, you can melt more; if you have too much, just let it cool and you have hard chocolate again)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup natural almond butter
  • 1/4 cup light or regular coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt


  1. Melt dark chocolate over a double boiler (or some kind of approximation, like a metal bowl that sits atop a pot of boiling water).
  2. Once chocolate is melted, gently stir in ground cinnamon.
  3. Fill silicone mini muffin tin with muffin liners or leave empty, depending on your preference for ruffled or smooth edges. Place on top of a baking sheet, for easy transport.
  4. Once melted, pour some chocolate into each muffin space, and gently brush or swirl up around the edges. If the chocolate is too warm, let cool briefly and then do the swirl. You might have to brush the chocolate up the edges more than once, to ensure a thick enough chocolate encasement. Place in the fridge to firm up. Ensure you have enough melted chocolate leftover for the tops.Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Cups
  5. While chocolate is firming, whisk coconut milk and vanilla extract into almond butter until smooth. If you prefer a firmer filling, use slightly less coconut milk.
  6. Plop a small spoonful of filling into each chocolate-filled muffin liner.
  7. Tap the baking sheet a few times on the counter to help the filling settle a bit.
  8. Top muffin liners with remaining melted dark chocolate and tap the muffin tin again. If you see some filling oozing out, who cares? It adds to the handcrafted charm.
  9. Sprinkle sea salt on top, or, let firm slightly, and then add sea salt. Fling it about with the air of a grand chocolateur, which basically you now are.
  10. Once fully firm (in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight), pop out of the silicone pan and tra la, you have beautiful chocolate cups with almond butter filling!
  11. Enjoy, especially with a good cup of tea.

Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Cups

Vegan Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes

Vegan Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes

What is a birthday without cupcakes? Well, still a pretty great day – but cupcakes never hurt. It was my sister’s birthday recently and she put in a request for chocolate cupcakes with coffee icing. I was only too happy to oblige. Turning to my trusty copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, with just a few extra special spicing tweaks I was able to produce some delicious results.

The chocolate cupcakes themselves are a wonderful all purpose kind of chocolate cake – easy to make, fairly forgiving, and chocolatey, moist, and delicious.  Simple additions of cinnamon, espresso power, chile powder, or other spices can transform them according to your your culinary whims.

The coffee buttercream is equally straightforward and has a ‘just right’ coffee flavour – not overpowering, but definitely coffee. I used a piping bag and number four size tip to style the icing, but you could just use a palette knife to spread the icing.

Some notes: I did experience mild difficulty getting the cupcakes out of the cupcake pan (which had been greased – perhaps I was too impatient), so my only word of advice would be, if baking these for people who might not enjoy a cupcake that leans a little to the left or to the right, bake them in an (eco-friendly) paper cup, and save yourself the worry.  Try something like the ones offered by If You Care.

Vegan Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes

Also, I added espresso powder to the cupcake batter, which tasted amazing pre-baking but wasn’t really noticeable post-baking. If you are hoarding your espresso powder, you could skip it in the cupcakes. Otherwise, if espresso powder is in free supply in your home, perhaps it serves to enhance the chocolate flavour (I didn’t have a non-espressoed one for a scientific taste comparison), so it can’t hurt to include.

To finish, I dusted the cupcakes with cinnamon, but you could try cocoa power, a mix of cinnamon and cocoa power, espresso power, shaved chocolate, chocolate-covered coffee beans, or cocoa nibs.


Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1 cup soy milk (can also use almond or rice milk; soy just curdles a bit better)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 organic cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup organic canola oil (I’ve also used olive oil and coconut oil)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup organic unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Depending on how long your oven takes to pre-heat, either turn on now to 350F or do this in a few minutes. Once measured, the recipe comes together very quickly, so take that into consideration.

2. Whisk together the soy milk and apple cider vinegar and let stand for a few minutes to curdle.

3. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

4. Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla to the milk/vinegar mixture and whisk energetically until foamy.

5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk/stir until combined and most lumps have been incorporated. This is a fairly thin batter, so don’t worry if that’s how yours looks.

6. Pour into your muffin tin (lined or un-lined; if un-lined, then greased) to a 3/4 full level and bake for about 18 or 20 minutes, or until the top of the cupcake springs back after gently pressed.

Coffee Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup vegan butter or margarine (i.e. Earth Balance) OR 1/4 cup vegan butter + 1/4 cup vegan non-hydrogenated shortening
  • 1 3/4 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tsps espresso powder, dissolved in 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk

1. Beat together the margarine/shortening and icing sugar until well combined, perhaps 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Then, add the vanilla and espresso milk and continue to mix, at a medium speed, until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. If you find your icing looks too soft to pipe or spread, sift some additional icing sugar into the icing. Alternatively, if the icing seems too stiff, add small amounts of milk until you reach the consistency you want for decorating.


Vegan Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes