254. Giant Sun Butter Cups [Dairy Free]

Sun Butter Cups | 5 Ingredients, Dairy Free | Ann Ning Learning How

On the way home from Oregon my first meal outside of the hospital consisted of some Chinese food (at Chicago’s Midway Airport) I was hoping would be reminiscent of the delicious meal I had with the J family at the “Kitty Cat Restaurant” in Burundi (so-called bc of the stray cat population that made the al fresco dining area more exciting), and chocolate peanut butter ice cream.  I think that must have been the most expensive cup of ice cream my father has ever purchased.  Thanks, Dad xoxoxo.

Chocolate peanut butter is a classic combination that everyone loves.   Unless you’re allergic to peanuts – in which case, this combination does not love you back.  But happily, you can make these sun butter cups at home and satisfy your craving, even if you didn’t know you had it.

In the first two days I spent at Ai Ai and Tim’s I made three or four batches of the chocolate layer in this cup.  I had to keep on making it because I kept on eating it all.  I was just starting my strict dairy-free phase and since I only used three ingredients I was sure there was no dairy in them.  You can make them plain, add some mint extract, stir in some PB2 – whatever you like.  Just add a syrupy sweetener to taste and pour it into the bottom of a small wax-paper-lined Tupperware and freeze it.  When it’s hard the wax paper will make it easy to lift out and transfer to a Ziploc bag so you can store it in your freezer.

Meanwhile, these cups are admittedly huge.  I misjudged the amounts I was filling the cups with.  But upon reflection I decided that I quite enjoy the appearance of abundance.  I generally can eat only half in a sitting, but I will not judge you if you eat the whole thing.  They are kind of messy, though, since they start melting outside of the freezer, so I wouldn’t eat these in company unless it’s with very good friends.

re. eating in front of people:

43.  I don't want anyone to see me like this...

43. I don’t want anyone to see me like this…

Giant Sun Butter Cups

Makes 6 regular sized muffins | Line a muffin tin with 6 liners

  • ¾ c cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • ½ c coconut oil
  • ¼ c maple syrup
  • splash of vanilla
  • about 6 Tbsp of sun butter – or the nut butter of your choice

Mix the cocoa, coconut oil, and maple syrup together.  If it’s cold you might need to microwave the coconut oil very gently.  Put a spoonful of chocolate in the bottom of each cup.  Let it set up in the freezer for 5 minutes.  Put a spoonful of the sun butter on top.  Freeze for 5 minutes.  Follow with the remainder of the chocolate mixture and freeze everything.  Store in the freezer.

222. Lime Cream Icebox Pie [Grain Free and Vegan]

Lime Cream Icebox Pie | Vegan & Grain Free | Ann Ning Learning How

I had a lot of personal angst about what to call this.  Should it be “Lime” or “Lime-Coconut?”  I went with just “Lime” bc there is no coconut in this recipe, just coconut oil, and the flavor emphasis is definitely on the lime.  However, I do feel that coconut compliments the taste of lime very well in general – I’m not apologizing for the coconut I’m just saying that this no-bake dessert is lightly scented with the fragrance of coconut whereas lime is the intended keynote speaker.  (Side note – perhaps I could call this a No Sugar Added dessert since I only use dates but dates are so sweet I feel almost guilty about doing so.  Let the record show, though, that this is sweetened with fruit only.)  Did you get the part about “no-bake” dessert?  Summertime presents wonderful opportunities for me to produce desserts sans heat sources and go back to making one of my favorite things:  PIE.  I’m sure you like the idea of not turning on your oven and heating your kitchen, and I hope the dairy-free among us will appreciate the non-dairy opportunity to enjoy a creamy pie.  And the crust is a winner, in my book.  I toasted raw almonds and they were incredibly yummy.  The pie iterations here are endless.  FYI this is NOT the last time you’ll be seeing this pie on my blog.  🙂

This recipe is loosely based on a lime cheesecake (raw, vegan) I saw on a Cooking Channel show featuring The Chicago Diner (a 100% vegan eatery).  I made this with two lovely ladies in mind – D (Miz Betty’s daughter in law) was going to come over last Saturday morning but she couldn’t because of illness.  A, however, carried the torch for her, and showed up with (among other lovely things), some amazing lime cheesecake bars.  D, you see, had been planning on bringing lime pound cake.  The “lime” part was hearsay, but came from a reliable source.  I looked longingly at A’s lime cheesecake bars, but I’m glad I’m (almost entirely) GF|DF right now or else the entire platter would have ended up in my tummy and that would have been very shabby behavior on my part considering there were a lot of guests to feed.  Thank you to both ladies for the inspiration!  PS.  I’m still obsessing over coconut flour pound cake recipes.  A citrus one would be lovely, but T mentioned that her daughter is having a classic almond pound cake at her wedding so I just HAD to go get some almond extract last week.  I’ll probably end up doing both.

One last thing – this is a skinny pie.  Skinny as in the filling is not overflowing, not skinny as in “this will make you thinner” – because it won’t.  The primary ingredient is nuts.  I like this pie skinny because I’m so enamored of the crust.  Also, I topped mine with a dollop of House Whip from Trader Joe’s since I have a major weakness for whipped topping you find in the freezer section.  If you want a taller pie, though, and prefer the all-natural route, top the pie with cashew cream or coconut cream.

Lime Cream Icebox Pie [Vegan, Grain Free]

Makes 1 pie


1 cup raw almonds
4 dates, pitted
¼ cup coconut oil


For the filling:

¾ cup cashew cream
juice of one lime + as much zest as you like so it’s “limey” enough
¼ cup coconut oil
splash of vanilla

Prepare the Crust:  Toast your almonds (I stirred mine occasionally for 10 minutes in a dry pan.  You could try buying roasted almonds, but I only had raw and the results of toasting on the spot were delicious.)  Pulse the almonds and dates in a Ninja or food processor.  Add the coconut oil.  Be careful of the blades!  Stir to combine, dump it all out and press down in the bottom of your pie plate.

Prepare the filling:  Mix everything (remember that everything should be room temperature or else your coconut oil will seize up).  Pour it over the crust.  The filling will be runny – don’t worry, it will harden.  Let the pie set in the freezer, then store in the fridge so it will be soft enough for serving.  You can top it with whipped “cream” and garnish with lime/zest if you like.

Pssst – You know how easy this is, right?

Cashew Cream ||Ann Ning Learning How

My favorite part of the Cashew Cream post:

I do not make health claims for any of my recipes/practices.  This theoretical conversation illustrates why:

Friend:  Do you seriously eat like that?

Me:  Yeah.

Friend:  So how’s that working out for ya?

Me:  Well… [makes sucking teeth sound]

I try to stick to “real” food – a popular practice among the health conscious these days…I’m just saying I’m not exactly the poster child for robust health.  Yet.

An older gentleman at Costco called out to me in the checkout line (I was in a wheelchair at the time), “So I guess you’re not ready for preseason yet, huh?”

Give me another year :).


213. 2-Ingredient “Magic Shell”

2-Ingredient "Magic Shell" | Ann Ning Learning How

This recipe couldn’t be easier.  It’s really just instructions:

Mix equal quantities of (1) coconut oil and (2) cocoa powder. 


I read somewhere that coconut oil is a primary ingredient in Magic Shell, and since coconut oil and butter are solid when cold it wasn’t a huge leap of faith for me to mix some cocoa powder in and call it an ice cream topping.  The picture above is actually mint “magic shell” – I put a drop of peppermint extract in so it’s really 3-ingredient “magic shell.”  You could put some sweetener in if you really want to, but since I was putting mine on ice cream (non-dairy) I figured I didn’t need any more sugar and I didn’t miss it one bit.  It’s “dark” chocolate “magic shell,” people.  I put a couple of grain-free brownies in the bottom – genius!  (Even if I do say so myself.)  I’ve been experimenting with coconut flour/flax egg brownies since not everyone enjoys nuts/eggs and will eventually post a recipe.  I made the ones above with coconut flakes in them but want to try a plain-Jane version.

It turns out that Timmy and Hannah do not prefer coconut.  I’m okay with that (more for ME!) and will accommodate their preference since they DO love peanut butter and I myself am not a die-hard coconut fan.  We all agree, though, that brownies in general are delicious so we are on the same page gastronomically.  If you do not like brownies, though, I really don’t know what to say.  Maybe you could go make these:

So Simple:  Banana Date & Nut Squares | inspired by Elana's Pantry| Grain-Dairy Free, No Sugar Added | Ann Ning Learning How

201. So Simple: Banana Date & Nut Bars [Grain Free, NSA, inspired by Elana’s Pantry]

So Simple:  Banana Date & Nut Squares | inspired by Elana's Pantry| Grain-Dairy Free, No Sugar Added | Ann Ning Learning How

Date and nut cake is S’s (OT6) favorite baked good.  When I left The Place I brought her a date and nut loaf Mommy had helped me to prepare.  Now, more than a year later, I am sufficiently recovered to do it all on my own since I just toss everything into my Vitamix.  I pureed everything and then just roughly blended in the dates and nuts at the end.  I don’t have grapeseed oil so I used your favorite, and mine, coconut.  Also, I omitted the agave and just tossed in a banana, so there is no sweetener except fruit in my version.  The banana scented bars are fantastic – I froze the bulk of mine and enjoy them straight from the freezer – the texture is soft enough to allow this.  If you like banana bread, you’ll LOVE these.  If you do not like bananas I will likely be trying some non-banana alternatives in the future, so stay tuned.

The Recipe:  Date Walnut Bars from Elana’s Pantry

My Changes:

  • Sub coconut oil for grapeseed oil
  • Sub a banana for agave
  • Blend everything in your blender – wet ingredients first, blend.  Add dry, blend more.  At the end, add dates and walnuts – pulse lightly so they get chopped but are not pureed.

Oh yeah – so I realized that when I told you about the PB Zucchini Brownies from fastpaleo last week I failed to mention two important ingredients:  1) Peanut Butter and 2) Zucchini.  Oops, my bad.  I wrote about them in the body of the text but when it came time to detail my veganized recipe I forgot.  I don’t proofread much bc of my vision issues, so these things happen.  xoxo.  Welcome to my world.  So if you’re going to reference the recipe, make sure to look at my updated post (click on the picture below) and not the email you got if you’re a subscriber (thank you!)  PS.  If you ever notice any gaffes like this, please do let me know – you’re not going to hurt my feelings.  The new Floppy Me needs your help to be accurate.

196.  So Simple:  PB Zucchini Brownies [Grain Free, Vegan]

196. So Simple: PB Zucchini Brownies [Grain Free, Vegan]

199. Roasted Carrot Soup

Roasted Carrot Soup [almond cream/cilantro lime chutney] | Ann Ning Learning How

A few weeks ago I saw JLSS open the lid of a soup mug and mix some green stuff into an orange puree.  The vibrant colors immediately drew me in and I had to know what she was eating.  (We were at a picnic and JLSS had brought some allergy-appropriate choices for her and the baby, and the big brothers.)  It was roasted carrot soup – with her own lime-cilantro chutney on top.  I immediately came home and looked at the recipe – it sounded  a little more complicated than I could handle since I was going for minimal heat-source interaction.  So I roasted some veggies of my own in coconut oil, covered them with broth and pureed them with my immersion blender.  I thought it was delicious on Day 1, but I put it in the freezer over the weekend and had it for lunch today (Day 4) and it was fantastic.  I could taste the hint of coconut and the addition of lime-cilantro chutney (Thanks, JLSS) was wonderful.  I also added a dollop of almond cream since I’m out of cashews, so I made almond cream instead, and I wanted something non-dairy and creamy to mix in to my soup and cool it down and add a nice texture.  The garnishes are obviously optional, but I have to put a good word in for the lime-cilantro chutney (so easy, too!) and if you do dairy you could always put some Greek yogurt on top.

Roasted Carrot Soup

Inspired by the Food52 recipe and my friend JLSS
Serves 3-4.  Preheat oven to 400, prep your veggies by cutting into small(ish ) chunks get your immersion blender out and put a big pot on the stove

  • 3 large carrots – mine were scary large…they might have been more like 5 of the normal size carrots
  • 1 beet
  • 1 zucchini
  • ¼-1/8 of an onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt & pepper
  • coconut oil
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • Raw almonds – I used about a cup since I needed more for other things.
  • Cilantro
  • Lime


  • Almond Cream – follow instructions for Simple Cashew Cream, but keep it thick and plain. 
  • Cilantro-Lime Chutney – put cilantro in a spice blender and squeeze fresh lime over it.  Season with salt and pepper – blend.


Toss your veggies (besides the carrots, the other veggies are flexible.  I had a zucchini and a beet on hand, but I would not hesitate to use others) with coconut oil, salt and pepper.  Roast at 400 for 30 minutes.  Pour the roasted veggies (including the onion and garlic) into a pot.  Cover with a can of chicken broth plus one can of water.  Bring to a boil then turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes.  Puree with an immersion blender.  Top with almond cream and cilantro-lime chutney – enjoy!

Do you remember my Green Soup?  It’s so easy – no measuring required, just frozen veggies

189. Coconut Flour Banana Bread [Grain/Dairy Free, No Sugar Added]

Coconut Flour Banana Bread [Grain Free, No Sugar Added] || Ann Ning Learning How

We have some more bananas languishing away in the fruit basket downstairs so this probably isn’t the only time you’ll see bananas this week. I love bananas – so much so that I try to monitor my banana consumption because they are sweet. Yes, it’s natural sugar, but it’s still something I try to watch out for. But when we have bananas to use up I either want to freeze or bake them rather than waste them. I suppose I love banana bread bc Mommy makes a WONDERFUL hummingbird loaf. She translated this banana/pineapple treat into Ed’s birthday cake in 2012. It was covered in cream cheese frosting and since it was Easter, crowned with Peeps. See?

Ed's Birthday Hummingbird Cake || Ann Ning Learning How

Since I’m abstaining from the flour/sugar delights I enjoy so much I decided to try a coconut flour version of banana bread. I googled it and happened upon a Spark Recipe. I had to make some adjustments and it turned out well. I used a pastry cutter to mash the bananas and it worked well – it was easy to hold and did the job creditably. I liked the bread even better on day 2, both straight from the fridge as a snack and toasted for breakfast. (Of course, I didn’t actually eat anything while standing in front of the fridge because standing in front of the fridge is enough physical effort. Chewing and swallowing while doing this would likely end badly for me, but if this is your custom, go for it! It used to be mine.) Also, coconut flour has a lighter, spongier texture than the baked goods I’m accustomed to, but I quite like the results, and I hope you do, too.

Banana Bread
Grain Free, No Sugar Added, with Coconut Flour…oh yeah, this is Dairy Free, too!
Grease a loaf pan and preheat oven to 350
adapted from SparkRecipe’s “Primal” Banana Bread

3 ripe mashed bananas
1/3 c coconut oil, melted
4 eggs + 2 whites
splash of vanilla
1/2 c coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
handful of nuts (optional)

Mix your wet ingredients, add your dry ingredients and mix very well. Sorry, I know it’s better baking method to mix wet/dry separately and then combine in some order I can’t remember, but I’m going for minimal bowl usage here, and the less I have to dump things from one bowl to another the better (there’s one less opportunity to spill). Pour into your loaf pan, bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

More banana-based yumminess!

171.  PB2 Mug Cake

171. PB2 Mug Cake

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