Dreamy Vegan Mint and Mocha Truffles


I grew up allergic to chocolate. While I’ve had brief windows when I could eat chocolate without ill effects, as can sometimes be the nature of a 40-plus year allergy, I’ve returned to being seriously allergic to chocolate.

The thing is, I really love chocolate, especially creamy, dreamy truffles, so I am always looking for ways to enjoy the flavors.

These truffles are really easy to assemble, the dates adding an incredible richness that pairs well with either the vanilla or the mint. I’ve made them in both bar form and these bites, but I particularly like the bites for having a quick snack or sharing with friends.


Dreamy Vegan Mint and Mocha Truffles
Copyright 2016 Lauren Bradford (aka The Food Puzzler)

Prep time: 1 hour
Servings: approximately 15 for each truffle


– 30 ounces dates, pitted and stems removed (NOTE: If purchasing pitted dates, cut each in half to ensure that there are no remaining pits or stems. In each 10 ounce container, I usually get 10 stems and 1-2 pits.)
– 1/4 teaspoon salt

Mocha adds:
– 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for rolling
– 1 packet (teaspoon) instant coffee (I used Starbucks decaf Via)
– 1/4 cup brewed decaf coffee, cold
– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mint adds:
– 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1-3 teaspoons peppermint or mint extract, to taste
– mint leaves for garnish, optional


– food processor
– food safe plastic gloves (optional, but it keeps you from being covered in cocoa)
– 2 parchment-covered sheet pans


1. In a food processor, pulse half of the dates and salt until the mixture balls up like a dough. Place in a bowl, then pulse the remaining dates and salt, and place in a separate bowl.

2. In the first bowl, add in the remaining Mocha ingredients, put on food safe gloves and mix thoroughly by hand. Taste, and adjust vanilla to taste if necessary.

3. In the second bowl, add in the remaining Mint ingredients, put on food safe gloves and mix thoroughly by hand. Taste, and adjust mint to taste if necessary.

4. Place some cocoa powder on the first parchment-covered sheet pan. From the Mocha dough, portion out 15 pieces. Roll each into a ball, then roll in the cocoa powder. Set aside.

5. Portion out 15 pieces from the Mint dough, roll into balls and place on the second sheet pan. If desired, gently press mint leaves on top for garnish.

Serve immediately, or place in airtight containers. Will keep one week in the refrigerator, or three months in the freezer.

Capri-Style Limoncello


Mom meditating in the Capri Sun.

Years ago, I was fortunate enough to take a trip to Italy with my Mom. One of the places we visited was the Isle of Capri. It’s a stunning place: bright and sunny, with flavors equally reflecting the vibrant location.

I tried Limoncello there for the first time, and loved the delicate lemon flavor. When we got home, I started working out how to make it. I found that the secret is in the simple syrup used to sweeten the vodka, enhancing it by adding the juice from the lemons whose peels infuse the vodka.

The bonus is, if you have extra lemon simple syrup, add it to tea, still or sparkling water for another refreshing beverage.


Capri-Style Limoncello
Copyright 2009 by Lauren Bradford
(aka The Food Puzzler)

Prep time: 10 minutes
Processing time: 3 days (mostly inactive)
Makes: Approximately 200 Liters


1-1.75 liter bottle vodka of choice
3 Lemons
1 cup sugar of choice
Water as needed


1. Wash the lemons and carefully remove the peel so that you don’t get any of the white pith, as that will make the Limoncello bitter tasting.

2. Place the peel into the bottle of vodka and cap it, then place the vodka in your fridge for 3 days.

3. Next, juice the three lemons and strain out the seeds, and place in a measuring cup. Top off the measuring cup with water so it equals one full cup of liquid.

For the next step, have a bowl of ice water next to you at the stove and be sure that you have at least 30 minutes where you can focus on the stove. Sugar, when heated, can boil over quickly.

4. Place the liquid in a medium-size pan with the one cup of sugar, and warm on medium heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Then, reduce heat to low and continue warming until the mixture thickens slightly into a lemon simple syrup, about 20 minutes. Then, cool completely and store in an airtight container in your fridge.

5. After the 3 days have passed, strain the vodka into a pitcher with room for the lemon simple syrup as well. Start by adding half of the simple syrup to the pitcher, stir and taste. Continue adding the lemon simple syrup to the pitcher until the taste is to your preference.

Serve chilled; portion size is one ounce.

To store, keep refrigerated in a closed container.

Refreshing Healthy Mint Smoothie


Watching the snow piling up outside, relieved we were home safe as visibility went down to 0 with hours of snow to go, I started thinking about ways to make treats with what I had home. Loving mint, especially at this time of year, I’ve been curious about healthy spins on green shakes and smoothies.

I made my own almond milk, because going anywhere near a market once the snow levels were announced was pretty much impossible, but any milk of choice certainly will do! If you make your own nut milk, and are using a 55-year-old blender like me, a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth will allow you to separate the nut ‘meats’ from the ‘milk.’ They can be reserved for mixing into hot breakfast cereals. 🙂

Refreshing Healthy Mint Smoothie
Copyright 2017 by Lauren Bradford
(aka The Food Puzzler)

Prep time: Overnight (soaking the almonds)
Processing time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4


1 10-oz bag almonds, soaked in water overnight
1 mint tea bag
1 oz mint extract
10 leaves fresh, washed mint
2 cups fresh, washed baby spinach
Water as needed


1. In a container with a tight lid, place the almonds and enough water to cover, and put the container in the fridge overnight. Make a strong cup of mint tea and leave the bag in the cup while it cools, then remove the bag, cover and store the cooled tea in the fridge overnight.

2. The next day, drain and rinse the almonds, add to your blender with fresh water to cover and blend until as smooth as possible. Strain the ‘milk’ into a separate container and reserve any remaining ‘nut meats.’

3. Add the extract, mint leaves, tea, spinach and ‘milk’ into the blender and purée, adding cold water if necessary.

4. Taste and adjust to your desired level of mintiness.