Chef Fran Costigan

Vegan Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread Pudding

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread Pudding from Vegan Chocolate by Fran Costigan

The humble origin of bread pudding dates back to thirteenth century England when a “poor man’s pudding” was assembled from stale leftover bread, bits of fruit, and spices moistened with sweetened water. Contrast those lean and thrifty pudding with contemporary versions served in upscale restaurants. Today’s puddings are made with egg breads such as brioche and challah, egg and heavy cream based custard, and heavily sweetened with sugar. There’s a lot to like about the technique and texture of  modern bread puddings, but clearly a recipe renovation is needed. In my version, cashew cream, coconut milk, and a root starch make the creamy custard, and a healthy dose of chocolate provides the wow factor. I use protein-rich, easy-to-digest sprouted bread, but any bread you like will do. I’ve made this dish successfully with gluten free bread too. Serve the pudding warm right out of the baking dish, or make it ahead and warm before serving. If you want to spice up brunch with Ms. or Mr. Sweetie, try the heart-shaped variation at the end. Want your banana bread pudding even creamier? Serve with a good dollop of Vanilla Custard Cream.

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread Pudding

Makes 8 Servings


  • 6 slices sprouted wheat bread, or another bread, gluten-free is fine.
  • 1/2 cup / 37 grams raw whole cashews: soak a few hours in water, or quick soak in boiling water for 30 minutes.
  • 1/2 of a 13.5 to 14-ounce / 400 to 414-ml can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk,
 well-stirred (do not use light)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons / 76 grams organic granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons / 30 ml pure maple syrup (Grade B or dark amber) or agave syrup
  • 2 teaspoons / 10 ml pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon / 7 grams tapioca starch or organic cornstarch
  • 1 medium-size banana, good and ripe
  • 3 1/2 ounces / 99 grams dark chocolate (any percentage), chopped into chunks


  1. Cut the bread into roughly 1-inch / 2.5 cm chunks. Put the bread into a large bowl and set aside until needed.
  2. Drain the cashews and put them into a blender. Add the coconut milk, sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Blend, starting on low and increasing the speed to high for 1 minute or until the liquid is perfectly smooth. (If you have a high-speed blender, this will take about 1 minute. If using a standard blender, blend the ingredients in 2 or 3 batches until perfectly smooth.)
  3. Add the tapioca or cornstarch to the blender and blend for 1 minute. Pour the liquid into a 2-cup measure and add enough water or nondairy milk to equal 1 1/3 cups / 320 ml.
  4. Pour the liquid over the bread and set aside to soak about 15 minutes, stirring gently with a silicone spatula a couple of times, until the bread is soft and has absorbed most of the liquid.
  5. While the bread soaks, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375˚F / 190°C. Oil the sides and bottom of an 8 x 8-inch / 20 x 20 cm baking pan.
  6. Spoon the bread mixture into the prepared pan. Coarsely chop the banana and stir into the bread. Sprinkle the chocolate chunks over the top. Press some of the chocolate into the bread mixture.
  7. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven. Immediately reduce the heat to 350˚F / 180°C. Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly puffed and firm to the touch. Let cool slightly before serving.

Serve warm or refrigerate until cold. Reheat in the oven. Serve with some of the leftover ganache you have in your refrigerator or freezer, warmed to pouring!

The bread pudding is best eaten the same day but may be refrigerated in a covered container overnight.

Bread Pudding Hearts: After the pudding has baked and cooled, refrigerate it until firm. About 30 minutes before you are ready to eat, remove the pudding from the refrigerator and cut small heart-shaped portions, or one large heart to share. Place on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 350˚F / 180°C. Set the table while the pudding hearts heat in the oven back to melty, chocolaty goodness, about 15 to 20 minutes.


Recipe reprinted with permission from Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, by Fran Costigan, (Running Press 2013). Photo credit: © Kate Lewis



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Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease Recipe and Giveaway

Laura Theodore's Vegan-Ease

After leaving the food mecca that is New York City for rural New Jersey, Laura Theodore, the TASTE award-winning host of public television’s Jazzy Vegetarian created the concept of “vegan-ease.” Laura believes that anyone, no matter where they live, can easily – and economically – create delicious plant-based meals that will be embraced by any foodie, whether omnivore, vegetarian, or vegan.

In Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based DietA New Approach To Living Vegan, you will find nutritional analysis for each recipes as well as an Ease-Factor so you can choose recipes based on the time you have and what’s in your pantry. Vegan-Ease is cookbook as well as a guide to a cost-saving, healthier lifestyle. Each recipe is accompanied by a full color photograph and many of the recipes have five ingredients or less! Laura has included twelve full menu plans for any occasion, and basic shopping lists to help cut costs at the grocery store.


Four-Ingredient Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies from Laura Theodore's Vegan-Ease

Four-Ingredient Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Makes 16 to 18 Cookies / Ease Factor 1   

Oh yeah! These delectable little cuties are so simple to make, you just may want to make a double batch. With only four ingredients, you can’t go wrong with this easy twist on a classic cookie.


  • 2 large, ripe bananas
  • 1¼ cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup vegan dark chocolate chips


  1. Preheat the oven 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
  2. Put the bananas in a medium-sized bowl and mash with a potato masher or large fork until smooth. Add the oats, raisins and chocolate chips; stir to combine.
  3. Using a cookie scoop or large spoon, drop a heaping tablespoonful of the cookie batter onto the lined baking sheet, gently flattening it with a rubber spatula or clean fingertips. Continue in this manner with the remaining cookie dough.
  4. Bake for 13 to 17 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and cookies are almost set. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, cookies will keep for about 3 days.


Amount per serving, based on 1 cookie: 59 Calories; 2g Fat; 1g Saturated fat; 1g Protein; 1mg Sodium; 11g Total Carbohydrate; 4g Sugars; 2g Fiber

Recipe from Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet © Laura Theodore (Jazzy Vegetarian, LLC 2015), reprinted by permission. Photo by David Kaplan.


I have a copy of Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease along with a bar of Pascha Chocolate for one lucky reader this week. U.S. residents only, please. Follow the instructions below to enter. Contest ends at midnight eastern time on October 6, 2015. Good luck!


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Eat Like You Give a Damn Recipe and Giveaway

Eat Like You Give a Damn by Michelle Schwegmann and Josh Hooten

If you’re vegan it’s very likely that you’ve got some cool messages tees and hoodie or two, at least, from the iconic Herbivore Clothing in Portland, Oregon. Using clever sayings and winning designs, I was not surprised to learn that that the very people who brought us “Eat Like You Give A Damn” shirts, as well as “Praise Seitan” and “Wings are For Flying, Not Frying”, have brought an equally approachable aesthetic to their new cookbook Eat Like You Give A Damn Book.

I’ve had the pleasure, well, let’s say the honor, to have visited Michelle and Josh in their shop. Michelle tells it like it is – ie: Girlfriend, you are not a large, you need a small tee! We’ve been at VegFests together and I even got to film a morning TV show at Herbivore. Best part, aside from seeing the heartful funsters, is getting to choose clothing, books, jewelry, accessories, and buttons in the one of a kind one-stop shop that is Herbivore. The fact is, the merchandise is ethical, it is appealing, and it helps the ethical vegan make a difference and the newbie understand why. Their new cookbook is the same.

Eat Like You Give a Damn by Michelle Schwegmann and Josh Hooten offers recipes for the new ethical vegan. Michelle and Josh give an unapologetically ethical perspective. As they write the introductory chapter, “This is not a book pushing a diet; this is a book pushing an ethic.”

This is a cookbook, for sure, with appealing recipes, but the must-read within the book is the real-life account from a former undercover investigator who gained employment at one of Iowa’s largest factory farms for pigs and documented the cruelty and neglect that was witnessed is outstanding. In the foreword, Ginny Messina, Registered Dietician and vegan, enumerates the health aspects of a vegan diet with some simple guidelines.

I really enjoyed reading about Michelle and Josh’s own journey to veganism. After explaining how and why she went vegan, Michelle writes, “It feels great that my actions align 100 percent with my beliefs. Once I decided to change my behavior, it was easy to see that all I had to do was change my habits.”

New vegans can feel overwhelmed about how to proceed with their new diet, but Eat Like You Give a Damn offers practical advice, the right amount of inspiration, and dozens of recipes for completely satisfying, delicious, and healthy vegan fare that validates their choice.

Michelle and Josh share a collection of their favorite everyday vegan dishes. Ranging from comfort foods to more epicurean dishes, sumptuous photos will kick any cook into high gear. Elvis Quesadilla with Maple-Yogurt Drizzle, Praise Seitan Vegan Roast, Only-Kale-Can-Save-Us-Now Salad, and Roasted Beet Burgers are a few of the 100+ recipes.

With ample helpings of sass and heart, Michelle and Josh intersperse their recipes with treatises on the why and how of being vegan. Parents wishing to raise their kids on a plant-based diet will find family-friendly recipes that kids will love to eat. New and old time vegans as well as anyone who appreciates good food will delight in these innovative recipes and know that every bite makes a difference.


Only Kale Can Save Us Now Salad from Eat Like You Give a Damn by Michelle Schwegmann and Josh Hooten


I don’t like to waste superlatives. When people say that something changed their lives, I roll my eyes along with everyone else and chalk it up to a familial tendency toward exaggeration. But I’m not kidding or overstating the truth when I say just how much this simple salad has had an impact on my life. It gets my family eating lots of raw leafy greens. It gets my grade-schooler ex- claiming loudly and excitedly, “Kale salad, kale salad, kale salad, kale salad!” Mother of the year? That’s me.


  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tablespoon flax meal
  • 2 teaspoons onion granules
  • 1 teaspoon garlic granules
  • 1/4 cup water, plus more as needed
  • 9 cups torn curly kale leaves (about 1 bunch), in bite-sized pieces (see tip)
  • 1/3 cup hemp seeds or chopped
  • raw sunflower seeds (optional)


  1. To make the dressing, put the tahini, lemon juice, tamari, nutritional yeast, flax meal, onion granules, and garlic granules in a large bowl (large enough to accommodate the kale leaves). Add the water and whisk to combine, adding more water if the dressing seems too thick. (Tahini varies in consistency.)
  2. Add the kale leaves to the dressing and mix using your hands. Don’t be shy now! Rub the dressing into the kale and make sure to distribute it evenly. Sprinkle the optional hemp seeds over the top if desired. Serve immediately or store in a covered container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Before you get started, you’ll need to clean and prepare the kale. Hold the stem of a kale leaf in one hand, and with your other hand pull the leaf up the stem. When you’ve removed all the leaves from the stems, tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces (you can com- post the stems). Give the leaves a good bath in cold water, and spin them dry in a salad spinner.

Makes 4 Servings


Recipe and photos from Eat Like You Give a Damn by Michelle Schwegmann and Josh Hooten. ©2015 Michelle Schwegmann and Josh Hooten. Used by permission from Book Publishing Company.


I have a copy of Eat Like You Give a Damn for one lucky reader! Follow the instructions below to enter. Contest ends at midnight eastern time on September 29. U.S residents only, please Good luck!
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