Easy Recipes

Raw Triple Layer Caramel Chocolate Cake

Raw Triple Layer Caramel Fudge Cake

Transitioning to a healthier lifestyle doesn’t mean you can’t have your cake and eat it too. I have a client doing a month-long raw food detox retreat here in Hawaii and after two weeks of going through the more intense detox phase, focusing a lot on juices, smoothies and healthy dinners, it was time to start showing her how to make some healthier raw food desserts, because let’s face it, we all love dessert! And when finding a balanced lifestyle that feels healthy for the long haul, we need to be able to find ways to treat ourselves to the occasional treat without guilting and shaming ourselves throughout each and every bite.

So many of my clients who come to do raw food retreats are coming off of years of yo-yo dieting; intense binging and then serious bouts of restriction with the sole intention of losing as much weight as possible as quickly as possible. One of the key takeaways from this retreat experience is that it’s all about finding balance and it’s less about getting to your weight destination as fast as possible, but more about facing in the right direction and just taking one step at a time in that direction.

Desserts like this triple layer caramel chocolate cake are miles healthier than any processed, packaged refined dessert you’ll find in the store or pick up at a bakery. So if you’re going to go there, give yourself the best quality dessert you can possibly make yourself! My client was thrilled to know this could be included as an occasional treat, and that’s what allows for more breathing room and balance back into our lives. Without further ado, here’s the recipe!

Raw Kitchen Essentials

For this triple layer cake, all you will need is a food processor and a spatula to spread the layers out. When it comes to essential kitchen tools, I highly recommend investing in a good quality food processor. I have the 14-cup Cuisinart Food Processor, but if this is too big for you, you might want to consider the 7-cup food processor, although I always opt for larger mixing sizes whenever I can.

Recipe: Raw Triple Layer Caramel Chocolate Cake

This is a triple layer cake, so let’s work through the layers one at a time.

Pie Crust

The base is a standard raw, gluten free pie crust. When it comes to making raw pice crusts, all you need to keep in mind is that you need enough stickiness to hold the crust together, which could be dates, dried mulberries or even dried figs. I like to use dates the most, so for this pie crust, I made it with:

  • 1 cup soaked almonds (you cal also use walnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans if you want a sweeter taste or brazil nuts.)
  • 1 cup dates (I like to use organic medjool dates, and make sure to remove the pits!)
  • 1/2 cup of shredded coconut

Process ingredients in the food processor so that it’s still a little chunky and when you squeeze the mix together in your hand, the dates, nuts and coconut shreds hold firmly together.

Sprinkle a layer of coconut shreds on the bottom of a pan, which will help prevent the pie crust from sticking. I used a 4×8 tin bread baking tray, and had a little bit leftover, but you can use whatever kind of glass, tin or springform you like.

Place the tray in the freezer while you’re making the next two layers.

Caramel Layer

This layer should really be called a caramel Halva layer, but for the sake of a succinct recipe title, I left it out. Halva is a middle Eastern dessert typically sweetened with dates and sesame seeds. We’re going to use tahini (which is just whole ground sesame seeds) for this layer which is going to add a really nice rich flavor, but if you don’t have tahini, you can also use almond butter or macadamia nut butter.

In a food processor, blend together the following ingredients until very smooth:

  • 1.5 cups pitted dates
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup dried figs (this is optional, if you don’t have figs, just add a couple more dates.)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Blend together and add small amounts of water as necessary to get the blend going.

Place the caramel mix into a bowl and place in the freezer while you’re making the third layer.

Chocolate Layer

This is similar to the chocolate fudge pie that I made a while ago. I love using avocado in desserts like this. Check out this article about avocados and how good they are for you.

In a food processor, blend together:

  • 2 avocados
  • 5 tablespoons raw cacao
  • 1/2 cup of dates
  • 2 tablespoons raw organic honey (If you don’t use honey, add a few more dates)

Place in a bowl and place in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Placing all the layers in the freezer for a minute will allow them to harden a little bit, and will make it easier to spread.

Layering the Triple Layer Cake

Take the crust out of the freezer along with the other layers. With a spatula layer the caramel layer on top of the crust, and then layer the chocolate later on top of that. Place in the freezer to chill for 30 minutes before serving.


My Top 4 Favorite Raw Vegan, Gluten-Free Wraps


There’s a reason that sandwiches have had a long standing role in the traditional lunchbox. They’re compact, convenient and satisfying to eat. Wraps have also made a sizable mark on our food landscape because they offer the same level of convenience. But if you’re living a gluten-free lifestyle or are on the raw vegan path, it’s not especially easy to find raw gluten-free wraps in stores. This naturally circles back to my “#MakeItYourself” campaign, where I truly believe the best way to transition to a healthier lifestyle is by learning how to make awesome recipes at home so you don’t have to rely on anyone else to feel satisfied on this lifestyle and you’re empowered with all the tools you need to feed yourself with the best food possible.

I absolutely love wraps, and I’ve come up with some pretty awesome ways to wrap up my meals that I’d love to share with you. These 4 wrap ideas are all raw, vegan and gluten-free.

If you love these recipes, then you’ll love my 28-Day Plant-Based Meal Plan featuring over 80 of my favorite recipes and comes with detailed shopping lists by day, week and month. I’m running a promotion on it, so if you want to get 40% off your copy, click here.

My Top 4 Favorite Raw Vegan, Gluten-Free Wraps

1. Raw Sun-dried Tomato Wraps

This sun-dried tomato wrap is one of my absolute all-time favorite recipes. I’m also proud to say it’s a Happy & Raw original recipe. Click here to get the full sun-dried tomato wrap recipe. I usually make a big batch of these wraps all at once. They are dehydrated, so they last at least a few months after you make them, so it’s nice to have a stash of them to have whenever you feel like it. These wraps are also a must-have when I’m traveling!

2. Plantain Tortilla Wraps

These plantain tortillas are also dehydrated raw vegan wraps that are an excellent replacement to corn tortillas. Check out the full recipe on how to make these gluten-free plantain tortilla wraps here. They make a great addition to any salad or veggie meal, and also make for a solid foundation for a Raw Mexican Fiesta. These wraps also pack extremely well for extended trips and traveling.

3. Straight Up Collard Wraps

If you’ve been to a raw food restaurant or have been on the raw vegan path for some time, you might have seen or tried to use collard wraps as an alternative wrap option. One of the reasons I love collard wraps is because they’re pretty durable and sturdy. We grow our own here in Hawaii and I like to pick them when they’re still fairly young (but big enough to wrap in) so they’re still tender and easy to chew and digest. Here’s two collard wrap recipes that I make quite frequently: Curry Collard Wraps and Beet Avocado Collard Wraps.

4. Raw Vegan Sushi Rolls

I went through a pretty major nori roll phase, and practically ate veggie sushi almost every night for dinner, for at least a few months. Here’s a link to the raw vegan and organic nori rolls that I like to use. It’s just so easy and convenient to grab a nori roll and wrap up some veggies in it. I like to add a little tahini and lemon or make a quick dipping sauce. It’s dinner in literally 5 minutes or less; now who can really beat that? When I’m working really hard, I don’t have a lot of time to spend on meal prep, so I’d rather take time to enjoy my food, rather than make it!

You can wrap up any veg you like in a nori wrap. Here’s how I usually wrap up my sushi: I lay the nori roll down (shiny side down) and then lay some nice lettuce leaves down, horizontally on the front edge so you have enough room to roll it over. Then I add some long strips of veggies like carrots, bell pepper, celery, cucumber and avocado, and then top with sprouts.

There is a big if a trick to rolling nori (the key is to start off by making smaller rolls, rather than rolls that are stuffed to the max and too hard to roll.) Tuck in the nori, and try to roll it fairly tight and then seal the edge with some lemon or a dab of water on your finger.

When you have different wrap options and play with different raw sauces and dips, there’s really no limit to what combinations you can create!

Aloha from our road trip in California!

Live Free, Laura D




Banana Buckwheat Bars

Banana Cacao Buckwheat Bars

Looking for some easy and healthy raw food snacks for you and your family? These banana buckwheat bars are made with raw, sprouted buckwheat and are super easy to make. They also last at least a few weeks in the fridge, (and probably at least 10 days out of the fridge depending on how far you dehydrate them) and make an awesome to-go snack. I love using sprouted buckwheat as a gain replacement. Check out all the amazing health benefits of buckwheat here and discover why it makes for a great grain alternative. (more…)

Shredded Carrot Zucchini Salad


The great thing about September is that there’s tons of zucchini and various squash available at most local farmers markets. If you’ve been following my recipes for a while now, then you’ll know I love to promote super simple recipes. I love to eat simply. The more I eat simple meals, the better food tastes to me, which I find so fascinating.

I also love to promote simple meal that you can make yourself at home that won’t take up a lot of your time. There’s a common myth that living a raw foods lifestyle is really time consuming but it just doesn’t have to be the case!

Here’s another easy-to-make salad recipe that won’t take two shakes of a lambs tail. Ok, that’s a really weird analogy, where did that come from anyways?

Raw Kitchen Essentials

All you need is a blender to blend up the creamy dressing for this salad. I use a Vitamix. If you don’t have a good blender, it’s well worth the investment. Check out the Vitamix Deluxe Edition. That’s a blender that will last you a lifetime.

A blender is one of the Top 4 Kitchen Essentials that I recommend stoking your  kitchen with.

Shredded Carrot Zucchini Salad Recipe

In a bowl, grate the following ingredients:

  • 2 carrots
  • 2 medium size zucchini (I used a nice yellow zucchini for this recipe)
  • 1 small tart green apple

Then add in:

  • A sprinkle of raisins
  • 1/2 tomato, diced

In a blender, blend together

  • 1/2 cup hemp seeds
  • 2.5 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice (Apple Cider Vinegar can work too)
  • A splash of water
  • (You can add any dried herbs or seasonings if you like, but I left my without)

Blend until smooth. Pour on top of shredded salad and toss.

On a plate or bowl, rough chop up some lettuce and scoop the shredded salad on top. If you like, add a few slices of avocado and tomato.

Serve and enjoy!

Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii!

Want to come join us for private raw food retreat? Check out what we offer for private retreats here!

Live Free, Laura D (Author of Mindful Eating for Dummies as well as Unhooked: A Holistic Approach to Ending Your Struggle with Food)




Papaya Smoothie Bowl Recipe

Papaya-Smoothie-Bowl-77-2In case you haven’t heard, smoothie bowls have become all the rage of late. Who would have thought? You make a smoothie, put it in a bowl and add some toppings, and voila! A smoothie bowl! Smoothie bowls make for a great breakfast or lunch. They’re easy to make, portable and offer your body loads of nutrients and an easy to digest meal. There’s also tons of variations you can make, like smoothies, the sky is the limit – or maybe just the rim of your bowl, but you get the idea.

I made this papaya smoothie bowl for breakfast in less than 5 minutes. I love papaya, it’s super high in vitamin C and has so many other health benefits. For this smoothie bowl, I topped with some freshly sprouted buckwheat, which does take longer than 5 minutes, (it actually takes at least 1 day). I love sprouted buckwheat, it makes for an amazing alternative to grains. Check out this article on the top 10 reasons buckwheat makes an awesome grain alternative.

Raw Kitchen Essentials

All you will need for this smoothie bowl recipe is a high-powered blender. I personally use and love my Vitamix. I have the Deluxe Edition and feel like it’s well worth the investment, considering how much I use my Vitamix. A blender is one of the Top 4 Kitchen Essentials I highly recommend stocking your kitchen with.

Papaya Pie Smoothie Bowl Recipe

In a blender, place the following raw, organic ingredients and blend until smooth:

  • 1 medium size papaya (remove the seeds)
  • 1 banana (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 soft dates (remove the pits)
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder. We grow a ton of turmeric on our land here in Hawaii, and I try to eat it as much as possible, considering all of turmerics amazing health benefits. We’ve been drying our own turmeric powder (which has been very exciting!) but this is an optional ingredient in this papaya pie smoothie bowl recipe.

It’s the cinnamon and vanilla with the sweetness of the dates, banana and papaya that makes this smoothie bowl recipe taste like pie – pretty epic!

You can top this smoothie bowl with whatever toppings you prefer, (like raisins, granola, fruits) but I personally love to top it with sprouted buckwheat.

How to Make Sprouted Buckwheat

It’s really east to sprout buckwheat. If you haven’t seen any of my sprouted buckwheat granola recipes, check out my raw pecan granola recipe here or my raw goji berry granola here.

Essentially, all you have to do is:

  1. Soak a little bit of raw, shelled buckwheat in a bowl over night. (When I sprout buckwheat, I usually sprout at least 1 cup and eat it throughout the week. Sprouted buckwheat goes great on top of soups and salads.)
  2. When you wake up, rinse it in a strainer very well until the water is no longer slimy (which is normal).
  3. Leave it in a strainer over a bowl or over the sink for the day, covering it with a clean dish cloth (but not touching the buckwheat).
  4. Rinse again at night and let it sit in the strainer over night, covered.
  5. Rinse one more time in the morning. At this point you should see a little “tail” growing on the buckwheat. You could keep sprouting it for another day if you want to, but it’s totally ready to eat now.
  6. Once you’ve used what you like for the meal, place the rest in a sealed container in the fridge, and it will last for at least 4-6 days.

Serve and enjoy!

Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii,

Live Free, Laura D. Author of Mindful Eating for Dummies as well as Unhooked: A Holistic Approach to Ending Your Struggle with Food.

Raw Strawberry Tart Recipe



Fresh berry season is about to come to an end for the year, and what an epic season it’s been! If you still have the chance, it’s totally worth stocking up on some case prices of any local, organic berries, and if you have room, freeze them for the coming winter months so you can still enjoy awesome berry smoothies for the months you don’t have access to fresh local fruits. It’s also a way to support local farmers, get some good deals on case prices and lower your food bill in the long run.

If you’re looking for some new raw food dessert recipes to make, definitely give this raw strawberry tart a try. This recipe is pretty easy to make, looks amazing, and taste phenomenal!

Raw Kitchen Essentials

For this raw strawberry tart recipe, you’ll need both a food processor (to process the base) and a high-powered blender (to blend the inner creamy filling.) When it comes to food processors, I recommend the cuisinart. I use and recommend the 14-cup Cuisinart Food Processor, but if this is too big to suite your needs and you’re looking for something smaller, consider the 7-cup Cuisinart Food Processor, it’s a smaller and more affordable model. In terms of blenders, I’m a Vitamix fan all the way. I love my blender. I’ve recently just purchased another one, the wide base one and I love it. If you don’t have a good blender, it’s well worth the investment. I recommend the Deluxe edition by Vitamix – you won’t be disappointed!

Raw Strawberry Tart Recipe

This tart recipe has two parts: the base and the inner creamy filling, topped with strawberry’s. You can use whatever berry topping you like, and there are also a couple of different options you can use for the inner filling, depending on what you have access to.

Making the Base:

For the base of this tart, it’s just like making a raw pie crust, except I use a muffin tin to mould it into the shape that I want, which is this little cup shape to hold the cream filling and fresh berries.

1. In a food processor, process the following ingredients

  • 1/2 cup soaked organic almonds. (You can use any nut for the crust that you like. Some of my favorites are: macadamia nuts, brazil nuts and pecans or walnuts). They all have a unique taste, so try different nuts to see what you like best.
  • 1/2 cup pitted organic dates
  • 1/2 cup coconut shreds
  • 1/4 cup of raisins

Make sure not to over-process, you want the base to have some texture. You want to be able to squeeze the mix between your fingers and it should stick together pretty easily.

2. In a muffin tin, press the “pie crust” into the mould to shape the cup.

3. Place in the freezer to harden while making the inner cream filling.

Making the Inner Filling:

The very first time I made this strawberry tart recipe, I used coconut cream which was amazing. Not everyone lives in the tropics and has access to coconuts, so I made this one with hemp seeds and it turned out amazing.

In a blender, place the following ingredients and blend until smooth:

  • 1 cup hemp seeds
  • 3/4’s cup of dates
  • 3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice.
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Next you’ll want to slice up a few strawberries to use for the filling and the topping of the raw tarts.

Combining them!

Take the tart base out of the freezer. They should still be in their muffin tray tin moulds at this point. They should also be firm enough that you can take a butter knife, work the edge, and then pop it out and place it on a plate or tray.

Take the inner filling, (your filling should also be slightly on the thicker side and looking pretty creamy) and layer it inside the pie crust base, alternating with strawberries.

Top the tart with a nice display of strawberries spread out like a fan.

Place in the fridge to firm up for at least another 20 minutes.

Serve and Enjoy!

Want to learn how to make epic raw food desserts like this and have the experience of a lifetime, right here in Hawaii? Check out our raw food Hawaii Retreats! We host both private and group retreats.

Aloha From the Big Island of Hawaii,

Live Free, Laura D

Kiwi Apple Smoothie



I think one of the biggest misconceptions about the raw food lifestyle is that it’s too time consuming. I totally disagree. I think it might take a little bit of a learning curve to get into a new habit of making new recipes, but honestly, my meals take me about 5 minutes to make on average, and I find that cooking really requires more time, energy and effort!

When people are transitioning to raw foods, they may make a lot of dehydrated recipes to mimic foods that were eaten on the SAD diet (Standard American Diet) but I live and promote a low fat raw vegan lifestyle, and not all raw food diets are the same. This means lots of fruit, smoothies, veggies and salads and so much more, but fruit and vegetables make up the base, with nuts and seeds a small part of the daily diet.

Here’s a kiwi apple smoothie recipe you can make in under 5 minutes! There’s so many new smoothie recipes you can make, this lifestyle doesn’t get boring for a second!

Raw Kitchen Essentials

For this raw smoothie recipe, all you’ll need a high-powered blender. I personally use and recommend the Vitamix Blender. I wrote a comparison review on the Vitamix, comparing it to the Blentec, that you can read here. A high-powered blender is one of the top 4 raw food kitchen tools I recommend stocking your kitchen with.

Kiwi Apple Smoothie Recipe

In a high-powered blender, blend the following raw, organic ingredients:

  • 2 kiwis (I removed the skin, although I do know many people who eat and love the kiwi skin!)
  • 3-4 curly kale leaves. (I used a gorgeous purple Russian kale, but you can use any kind of organic kale you have access to)
  • 2 dates (pitted)
  • 1 green apple
  • 3 fresh or frozen bananas
  • Optional (I wanted this smoothie to be visually green, so I also added a tablespoon of Spirulina, but it’s just optional. Chlorella would also be perfect for this smoothie.)

Blend together on high, serve, and enjoy!

Health Benefits of Kiwis

Kiwis are such interesting fruits. They have such a distinct taste profile, not to mention a distinct look!

Kiwis are a great source of:

  • Vitamin C
  • Fiber
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin E
  • Potassium
  • Antioxidants
  • Folate

When picking kiwis, you want them to be just slightly soft to the touch. If they are still hard, allow them to ripen at room temperature until slightly soft and then place in the fridge to slow down ripening if you’re not ready to consume it.

Hope you enjoy this Raw Kiwi Apple Smoothie!

Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii

Laura Dawn, Author of Mindful Eating for Dummies and Unhooked: A Holistic Approach to Ending Your Struggle with Food.



Plum Pistachio Salad Recipe

Plum Pistachio Salad-96There’s a delicately balanced combination of both sweet and sour in each bite of a delicious plum that’s unlike eating any other fruit. Living in Hawaii, I don’t get access to the stone fruit as much as I would like, so it was pretty surprising when I saw a huge stack of plums for a reasonable price in our health food store (no, I don’t advocate buying imported foods, but considering how much I eat local foods, I like to treat myself to something different every once in a while!)

I wanted to create a salad combination that I’ve never had before, so I looked around see what would pair well with plums. I chose pistachio and dill and it turned out to be a winning combination.

Raw Kitchen Essentials

For this raw food recipe, all you will need is a high-powered blender. I personally use and love my Vitamix. I’ve had mine for many years now it was one of the best investments I’ve ever made for my kitchen. It’s one of the top 4 healthy kitchen essentials I use and recommend stocking your kitchen with.

Plum Pistachio Salad Dressing Recipe

In a high-powered blender, blend the following ingredients:

  • 2 washed, organic plums
  • 1 cup of pistachios
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of Bragg’s brand of Honey Apple Cider Vinegar (If you can’t find this kind, then just use regular ACV and add an extra tablespoon of local organic honey, or if you’re a strict vegan, add 1 date.)

Blend on high. Then add the dill and pulse in for a few seconds.

Here’s a good aesthetic trick to keep in mind when you’re making a dressing that requires fresh herbs. If you were to add the dill right into the dressing and blend it all together, you’d get a brownish looking dressing (red + green = brown). Instead, you want to blend all the other ingredients first, then do a rough chop on the dill and just add it in for a few seconds until you have an even speckle of green in your purplish/reddish dressing. It’s important to make food look appealing because our eyes play a major role in terms of how much you like what you’re eating!

Plum Pistachio Salad Dressing-72

Another thing to keep in mind is that how much water you use will determine how thick or liquid your dressing will be. You could add a 1/4 cup of water instead and make this more of a dip, or add the full cup and make it a more liquid dressing. If you like thicker dressings, start with 1/2 cup of water and work your way up from there!

I love to keep my recipes simple, and try to keep my meals to only a few ingredients. One of my favorite ways to do this is to make a salad dressing with certain ingredients and then also top the salad with those same ingredients. So for example, I made a plum, pistachio and dill salad dressing and then topped the salad with slices of plum and whole (shelled) pistachios as well with just a hint of dill.

I used spinach as the base and found this to be a perfect taste for the plum pistachio dressing. Since I’ve created this salad recipe, I’ve made it for myself 3 times this week!

If you want to learn how to make raw foods, come and join us for a private raw food retreat right here on the Big Island of Hawaii!

Have fun playing with this new recipe! Let me know how you like it!

Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii,

Live Free, Laura D

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