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The Holiday season is upon us once again, and for most dancers that means Nutcracker Season (joy of joys…). Most people, myself included, battle with this season not because of holiday stress, but because of all the delicious sweets that abound seemingly everywhere you go. Your stomach tells you yes, but your body tells you no. I vowed this season to discover a healthy, naturally satisfying and energy-giving treat that won’t make you crash half-way through waltz of the flowers. And succeed I did! Enjoy these delicious raw, vegan thin mint cookies that I adapted from Sarma Melngailis’ book ‘Living Raw Food’ (she also happens to own my favorite restaurant in NYC, Pure Food and Wine– check it out!).


4 cups fine almond flour

4 cups raw cocoa powder

1.5 cups maple powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1.5 cups coconut butter, warmed to liquefy

2 tablespoons peppermint extract

2.5 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chocolate Oil:

1.25 cups coconut butter, warmed

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder

3.5 tablespoons maple syrup

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons powdered blue-green algae (optional)

To Assemble:

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, cocoa powder, maple powder, and salt.

In a separate bowl, combine coconut butter with peppermint and vanilla extracts. Add to dry ingredients and combine well by hand to form dough.

Press dough into a parchment-lined sheet pan. Place in refrigerator until chilled.

Blend all chocolate oil ingredients in blender or food processor until smooth (the algae is my addition, but its flavorless and a great source of natural energy and vitality). Pour one cup of oil over dough and return to refrigerator until hardened.

Remove from sheet pan and cut into small squares. Voila!!!!


Written by Keenan Mclaren

Keenan McLaren is from Boston, MA where she began her ballet training at the age of 8. She trained at the Boston Ballet School for 10 years, and upon graduating from high school, secured a job as an apprentice with Ballet Austin II. After one season in Austin, Keenan then joined Dayton Ballet, where she danced for 5 seasons, performing many principal and soloist roles, as well as had many roles created on her by such choreographers as Christopher Fleming, Gregory Robinson, Steven Mills, Jeffrey Hughes, and Alan Hineline. In the fall of 2010, Keenan moved to Philadelphia to join the newly established BalletFleming, where she had the opportunity to dance many principal roles as well and set and ballet mistress many of Mr. Fleming’s works. For the upcoming season, Keenan is thrilled to be joining Nashville Ballet.
In her free time, Keenan is an avid yogi and yoga teacher, having just completed her training with Baron Baptiste. She is also a huge foodie and loves cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, especially with raw and vegan foods. Keenan also loves photography, particularly black and white film. In 2008, she won a Dance Magazine Photo contest and hopes to one day become a dance photographer.