Celebrating the Holidays with CBD

Carrot Cupcakes
Image by Sunny Gandara

Written By Sunny Gandara

Whether you are celebrating Easter or Passover this week, I couldn’t think of a better time to bring out your CBD products and have a little fun with them.  There are all kinds of candy and ready-made items, but with all the extra time everyone has on their hands these days – why not have some extra fun in the kitchen?  

In my world as a chef and wine consultant, CBD often stands for Cooking, Baking and Drinking and in this case, I’ve managed to combine everything into one. 

Before we start,there are a couple of  useful tips around cooking with CBD I’d like to share with you:

Firstly, cannabinoids bind with and dissolve  really well into oil and butter, as the absorption rate is maximized. This is why it is perfect in baked goods as well as dressings and marinades with oil. 

Secondly it’s important to know that CBD will evaporate at temperatures between 320-350 degrees Fahrenheit, thus the benefits will diminish.  Hence, if you are baking and cooking make sure that you keep it at a temperature lower than this to ensure you are not removing any effects.

Thirdly, just like with any ingredients when you cook: look for high quality CBD. It really matters when it comes to the results, so look for a reputable brand that sells full-spectrum CBD oil and 99% pure isolate. 

Lastly, start by adding smaller quantities first, especially if you are new to CBD. Remember: you can always add more but you can never remove what you’ve already added into the recipe. 

So now, let’s talk about the fun bits!

Personally around holidays, I think it’s much more fun to make small plates than have one, huge and heavy meal.  Creating smaller dishes that everyone can share in and just munch on, creates more excitement and will not leave you feeling stuffed to the tilt.  When several options are available, we tend to also eat with our eyes and hence become satisfied just by our senses. This is why I put together a variety of little meals that you can have fun with and add in whatever CBD products you have for extra enjoyment and benefits. I’ve given you some suggestions in each recipe, but feel free to use what you think sounds good. 

All the dishes below are vegan, but tested on my meat loving, picky chef- husband who gave the thumbs up so you can all be sure that they will please any and every food lover out there. Of course, feel free to substitute any ingredients you wish.  I also elected to use ingredients that you can find pretty easily these days, as grocery shopping can be a challenge!

There’s nothing better than serving up a few dips around special occasions to kick off a meal and while I love hummus as much as the next person, I think adding some color and something different to your table is not a bad idea at all.  These are made with simple ingredients but I add a little special spice and herbs to kick it up a notch.  Both dips are big favorites in my house!

Beet Dip


Serves 3-4

3 medium beets, roasted and peeled
2 small garlic cloves, chopped
1 small red chile or ¼ tsp red chili flakes 
1/2 cup plain, non-dairy yogurt (I love the Forager or So Delicious brand)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp za’atar*
2 tsp maple syrup (optional)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
8-10 mg Broad Spectrum tincture
Salt, pepper to taste
2-3 tbsp chopped hazelnuts for garnish
Extra dollop of non-dairy yogurt for garnish

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Rinse the beets and dry them off, then wrap tightly in foil. I like to drizzle the beets with a little olive oil,  sprinkle generously with kosher salt and add in a sprig or two of fresh thyme in the foil packet, all optional but adds a little something! Roast the beets in the oven in the foil on a sheet tray for about 1 hour until a knife pierces easily into the beet.  Set aside to cool slightly. 

Peel the beets, dice them and add them into a food processor with the garlic, red chile, yogurt, olive oil, za’atar, maple syrup, lemon juice, CBD and a little salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with hazelnuts and yogurt (optional). Serve with your favorite crudite, chips or pita bread. 

Peacamole Dip


Who doesn’t have a bag of frozen peas in their freezer? If you have had a bag forever, wondering if there is anything else exciting to make with it other than just steam them alongside a boring dinner, here’s your answer! I have added some edamame beans too for additional thickness and protein, and some vegan parmesan, but it’s absolutely not necessary.  The green color and cilantro instead of mint reminds me of guacamole… so if you’re in the mood for something different, this dip rocks!
Plus it tastes like spring.

Serves 3-4 

 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 cups frozen edamame, thawed
 Juice from 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, chopped
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
¼ cup vegan parmesan (I love Go Veggie’s Brand)
1-2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp olive oil
8-10 mg Broad Spectrum Tincture
Salt, pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve with your favorite chips or veggies.



This recipe is an homage to MASK Skin Care founder and Hemp Garden co-owner, Sarah Mirsini.  These feta and spinach turnovers reminds me of the many summers I spent on the Greek island of Skiathos. These days we have to resort to traveling virtually, either via food or images.  I hope this brings a little sunshine to your plate and a smile on your face!


Serves 3

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small Vidalia onion, chopped
2 small garlic cloves, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed  (or two large handfuls fresh)
1-2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup crumbled vegan feta cheese (I use Violife)
1 sheet frozen puff pastry sheet, thawed but still cold  (I used Pepperdine, which is also vegan and readily available)

Classic Greek Salad

Serves 3

2 small heads of romaine lettuce
½ English cucumber sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
2 medium sized tomatoes, sliced into wedges
½ cup of pitted Kalamata olives
½-1 cup of vegan feta cheese
Additional dried Greek oregano

CBD-infused Olive Oil-Red Wine Vinaigrette

1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp high quality red wine vinegar
¼ cup good quality Greek extra virgin-olive oil
2-3 tsp dried Greek oregano
8 mg of Broad Spectrum Tincture
Salt, pepper to taste

To make spanakopita:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 

In a medium saute pan, heat up the olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic and onion with the pinch of kosher salt and the red pepper flakes. Saute until soft and golden, about 5-6 minutes. Add in the spinach, turn off the heat, then add the feta and squeeze the lemon juice in. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

On a floured surface, roll out the sheet of puff pastry so you have a large square measuring about 15 inches.  Divide the square in half, then each half into three, making it six even squares. 

Place a tablespoon of the feta-spinach mixture in the middle of the square, wet the sides of the square with a little water using your hands, and fold over making a triangle.  Seal the turnover well, not allowing any air to come in between the filling and the edges.  Using a fork, crimple the edges, and place on the baking sheet.  Brush the top of the turnovers with a little non-dairy milk or oil. 

Bake the spanakopita triangles for about 20-25 minutes until golden on top, rotating the sheet halfway through (may take longer depending on your oven. 

Enjoy with the Greek Salad and a glass of 2018 Hatzidakis Santorini Assyrtiko. 

Assemble the ingredients for the salad in a bowl and make the dressing. 

To make dressing: Simply add all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Taste for seasoning and serve with the salad. 

Chick Pea Roasted Pepper Dip


The masters of small dishes are the Spanish with their ‘tapas’, so I had to include a Spanish inspired dish with my favorite vegetables: roasted red peppers. This is super simple and I’m sure everyone can get a hold of a can of chickpeas somewhere… Seriously this is my go-to whenever I’m looking for a healthy, hearty, yet exciting dish!

1 x 15 oz can organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 red bell peppers, roasted* and sliced (or use those in a jar)
1 large garlic clove, smashed
3 tbsp Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp good quality red wine vinegar
10 mg Broad Spectrum Tincture
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 handful of fresh cilantro or Italian parsley

Add the chickpeas and roasted red peppers in a medium bowl. 

In a separate small bowl, combine the garlic clove with the extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, CBD tincture and smoked paprika and whisk to combine.  Pour over the chickpea and roasted red peppers, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle in the cilantro or parsley.  Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to 1-2 hours to allow for the flavors to blend in. 

Serve with a good chunk of your favorite rustic, artisan bread, and a glass of the 2017 Querciabella Mongrana.



What’s a holiday celebration without dessert? If you’re like me, you may not want something to end the meal but nothing that’s too heavy or too rich.  These fluffy, light carrot-cake inspired cupcakes with a tangy cream cheese topping is perfect and gives you an opportunity to get those veggies in too! 🙂  The CBD gummies on top look like “blue” berries, and give them an extra touch.  If you want to make a cake instead, use the same recipe, just increase the cooking time to about 35-40 minutes. 

Makes about 18 cupcakes, or 1 sheet cake

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

2 ½ cups  unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
½ tsp salt
1 lb (4-5 medium) carrots, peeled
½  (cups light-brown sugar
1 ½ cups granulated organic sugar
½ cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ cup neutral organic vegetable oil (safflower or refined coconut oil)
1 cup non-dairy milk

Cream Cheese Frosting

About 150 grams  vegan cream cheese (I used Violife)
3 tbsp vegan butter, softened but still cool
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 cups confectioner’s sugar

18 CBD Edible Berry Exotic Berries for garnish


Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.   Fill two cupcake pans with 18 cupcake liners. 

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in a medium bowl, and set aside.

In a food processor fitted with a shredding disk, shred the carrots (you should have about 3 cups), add the carrots to the dry ingredients and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together add the sugars, apple sauce, vanilla extract, apple cider vinegar, oil and non-dairy milk.  Combine the liquids with the dry ingredients, and then carefully fold in the carrots. Let sit for about 5 minutes, allowing the carrots to seep out some of its juices. 

Using a spoon, top up each cupcake space with  batter and bake in the oven for about 16-20 minutes until a cake tester runs dry when inserted in the center. 

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. 

Add the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, maple syrup and lemon juice in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and process until smooth.  

Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar until you have a consistency you are happy with (the amount of sugar can vary).

Using an small offset spatula or a butter knife, glaze the cupcakes with the frosting and place one of the CBD Berry Exotic Berries on top of each one. Enjoy!

Sunny Gandara is a professionally trained chef, vegan food and wine consultant, food blogger and plant-based health coach based in Beacon, NY.   She is the author of sunnygandara.com, a website designed to share whole food, plant-based recipes to the ‘plant curious’.  She also writes about Norwegian food, culture and traditions on her other site arcticgrub.com.  For more of her recipes, check out her e-books or connect with her on IG @decantwithplants.

All images by Sunny Gandara