Strawberry Topped Vanilla Bean Cake

Cake Slice

Nothing says “birthday” like a cake.

For my boyfriend’s birthday I knew while he would be eating his favourite Dairy Queen ice cream cake, and I needed an alternative for me and my intolerant family members to celebrate with. I have made chocolate bean cakes in the past but I really wanted to try a vanilla cake.  I decided to modify a version of The Spunky Coconut’s Vanilla Bean Cake, to suit my intolerance.  I have to say a big thanks to Kelly for great inspiration on her blog.  To make my inspired cake I added coconut sugar, switched the Stevia, and replaced the unfriendly-honey with agave. I find that it tastes much better when refrigerated overnight, so plan on making it a day in advance.  After making this a few times I’m feeling very confident and looking at making my very own vegan cake for Christmas.

Full Cake from the Top

Puree in a food processor:
2 cups cooked white beans (I used canned garbanzo beans)
6 eggs
2 pkgs Stevia
1 tsp organic vanilla extract (I found organic, glutten free at the Natural Foods store)
1/3 cup agave

Add:
1/4 cup coconut oil, liquefied (I put it in the microwave for 20 sec)
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp coconut sugar (I also found this at the Natural Foods store, so good!!)

Puree well.

Pour into cake pan greased with coconut oil, remember that this cake does not rise.
Bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes. Or the The Spunky Coconut Blog suggests 22 minutes for cupcakes.

Sliced Cake

I combined two frosting recipes from her blog, and added lots of lemon flavor.  I suggest that you try Kelly’s Coconut Buttercream and add lemon flavoring and some coconut sugar.  I topped mine with strawberries.

 

Fruit Plate Love

Fruit Plate

Some Grandmas make can’t-get-anywhere-else cookies.  Some make theee-besst lasagna.  My Grandmother?

She perfected the fruit plate.

Seriously, her fruit plates have that magical Grandmother’s dust sprinkled all over them. I tried my own, (went to Costco and everything) and while they aren’t as good, they are just as addictive.

I think my grocery bill has gone up significantly.  Pomegranates are eaten faster then anything else, and next to go are the blackberries.  And for the first time I like mangos.  Correction, I now love mangos.

Everytime I see this goregous plate of fruit, I can’t help but think of Nette…

Christmas Plans!

Christmas can be one of the most fun and happy times of the year, and also the most stressful and crazy.  I’ve found that the way to enjoy my time over the holidays and enjoy the company of others is to plan ahead.  Usually I’d be just wrapping up finals, art projects and exams, but this year since I’m part time, I’m looking forward to getting more done ahead and relaxing.

My menu plan is for both Christmas Morning with just the immediate family and Christmas Day Dinner. My Mum and I decided that we wanted to have everything we could possibly have done in advance out of the way so that on the day of we aren’t stuck in the kitchen.

Christmas Morning:
Huge Fruit Plate –
Pomagrants, Oranges, Berries, and Banana
Waffles – Namaste makes a mix, or I might make a coconut flour version
Fresh Orange Juice

Christmas Eve:
Turkey – Cooked the day before, it will be an organic and fresh turkey from a local farm
Stuffing
- Usually I do a yeast-free option as well but this time I think I’ll skip and just make a regular stuffing for the those would want it
Swedish Potatoes
– Sooo not dairy-free but my BF’s favourite, done the day before
Squash – Made with Agave, done in advance (and frozen! I actually find its one of the few things that tastes just as good out of the freezer)
Cranberry Sauce – I love this!!  Home-made and sweetened with agave done the day before
Baby Carrots – With part of the green stem at the top, steamed and sauteed in garlic, the day of
Strawberry Salad with Pecans - Already a family favourite and throws together in minutes!

And then there is dessert… my oh my.  What to do?

Dipped Strawberries in Chocolate (and some with nuts).  I’m planning on making some sort of display for these…

A cake/bar/squares?  This really will be the fun thing to figure out.  Originally I was going to do my Nut-ana Bars, but I’m thinking I might try a variation.  That or an egg nog cake.

Spagetti Squash

Spagetti Squash

My third go-to pasta option.

Ridiculously delicious, and filling while being another low calorie option.  It makes such a great base to top with whatever you have; veggies, meat or just oil and spice.  I usually eat a portion and then save the rest in a container in the freezer for when I need something quick.  When time to eat, empty out the extra water that is created during the thawing process and tada! lunch in minutes.

You need:
1 Spagetti Squash
1/2 -1 cup of Sugar-free Tomato sauce (Eden Organic makes one or I’ve even found Classico in the regular section makes a Tomato and Basil that is sugar free!)
Veggies sauteed in EVOO

To make:
Pre-heat oven to 375.
Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds lay with the insides face down on a baking sheet lined with tinfoil (for easy clean up) lighted oiled.  Use a knife to puncture the squash to allow steam to escape.  Place in oven for 45 minutes or until it can be easily pierced with a fork.

Take out the squash and let cool for 10 minutes.  Now for the fun bit:  take a fork and drag along the insides of the squash.  The squash will naturally form spagetti-like noodles! 

Top with sauce and veggies. 

Kelp Noodle Pasta

Kelp Noodles

When you go on a specialized diet, you feel like all your money is being wasted on trying new products that you mostly hate and have to throw out.  That in itself is another post, but lately I’ve been going back to trying things that a year ago I would have thrown away.  Organic ketchup that tastes like cinnamon? Goat cheese macaroni?  Bring it.

I picked up Kelp noodles at the health food store when I was looking for some sort of seaweed snack.  I know that sea vegetation is really high in nutrients but it can be hard to think of ways to eat it, other then sushi.  I can just imagine the whole, ” You’re eating seaweed??  The stuff that grows in the lake?”  Combined with the look of disgust and pity.

They always have to throw in that look.

Despite those nay-sayers, these noodles from Sea Tangle are not as super high in nutrients like seaweed, but they are super low calorie just like spaghetti squash.  However, unlike the squash, kelp noodles look more like wheat pasta.

After researching on the web I was told to soak them in a bit of lemon juice and water to soften them.  Did that, and sauteed some veggies on the stove with garlic and EVOO, adding in the soaked noodles for a few minutes at the end.

It was soooo good.  Filling, hot, and felt like a big bowl of carbohydrates, yet for only 12 cal per cup of noodles!!  I’ve been trying to find time to go back to the store and stock up, because they really are addictive.  I checked Sobey’s and they didn’t have them in any of their specialized sections so it really means a trip to the Health Foods Store…  More to buy and try!

Nut-ana Bars: A Nanaimo Bar Inspired Recipe (SF, DF and GF, Vegan)

Nut-ana Bar

I’ll admit I’ve been thinking of this particular recipe for weeks now.  With the Christmas holidays fast approaching and holiday party menus to plan, I’ve been thinking of what I can make to avoid caving in and eating non-healthy food.  So far I’ve decided on dipped Strawberries, and Canadian Nanaimo bars.

I love Nanaimo bars!  Especially the ones from M&M’s, with their buttercream and custard filling…  a weakness in the past. So with that in mind I’ve decided to re-create a recipe.  I thought the texture of a banana would be perfect but I didn’t want just a raw banana in the middle.  Then I thought of macadamia nuts, which I love, and together they form the perfect combination.

Bottom Layer:
1/2 c. of Cookie Crumbs (I crushed Mary’s Crackers Brand: “Love Cookies” in Ginger Snap *see note)
4 Fresh Dates with Pits removed
4 Tbsp Shredded Unsweetened Coconut
2 Tbsp Almond Slivers (Ground or Whole Almonds would work too)
2 Stevia Pkg

Combine in a food processor and press into plastic lined tupperware.

Middle Layer:
1 Medium Banana
1 tsp Agave
3-4 Tbsp of Arrowroot Powder (Thicken to your liking)
6 tsp Macadamia And Cashew Butter (Add more if needed to bind together)
1 tsp Coconut Oil
Vanilla to taste
Stevia Pkg

Combine and add into blender.  The banana flavour is very powerful so add as much nut butter as you please.  Layer over the bottom, place into freezer.  I would suggest you wait an hour to do the topping but if you do it right away be careful not to mix the two top levels.

Topping:
1/4 c. Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze
1/2 c. Dark Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
2 Pkgs Stevia

Heat in a bowl over boiling water. The Almond Breeze keeps the chocolate a little soft even when frozen so that its more like frosting then hard chocolate.  Take out the containers from the freezer and layer over top.  Return to freezer.

This makes 2 square tupperware fulls.  I wanted to start small so I didn’t feast too much on my trial bars!  Overall I found mine a little too banana-y, so next time I think I might add more Nut Butter and sweeten with a little pineapple juice rather then all banana.  Until then… these were gone the minute they were ready to eat!

*For the cookie crumbs I used a GF & Vegan Option that was sweetened with Palm Sugar.  For two reasons: one, my oven is broken.  And two, I didn’t have time to make my own. So I settled for one with Palm sugar.  But if you did have time, make SF cookies yourself!  I picked up the Ginger Snaps flavour… somehow I was thinking Graham Cracker but got Ginger!  They tasted so good!  Regardless I think any cookie flavour you choose will be fine.