Our Peter Cottontail Cake

My mom has never had a passion for baking. She prefers to cook, as the recipes are more forgiving when the creative mind takes over. However, every Easter my mom would gather us kids around the kitchen counter and we would eagerly make our annual Peter Cottontail Cake. I’m not sure exactly when this tradition began, but I can’t remember an Easter without this cake.

When my two girls came along, I decided that I would continue this tradition. Our cake has certainly evolved over the years. Not just in appearance (the kids always take over the icing and decorating) or flavour, but in the chosen cake ingredients. Our Peter Cottontail Cake has been gluten-free for several years and gluten-free and vegan for the past two years. Changing our diet and lifestyle, did not mean that we would live without our beloved Easter cake.

Every year leading up to Easter weekend, the girls continuously remind me of this cake. As if I would ever forget.

Meet Peter.

Bunny Cake

This year our cake will be taken on a road trip to be enjoyed by our many extended family members. The girls decided that a mocha flavoured bunny would be best. So, the recipe was a no-brainer.  We decided to go with Chloe Coscarelli’s recipe for Mocha Almond Fudge Cake since we have had so much success with it in the past. We easily made it gluten-free with an all-purpose gluten-free flour mix. We substituted the sugar in the recipe for coconut sugar and the canola oil for coconut oil. It made two beautiful 9-inch round cakes.

Creating the bunny is super easy. Like my mom, I’m not one for fiddly things, but this I can do. ;) Once the cakes have cooled, one is carefully cut in half. The sides are then “glued” together with icing and the cake is stood cut sides down on a cake plate.

My 11 year-old daughter covered this year’s cake in a mocha icing and added some shredded coconut sprinkles. My teen made a great set of floppy ears from cardboard. The girls completed our bunny cake with some candy. A big marshmallow is always our bunny cake’s tail. Something all the kids like to fight over when it’s time for slicing. Usually the younger child wins.

This post could not be complete without sharing a couple of photos of Basil. Basil is our bunny we adopted from New Moon Rabbit Rescue a year and a half ago. He is now two years old. He is our baby.

 

Wishing you all a beautiful Spring-like weekend! (Let’s hope we get some much-needed sunshine!!). As well, a very Happy Easter to those of you celebrating this special occasion!

What’s Been Cookin’ (And A Tasty Protein Shake)

It’s about time I shared with you the main reason for me being so inconsistent and sporadic with my posts these days (by the way, A BIG thank you to many of you who have written asking me ‘what’s up?’).

Well, I am thrilled to announce that I have gone back to school! :) CSNN study booksNot as a teacher, as some of you would suspect (I work as an occasional school teacher in my small town). I am back to school as a student and loving every minute of it. It really feels good to hit the books once again. Most importantly, it feels good to finally work on completing something I started nearly 15 years ago.  By the end of 2015, I hope to have earned my certificate in Holistic Nutrition from The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. Yay!!

Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway. ~ Earl Nightingale

I do realize that earning my Holistic Nutrition Certificate may involve some blood, sweat and tears, but I’m up for the challenge. At 45 years of age, it’s been some time since I’ve had to take tests and write reports. Thankfully, my busy family is on board and they are giving me all the love and support I need to fulfill my goals.

I have many interests and hobbies and one of them is this food blog. While I study, I will continue to post all the delicious gluten-free and plant-based dishes that are palate-approved by my family and friends. However, for the next little while my posts will be a little “here and there”. If time goes by between posts, as it so easily does, please know that I will be back!

If you haven’t already done so, I would love for you to like my Facebook page. I tend to use Facebook to share tidbits of interesting health and nutrition info, as well as recipes so worth trying. Lately, I’ve been inspired by the many vegan athletes fulfilling their dreams. You’ll see a few of those stories on my fb page, too.

Now…back to the books, but first I’ll whip up a shake.

PINEAPPLE PROTEIN SHAKE (from Ani’s 15-Day Fat Blast)

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen pineapple
  • 1 tablespoon flax meal
  • 1 cup filtered water (I used coconut water)
  • 2 pitted dates
  • 1 teaspoon spirulina*

Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Ani Phyo, an award-winning chef and raw food guru,  says it will keep in your fridge for two days. I seem to drink it within minutes! ;)

* Spirulina is a microscopic blue-green algae. But don’t let that turn you away!  This superfood contains high amounts of protein, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. You can find it in many natural health food stores. I have seen it in powder form or in pressed tablets. I like to purchase it as a powder, so that I can add it to a variety of recipes. On its own, it tastes like seaweed.  If this is not your choice flavour, rest assure – you will not taste it in fruit smoothies like this one!!

Cheers!! :)

Pineapple Protein Shake

 

Shamrock Smoothie

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

shamrock smoothie

SHAMROCK SMOOTHIE (inspired by Kriss Carr’s Greensicle Smoothie)

  • 2 cups non-dairy milk
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 2 small oranges, peeled
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 large handful organic kale leaves
  • 4 organic romaine leaves

Blend all the ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth. Cheers!!

May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrock.

May your heart be as light as a song.

May each day bring your bright, happy hours.

That stay with you all year-long.

Fettuccine Alfredo

fettuccine alfredo

I have been talking about this rich and creamy dish for so long that it’s about time I share the recipe.

I love serving this delicious pasta dish to my dairy-loving guests. They all have been shocked with its better-than-the-real Alfredo taste! I apologize Alfredo di Lelio!

This particular recipe comes from Chloe Coscarelli’s cookbook, Chloe’s Kitchen.  If you are a pasta lover looking for plant-based dishes, I highly recommend you purchase this book. Chloe’s pasta recipes rock! I love their ability to pleasantly surprise those vegan skeptics. ;)

The above photo shows our fettuccine Alfredo with steam fried cremini mushrooms, steamed broccoli florets and a garnish of chopped green onion. Along with a small bowl of Caesar salad, this is one of our 10 year-old’s favourite meals. She’s all into comfort foods and this one certainly hits the spot on a cold winter’s night.

FETTUCCINE ALFREDO SAUCE (from Chloe’s Kitchen)

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 (or more) cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup raw cashews or blanched almonds, soaked overnight or boiled for 10 minutes and drained
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons white miso paste (optional, but it adds great flavour to the sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • chopped Italian parsley for garnish

Over medium-high heat, steam fry chopped onion in a skillet with a bit of water. You may also try steam frying in a bit of vegetable stock or dry white wine. Steam frying works wonderfully with onions, garlic or any delicate vegetable and it’s a great way to avoid that extra fat. Add your garlic and let cook for a few more minutes. Remove from heat.

Cook gluten-free fettuccine noodles according to package directions. Drain and return to pot.

Using a Vitamix or other high-powered blender, combine onions and garlic, softened cashews, water, miso paste (if desired), lemon juice, salt and pepper. Process on high until the mixture is very smooth. This usually takes a couple of minutes. If sauce gets too thick, add a little water at a time and mix.

Toss cooked pasta with Alfredo sauce. Serve immediately and garnish with parsley. Enjoy!

Here’s another pasta favourite by Chloe to give a try!

Curried Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Dip

This is a sweet, hearty, and unquestionably addictive dip made from red lentils and a pureed sweet potato.  Served alongside some gluten-free crackers and raw onion bread, this dip was a huge hit at my sister’s Annual Boxing Day Party.

I adapted this recipe from Mathew Kadey’s “Curry Lentil Squash Dip” . Not having a winter squash in my pantry,  I decided a sweet potato would make a delicious and easy substitution.      Curried Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Dip and Spread

This satisfying dip is chock-full of antioxidants, fiber, and protein.  It also contains no oil which is often hard to avoid in so many dips. It’s also pretty awesome spread on toast the next morning!  :)

CURRIED RED LENTIL AND SWEET POTATO DIP

  • 1/2 cup dry red lentils
  • 1 sweet potato, cooked, skinned and pureed
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Rinse red lentils and place in a medium saucepan with 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes until lentils are tender. Drain excess liquid and let cool.

Once lentils have cooled, blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

Wishing you all lots of love, joy and laughter for the remaining holiday season! May 2014 be a happy and healthy year for you all!

Smokin’ Split Pea Soup

Baby, it’s cold outside!! A snowfall warning in effect, temperatures reaching minus 27 degrees Celsius, and a mighty northerly wind – this was our past weekend. Time to break out the parka and snowpants!  :)

We warmed things up inside with a hearty bowl of Kris Carr’s Split Pea Soup. As per her recipe in “Crazy Sexy Kitchen” (click here for the recipe), we added a teaspoon of smoked paprika and some finely chopped kale. I  added my own touch to this awesome soup by throwing in some chopped potato.

When you check out the recipe, you’ll notice that Kris Carr suggests adding some dulse seaweed. Unfortunately, I did not have dulse in my pantry and I wasn’t about to head to the grocery store with over 25 cm of freshly fallen snow on the roads. However, I do plan on adding some dulse the next time around for that extra boost of vitamins, minerals, and protein. The soup was still delicious without the dulse.

Split Pea Soup

A bowl of this soup will warm you from head to toe.  An ideal meal for a day full of skiing or snowshoeing. I am so looking forward to the upcoming holidays where I will have a little more time to enjoy the great outdoors. I believe that the best way to enjoy a good Canadian winter is to play in it. My only wish is that it will warm up, just a bit. In my opinion, it can’t get any colder.  ;)

Enjoy your week! It’s going to be a busy one!

Maple-Glazed Apples (with spiced non-dairy yogurt and buckwheat granola)

I rose this morning to a beautiful winter’s day and to the sweet sound of my 10 year-old strumming “Jingle Bells” on her guitar. Ahhh, I am so thrilled she loves to practise. ;)

Over a hot cup of chai tea, I decided to go through my binder of old recipes. I came across this one which I thought was a perfect dish for celebrating our first Sunday of Advent.

maple-glazed apples

I used to make this a few years ago with unsalted butter, non fat yogurt, and a low-fat granola. Like most recipes, this one can easily be made without all the dairy and be just as tasty, if not better.

Today, I used a wee bit of coconut oil, yoso coconut yogurt (a carrageenan-free, non-dairy yogurt), and an adapted version of Laurie Sadowksi’s tasty and wholesome Raw Cacao Buckwheat Granola.  So delicious!

MAPLE-GLAZED APPLES (WITH SPICED NON-DAIRY YOGURT AND BUCKWHEAT GRANOLA)

  • 4 spartan apples, cored, and each cut into 8 slices
  • 5 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 tablespoon organic virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup yoso creamy cultured coconut (plain unsweetened) yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat granola

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Place apples, 3 tablespoons of maple syrup and melted coconut oil in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Toss until well coated.

3. Roast apples for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apples are crisp and tender.

4. Meanwhile, whisk yogurt, spices and remaining 2 tablespoons of maple syrup in a small bowl.

5. Spoon roasted apples into a shallow bowl. Sprinkle with granola, then drizzle with spiced yogurt.

*Note on the granola: I have made Laurie Sadowski’s granola recipe a few times now and love it. In my latest version of her recipe, I substituted raw almonds for hazelnuts, added dried cranberries, and eliminated the cacao and cacao nibs. My kids enjoy eating a bowl with my homemade almond milk, but I prefer eating the large clumps as an afternoon snack.

As I write this, it’s early afternoon and the snow has been flying since dawn. Our tree is lit (soon to be decorated) and my daughter is busy putting together our advent wreath. My plan is to spend the afternoon pouring over, once again, all the amazing vegan dishes at last month’s Virtual Vegan Potluck. Tonight I will make my final decision and vote for my favourite dish in each category. (December 2 is the last day to vote). Have you checked it out, yet? If not, you must! (uberdish brought a side dish – herbed spaetzle with beet puree!)