Starting From Scratch

I am a dessert person. I love dessert.  There is no doubt that I got my love of desserts entirely from my mom. My dad is not a “dessert person”, at all. Apparently, when it came to dessert at a restaurant, they did the “she gets the dessert, he tastes a couple of bites” routine. And I don’t mean “he actually eats half”, I actually mean a couple of bites. If I let my husband share my dessert, I generally cut it in half first because a) I don’t share well, and b) he also loves dessert (although slightly less than me).

Since it was my dad’s birthday a few days ago, I wanted to make him a cake that was, well, healthy. Something he would actually eat. I wanted to make a super fancy raw cake, but didn’t have the time to do all the prep (i.e. learn how to make 8 cups of almond milk from scratch). I resorted to making a “regular” cake. I figured an apple cake. Between applesauce and apple bits, if I searched for a healthy vegan apple cake, there would be something, right? Wrong. Apparently “healthy” includes at least 1/2 cup of oil, usually more like 1 full cup. After nearly an hour of searching, I gave up. I did some research. I built my own recipe from scratch. Nearly 1/3 of the recipe volume was applesauce.

And it tastes and looks delicious!

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Except for one itsy bitsy problem…it’s super dry and crumbly. Half of me wants to just try upping the applesauce, as it was a pretty thick batter. The other half of me is fairly sure I will have to increase the coconut oil from 2 tbsp to 3 or 4 tbsp. The tragedy! Unfortunately, until this fiasco is resolved, I will be keeping this recipe to myself. I don’t think there’s a huge demand for healthy, crumbly apple cakes.

I suppose the problem could be covered up solved by slathering it in icing…but where’s the fun in that?

What’s your favourite “healthy” dessert recipe?

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Easy Coconut Chocolate Sauce

So much tasty food has been made in our home lately, although it has mainly been from recipes. Last Saturday morning, we had vegan red velvet waffles care of anunrefinedvegan! Soooo tasty, and the recipe stays true to red velvet–which contrary to popular belief is not just chocolate with red food colouring! In truth, it was the second weekend in a row we’d had these beauties, but with no soaked cashews, we needed a different sauce.

My mom frequently would make coconut syrup for pancakes and waffles, and while she verbally told me it was just sugar and coconut milk, I never did get that recipe. I suspect it was something like half and half. So, deliciously delicious, but incredibly unhealthy. I did try once with a recipe I found online, but it wasn’t the same.

Instead of dwelling on that, I decided to take a new tactic altogether–make it healthy. It is a very easy recipe, that builds on 3 simple ingredients.

Easy Coconut Chocolate Sauce

  • 1 can low-fat coconut milk
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)

Mix the coconut milk and cocoa powder in a saucepan, and turn the element onto medium heat. Stir frequently. The goal here is to boil off some of the excess water, so this may take awhile. Take it off the element when you like its thickness (something like 30 min). Then add the maple syrup, stir and serve!

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Now this makes a very mild sauce, so if you want something with a bit more punch, increase the cocoa and/or sweetener to taste.

And then, put it on everything. Waffles, pancakes, ice cream, and even…

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Raw vegan cheesecake! The recipe can be found over on The Rawtarian. It was especially amazing because we already had all the necessary ingredients. And there was no soaking of cashews required so that when I decided I wanted to make it 45 min before our dinner guests arrived…it worked out!

One of the people we served it to had eaten a few bites before saying, “Wait…you’re vegan, how is this cheesecake?”

Seriously, make that cheesecake, even if you’re not vegan.

What’s your favourite tastes-like-the-real-thing-but-not recipe?

Black Forest Cookies

It’s that moment we’ve all been waiting for…a new cookie recipe! Took me long enough, I know, but life has been surprisingly busy lately (I wonder why). But last night the urge to bake hit me and out came something delicious. And, applesauce-ified.

 

This recipe is based on the Joy of Cooking’s chocolate chip cookie recipe, modified to be a bit healthier and, of course, the addition of cocoa and cherries.

Black Forest Cookies

Whisk together:

  • 1 c plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Beat in a large bowl until well blended:

  • 1/4 c unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c packed brown sugar

Add and beat until well combined:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c unsweetened applesauce

Stir in the flour mixture until well blended and smooth, then stir in:

  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 c chocolate chips

Grease a cookie sheet and drop the dough by heaping spoonfuls about 2 inches apart.

Now take out an equivalent number of maraschino cherries (my batch made 19 cookies) and squeeze them between some paper towel to get the excess liquid out. Push one cherry into the center of each cookie.

 

Bake for about 10 minutes at 375°F, until cookies spring back when poked OR a toothpick inserted comes out clean (except for chocolate chips, of course).

So, how were they? Extremely tasty! They have that same cake-y texture as most of the applesauce substitute cookies I have tried, but don’t seem to have that baking soda flavour. The dough itself is not very sweet, but the cookies (and cherries) definitely make up for it.

Enjoy!

P.S. I love feedback! If you make one of my recipes, please leave me a comment saying what you thought of it!

Finally!

Well, it took me several months, but I finally did it. There is finally a custom header on the blog. From the very start I thought, hey, that top image is temporary, I’ll replace it with something soon. But soon became a week and then a month and then…now!

Feedback is welcome–I kind of like the green, (mostly because the tea towel–believe it or not, the nicest one we have) is also green, so it doesn’t clash.

The is taken of some cookies I made this last weekend. After my success with banana bread, I thought “hey, why not banana cookies?”. So I turned to my faithful friend, allrecipes, and found healthy banana cookies! It’s a different kind of cookie — no dairy, no eggs, no flour. I was worried they might be like granola bars, but they’re a bit too soft for that. I did make some modifications, mostly based on the comments.

I added:

  • 2 diced apples
  • 1/2 more oats
  • applesauce instead of the oil
  • 1/4 c shredded coconut
  • 1/3 c maple syrup
  • 1/3 c fresh blackberries

I also cookies them at the suggested lower temperature of 325°F. One thing that was weird about these cookies was I had a great deal of difficulty telling when they were done. They get slightly brown, but mostly they just get harder. And, of course, with no rising agents, they don’t get bigger, either. What’s the verdict? They need chocolate. But other than that, very tasty!

Enjoy!

Strawberry Chocolate Banana Bread

It has been a very busy few weeks, and even when we were actually in town, there were still tons of things to catch up on from when we weren’t in town. I think we are almost caught up now though–I even had time to get my hair done last weekend! I now look like I’ve actually been on the beach this year (without the requisite sunburns).

But enough about hair, let’s talk about yumminess. Most important part about catching up is that I had time to bake again! And the weather cooled down enough that using the oven wasn’t going to mean sleeping in one. There were a couple of very ripe bananas lying around which can mean only one thing: banana bread!

I started with the recipe “Banana Bread Cockaigne” from Joy of Cooking, and made some tiny mods based on what I had available. Here is the end result:

That’s right, there are chocolate chips and strawberry pieces in the banana bread.

Strawberry Chocolate Banana Bread

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8.5″ x 4.5″ loaf pan.

Whisk together in a medium bowl:

  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Beat in a large bowl at medium speed until creamy:

  • 2/3 c white sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice

Beat in:

  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 c mashed ripe bananas (approximately 2)

Add the dry ingredients in about 3 parts, beating until smooth after each addition. Then fold in:

  • 1/2 c strawberries cut into 1/2″ pieces (make some a bit larger)
  • 2/3 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Pour/scrape the batter into the greased pan. Bake until a toothpick (or chopstick, if you don’t have any toothpicks handy) inserted in the center comes out clean (about an hour). Cool slightly, then remove from the pan and leave to cool on a rack. Slice after the loaf has cooled completely.

What did I think? Delicious! I was extremely surprised about how light coloured the bread was, I am used to banana bread that is much darker. It also, while still very dense, does not have the greasy feeling that banana bread usually has either. It is possible that perhaps I could’ve gone a little lighter on the chocolate chips……kidding! There’s no such thing as too much chocolate.

Enjoy!