My lovely friends are true enablers.
I wanted to make cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes.
Even with my (somewhat) minimalist pantry and kitchen, I was mostly to my goal.
I had silicone muffin wrappers, but no muffin tin. I wasn’t sure whether I could simply bake the muffins without the tin, but my friend graciously lent me her muffin tray so I did not have to experiment. (Note: Please tell me if you have tried)
Next, I found the perfect recipe: a chocolate cupcake that only used chickpea flour as its base. No wheat flour, no funny grain flours, not even oat flour. Just chickpea flour. In fact, now I was rather intrigued. Chickpea flour cupcakes??
I was missing one ingredient, though: baking powder. I have baking soda (it also helps for cleaning), but no baking powder in my minimalist pantry. Oftentimes, especially if baking with chocolate, baking soda can be substitute with baking powder. So I tried that option first. Baking experiment fail #1: I forgot to look at the conversion and it isn’t a 1:1 substitution. My cupcakes rose beautifully but tasted kind of salty and somewhat metallic.
I vowed to try again with less baking soda but my friend spared me the trouble and slipped me a bag of white powder at work. Clearly labelled baking powder. The label may have been unnecessary because if she were smuggling cocaine, I would have inherited a fortune. ;)
In any case, I shared the cupcakes at work. I was up-front that I was sharing vegan, gluten-free and grain-free cupcakes. I told people that it was made with besan/chickpea flour because quite a few of my co-workers cook with it, too, and they were shocked it could be used in a sweet baking treat.
However, what I did not share (initially) was what I was hiding in my frosting. I ran with the bean-theme and used tofu as my base! It is similar but more firm than my chocolate mousse pie filling. I thought it was too sweet when I first tasted it but it mellowed out and firmed up considerably overnight in the fridge. Both the frosting and cupcakes were well received, so I consider it a success!
This recipe is courtesy of Vegan Beans From Around the World which shares 100 recipes of naturally vegan recipes from around the world. Kelsey simplified the recipes to keep the ingredients easy-to-find and did a marvelous job of curating a variety of vegan bean-centric dishes. Dutch Split Pea Soup to Nigerian Black Eyed Pea Stew to Argentine White Bean Salad, there are plenty of dishes I still want to try. Oh, and the Navy Bean Pie (aka Muslim bean pie) which is also in the dessert section. I have been spoiled by gorgeous cookbooks as of late, so I am missing the pretty photos. Although hopefully these photos will encourage you to try out this fun cupcakes.
Recipes from Vegan Beans From Around the World spotted elsewhere:
Thankfully, the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite recipe made with beans. I will randomly select a winner on June 13, 2014. Good luck!
Note: I was given a copy of the cookbook from the publisher. I was under no obligation to share a review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.
PS. Have no muffin tins? Try making this into a cake, as seen here.
PPS. Need other ideas for using chickpea flour? Look no further than Emma’s round-up post.
PPPS. I am sharing this to Credit Crunch Munch and We Should Cocoa for $2 cakes. I didn’t price out the cupcakes but without butter and eggs, vegan cakes are typically cheaper. Chickpea flour can be found at more economical prices at Indian grocers.
I don’t think I have ever eaten so many bananas in one day. I lost count, but I think I ate eight during the Shiner GASP. Never mind the oranges, peanuts and bars, oh and lots of water. I had those, too, but ate a banana nearly every rest stop. Rob and I also had some almost-sorry bananas after the hot weekend. My friend stepped on the tip of one by mistake so I knew I had to eat it soon. Too impatient to wait for them to freeze for smoothies, I made these mini cakes instead. 5 ingredients and 15 minutes later, I had a fudgy, gooey, chocolately delight.
5 ingredients, 15 minutes seems gimmicky, but it is the premise of Doug McNish’s latest cookbook: Raw, Quick and Delicious. I have been sitting on this one for a while. During the winter, I had little desire to eat raw foods but now that summer has arrived, my time is short, I cannot eat through this cookbook fast enough. Smoothies, salads, and dressings, McNish has you covered for interesting combinations (spiced apricot smoothie, caprese stacked salad, curried carrot dressing). Furthermore, he includes breakfasts (cashew scramble wrap), main courses (raw sweet potato enchiladas!), snacks (cinnamon apple almond stacks!) and desserts (pecan pie brownies), none of which ask for a dehydrator or take too long to create. Some recipes call for sub-recipes throughout the book, though, but nothing seems too onerous. He focused on sharing recipes without fancy equipment or techniques, letting vegetables shine.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this simple concoction. Needless to say, I was sceptical, but I ran with it. Doug knows his food.
Gooey chocolate bliss. The bananas create a soft, gooey consistency that is held together with the flax seeds, but there are enough flax seeds to give this some structure, too. Since it takes only 10 minutes to set and no baking is required, it is a bit gooey, but who doesn’t like their chocolate cake super moist? I particularly liked it with the accent of the fresh banana slices to counter the darker chocolate flavour. (FYI, I tried it first with less agave, but tasted it and felt it deserved the full amount).
Need a way to eat copious amounts of flax seeds with glee? This would be it! You certainly don’t taste it.
There are a few selected photos in the cookbook and they are gorgeous, including this one for these cakes:
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe and giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me about your quickest and/or easiest raw dish. The winner will be selected at random on May 20, 2014. Good luck!
Recipes from Raw, Quick and Delicious spotted elsewhere:
Quick Thai Cream Sauce
Grapefruit Mint and Arugula Salad
Avocado Cucumber Hand Rolls
Summer Corn Cakes
Curried Cashews and Mixed Vegetables
Steak and Potatoes
Strawberry Coconut Shortcake Tart
Note: I was given a copy of the cookbook from the publisher. I was under no obligation to share a review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Breakfast Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake.
Because all things with rolled oats are actually meant for breakfast. Add coffee to it, some chocolate for good measures, then there is no question: this is all good breakfast things. A perfect way to start your day.
Because that coffee at night, may keep you awake. Or maybe it was the chocolate.
This was how I rationalized eating this for breakfast.
Eaten fresh, this is basically a self-saucing cake. A chunky dense cake doused in a mocha-chocolate sauce. It was really good, although a bit gummy from the oat flour.
I apologize for the unappealing photographs, but the leftovers were what I had to work with… The leftovers firmed up a lot after the overnight rest, sopping up the sauce, leaving this with a texture more comparable to leftover oatmeal. I hope you still get the idea that this is saucy, though.
Just so you know, I debated remaking this to get a better photo, but decided to share it anyways. My motto is to keep things stress-free and I wanted to share this sooner rather than later.
Chocolate pudding cake has always been associated with the Good Friday Cooking Disaster of 2009, wherein I made a meatless feast with a black bean and pumpkin soup, penne alla vodka and finished it off with a brownie pudding cake. Of course, all were new recipes that I was dying to try out. If I recall correctly, everyone was mostly satisfied with my first two dishes (I remember the penne alla vodka turning out well but I had to simmer off a lot of liquid) but all heck broke loose when I shared dessert. My family did not like it and they told me very bluntly. (Too sweet! I can cook better than you!) That last part is true.
However, I think everyone would love this pudding cake, for dessert or breakfast. Or both. Rob highly approved. For both.
In addition of its association with the upcoming Easter holiday, I also wanted to share this because I received some lovely ingredients to try courtesy of Carrington Farms, ground flax seeds and coconut oil, both of which I used here. Because this is a pudding cake filled with all good things. Check out stores near you celebrating Carrington Farm’s All Good April campaign by passing deals to you, too. In Houston, you can find that at HEB and Fiesta Mart. They also have additional coupons on their website.
Disclosure: I wrote this review as part of the #CarringtonAllGoodApril campaign with Carrington Farms, through FitFluential LLC. I received the products described at no cost in order to complete the review. However, opinions are honest and my own.
Another bike ride and another treat!
Although this weekend was more about travelling to Austin for the Texas VegFest to meet the ever wonderful Tess Challis, instead of cycling. We had lofty plans for both, although the rainy weather foiled our plans.
We decided to play chicken with the weather. We wanted to cycle at least 100 km, if not more. Instead of going out for a long loop, we drove out to a more rural location and used it as our home base. I would have been very happy doing multiple laps along a straight and flat road but Rob thought that would be too boring. Instead, Rob drafted 30-35 km loops in a few directions. We pedalled through two loops before giving in to the wind and rain.
Us versus the weather? We lost. Our bikes? Super dirty. Our car won. It became clean.
The nice thing, though, was that I was able to take out these treats. I was really curious to try them out. Not only to see whether it would be better than my last puffed quinoa treat, but I was curious about using coconut sugar as a binder.
The good part? They tasted great. A chocolately goop to keep everything together. Not too sweet with a hint of almond. Since the quinoa was puffed and not crisp, they were easy to munch on. However, my intuition was correct about the coconut sugar: it did not hold up well as a binder. The only way I could keep these treats together was by chilling it in the freezer. Even then, perfectly cut squares were hard to craft. I resorted to breaking off nibbles when I wanted a treat. As such, these were not portable snacks but worked out well with our continuous looping back to the car. I wonder whether coconut nectar would work better as a binder, although I have never tried it.
The treats are from a fun new vegan cookbook called (wait for it) The Vegan Cookbook. It is a gorgeous cookbook with creative yet approachable recipes: breakfast tagine, kale & soba noodles with ginger-chilli sauce, curried chickpea patties with satay dipping sauce, chai-spiced banana muffins and chocolate banana wontons. Authored by Adele McConnell of Vegie Head, I must admit I had never heard of it before, but we have been enjoying many of her recipes, including the super fast chickpea curry and South African sweet potato stew (very similar to my previously shared recipe). The rasam soup was a bit too tart for me, but at least it wasn’t mind-blowing spicy. In any case, with a wide range of international whole food recipes, I have many more dishes I look forward to making.
Here’s to hoping the nice weather persists for this weekend. Not only for our cycling adventures but for all those partaking in the MS150 this weekend, too. :)
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe and giveaway the cookbook to a reader living anywhere in the world (YAYAYA!). To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite vegan meal. The winner will be selected at random on April 21, 2014. Good luck!
PS. Recipes from The Vegan Cookbook elsewhere:
Moroccan Quinoa Soup (with a giveaway, too)
I may have been late to the Valentine’s Day dessert sharing by a week and truthfully, Pancake Tuesday was never on my radar.
Since there is a create-eat-blog lag, obviously, I need to be thinking about upcoming holidays months in advance. Red for Valentine’s Day? No. Green. Green is the new red, right? With what, St Patrick’s Day in March, right?
Joking aside, because I really don’t need an excuse to make a fun raw crepe inspired by one of my favourite childhood desserts: grasshopper crepes. My mom may chime whether this recipe is close to what she used to make: a marshmallow-cream filling spiked with creme de menthe is surrounded by a paper-thin chocolate crepe. YES! Of course, I haven’t had it in ages, but the classic flavours of chocolate and mint never fail.
I used an old favourite recipe for the chocolate banana crepes but switched up the filling by whipping together avocado, frozen banana and mint. I prefer the flavour from the mint extract instead of the mint leaves, but the mint leaves kind-of-sort-of made the filling green. I should have added a touch of spirulina to really make it sparkle!
Will you forgive me for another simple cauliflower recipe?
Because I have a problem: I will eat the whole head of cauliflower in one sitting.
If Rob is around, I might share it. If he is not, I will definitely eat the whole head.
Even to me, it sounds like a lot of cauliflower. But I swear, it starts off as a lot and after I roast it, it shrivels to a manageable and enjoyable feat.
I started by buying 1 cauliflower a week. Then it was two. I rationalized that to last the whole week, I should start buying at least 5 heads of cauliflower. Matt thought that was crazy. He dissuaded me from increasing my cauliflower purchases.
Then I let him taste my roasted cocoa cauliflower.
I would be lying if I insinuated he then agreed with my fanciful cauliflower plans. But he understood.
It is a simple recipe which surprises you. Cocoa is normally associated with sweet recipes, but instead the cocoa is paired with a hefty dose of smoked paprika. The cocoa provides a fun depth to the smoky paprika which is accentuated by the lemon pepper seasoning. (Why do I use lemon pepper seasoning? Well, I am too lazy to break out the spice grinder for simply 2 peppercorns. Plus the lemon bits add a fun twist, too).
PS. I have long been smitten by the prettiness of roasting a whole head of cauliflower, but I have yet to be convinced it tastes much better. In fact, I would think the core would not cook through entirely which is why I break up my florets first.
Remember Valentine’s Day? I reneged on my promise to make dessert. Rob had no problem coming up with an alternative. In fact, he was happy when I said I didn’t have the time to make my dessert of choice. He had already planned the whole meal!
The week post-V-Day is always special for us because we celebrate Rob’s birthday and our anniversary, so I eventually made my planned dessert, too. Our stash of avocados were perfectly ripe and could I really ignore an excuse to try out a new coconut flour-based dessert?
I cobbled together a delicious dessert from a few places. The base is inspired by Emma’s Raw Brownies but I topped it with a chocolate avocado frosting, based on my chocolate avocado mousse. To get a firm frosting, I used juicy Medjool dates as the sweetener (with a dash of agave only because I ran out of dates) along with a touch of lemon juice to balance the flavours. Next time, I might try a spiced version with cinnamon and cardamom again (like in my mousse).
Because I smushed this into a springform pan, this is more like a brownie cake. The brownie was delicious and it was amazingly fudgy and moist for a raw/no-cook dessert. Unlike my walnut-based raw brownie, this was lighter in texture due to the coconut flour (but more fudgy than my raw chocolate zucchini muffin). Plus the frosting just sealed the deal: delicious decadence. I highly recommend this. Although make no mistake, this is a decadent and filling treat.
PS. Here’s a shout-out to my Mom who got me a small off-set spatula. Which I totally used to frost the brownies. :)
Tomorrow is also the day to sign up for Cycle Oregon. After mulling over our options, we decided to scrap the Houston-Austin MS 150. Instead, Rob and I will be training for the 1-day 100 mile Shiner GASP (Great Austin to Shiner Pedal) ride this spring. For many reasons, we switched allegiances. I always prefer the first day of the long cycling rides and this will allow us to enjoy some time in Austin afterwards. (Free beer from the Spoetzle Brewery once we finish doesn’t hurt, either). And yes, it is only a stepping stone. Our master plan (provided we snag a porter) is to do Cycle Oregon this fall.
Cycle Oregon is not for the faint of heart: 2200 cyclists. 7 days. The route changes every year and this year it is over 400 miles and over 30,000 ft in incline. The hilly route mimics a portion of our beautiful roadtrip from Portland to Burning Man. This time, it will be by bike instead of by car.
Having a goal is a great way to stay on track. Even though we haven’t started training in earnest yet (blasted knees!), reading Gena’s snippet in No Meat Athlete about raw foods, reminded me why it is good to incorporate a variety of foods into your diet. Cooked or raw. And raw definitely does not need to be a salad. In the winter (even Houston’s winter), it can be hard for me to eat salads.
Filled with veggies, this is a fun twist on chili, done raw-style. A hybrid of my raw chili dip and chili salad wraps, this is a fun high-raw hearty chili. Red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes spiced with chili powder, tamarind and cocoa powder (YES!) create a smooth sauce that coats more veggies and beans. I used cooked pinto beans to make this a filling dish (and in my experience, easier to digest than using sprouted beans).
Is anyone else planning to do Cycle Oregon? We hope to have a small Cobra* contingent.
*Cobras are the name of our biker gang. We are a very inclusive bunch. Join us!
PS. This is my submission to Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian Food for tomatoes.
I swear, I wasn’t planning on sharing yet another dessert. But once I made these (uber wonderfully, possibly, yes, confirmed, the best chocolate I have ever made) treats, I knew I had to share them. Chocolate in January usually doesn’t fly…. and I simply could not wait until Valentine’s Day to share this with you.
But, before I tell you about the chocolates, let me tell you where the recipe hails. While in Montreal last year, I explored a variety of vegan restos. I was initially wooed by Aux Vivres, a vegan resto with cooked foods, and quickly recreated their macro veggie and tempeh bowl and their raw vegan smoked salmon. I also stumbled upon Crudessence, a longstanding raw restaurant and really enjoyed my meal. I was *thisclose* to buying their cookbook. It had the recipes for many of the same dishes I had just eaten and loved at their restaurant: Kombu mojito, raw tiramisu and raw cinnamon buns. Many of their other highly praised dishes are included, such as their Om burger, pad thai, Caesar salad, Tibet fat-free dressing, maki rolls, eggplant bacon, raw parmesan (crumesan), chocolate banana pie, chocolate mouse, lime pie, banana split with chunks of raw brownies, blueberry un-”Cheese”cake and Hippocrates juice.
So why didn’t I buy the cookbook? It was in French only. I can read French but since it is not my first language, it would not be as easy to decipher all the cooking terms. So I put it back.
Fast forward a year and their cookbook has been reprinted in English. Lucky for us, because this is a drop-dead gorgeous cookbook with delicious recipes.
The first recipe I tried were these truffles. In the cookbook, they are called “dark nougat”. I am not entirely sure what nougat is supposed to taste like. I thought it might be kind of chewy and sweet (I am only familiar with the nougat that studs Toblerone bars), but this was nothing of the sort…. it was creamy, smooth and divine. Honestly, I had made the middle of creamy truffles. Akin to the middle of Lindt truffles. YES!! And it was dead simple: whizz all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and then allow to set in the freezer.
I tried to be a bit fancier by freezing them in silicone ice cube trays, but since they were still so creamy after setting, they stuck a bit to the molds. The light dusting of flaked coconut or matcha helped to make them less gooey for your fingers. I was rooting for the pretty matcha-dusted truffles, but they were still a bit bitter for my liking. The coconut-flaked ones were great and if I had enough coordination, the chocolate-and-hazelnut-coated truffles sound incredible. I think these are a bit too fragile to gift, unless you coat them in a hard chocolate shell.
There is one special ingredient for this recipe, I apologize. Lecithin. I plan on writing more about this ingredient in a later post, but I can definitely assure you that it makes the most creamy chocolate to date.
PS. Other recipes shared from RawEssence:
I noticed this when the weather dipped to cooler temperatures. With the recent swing back to Houston’s humid summer temperatures, I noticed it again.
My kitchen barometer is the coconut oil.
During the summer it was a liquid and during the cooler days, it becomes solid.
Other things that melt in Houston: massage bars, solid hair conditioner and chocolate. Those warnings about using expedited shipping so that your items don’t spoil? Well, let it be known: chocolate will melt en route to my home. Thank goodness it still tasted great. That massage bar, unfortunately, could not be salvaged.
Wipe away your tears with these fantastic raw peppermint patties. They were delicious and you would never have known they were raw. A buttery mint filling courtesy of ground cashews and coconut flour with a touch of coconut oil is enveloped by a thick chocolate coating.
They may look like lumps of coal, but they certainly did not taste like it. ;)
I don’t know whether it was the temperature or the humidity, but I had a bit of trouble making these homemade peppermint patties. I have made chocolate truffles before - classic lemon bittersweet chocolate truffles, chocolate peanut butter truffles and even raw maca chocolates - but this was the first time my chocolate turned out more like play dough instead of a thinner liquid! This meant I had a much thicker coating for my peppermint patties which I wrapped around with my hands. Double the chocolate, which was great, since they tasted fantastic.
Also a note about coconut flour (again): it is defatted ground coconut so it lends a different texture. It also absorbs a lot of liquid, which is why it is so different than regular dried coconut. I am also convinced that different brands absorb more, so adjust the recipe as you go. I ended up adding more coconut flour since it was too liquidy with the original recipe. If you don’t have coconut flour, try these recipes that use dried coconut instead.
This recipe is courtesy of The Simply Raw Kitchen. The cookbook is from a raw restaurant in Ottawa, Simply Raw Express, and features both cooked and raw recipes (despite what the title may suggest otherwise). All vegan and whole-foods based. All gluten-free. With a bit of Austrian in her background, some of her Eastern European-inspired dishes really called to me: Austrian Blaukraut, Krautfleckerl, Lovage (Chickpea) Dumplings, Mushroom Goulash as well as Lemon Dill Cheeze and Aged Peppercorn Cheeze. However, it was her collection of (mostly raw) desserts that I could not shake from my mind: Better Pecan Pie with Shortbread Crust, Austrian Linzer Squares, Cloud Lime Pie, Orange Chocolate Blossom Tart, Holiday Nut Nog.
I know I say it all the time, but I really want to share this cookbook with you. Thankfully the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the US or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me which recipe you’d like to try the most (or if you have a recipe from Natasha that you recommend). Have a look through the index of The Simply Raw Kitchen on amazon (or my list below) or pick something from her website and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on December 7, 2013. Good luck!
Other recipes shared from The Simply Raw Kitchen:
I have discovered the secret to living in Houston’s summer. You need to fall into one of these two groups of people:
1. The people who wake up early before the sun rises
2. The people who stay up late after the sun sets
Rob and I have been exploring Houston by bicycle on the weekends. At 7am, we’ll cycle the deserted streets, only to find the paths at the parks literally packed with joggers and walkers. We must be thinking along the same lines: if you are going to be outdoors, best to do it before the sweltering heat arrives.
We quickly learned that Houston is wonderful after sunset. Many public events start late in the day, again to beat the heat.
The problem is trying to fit into category 1 and 2, on the same day. Suffice it to say, after a long bike ride in the morning, I was almost asleep mid-way through a Shakespeare in the Park production later that evening. The comfortable, balmy weather was a bit too conducive to napping. We didn’t even last past the intermission, HA! It was a splendid day, though.
Speaking of cycling in the Houston heat, it is very, very important to keep hydrated and fuelled. Even short runs are more demanding. This is a portable snack recipe I promised a while back. I whipped them up with the odds and ends in my mom’s kitchen before we left for our cycle to Kingston. I must have had some forethought because I remember bringing the coconut flour with me. My master plan for a chocolate date and peanut butter combo was thwarted because the dough was just too runny. But the magic of coconut flour did the trick. It is a very thirsty flour, so it sopped up the batter into portable chewy balls. The peanut butter made them rich and decadent, balanced by the sweetness of the dates and cocoa flavour.
A treat like this is perfect for fuelling during long rides. While our weekend rides are more around 50km now; in this heat, we feel like it gets a conversion factor of 1.5x for intensity. We are still a long way from the MS 150, but we’re hoping to improve our distance as the weather improves…. you know, in October, when it is supposed to cool down.
Are you a morning person, a night person, both or neither?
As you may have guessed, yes, I am still alive.
I survived my crazy Rideau Lakes cycle.
My focus this year was to pass my exam (which I did!) and then I quickly ramped up to cycle to Kingston. I cycled another 50 km during the week leading up to the weekend and took Thursday and Friday off as rest days. My final pre-event odometer reading was 560 km, 150km within the previous week.
That weekend, though, I cycled over 200 km. Not too shabby. This was my second time on the course, so I know that the hardest part is between Perth and Kingston. This is where most of the hills lie, including the dreaded Westport hill. The nice thing about repeating the course is that I did not feel compelled to conquer the entire course. Been there, done that. Enjoying the ride with a great group of friends was more important.
Our Cobra biker gang consisted of my Dad, Rob and Sue. While Sue and I had already decided we wanted the shorter route from Perth, the boys wanted the full route. However, due to an early rain shower, we all ended up starting from Perth on Saturday. A later start meant the roads would be dry, but more importantly so would our shoes and clothes. I was positively soaked during my training ride, and I simply hate cold, wet shoes.
Turns out we had my ideal cycling weather: overcast and not too hot. We were having a great time and I was positively giddy once we smoked down Westport’s hill. Sue pummelled it at 69 km/h. I had my brakes on and my max was 59 km/h. As we lounged at the gas station at the bottom, other cyclists reminded me that the hardest part would be the next day, tackling that hill in the opposite direction.
The only wrinkle in our day was my slow-leaking flat at around the 80 km mark. My Dad pumped it up and we crossed our fingers, hoping I could make it to Kingston without changing the tube. Lucky me, we made it and found an on-site technician to change my tube for me.
As we stood in line at the maintenance tent, I chatted with the guy in front of me. He did the whole cycle from Ottawa. And yes, do the math, he lapped me. He arrived before me, covering an extra 77km in the 2 hours it took us to start in Perth. His average speed put ours to shame: 35 km/h. Ours was more like 23 km/h, and we probably took way more breaks, HA!
We arrived early enough that we beat the late afternoon sudden rainfall, and with enough time to relax and clean up before having an early dinner. While none of the heated mains were vegan, I picked up cooked carrots, corns and a marinara sauce and then loaded up at the salad bar where I made my own salad with greens, carrots, cabbage, kidney beans and chickpeas with a balsamic dressing. Strawberries for dessert.
The next morning, we met bright and early over my peanut butter oatmeal with fruit. Both my Dad and I snagged a bunch of bananas for the road.
This time, the weather was a beautiful sunny day. The wind was barely moving and any breeze was from us, or when the pentalon would pass us. HA! And the dreaded Westport hill? I was quickly reminded how difficult it was – I remembered it being not that hard. The steep incline comes early but it is short-lived. The hill continues at less steep incline afterwards, for around another 1 km. A quick break at the top had us re-energized to tackle the next set of rolling hills.
We made it to Perth by lunch time when Rob and my Dad waved us goodbye as they cycled the rest of the way home. Sure enough, they covered the last 77 km in 2.5 hours. Their 28 km/h average was impressive at the end of such a weekend. Sue and I were perfectly content to call it a day at Perth. Thankfully, I wasn’t as tired as I feared (judging by my fatigue after my training ride) and even had the gusto collect our luggage and then bake cookies for Rob before he came home. My Mom made her lovely quinoa pilaf again along with roasted asparagus and peppers.
However, now Rob calls me a monkey. I think I ate 5 bananas on Sunday, in addition to my homemade chocolate peanut butter balls. And while I would love to share the delicious chocolate peanut butter balls I brought with me, the photos are still in Ottawa. So, I am sharing these treats that I brought with me on my training run.
After really enjoying the Nut-free Raw Carrot Cake made with coconut flour, I wanted to try something similar but with zucchini and chocolate, instead. So I experimented. Instead of grated carrots, I used grated zucchini. Instead of the cinnamon and nutmeg, I used cocoa powder. Instead of the apple-cashew frosting, I used cacao nibs for easier transport. And I really liked them. Asterisk, though. I would add more cocoa powder next time. I used up the end of my supply so I worked with what I had. Furthermore, while I ate these as cycling treats, they do not travel well at all. They worked for me with a short ride, since I popped them out frozen. Within 2 hours, they are at their perfect consistency: chilled and firm. Once they became warm, they were mushy and messy. Still delicious but not ideal. Definitely not portable to/from Ottawa and Kingston. Thus, I made new snacks that were uber portable. And once I get the photos from my parents, I will share that delightful recipe with you, too.
Being known as a healthy eater has its drawbacks.
My meals have now become suspicious. Suspicious for healthy ingredients. What have I hidden in the meal this time?
Trust me, I cater to my audience. If baking for myself, I’d easily experiment with squash carob brownies, cauliflower chocolate cake, chocolate chip chickpea blondies or chocolate mint black bean cookies. I have even gambled with (oh so good) chocolate tofu mousse pie with my family for Easter.
But for the harshest critics, I go all out.
Thus when Rob’s family came over for a birthday celebration and I offered to supply dessert, I had to determine my plan of attack.
Almost Guiltless Chocolate Mousse Pie? I knew it was a winner, but I had no tofu.
Rob suggested my Carrot Cake Cupcakes since he really liked them, but I thought they might be a bit “out there”. Carrots for a birthday dessert? (Only mine..)
Experiment with a new recipe? I considered Terry’s Italian Cashewcotta Cheesecake or Ethiopian Chocolate Flourless Torte, but still had the issue of missing ingredients.
Then I worked backwards. What do I have in my pantry? Coconut oil, nuts and cocoa powder. Cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds. Sounded delicious already. I peered around the corner of the cabinet and pulled out hazelnut butter. Eureka! A raw chocolate hazelnut cheesecake.
I like raw desserts because I can sample the batter and can easily gauge how it will turn out. Licking the batter from the blender, I knew this was going to be good. The next afternoon, I brought out the cheesecake to thaw. I cut a piece before everyone arrived. You know, for blogging photography purposes. But I sliced off a tiny sliver so I could do some tasting research, too.
I know I said my last raw cheesecake was utterly sinful, but how can a key lime pie compete with a chocolate cheesecake? A chocolate hazelnut cheesecake? It can’t. This my friends, was pure cocoa bliss.
Better than Nutella filling in a cheesecake form, on a cocoa-hazelnut-date crust. Decadent but not too rich and not too sweet. Perfect.
Trust me, I was very confident with this dessert.
Before I served it, I was pummeled with questions, though. “What IS this?” I was asked. Ingredients or the name of the dish? Ingredients, tell me. Nuts, coconut oil, cocoa powder, agave, dates… Avocados? I hate avocados.. No avocados…
Thank goodness it was a resounding success. Definitely my best dessert yet.
I am sore today.
Yesterday was such a wonderful day, it is hard to narrow down the ultimate culprit.
On any day of soreness, I would blame the gym. Yesterday was no exception. I started off the day with my regular weightlifting class but it was followed by an incredibly demanding work-out courtesy of Jillian Michaels: the infamous Body Shred work-out. It sounds tame. Only 30 minutes. Only 4 rounds after the warm-up. Only 3 minutes of strength, then 2 minutes of cardio, and 1 minute of abs. Do not be fooled!! This is HARD! It is crazy and chaotic. But fun and energizing. Especially since the moves have such funny names (but still oh so hard – flying crab anyone?). Already in select cities in the US, this was the first preview class in Canada but will eventually find its way into a Goodlife near you (it will start March 1 in Toronto and nationwide by the end of 2014). I don’t think this video gives the work-out the fear it deserves. ;)
Two work-outs down, it was time to become lazy and gluttonous.
Starting off with lunch at our new favourite fast food joint, Banh Mi Boys, which has a lot of vegan options. My favourite is the veggie kimchi sweet potato fries and the green-papaya salad with lemongrass tofu (both off-menu). Even better was meeting up with the sweet travelling Aussie Hannah.
Next up, a bit early for our show, we had a tea and connect 4 stop at Academy of Lions. It doubles as a crossfit gym but also hosts a cute cafe with tons of paleo sweets. If only they didn’t have honey, they would have been vegan-friendly. In any case, they had my favourite Tealish tea to warm me up: Winter Blend.
Our main reason for our jaunt on Lower Ossington was to see Avenue Q. A small intimate theater made this an up-close and personal experience, filled with all the wittiness I remember from when I first watched the show in NYC.
Next up, a new-to-us resto: Bi Bim Bap. A Korean sizzling brown rice specialty, we were drawn to it because they offer brown rice (for no extra charge), along with vegan options such as tofu or a blend of 9 different mushrooms. You can also personalized your stone bowl creations with your choice of hot sauce, or not-so-hot sauce (in my case, I had the not hot soy garlic sauce, but Rob had the “mild hot” sour GoChuJang which I thought was plenty spicy, thankyouverymuch). Since the hot sauces are served on the side, you can add to taste and even ask for another sauce if it turns out to be too spicy. On the side was some kimchi and pickled ?pear/apple?. Their homemade and simple kimchi is made with anchovies (no go for me) but Rob said it was plenty spicy so I wouldn’t have liked it anyways. (The kimchi at Banh Mi Boys is very tame which I prefer). All the bibimbaps are served with barley tea (which actually tastes good), miso soup and a ginger-cinnamon drink. Turns out it wasn’t only us trying numerous kinds of kimchi. Toronto has kimchi fever this weekend. I wonder who won the kimchi battle?
Followed by a nightcap with these sexy maca chocolates. I first added cacao butter to my list of ingredients to hunt down after seeing Sarah’s raw chocolate recipe. When I finally decided to make said chocolates, I decided pureeing the dates seemed a tad finicky. I gravitated to a super simple recipe I found in Superfood Kitchen, only slightly more involved than the recent posts from Angela and Gena. I actually made these before their posts but kept these chocolates hidden away as a surprise for Rob. I initially planned to share them on Valentine’s Day but Rob surprised me with homemade chocolate hazelnut truffles instead!
A week later, I broke out these sexy maca chocolates. Why sexy? Maca is believed to (slightly) improve libido. It also has been shown to slightly improve athletic performance which is how I first became introduced to its malty taste. I will be whipping out those maca chip raw energy balls again this summer, as I train for the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour. Here, this recipe is simply melted cocoa butter spiced with cocoa powder and maca powder, sweetened with agave. Easy peasy for simple, sexy chocolate truffles. :)
While I may be sore today, it was still a fabulous day-long 3-year anniversary date with Rob. ;)
Not only am a I bad vegan who missed World Vegan Day, I am also a bad blogger.
October slipped by without me realizing I had an anniversary. October marked my fourth year as a blogger.
I can’t believe it has been 3 years since I posted a Wild Rice and Wheat Berry Salad with Apples, Cranberries and Almonds in a Citrus Dressing.
One can see why it was easy for me to switch to a whole foods vegan diet with an inaugural salad such as that. Just swap the honey for your preferred sweetener, or omit it entirely, and it would be a recipe I could see myself munching on today.
I am going to joke a bit about Hurricane Sandy, but truly, my heart goes out to everyone who was affected. Toronto wasn’t hit nearly as bad. There was at least one fatality but trees suffered the most of the storm’s brunt. Although some people lost power, we fared very well. A few days of a light rain with some higher winds. Other than leaving my bike at home, I wasn’t affected.
Except I somehow made not one, but two desserts that week. This was the second dessert.
I blame the hurricane.
My excuse for making the chocolate chip blondies was to thank my co-workers. I gobbled down more than a few pieces in the “taste-testing” phase. While they were delicious, I felt shy bringing them to work. Even though Rob agreed they tasted great, they were non-traditional (never mind eating chocolate chip blondies, but they were filled with chickpeas!). They also were only 1-cm thick or so, and not as visually appealing as I had hoped. Since the whole plan was to thank my co-workers, I decided to make something else.
A vegan chocolate cake.
I actually wanted to make cupcakes, but I had no muffin wrappers.
I actually wanted to make a mint avocado cream frosting but did not want to brave the storm to get more avocados.
Even before my vegan days, I had a favourite quick and easy chocolate cake. It just so happened to be vegan. Pantry-friendly with staples such as sugar, oil, cocoa, and vinegar, my grandmother dubbed it “Wartime Cake” since the ingredients were reminiscent of cakes she made during the war when there were rations on milk, eggs and butter. While it would have been a fool-proof and easy cake to make, I wanted to try something new, something healthier.
Thankfully I had one avocado to make Joy’s Chocolate Avocado Cake. Oil is easily replaced with avocado. You would never know the difference. I only had whole wheat pastry flour, so I used that instead of white flour. If you could guess anything was up, you might have been able to tell there was whole wheat flour in the cake. Although nothing seemed to be suspected by others.
Instead of topping it with a green avocado frosting, I busted out a simple peanut butter chocolate frosting. I have not always been a fan of frosting (especially the ooky sweet ones), but since I didn’t use too much and it had peanut butter in it, this sealed this as a delicious cake.
My co-workers and Rob’s co-workers agreed. While Rob was sneaky, I disclosed to my gang this was a vegan cake and people were buzzing all day with compliments, at the same time marveling there were no eggs, butter or milk. They were impressed at how moist it was, which I ascribed to the avocado, my secret ingredient. :)
Baketivism. Sharing the love of veganism through baking.
I could get used to this.