getting ready for the MoFo!

hey everyone! I hope you are as excited as I am about the VeganMoFo. Join Vibrant Wellness Journal and hundreds of others starting October 1 2012. We are going to be celebrating a whole month of vegan food love!

these little guys are SO good!

I might have eaten this whole plate.

Today I am excited about these gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free cookies from Nicole at A Dash of Compassion. An adapted version of these little treats can be found here on Vibrant Wellness Journal.

for the happy couple: chocolate cherry wedding cake

Imagine how honored I felt when my good friends asked me to bake their wedding cake! She is a dear friend and also my acupuncturist; he is a prominent local musician (check out their tunes here, please!). The Spicy Cherry Chocolate flavor they chose for their cake was decidedly unconventional, but it fit wonderfully with their unique wedding that involved outrigger canoes, the finest musicians on the island, fire dancing, African dancing, surprise songs, pole-dancing, and heaps of homemade, shared foods. Overall it was very sweet ceremony– and the reception was dangerously fun! And- thank goodness- everyone loved the cake! Click here for the recipe!

the finished cake!

the finished cake!

the liquid and the dry!

the liquid and the dry!

this is how to make cake for 100 people!

this is how to make cake for 100 people!

me working hard in the kitchen

me working hard in the kitchen

the bride with her cake

the bride with her cake

fresh raspberries for the bride

fresh raspberries for the bride

cookies of christmas past

It is no secret that I am not terribly festive, but I can get excited about the holiday thing when it comes to food. I am totally enchanted with the Christmas deliciousness of my favorite chocolate peppermint cookies. This recipe, among two other holiday-themed cookies, were on the menu for last nights vegan cookie cooking class. During our second class I made a happy mistake while making the chocolate cookie recipe, using just half the amount of sugar called for; then my lovely coworker decided to make ball cookies instead of drop cookies (like the recipe actually says to do- following recipes is not really my thing, either!)- and they rocked! Less sugar and just as much holiday spirit as the originals!

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

The following recipe is the adapted version. It’s not healthy by any means, but for those times (of the month, of the year) that you really need to indulge your darkest chocolate cookie fantasies, these are the ones. Originally adapted from the PPK’s chewy chocolate cookies. Makes about 30 cookies.

5 tsp ground flaxseeds
1/2 cup soymilk (or other non-dairy)
3/4 cup organic canola oil
1 cup fine turbinado sugar
2 tsp peppermint extract (alternatively, 10-20 drops peppermint essential oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (or more all-purpose)
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine seasalt
3/4 cup chocolate chips

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the soymilk and flaxseeds in a small bowl and whisk well; set aside.
  3. Warm up the coconut oil to a liquid before measuring, and then mix in a large bowl with the sugar. Whisk until well combined, add the vanilla and peppermint. Add to flax mixture and whisk to combine.
  4. In another bowl sift together the flours, cocoa, soda, salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in batches, and mix until mostly combined, then add in the chocolate chips (I often have to mix with my hands because the dough gets very stiff).
  5. Roll into 1-inch balls, and flatten on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 10-11 minutes, and let cool on the sheet for another five minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool.   These will firm up significantly after a few hours.

who needs a main? thanksgiving side dishes worth sharing!

For most Americans, the focus of this coming holiday will be on the dead bird at the center of the table. But, many of us (vegetarian or otherwise) also spend a lot of time on the supporting side dishes- hopefully everyone will be able to celebrate the bounty available to us by enjoying mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, that infamous green bean thing, and a host of other dishes. If you are looking for some inspiration to change up your side dish rotation, here are some of my favorite dishes for your holiday table, whether there is a birdie in the center or not (hopefully not!). These dishes are great for just a few family members around a table, but they also work well for big potlucks and ‘family-style’ meals. Blessings for your holiday, whomever you might share it with!

Best Vegetable & Protein Based Dishes:

Curried Quinoa Salad
The Best Baked Tofu
Southwest Baked Beans
Wheat Berry & Carrot Salad
Pumpkin & Cauliflower Gratin

Best Soups:

Curried Cauliflower Soup
Pumpkin Miso Soup
Black Bean Cocoa Soup
Red Pepper Pumpkin Soup

Best desserts:

Caramalized Banana Creme Pie
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
Mixed Fruit Mochi
Vegan Coconut Carrot Cake
Spicy Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

vegan carrot cake!

More specifically, Coconut Ginger Macadamia Nut Carrot Cake as the happy birthday cake for the farmer!

Happy Birthday to my old man!

This is a recipe that I tried years ago from Vegan with a Vengeance; I didn’t love it then, but when I was thinking about which cake to make for his birthday this one popped into my head. Despite moldy all-purpose flour (which I chucked, of course), despite breaking the cake into three pieces as I was putting it on the cooling racks,  and despite being a wee bit overcooked, it still turned out quite well. Of course I want to share it here, because the end result was beautiful and tasty!

Coconut Ginger Macadamia Nut Carrot Cake with Maple Ginger Frosting

(adapted from VwaV by Isa Chandra Moskowitz; makes one 8×8 cake; a note: check out this quick post if you are going to make this cake! These are some pointers! )

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (see note below)
1/2 cup white spelt flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup apple juice
1/4 cup liquid coconut oil
6 tbsp turbinado sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup ground macadamia nuts
1 cup shredded carrots (about 3 carrots, grated on a cheese grater)
2 tsp grated fresh ginger

  1. Preheat the oven to 350degrees. Line a square or round cake pan with parchment paper, and grease the sides with coconut oil.
  2. In a large bowl mix the flours, b. powder, b. soda, salt, spices, and coconut. Stir to combine.
  3. In another larger bowl mix the juice, oil, sugar, maple syrup, and extract. If your apple juice and/or maple syrup are in the fridge, you will have to warm this liquid mixture to keep the coconut oil from solidifying. I simply put my pyrex bowl (oven safe!) in the preheating oven until all the coconut oil was melted and the mixture was blendable).
  4. Pour the dry ingredients into wet, mix for a few strokes, and then add the nuts, carrots, and ginger. Combine gently until just mixed (no dry spots). Pour into your prepared pan and smooth the top.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.  Cool on racks (try to not break it!).

don't break the birthday cake!

A note on the flours: As I was making this recipe I realized that my all-purpose flour was a bit sticky and off (which explains why my cookies didn’t turn out well yesterday!).  I made a quick substitution with whole wheat pastry flour, which is always a good substitute for at least half the flour in a recipe.  But I wanted to make sure the cake retained the lightness of the AP flour, so I used a white spelt flour, which is significantly lighter than whole spelt flour; I also just learned that in order to substitute with spelt you should add some extra flour, which is included in the above measurements.  If you opt to use all-purpose, or a combination of AP and WWPF, keep the flour measurements to 1 cup + 3 tbsp only.

Another note: be sure to use parchment and grease the pan. Let it cool completely before removing from the pan, and do so very gently! Also, so choose the turbinado sugar; I tried using coconut sugar for another batch and it did not work out as nicely as the photo!

pretty..... delicious

Maple Ginger Frosting

1/2 cup toasted coconut
1/4 cup toasted shredded carrot
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup earth balance, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp maple extract
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp dried ground ginger

  1. While your oven is preheating for the cake, toast the carrot and coconut.  Simply add to a pan and put in the oven for about 10 minutes, until you can smell the coconut toasting.  Be careful to not let it burn- when it comes out of the oven it will still cook.  Toss with the cinnamon, and let cool on the side.
  2. Whip the EB with a whisk until smooth.  Sift in the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time (very important to sift, or you get clumpy frosting!).  Add in the extracts and ginger, and whip until well combined.  Add a splash of soymilk if the frosting is too dry; alternatively, add more powdered sugar if it is too saucy.
  3. When your cake is cool, frost with a thin layer, then add a thicker layer and spread evenly across the top.  Sprinkle the toasted carrots & coconut on top.  Enjoy!