Foodie Monday: Mini Ginger Vanilla Bean Layer Cakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Posted by on Nov 11, 2013 in chocolate, dessert, foodie monday, superdiva | 0 comments

Foodie Monday: Mini Ginger Vanilla Bean Layer Cakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

*smacks lips* I was going to write an ode to my new silicone baking pan which I bought to make quinoa cakes in for a vegan potluck that I went to recently. My cupcake pan never seemed like the proper shape for quinoa cakes. This new pan was perfect!

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Foodie Monday: Carrot Apple Zucchini Mini Cupcakes with Chocolate Hazelnut Creme Frosting

Posted by on Aug 12, 2013 in apples, carrots, dessert, foodie monday, hazelnuts, superdiva, vegan, vegan nutella, zucchini | 0 comments

Foodie Monday: Carrot Apple Zucchini Mini Cupcakes with Chocolate Hazelnut Creme Frosting

Do you have zucchini in your garden? In your kitchen? Can you keep with the yield? I don’t have any zucchini yet, but when one of the women I hike with, Kristin, gave me a two foot long zucchini, I was able to make four different dishes with it. I’m pretty sure it lasted over a week in my fridge. I can’t imagine having to eat more than one zucchini a week!

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Foodie Monday: Sweet and Savory Quinoa Cakes

Posted by on Mar 18, 2013 in chocolate, cocoa powder, coconut milk, coconut sugar, cranberries, daiya, foodie monday, fruit, hazelnuts, milk, nuts, oatmeal, quinoa, savory quinoa cakes, sugar, superdiva, sweet quinoa cakes, vegan, vegan nutella | 0 comments

Foodie Monday: Sweet and Savory Quinoa Cakes

I recently went to a vegan cupcake brunch. Thankfully, someone else besides me had also thought to bring a savory cupcake in addition to a sweet one. She made quinoa cakes. They were divine! Instead of asking her for the recipe, I decided to experiment on my own to see what I could come up with. These aren’t replicas of the original quinoa cakes I loved; they are my own creation.

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Foodie Monday: Oatmeal Coconut Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Posted by on Feb 11, 2013 in bananas, chocolate, chocolate coconut milk, coconut, coconut sugar, cookies, dessert, foodie monday, fruit, nuts, oatmeal, sugar, superdiva, vegan, walnuts | 0 comments

Foodie Monday:  Oatmeal Coconut Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mmmmmm! Bananas! I have a friend who cannot stand bananas. As a child, I used to be horrified when a single banana for lunch would infiltrate the rest of my lunch with its scent. It was gross. Of course, these days, bananas are now one of my favorite fruits.

I made a variation of Chocolate Chip Banana bread from an excellent Vegan Diner book I received for the holidays. I was craving chocolate and banana, but didn’t feel like the calories from all the flour in the bread. So . . . I made cookies! I shared some with my hiking friends. One of them, said they tasted like little muffins. Ha!

Before I went vegan, I started making vegan cookies. I refused to go vegan until I knew that I wouldn’t have to give up delicious homemade cookies. To me, there is nothing like a delicious warm cookie fresh from the oven with slightly crunchy edges. Mmmmm! Cookies!!!! *nom nom nom!*

Coconut sugar is now my preferred sugar of choice. It isn’t as sweet as regular sugar. I love that it is a 1:1 substitute for regular sugar. Since my family has a history of diabetes, any sugar with a low glycemic index wins in my book!

Oatmeal Coconut Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies 1OATMEAL COCONUT BANANA WALNUT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 8-9 min per batch
Yields about 40-45 Small Two-Bite Sized Cookies (freeze half!)
Equipment Needed: Baking Sheet and a Mixer

2 Ripe Bananas
1/2 c Brown Sugar
1/4 c Coconut Sugar
2/3 c MINUS 1 TBSP Canola Oil
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 c So Delicious Coconut Chocolate Milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
1/4 c Flaxseed Mixture
1 1/2 c All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 1/2 c Oatmeal
1 c Chocolate Chips
1/2 c Shredded Coconut
1 c Chopped Walnuts

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
2. Mash the peeled bananas using the mixer with the paddle attachment.
3. Transfer the mashed bananas into a separate bowl and set aside
4. Blend sugar and oils together in the mixer for about 2 minutes
5. Add vanilla extract, stir
6. Add flaxseed mixture, stir
7. Add coconut chocolate milk, stir
8. Add flour and baking soda, stir well
9. Add mashed bananas, stir
10. Add oatmeal, stir
11. Add chocolate chips, coconut, and walnuts
12. Using a cookie scoop, drop the cookie dough in rounded tablespoonfuls on to a baking sheet. I bake about 12 cookies at a time.*
13. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes until golden brown
14. Remove from oven and let cool for a couple of minutes
15. Enjoy! *nom nom nom!*

*If you don’t want rounded cookies, you can flatten them with your fingers and bake them for a couple of minutes less.

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Rave, Crave, ‘n’ the Occasional Rant Wednesday: Scharffen Berger, Whole Foods, Fair Trade, and Child Labor

Posted by on Jan 30, 2013 in chocolate, e. guittard, rave 'n' crave wednesday, scharffen berger, superdiva, vegan | 0 comments

Rave, Crave, ‘n’ the Occasional Rant Wednesday:  Scharffen Berger, Whole Foods, Fair Trade, and Child Labor

I’m sad. I’ve been sad for some time. This post is long overdue. It is hard to explain what happens after I’ve been attached to a chocolate for years. I loved Scharffen Berger’s Semi-Sweet Dark Chocolate. It was the secret weapon in my baked goods for years. The quality of your ingredients isn’t always as important when you cook. Cheap wine works well in sauces. Cheap chocolate, on the other hand, can turn the taste of a homemade cookie into nothing but a disappointment.

Every holiday season, I would travel to Whole Foods to pick up my supply of Sharffen Berger’s Dark Chocolate Chunks and Baking Bars for holiday baking. I am known for my holiday baking. One year, a former co-worker of mine, ate one of my Mocha Fudge Brownies and asked me to marry him. I’ve walked into work with a large bag of baked goodies and been followed by a line of people seeking to satisfy their sweet tooth. Another co-worker, that I’ve worked with for years and barely spoke to because he was so quiet, asked me last year right before the holidays if I was going to do any of my holiday baking that year. I burst out laughing.

I take baking very seriously. The first time I went to Whole Foods and couldn’t find Scharffen Berger’s Dark Chocolate, I shrugged it off as a supply problem. Things I like always tend to disappear at Whole Foods and then turn up again. The same thing has happened at Trader Joe’s too. The second time I went to Whole Foods and couldn’t find the dark chocolate, I broke down and asked an employee. For some reason I hate asking employees questions on where to find things. I’d rather go up each aisle and discover things I’ve never seen before. I digress. Imagine my shock when I was told that Whole Foods was no longer carrying Scharffen Berger’s chocolate and would probably not be selling it again ever due to child labor issues.

I immediately went home to Google “Scharffen Berger Whole Foods.” It was true. It only took mere seconds for me to discover that my beloved high-end chocolate brand was owned by Hershey’s. I should have done more research. I thought I was supporting a smaller chocolate brand instead of a big conglomerate like Hershey’s. They’ve had their fair share of labor issues in the past.

E. Guittard Chocolate BoxI’m saddened because I feel like I can’t win sometimes. I buy dark chocolate not only because I like it, but also because it is vegan. Now, I also have to make sure it is fair trade. It isn’t enough that I worry about whether or not animals are treated fairly. The welfare of the humans who make the products have to be considered too. I could stick my head in the sand and act like I don’t know and it doesn’t matter; however, once I find out, it matters. My conscience won’t allow me to continue along with my old habits.

I now buy E. Guittard. Perhaps I am biased, but it isn’t the same. It is close, but not the same. When you factor in E. Guittard’s fair trade practices, it cancels out the taste difference. One of the reasons why I love veganism so much is because my conscience is clear when I am done eating. I don’t have this lump in my stomach and guilt on my brain. I feel lighter, happier, healthier, and now, (hopefully) guilt free.

Click here for a list of cocoa companies that are recognized as Fair Trade.

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Foodie Monday: I Can’t Believe It’s Notella (Vegan Nutella!)

Posted by on Jan 28, 2013 in chocolate, cocoa powder, coconut sugar, foodie monday, hazelnuts, nuts, sugar, superdiva, vegan nutella | 0 comments

Foodie Monday:  I Can’t Believe It’s Notella (Vegan Nutella!)

When I lived in London, my flatmates couldn’t seem to get enough of Nutella. They were horrified every time upon asking again why I didn’t like Nutella that I made a disgusted face. I couldn’t stand it. I was as befuddled by their glee for Nutella as they were by my disinterest. Some say they couldn’t go vegan because they “couldn’t give up cheese.” I know a guy who once said that he “couldn’t go vegan because [he] would have to give up Nutella.” To me, veganism isn’t about giving up anything. I had a wonderful conversation with a vegan recently about how veganism doesn’t limit your food options. If anything, it expands them in more ways than you could even imagine.

A couple of months ago, I tried Nutella again. I still didn’t like it. The main ingredients are just hazelnuts, sugar, cocoa, and milk. My unhappy taste bud face can probably be attributed to the combination of milk and cocoa powder. Around age 20, I gave up my love of milk chocolate for dark chocolate and haven’t looked back. Milk chocolate and I haven’t even managed to stay friends.

Since the ingredients in Nutella are so simple and my homemade peanut butter really triggered my curiosity for other nut butters, homemade vegan Nutella didn’t seem that far-fetched. How hard could it be to throw hazelnuts, cocoa powder, and sugar into a food processor?

While trying to find a substitute for raw flour in my Chocolate Chip Coconut PB & J Thumbprint Cookies, I stumbled across coconut sugar and coconut flour. Coconut sugar has this beautiful caramelized taste. It seemed like a perfect pairing for the hazelnuts. It also has a low glycemic index and is high in minerals.

Oddly enough, when I googled “Vegan Nutella,” I found a vegan version called Rawtella. Rawtella only has three ingredients and one of them happened to be coconut sugar. At $13+ for a small jar, homemade experimentation will always win!

It took me a little while to get the right ratio of hazelnuts, cocoa powder, and coconut sugar. I knew I had it right when I couldn’t resist having another taste! It was delicious on pretzels. The combination of hazelnuts, cocoa powder, and coconut sugar now elicits a smacking of the lips. For those that know me, a smacking of the lips is not only the highest foodie (or drinking) compliment from me . . . it is also a signal that I want more. The last pink lady apple in the house, my I Can’t Believe It’s Notella, and I have a date later . . .

Coconut SugarI CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOTELLA (Vegan Nutella!)
Prep Time: Less than 10 minutes
Serves: It depends on if you wish to share.
Yields: About 3 1/2 cups
Equipment needed: Food Processor

3 c Roasted Hazelnuts (about 1 lb)
1/2 c Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 c Coconut Sugar
1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract

1. Place all three ingredients into a food processor.
2. PULSE until the hazelnuts have been sufficiently chopped.
3. Switch the machine to the ON position and let it run until the finely chopped mixture forms a glob and then turns into a smooth butter. It will take about 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Turn the machine OFF and scrape down the sides.
5. Run the machine in the ON position for another minute or so.
6. Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!

**Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks**

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