When it comes to Valentine’s Day desserts, whole-grain flours don’t tend to set hearts aflutter. They’re like the practical, no-nonsense boyfriends of the confectionery world—comfortable and supportive, but too sensible to really thrill. Yet, ever since attending the Vegan Baking Boot Camp Intensive at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC last June, I’ve been hooked by the vast array of complex, wholesome flavours and pleasingly chewy textures brought to the table by unexpected flours such as spelt, oat, barley and quinoa.
Inspired by chef Fran Costigan, my baking style has since evolved to include organic, fair-trade and minimally processed ingredients. As you may have noticed with many of my recipes on this blog, I try to limit refined flours and sugar, or avoid them entirely. While my treats often boast a low glycemic index and higher levels of protein and fiber, that’s almost beside the point. What makes developing these healthy treats so fun is how inarguably creative things can get in the process.
Which brings me to these almond ginger cookies: a dense and chewy alternative to flour-based cookies that makes use of almond meal instead of my usual whole-grain flour, as well as flax meal, agave nectar and a good dose of ginger root. I made my own almond meal by grinding whole almonds in a spice grinder using a process like this, and it gives these cookies a wonderfully dense and nutty charm that pairs nicely with the cinnamon and ginger. So, if you happen to see my spicy raw chocolate chili cheesecake last week and you’re looking for a simpler way to spice up your Valentine’s Day, you must try these cookies. After all, they’re filled with love, not empty calories.
While we’re on the topic of Valentine’s Day, be sure to check out the Fiery Vegan Valentine Contest over at Cook.Vegan.Lover. and vote fore your favourite Valentine recipe! My cheesecake has been entered in the dessert category. Voting opens tomorrow and closes on Sunday at 9 p.m. [Update: I won! Thank you to all who voted!]
When it comes to Valentine’s Day, you’re either a skeptic or a romantic. I used to be the former in a big way and I only thought of the February 14 hoopla as another marketing scheme brought to us by Hallmark.
And then I met my husband. I’m not saying our relationship is always full of rainbows and butterflies, but having him in my life makes me pretty darn happy—the kind of happiness that often puts me on cloud nine and gives me hiccups from giggling too much. After being together for four years now, I’ve learned that this kind of love deserves to be celebrated.
On special occasions like Valentine’s Day, nothing says “I love you” like cheesecake. Of course, I’m not talking about one of those heavy dairy-loaded versions made with cream cheese and loads of sugar. Let’s be honest: raw is what’s sexy these days! With this Valentine’s Day version, I wanted to heat things up a little. So out came the cayenne pepper, ancho chili powder and chipotle powder, and some cinnamon to balance out the heat. The end result was to die for: a raw chocolate chili cheesecake that combines a chocolate nut crust, a decadent layer of smooth chocolate fudge, a spicy nut layer (the flavour of red cinnamon candy hearts was my inspiration), and a chocolate crumble topping. I’m particularly pleased with the heart-shaped decorations I made for the cake topper, which involved a last-minute decision to dehydrate a thin layer of the spicy nut filling. They came out like sweet and spicy heart-shaped chips! I absolutely love them.
I’d like to thank Lindsay of Cook.Vegan.Lover. for giving me the inspiration for this recipe. While I always enjoy creating new recipes for special holidays, she first got my engine running when she announced a Fiery Vegan Valentine Contest not too long ago. [Update: I ended up winning Best Dessert and Recipe That Most Embraced the Theme! Thank you to all who voted.] I hope this cake helps to heat things up a little for you and your beau this Valentine’s Day. Enjoy!
I’m excited to share a fantastic recipe I created a couple of weeks ago when I came home from work one evening with no desire to cook. The thing is, I’m a long-time vegan who enjoys mostly salads or soup for my evening meal, and my husband is a vegetarian kickboxer who requires a much more hearty dinner. I’m very grateful to have a partner who no longer eats meat—he whole-heartedly supports my ethics and stopped eating meat soon after we started dating—but I’m still left with the challenge of preparing two separate meals each and every night. Good thing I like to cook, right?
Well, sort of. It’s really only when I don’t have baking or raw dessert-making on the brain, which, in truth, is a rare occasion. So there are some nights when, by the time I’m finished prepping and cooking my husband’s dinner, I have no desire to make my own. But, as you can see, my time can be spent creating something even better. Who needs dinner when you can make these?
These raw almond fudge bars were born after experimenting with layers of my favourite textures and flavours: a raw almond crust, soft chocolate fudge, and crunchy granola. I really liked how these came out. Actually, I loved them. And I hope you do, too!
Just like my St. Lucia muffins, these bars also happen to fit into the guidelines for this month’s SOS Kitchen Challenge, which features coconut oil. Enjoy!
As promised, here’s the recipe for the delicious tropical muffins I made for my anniversary weekend celebration. These muffins started out simply: with the idea of melding some tropical fruit into a simple and healthy muffin base. But then my ambition got the best of me. St. Lucia is famous for its bananas and coconut, but it’s also famous for its rum! We still have plenty of it from our wedding trip to the island in 2007, and I decided it was the perfect way to spice up these otherwise healthy breakfast treats. It was a celebration, so why not?
These muffins also happen to fit nicely into the guidelines for the first SOS Kitchen Challenge of 2011, which highlights coconut oil. I have to admit, I never used to be a fan of coconut, but ever since I started experimenting with raw desserts (in which coconut oil is a staple) the taste is really growing on me. The nutritional benefits are also a bonus! This particular recipe provides a triple bang—coconut oil, coconut nectar and coconut milk—and the addition of banana helps to mellow out the flavour and also provides moisture. Combine these tropical fruits with the subtle addition of Caribbean rum and one bite of these muffins will surely take you to a faraway paradise with clear blue water and endless sunshine. The rum is entirely optional, of course. If you prefer to go with a virgin muffin, just substitute an additional 2 tablespoons of coconut milk for the alcohol. Enjoy!
A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. ~Mignon McLaughlin
On January 16, 2009, my husband and I stood barefoot in the sands of St. Lucia and vowed to love and honour each other forever. It was just the two of us and a minister, and it was the happiest day of my life.
Yesterday was our second wedding anniversary and so a celebration was in order. While a one-way ticket back to that gorgeous tropical heaven had undeniable appeal, a more realistic plan to celebrate our anniversary was a trip up north to the empty family cottage. In anticipation of a quiet weekend away, I flipped through my vegan cookbooks and gathered meal ideas and ingredients to recreate our Caribbean paradise through a candlelight dinner for two. With images of St. Lucia and its lush tropical fruit as my starting points, I decided to whip up a warming coconut curry and mimosas, as well as a dessert that infused layers of tropical bliss into a special anniversary parfait.