Raw mulberry-coconut cupcakes

After last month’s setback, I was determined to put a little more thought into my next SOS Kitchen Challenge creation. Work deadlines and household chores can wait. This girl’s got more important priorities.

When Kim and Ricki announced June’s feature ingredient as one of my favourite superfoods, blueberries, I got super excited to incorporate it into a healthy yet decadent treat. Although I’d like to think every brightly coloured fruit and vegetable fits the category of a superfood—as do nuts, beans, seeds and aromatic herbs and spices—there are some that contain proven beneficial properties and are just fun to eat.

Enter my raw mulberry-coconut cupcakes with blueberry frosting. Yes, that’s right: blueberries and mulberries.

I recently experienced my first bite of a sun-dried mulberry when creating cake pops with Lisa back in April, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. Chewy and soft with a fig-like crunch, sun-dried mulberries are nature’s version of candy. A delightful alternative to raisins, it’s difficult to not eat them straight from the bag.

Better still, mulberries are also considered a superfood. They’re one of the few fruits to be considered a protein source; they’re an excellent source of iron, calcium, vitamin C and fibre; and they also contain a high concentration of Resveratrol, an antioxidant compound that combats free radical damage.

My summer happiness list

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My summer lifestyle has finally commenced. This year, I’m taking the time to do things I love and relax a little more. Looking ahead and making summer plans, I put together a list of the 10 things that are a must-do to make my summer a happy one.

1. Turn off the oven: It goes without saying that I adore baking, but when the summer heat is upon us I try to stick to raw dessert-making to satisfy my creative desires. This month, I look forward to making raw ice cream sandwiches.

2. Hit the road: With backpacks full of water bottles, homemade granola, strawberries and apples, I’m ready to dust off my bike and venture onto the many bike paths around the city and beyond—with frequent pit stops at yard sales and farmers markets, of course!

3. Relax at the cottage: My long weekends will involve a roadtrip to a faraway place where we leave our worries behind and listen to birds chirping and water lapping against the shore. It is an oasis for relaxation and family fun.

4. Eat gelato: And lots of it. One of my favourite ice-cream shops is located in the Beaches, and I have yet to visit since moving to a nearby neighbourhood. For the sake of supporting local businesses, I’ve vowed to visit regularly for cones of refreshing, homemade mango gelato.

5. Run: With summer’s longer days, I can hit the sidewalk in my Nikes a little more freely at dusk and avoid the mid-day sun beating down on my back. My hubby and I love running along the nearby walking paths and exploring unknown territory. And it sure beats the treadmill at the gym!

Raw recipe challenge revealed!

Lisa and I had so much fun with the Raw Cake Pop Challenge we hosted in April, we’d like to invite you to take part in a new challenge for June. This time, we’re asking you to redesign the standard ice cream sandwich with a raw twist to help make our summer frozen treats more fun.

We’re sure you’ve all tried a vegan ice cream sandwichthey’re pretty widely available in health food stores and most mainstream grocery stores these days. But, since we’ve never seen a raw ice cream sandwich for sale, we’re turning to you for some creative inspiration. For all your hard work, creating sensational summer sweets, we have some pretty spectacular prizes to offer.

We’re not new to trying to reinvent this dessert classic. I’ve experimented in the past with blending avocados to make these frozen treats, and Lisa has churned out some “almost raw” ice cream made with beans and these little lovelies based on a spicy, chai pumpkin blend.

But we think you can come up with something even more outstanding. The options are only bound by the limits of your imagination. All we ask is that you use raw vegan ingredients.

Crispy carob kamut squares

I’ve never been known for showing up late, or waiting until the last minute of a project deadline. I was once that girl who feared losing marks on a school project if I was late handing it in, or being sent to the principal’s office if I tried to sneak into class after the bell.

Yet here I am, within hours of the midnight cut-off to the SOS Kitchen Challenge, presenting you with my final recipe. Highlighting the flavours of carob, kamut and sunflower seeds, these crispy squares are a quick and easy, no-bake summer treat. I made use of some kamut puffs cereal sitting in my cupboard as well as my homemade sunflower seed butter to create a spin-off of my sunbutter bites with a creamy carob frosting. Dare I say these ones taste better?

Review: Sweet Vegan

Perhaps for some people, the answers to life’s toughest questions seem so obvious. For me, stewing over the simplest decision often takes over my day. My saving grace is in knowing that I can go home to my kitchen, where I delve into the therapeutic process of whisking, mixing, kneading and rolling my worries away.

Finding a new recipe book that coincides with my love for baking always brings a smile to my face. When I discovered Sweet Vegan, a book that offers “a collection of all vegan, some gluten-free and a few raw desserts,” I did a little happy dance. During a particularly difficult week, baking until dawn with a book like this was just what I needed—no difficult decisions or cranky co-workers required.

Author Emily Mainquist has already gained a loyal following through her Baltimore-based, 100% wind-powered, vegan bakery, Emily’s Desserts. For a year and a half, she baked, refined and tweaked more than 60 recipes in anticipation of her first recipe book. The 25-year-old isn’t formally trained, but her culinary interests were honed early in her grandmother’s kitchen.

I flipped through the book as soon as it arrived on my doorstep and I was immediately swooned by the array of full-colour photos and tempting titles. The recipes open the door to decadent desserts for those who make culinary choices based on personal, health and ethical considerations, but who are eager to try new things. If you’re a vegan who is intrigued by raw dessert-making or a baker who wants to try her hand at gluten-free baking, but you don’t want to invest in an entire recipe book in order to experiment, this book is for you.

My journey began with the peanut butter brownies, a creation that is one of the hardest to master as a vegan baker—many attempts seem to come out too cakey or too fudgy. Yet the balance of ingredients in Emily’s recipe yielded moist, rich and flavourful squares of chocolate goodness. Adding peanut butter and chocolate drizzle made for a decadent treat perfect for picnics or family gatherings.