Sweetness in the Belly

cupcake

I was craving something sweet yesterday. Like, real bad. I’d actually been craving vegan donuts all weekend, but because I couldn’t make it to the south side to indulge in Frickin’ Delights donuts at the Strathcona Market. So, I decided to give the good ole college try with this vegan cupcake recipe I found on Babble: http://www.babble.com/best-recipes/the-best-vegan-cupcakes-ever/

Now, I’m not going to say that my cupcakes were the best ever. In fact, they were far from perfect. Next time I’m going to bake for a couple of minutes less as they were just a touch overdone. And while the icing was delicious as is, I wasn’t a fan of the colour, so I’d add some food colouring just to make the cupcakes a little more festive. Otherwise, my favourite vanilla on top of vanilla taste combination was more than satisfactory. My cravings were sated, and I still have cupcakes left to last me the next few days!

And, because its loosely related, I found this song on iTunes and its currently my favourite.

Vegan Chocolate Banana Bread (or, Life is Beautiful)

One of my clearest memories of spending time with my mother when I was a little girl is sitting at the kitchen table with what (at the time) seemed like a gigantic silver bowl, a sturdy fork, and a pile of bananas that needed mushing. While my mom puttered around the kitchen taking care of a hundred other things that needed doing, I would sit there and press the tines of that fork into chunk after chunk of over-ripe banana, as gleeful as if I’d just been given a hundred quarters and dropped in the middle of an arcade. Finally, my mom would have to take the fork away from me before a) the bananas were turned entirely into soup and b) the table was covered by any more flecks of banana flesh that had spattered across its surface due to my over-exuberance. My mom would turn my handiwork into a delicious loaf of banana bread using a classic recipe from the Joy of Cooking cookbook her sister Karen had given to her as a wedding gift in 1980. That Joy of Cooking was a staple in our kitchen as I was growing up, and after, and when my mom passed away in 2012 it was the one possession of hers that I was almost desperate to make sure I reclaimed.

joc1

 

Now that I’ve gone vegan, the Joy of Cooking recipe for banana bread is off limits. Sure, I could try to adapt it on my own but I am not experienced enough in the kitchen to try that level of master cookery. Instead, I kept my eye out on the internet for a simple but tasty-looking recipe to try. Thank heavens for One Green Planet, whose Green Monster newsletter dropped the perfect recipe right into my inbox! The recipe (and the picture just below) is from the vegan maestro at iheartcrapkitchen.com, and be warned – visiting her site is like going down a rabbit hole of ridiculously tempting vegan yumminess!  My tummy still won’t stop growling.

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You can view the recipe as I first saw it in its entirety here on the One Green Planet site. I only made a couple of alterations. Firstly, I used plain all-purpose flour. Then, I did not include the desiccated coconut that the original recipe calls for, simply because I did not have any in my kitchen at the time I fancied baking this up. And lastly, as you can see from the pictures, I opted out of making the chocolate ganache. Instead, I simply sprinkled vegan chocolate chips across the top of the banana bread, and I found that just doing that made the banana bread extra chocolate-y enough for me! Just a note: I found the cooking time was spot on – I kept my bread in for the full fifty minutes and it turned out perfectly. And, using a little vegan Becel to coat the loaf pan before pouring the batter in allowed the bread to slide perfectly out after I’d let it cool down completely.

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After cutting off and savouring an end piece just to ensure quality control I brought the rest of the banana bread loaf to work for a snack day in honor of a couple of departing staff. It is the first time I actually brought something homemade, and boy was I proud of myself. While I didn’t announce to all that it was vegan, I was happy to have brought something that a couple of my coworkers who have specific dietary restrictions could eat and enjoy. And the reviews from the omnis that were present? “Yum!!!” bb

 

 

The Clever Rabbit

One of the goals I’ve made for myself for this new year is to invest my money in local restaurants, and to eat only at places that offer vegan options. I cannot change the world, but I can make decisions in my own life that better align with the world I would like to see. An excellent Edmonton restaurant that offers a fully vegan and vegetarian menu is The Clever Rabbit, on 124th street and 107the avenue. I wrote about the eatery for an animal rights newsletter awhile back and upon returning for my second visit I was pleased to find the only thing that had changed was that the place was even more homey and charming than before.

On my first visit to the Clever Rabbit I enjoyed the lentil loaf (which was delicious) and had to fight the urge to get it again; instead, I chose to try the curried lentils with rice. As my side I went with the insanely good homemade tortilla chips and salsa. The curry… let me be honest here… was perfect. I was in heaven after the first bite. I wasn’t so much a fan of the rice (hidden under the curry in the picture below) so after I had demolished the vegetable/chickpea/lentil mixture I used my leftover appetite for the chips.

curry

I strongly recommend this restaurant. It is run by excellent folk, the food is tasty, and the atmosphere welcoming. There is also an almost sinful dessert counter which, while off limits to me right now after a holiday season spent overindulging, will be my first stop on my next visit. Full of cupcakes, nanaimo bars, giant cookies, and donuts – ALL VEGAN, the sweet spread held so much temptation I could barely get myself out of the restaurant empty-handed.

For more information on The Clever Rabbit, you can visit their website here or stop in for a meal you won’t regret at 10722 124th street.

Skinny Chunky Monkey Cookies

Last week a friend of mine on Facebook shared a recipe for Skinny Chunky Monkey Cookies. Always on the lookout for easy, straight-forward vegan recipes (especially the sort that involve chocolate!) I saved the recipe and thought I’d give it a try over the weekend. My only other experiences with vegan baking were several years ago when I made vegan carob chip cookies for my vegan friends as a small gift, which I never actually tried myself; and, a few months ago, when I made a blueberry vanilla protein cookie that turned out horrendously awful. I’m no whiz in the kitchen so I was pretty wary of how this undertaking would turn out.

Thankfully, the Skinny Chunky Monkey cookies are a cinch to make. The ingredients are all standard things you’d likely have already; all I had to pick up from the grocery store was the applesauce. The recipe itself is short, sweet, and completely, blissfully idiot-proof; you don’t even have to pull out a mixer (a huge selling point). 

The finished product:

Skinny Chunky Monkey Cookie

So how did they turn out? Actually, really good! The cookies are very soft and a little sticky so you may want to keep them refrigerated so that they don’t get goopy all over your fingers. They are very dense, so a couple of cookies will satisfy your sweet tooth easily; but, I’ll admit that they are a tad bitter thanks to the cocoa. I think next time I make these I will dust the cookies with a fine coat of confectioner’s sugar/icing sugar once they are done baking – this will help make them a little less sticky and a little bit sweeter. All in all, though, delicious results. I realized I forgot to pack some in my lunch for today and am super disappointed!

I can’t figure out where exactly the recipe originated, so I’ll include the one I found on MyRecipes.com that matches what I found on Facebook. I obviously did not create the recipe, and do not make any claims to it whatsoever.

  • 3 bananas
  • 2 cup(s) oats
  • 1/4 cup(s) peanut butter $
  • 1/4 cup(s) cocoa
  • 1/3 cup(s) unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon(s) vanilla

Preparation

  1. Directions:
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mash bananas in a large bowl, then stir in remaining ingredients. Let batter stand for approximately 20 minutes, then drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes.

Just a note: I did end up baking both batches of cookies for closer to 17-18 minutes, so check them at the recommended time and put them back in for longer if need be.