Red Velvet Cake (GF + DF)

Red Velvet Cake

Valentine’s Day is here, and whether or not you have a significant other, it’s the day of love – so treat yourself!  It’s pretty easy to think of a list of ways to treat yourself, but this gluten-free and dairy-free red velvet cake is pretty high on the list.

Now it doesn’t take a genius to realize that the traditional red velvet cake is typically not gluten-free and dairy-free (and in a dark red hue).  I have two answers 1) you can’t tell that it’s gluten-free and dairy-free, and 2) it’s not bright red because it’s made with natural dyes!  WARNING: do not underestimate this cake.

It’s moist, perfectly sweet, and well, velvety.  I made this back for Christmas Eve, and nearly the whole cake was gone by the end of the night – and it was a huge cake.  Let’s be honest though, there’s no need for a red-themed holiday in order to enjoy this dessert 🙂

Red Velvet Cake #2

Red velvet cake is one of those staple recipes that always wow at events.  They’re a gorgeous color and please both the chocolate and nonchocolate fans.  This cake has a burgundy color to it, and I think that it perfectly complements the pink icing.  If you want to make it redder, artificial coloring is the best way to achieve it – but before you do, chew on this:

  • According to a recent report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Red Dye 40 may have dangerous health consequences for children.
  • Red 40 contains compound such as benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl that research has linked to cancer.
  • Research has also associated food dyes with problems in children such as allergies, hyperactivity, irritability, and aggressiveness.

Considering this, red dye might not be the best way to spread your love, so perhaps try sticking to a natural food coloring dye.  You can buy it at your local supermarket, or even make it.

Red Velvet Cake #3

To top of this red velvet cake and really make it special, dress it up with an icing of your choice with those (natural) food dyes.

And there you have it, a delicious gluten-free and dairy-free red velvet cake!

Red Velvet Cake (GF + DF)
Author: 
Recipe type: Desserts
Cuisine: Gluten-free, Dairy-free
 
Ingredients
Cake
  • ½ cup vegan earth balance butter
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder, divided
  • 1¼ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • a packet of natural red dye (mine was in powdered form) + 3 tbsp warm water *
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 320g gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp apple cider vinegar or vinegar
Icing (optional)
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1½ tbsp vegan butter
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp almond milk
  • 2 tbsp vegan cream cheese (Daiya works well)
Instructions
  1. Preheat 350 degrees. Grease 2 9-inch pans and coat them with 1 tbsp sifted cocoa powder, tapping the pan.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together and add in eggs one at a time. Beat vigorously until each is incorporated and mix in vanilla.
  3. In another bowl, make a paste with the 2 tbsp cocoa, food coloring, and 3 tbsp warm water. Blend into butter mixture.
  4. Sift together remaining dry ingredients. Alternating in 2 batches each, add dry ingredients and buttermilk to the butter mixture. In the last batch of buttermilk, mix in the vinegar before adding to the batter. Mix until blended.
  5. Divide the batter among the pans and back for about 20-25 minutes. Cool on a rack completely.
Notes
* if not powdered, use 2 tbsp of food coloring and skip the water

 

Works Consulted

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/is-red-dye-40-toxic#hazards 

Chocolate Avocado Frosting (GF + V)

Enjoying chocolate frosting shouldn’t have to be full of guilt.  Luckily, with this chocolate (avocado) frosting, you get the best of both worlds: the healthy fat and the decadent chocolate.

You’re probably thinking, “What?!?!  First, she shows us black bean brownies, and now this?”

And again, trust me, this will be well worth your taste buds.

The hunt for a chocolate frosting came around a couple months ago when I was baking a vegan chocolate cake for a birthday.  I didn’t want to use a recipe full of refined sugar and I certainly did not want to use canned frosting, leaving me with very limited options.  As always, I was up for the challenge.  I scrolled through my past recipes and came across my avocado pudding recipe.  Pudding and cake?  Not the weirdest combination, but definitely an odd one.  So I tweaked it a bit to make it more like a frosting.  Two words: mission accomplished.

This frosting is not only chocolately, but you don’t even taste the avocado (at all).  This frosting accompanies chocolate cake exquisitely, but I must admit some of the kids went for the cake just to scoop up the frosting.  Another benefit: it’s extremely easy to spread and frost.  It’s a win-win all around.

Let’s get to the nutrition:

Avocados contain a high amount of potassium, monounsaturated fatty acids (aka “heart healthy fat”), fiber, and antioxidants which help combat aging.  Avocados also containing 25 milligrams per ounce of a natural plant sterol called beta-sitosterol, which has been proven to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.  It’s hard not to love eating cake that supplies great nutrients (as long as it’s in moderation!).  In addition, if you were to eat this whole recipe, approximately one typical can of frosting, you’d be consuming about 66g of sugar.  Meanwhile, the whole can of Duncan Hines’ Creamy Home-Style Classic Chocolate Frosting has 247g of sugar.  That’s quite the difference!  Plus, you get to skip the hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oil shortening (saturated fat) and corn syrup.

I hope you give this recipe a try – you won’t be disappointed (especially if you try it with this vegan chocolate “depression” cake).

Chocolate Avocado Frosting (GF + V)
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Gluten-free, Vegan, Refined Sugar-free
 
Ingredients
  • 2 medium sized avocados
  • ⅔ cup cocoa powder
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • salt
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a blender.
  2. Frost your cake!

 

Works Consulted

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270406.php

Ayurvedic Turmeric Latte

Ayurvedic Turmeric Latte

You’ve probably seen those picturesque Instagram posts of turmeric lattes.  I was skeptical about their taste and benefits until I fell sick recently.  After finishing a mug of turmeric latte, I was on my road to recovery.  With Indian origins, turmeric latte (also known as golden turmeric milk) is traditionally part of Ayurvedic practice and is known to fight against inflammation and balance your doshas.  Doshas are energies that define a person’s makeup in Ayurvedic medicine.  Whether or not you are sick (or believe in Ayurveda), turmeric lattes are as nutritious as they are delicious.

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DIY Air + Clothes Freshener (only 4 ingredients!)

DIY air + clothes freshener

Nearly three months into school, you begin to notice some things change – mostly in the lockerroom.  With people leaving their workout clothes in their lockers, the whole room begins to develop its own signature scent.  That’s why I’ve created a super easy-to-make air and clothes freshener with only four ingredients!

Typical air fresheners (like Febreeze), contain harmful ingredients like BHT, which is a neurotoxin, endocrine disruptor, and skin eye and lung irritator.  That’s only one of the many toxic ingredients air fresheners (which now sounds like an oxymoron) use.  To learn more, click here.

Instead, for this DIY air freshener, all you need is an amber bottle, witch hazel, distilled water, and 100% pure essential oils.  It’s so clean, you can even spray it on your skin; in fact, witch hazel is an astrigent which can stop future blemishes – perfect for gym.  Nonetheless, the real stars of this freshener are the essential oils.  You can play with with combinations you want, but I recommend a combination of the ones below.

  • Peppermint essential oil – relieves head aches, has antimicrobial properties, improves mental focus, clears respiratory tract, relieves sore muscles
  • Lavender essential oil – relieves stress (perfect before heading out to class), has antibacterial properties, clears respiratory tract, relieves sore muscles
  • Lemongrass essential oil – has antibacterial properties, relieves sore muscles
  • Tea tree essential oil – has antibacterial properties, fights fungal infections, natural deodorant

Clearly these essential oils are far more qualified than any funky ingredient in typical store-bough air and clothes freshener.  Make your own bottle below!

DIY Air + Clothes Freshener
Author: 
Recipe type: DIY
 
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp witch hazel
  • distilled water
  • 5 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • 5 drops of lemongrass essential oil
Instructions
  1. Mix up the witch hazel and essential oils (of your choice), and place it in your 2 oz amber bottle.
  2. Fill it up to the top of the bottle with distilled water.
  3. Spritz it!

 

 

Blender Black Bean Brownies (V + GF)

black bean brownies

Black beans and chocolate.  Probably not the first combination that comes to mind.   But these decadent black bean brownies are the perfect vegan, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free dessert (and no one will ever guess that they’re packed with awesome, healthy ingredients… including beans)!  Plus, you can make them using simply a blender.  This is what I call a win-win-win situation 🙂

black bean brownies

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A Gastronomic Tour of Pozzallo, Sicily

pozzallo

Every summer since I was a toddler, my family travels to a small, fisherman village called Pozzallo in Sicily, where my mom’s side of the family originally comes from.  And each year, all my cousins, grandparents, aunts/uncles – each from different countries – come together under one roof.  With narrow streets and the beautiful Mediterranean sea, it’s difficult not to fall in love with this Italian gem.  Aside from it’s unique and lovable appearance, Pozzallo inhabits some quirky (but equally lovable) residents.  From the man who howls every day at 12 o’clock on the “corso” (the main street of a town) to the two friendly fishermen brothers who dream of America, Pozzallo almost resembles a story book; the town howler, the adventurers, and so on.  Everyone knows each other and each others’ issues, which is both amazing as the community really comes together, but at the same time a little uncomfortable :).  As my mom likes to say, “There’s no word for ‘privacy’ in Italian.”  Considering everyone knows each other, it’s no surprise that the “Pozzallese”‘s  – as they’re called – routines tend to be in sync.  In the streets, you hear the light clanking of forks from eating a big plate of spaghetti that nonna prepared for.  This, I miss.

I can go on and on about the town, but now it’s time for the food.  Let’s go!

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A Day in New York City: Chelsea + Downtown

a day in Chelsea and Downtown

New York City is my favorite city in the world.  From the cultural food to the amazing architecture, I constantly find myself in awe of New York.  Recently, I went on a trip to the Chelsea neighborhood with my friends, and had an amazing time.  Later, after going another time with my mom, I knew I had to share the one day trip to Chelsea (and a little bit of Downtown too) with you all.  I hope you enjoy it!

First up, Chelsea Market: 

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Minty Matcha Protein Smoothie

Minty Matcha Protein Smoothie

Summer is all about relaxation and restoration.  With constant pool and beach activities – not to mention the crazy heat – a delicious and healthy treat is well deserved.  That’s why I’ve created this minty matcha protein smoothie.  Refreshing with its minty flavor, energizing with matcha, and satisfying with protein, this is the ideal smoothie to get you back on your feet (or chez, whichever one you prefer 🙂 ).

Minty Matcha Protein Smoothie

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