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27 on the 27th

Vegan MoFo

It’s my birthday today. Turning 27. It seems strange since I still feel like I’m 23. Spending the day with my family at the beach is lovely and relaxing. Drinking wine, sunbathing, and taking in the ocean. There’s something about Carmel that just seems lovelier than most of California’s beaches.

The sweetest thing so far is that my mom, aunt, and grandmother spent several hours yesterday working on veganizing my favorite lemon cake from my childhood. I absolutely adore lemon-based desserts. Coming home to a vegan lemon cake is one of the highlights of my day. Especially since my mom would never have imagined baking a cake without milk an butter. It’s quite satisfying.

The best dessert ever! You can't beat lemon cake

The best dessert ever! You can’t beat lemon cake

That’s it for today. I’m going back to enjoying the beach. I’ll see you all tomorrow!

 

Pre-Birthday Celebrations and Road Trip

Vegan MoFo

I went in to work today and my coworkers had a surprise for me. Since I’ll be out of town tomorrow for my birthday they were prepared to celebrate a day early. My boss had brought me a slice of vegan chocolate cake from Whole Foods and my office mate made vegan chocolate cupcakes with a peanut butter frosting. It was heart-warming to enjoy the extra effort everyone put in to keep everything vegan for me. As someone who loves to bake for other people it’s nice to be pampered with vegan treats made just for me.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

My posts for the next couple days might be a little sparse, but I’ll be posting plenty of pictures. I’m driving up to Gilroy tonight to see my family. We’re going to Carmel to enjoy some beautiful vistas on my birthday and then I’ll be in San Francisco and Napa for a few days. I’m excited to go to the Eat Real Food Fest and the World Vegetarian Fest on Saturday. Seminars, vegan food and learning how to brew kombucha…I can’t wait!

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Coconut Cake

My mom loves coconut cake. I’m pretty partial to it as well. Tomorrow night I’m heading back up north for my birthday weekend and I wanted to bring my mom her favorite cake to celebrate both of our September birthdays.

Now, I like trying out new cake recipes because I’m always searching for the elusive moist and flaky cake. Most of my coconut cakes come out quite dense so I found a new recipe on Native Foods’ blog. The food at their cafe is delicious and I’ve used their recipes before (they have the perfect recipe for vegan Irish cream). The secret ingredient is coconut flour as well as coconut milk mixed with almond milk.

Lunchtime Salad with Trader Joe’s Dressing

Vegan MoFoI love a big kale salad for lunch, chock-full of yummy toppings. Lately I’ve become addicted to Trader Joe’s hummus salad dressing, one of TJ’s few vegan dressings. It’s tasty and zesty and it goes well on just about anything. I’ll toss it with some shredded cabbage for a taco base or I can drizzle it over a spicy veggie saute. Today I used it in it’s most obvious application, as a dressing for a hearty baby kale salad.

At work I don’t shy away from simple meals when I can help it and for me, salads are far from simple. I’ve sauteed the Tofurky italian sausage with bell peppers and onions the night before but I still have to toss the kale leaves with dressing, slice my cherry tomatoes, and dice half an avocado, which can be a 10 minute affair. But enjoying a tasty lunch is worth it; I never want to compromise on flavor and quality even when I’m not at home. A nice big salad has plenty of protein and fiber to keep me full until dinnertime. I’ll be writing a post about my love of Tofurky sausage soon; their healthy, vegan protein fills me up and makes a perfect addition to a meal.

Nick and Sophie Salad Dressing

This is my go-to salad dressing for pretty much anything. No matter the toppings or even loading a kale salad into a baked sweet potato. It goes great with asian ingredients, summer produce, or winter squash. I also alternate using peanut butter and almond butter, since my boyfriend is allergic to peanuts.

While I have been making this dressing for the past 2 years my most memorable moment making this was at a weekend trip to San Francisco. My friends, Nick and Sophie, hosted us for the weekend and in return, my friend, Mario, and I made dinner for everyone. He sauteed up some tofurky sausage and I cubed and roasted butternut squash, made this dressing and served it with a kale salad. It was a great meal and a great night due to lots of friends and copious amounts of wine. Even though the meal was simple, the flavors stood out and the company even more so.

So in honor of my friends I give you this versatile and savory salad dressing.

Peanut/Almond Butter Dressing

Makes 5 servings

Ingredients:

2 1/2 tablespoons peanut/almond butter

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1-2 teaspoons sesame oil

1-2 teaspoons sriracha

Directions:

Whisk everything together and toss with a great big kale salad.

My Sister’s Wedding Cake

A few month’s ago my little sister got married in Las Vegas to her boyfriend of over 2 years. And I made the cake. This was my first time making a wedding cake and I had visions of perfect, elaborately detailed cakes topped with fondant in my head. I knew there was no way I would be making a cake like that. I am terrible at getting frosting to look perfect so I just revel in the unique differences in my desserts.

My sister requested a chocolate cake and I had the brilliant idea of making a salted caramel frosting with a caramel drizzle, knowing that the drizzle would cover up any of my frosting mishaps.

Color Palette Smoothie

Vegan MoFo

There is a lovely little vegan juice bar by my house called Juicy Ladies, and I’m addicted to their Super Sexy Smoothie. With a name like that who couldn’t be, but at $10 a pop I realized I couldn’t keep ordering this delectable drink forever. So I figured out the proportions on my own and started making it at home for half the price! The coconut, goji berries and almond butter flavors are so light and understated that while this smoothie is quite filling your palate lingers with a swirl of flavors.

One of the coolest things about this smoothie is the color; the pink of the goji berries mixed with the white of the coconut and a tad of golden brown from the almond butter combine together to make a bright orange smoothie. Your friends will be eternally puzzled by the color of this smoothie and the fact there are no oranges in it.

Super sexy

The first time I bought a whole young coconut was at Whole Foods and I didn’t realize that you can ask an employee to cut the top off. So I took it home with me and terrified, I hacked at it with a santoku for and hour where I whittled it down enough to pry the top off. I had the coconut over a bowl to catch any of the water once the coconut opened and once I had finished, I vowed never to do this again. So upon my next trip to Whole Foods I asked an employee in the produce section if they would take the top off for me and found out that was a service they already provide. Sometimes they have precut coconuts in the produce section over ice but if they don’t you can find a whole one and ask an employee for help. I’ve never looked back at attempting to cut another coconut myself.

Young coconut

As for the other ingredients, I make my own almond butter at home and I buy the goji berries in bulk so the smoothie doesn’t cost much to make at all. The only item that’s a bit pricey is the maca powder, I buy mine from Navitas Naturals for $15.99 at Sprouts Farmers Market. When I have it in my pantry I use it in this smoothie to add some extra vitamins and minerals; it also has a slightly toffee-like flavor, which is nice. However, I’ve made this plenty of times without it and the smoothie still tastes heavenly.

Brilliantly orange smoothie

Color Palette Smoothie

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

1 young coconut with the top cut off

2 tablespoons almond butter

1/2 cup goji berries

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup ice

2 teaspoons maca powder (optional)

Directions:

Pour coconut water out of coconut into a blender. Scoop of out coconut meat with a spoon and add to blender. Add almond butter, vanilla, maca powder (if using), and goji berries to blender. Add ice and then blend until the consistency of the smoothie is think and creamy.