Category Archives: Desserts

No-banana berry soft serve

no banana soft serve

Don’t hate on me: I’m not the biggest fan of banana ice cream.

Which might seem crazy coming from a girl who has a banana in every smoothie, who was addicted to banana Popsicles growing up, who would fake sick just to get banana penicillin and whose nickname was — surprise — Breanna Banana. Yes, I do sing the high praises of bananas.

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Aqua-fabulous peanut butter cookies

Peanit Butter Cookies

I have a feeling that joke has probably been made a ton now, but in the immortal words of Eric Cartman, wha-evah, wha-evah, I do what I want!

I’m a bit late to the aquafaba train, but I’m making up for it lately. One of the reasons I was hesitant to post any aquafaba-based recipes is because I’m never sure how much I want to contribute to growing “superfood” trends. I’d hate to see the price of canned chickpeas skyrocket because people suddenly believe the brine in it can, like, cure cancer or something.

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Peppermint mocha brownies with white chocolate drizzle (vegan and gluten-free)

Brownies

When I went back to Starbucks after my two weeks off, I saw that they had switched over to their holiday drinks (I know, apparently I missed the whole grossly-offensive cups thing). And of course, they have those wonderfully cute snowman cookies and donuts and all those other great things I can’t eat.

So I made these brownies, because fuuuuuuuck that.

These peppermint mocha brownies have a moist but light texture, and a flavour that’s chocolatey without being so overwhelmingly sweet.

Best of all, since the holidays are all about sharing, I also made these as allergen-friendly — they’re free of gluten, soy, nuts and are fructose-friendly. Wahoo!

I’ve been asked a few times, mostly by people I know in real life and not in Internet-land, why I occasionally make things like gluten-free and nut-free recipes despite not having any intolerance to those things myself, especially because I’m a huge proponent for not giving into fad diets if you don’t have a diagnosed health reason to do it. The reason I do this is actually the same reason I started my blog in the first place: I love to share.As a vegan I know exactly how it feels when there’s food around that I can’t eat because no one took the time to consider me. I’ve been the one person bringing my own food to potlucks for years now. For that reason, especially around the holiday season, I like to make sure that I can create yummy food that we can all share. The best way you can show someone you care about them during the holidays is to think about them when it comes to planning, and I show that in my food.

Peppermint mocha brownies

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25-30 minutes
Vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, fructose-friendly, soy-free

Brownie ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten-free flour blend
  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand is soy-free, gluten-free and nut-free)
  • 1/4 cup-1/3 cup hot brewed coffee plus one pinch of extra coffee/espresso grinds
  • 1 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup ripe avocado flesh
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 extra large flax egg (2 tbsp flax meal+3 tbsp water)
  • 1/3 cup crushed candy cane bits

White chocolate drizzle ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cocoa butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup, brown rice syrup or other liquid sweetener
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit
  2. Prep your flax egg and let sit for at least five minutes
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together your flours, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt and a pinch of your coffee grinds (we hand-grind our coffee in our home, so we can always just whizz up a few beans for situations like this).
  4. In another large bowl, add your cocoa powder and your chocolate chips. Once your coffee is hot (and I mean piping hot), pour it over the mix. Hand-mix this thoroughly until it is mostly-liquid (a few chunks is fine).
  5. Add in your coconut sugar and continue mixing until all is incorporated.
  6. Add in your flax egg and avocado flesh. If your avocado is a little underripe (you can easily scoop it out with a fork but it’s difficult to mash) I’d recommend whizzing it through the food processor in order to give it that whipped, buttery texture, or else you’ll have avo bits all over your brownies.
  7. Once that is all mixed, add in your extracts, give ‘er one last mix, and add to the flour bowl.
  8. This is where it gets tricky. It’s going to be a texture similar to heavy mashed potatoes, but don’t give into the temptation to use an electric mixer. Over-mixing this will not result in a nice texture for the brownies. Strong-arm the crap out of this, folding and mixing until everything is nice and soaked up. Fold in your candy canes, spread throughout a pan lined with parchment paper, and pop in the oven for 25 minutes.
  9. After you pull the brownies, let them cool while you mix the white chocolate drizzle. In a double-boiler (I rigged up my own using a Pyrex measuring cup in a pot of boiling water), melt down your cocoa butter, extracts and syrup. Pour in whatever shape you like (if my sister’s reading this: yes, I fully expect you to pour it in the shape of a penis) and sprinkle on any last candy canes you wish!

Enjoy these unique little treats. My suggestion for how to best enjoy them would be to feed them to a baby boomer and them softly whisper “happy holidays” and watch them lose their shit. Heh.

Oh, so I’m now three days into my vacation! On Monday I wrote two recipes, saw a huge surge of traffic on my blog (thanks, Reddit), biked 29.9 km, did a few boulder problems, bought my first batch of carrot lox (gotta say, I’m not a big fan) and chilled out at my favourite Toronto vegan haunt, Bloomer’s. So warm and comforting and jackfruity. I swear, I’ve never eaten a jackfruit sandwich where everything didn’t fall out from between the buns and onto the plate, but that’s the best part! You get to eat it twice!

What are some of your favourite holiday tastes you haven’t been able to have in awhile? Perhaps I can work some of my vegan magic and make a good cruelty-free snack for everyone!


Sweet and spicy sweet potato latte syrup

SP Latte

Before I talk about this syrup, I want to talk about what it represents: indulgence.

This past weekend, I started a cleanse of my own. Nope, not the juice kind. Nope, not even the food kind.

I’m going through a bit of a material cleanse right now. Not in terms of getting rid of stuff (I actually do that quite a bit). More in terms of re-evaluating the things that I spend my money on and buy/consume without thinking too much about it.

Ever since I moved away from downtown Toronto and especially since my career took a better turn last year, I’ve never really struggled financially, and I’ve never been particularly foolish with money. I’m in a position where if something were to randomly happen to my car, or if Benny were to need some sort of emergency surgery, I’d be fine.

But I’ve realized that I could be doing so much better, and because I’m in a good position, I tend to occasionally plunk down money on things that I might need, but not immediately.

For example, clothes — for a long time, even when I was working full-time, I couldn’t justify buying new clothes because I didn’t have a ton of money, so I was stuck wearing the same crappy, poorly-shaped, faded, low-quality clothes I wore in university. Now that I’m in a better position, I buy clothes more frequently (and, to my credit, always get rid of old clothes). The thing is, I still haven’t learned the art of keeping only a small number of essential pieces. I owned a lot of clothes in university, so I’ve felt a need to replace my crappy, collegiate style at a 1:1 rate, but it should probably be more like 1:2 or 1:3.

Another thing is, to sound totally cliché, my daily Starbucks indulgence. I usually use Starbucks as nothing more than an excuse to get out of the office on my lunch break and do some writing. Why can’t there be a library or something close by? I’m not so into coffees/lattes that I feel an actual craving for them on the daily, so I really need to stop going to Starbucks out of boredom/convenience.

Okay, and another thing I need to stop doing: expanding on my collection of Lush pots. For someone who likes to tote a minimalist skin routine, I actually have a tendency to fall in love with a new soap scent long before my last one has run out. I work really close to a Lush and sometimes I just go in at lunch to smell all the smells and get away from everything, and I usually feel way too guilty to walk out without buying something.

I feel like I’m portraying myself as a spend-o-holic here. Don’t worry, I’m not over-the-top. But I definitely think everyone, even those of us who are financially comfortable, need to look at our spending habits a little bit more and wonder how much we’re actually spending on what we need.

Here’s my current vow:

  • No Starbucks for two weeks (I’m not ruling out coffee shops in general, but I go to Starbucks out of convenience and out of not actually wanting coffee.)
  • No Lush or any other toiletry product for two months.
  • No clothing purchases — not even an accessory — for one month.
  • Since the big seasonal clothing transition is approaching, I will be getting rid of no less than 20 clothing items and not replacing them.

I’ve also made a few vows for my at-home habits — no playing The Sims or 2048 for one month, and no watching The Office for one month. I know those sound like strange things, but those are probably the two things that, once I’ve done everything for the day — cooking, blog work, workouts, cleaning — that I fall into. I mean, you can argue that if you’ve tended to all your other responsibilities, what’s the problem? But I think by always falling into those habits, I’m limiting myself from trying something different, like reading a new book, playing piano or even doing a puzzle. Again, I’m not giving up TV, I’m giving up the show that is most convenient for me to watch reruns of (I have every episode) because I know that 99% of my drive to do those things is not out of genuine desire but convenience.

That’s it. Is it sad that I’ve felt a need to do this? I actually don’t think so! What this comes down to mostly is an exercise in self-discipline and also teaching me how to better use my time.

One of those better uses of time is coming up with cool original recipes (see the segue I did there) and knocking things off of my list of fall goals. I’ve actually accomplished a few so far and I might detail some on the blog. Here’s one of them, which started out as an attempt to make my own pumpkin spice syrup.

With it being October, pumpkin puree wasn’t actually available in stores, and damned if I felt like carving a pumpkin all by myself (I try to avoid mentioning this, but I have the visual artistic talents of a drunken sloth, and carving pumpkins would surely result in me accidentally painting my walls orange).

But then I saw sweet potato puree for about 50 cents cheaper than pumpkin puree, so, like, why not?

Sweet potato is, after all, sweet, and I have enjoyed a good sweet potato pie in my day. It doesn’t quite have the smooth, soothing taste of pumpkin, but that’s kind of what I like about it.

Here’s the sweet and spicy sweet potato latte, so you can possibly differentiate yourself from the #PSL crowd.

Sweet and spicy sweet potato latte syrup, makes about 3/4 cup of syrup

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sweet potato puree
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup, maple syrup or agave (I don’t recommend a thicker sweetener like molasses or coconut nectar)
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar, turbinado sugar or brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon or one cinnamon stick
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract, or one vanilla bean, seeded
  • Pinch of ground cloves

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and slowly warm on medium heat, stirring to ensure no burning on the surface.
  2. Once the sugar is dissolved and all elements are combined thoroughly, remove from heat. Strain out any solid pieces like the vanilla bean and/or the cinnamon stick.
  3. Let cool before transferring to an airtight container.
  4. Store in the fridge, but I recommend removing it for at least 30 minutes before using it in a drink!
  5. This also makes a great drizzle over vegan ice cream — mm!

So what are some of your indulgences that you might need a bit of a break from? What are your worst habits? What’s something you think you could be doing better with your time? Let me know in the comments below.

 


Holy f!&# a f!&#ing cheesecake (with f!&#ing raw caramel!)

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Vegan.

Gluten-free.

Fructose-friendly.

No. Cashews.

I was seriously so surprised with how easy this “cheesecake” was to make — and how much of a hit it was! We brought it to a barbecue on Canada Day, and I’ll glaze over the fact that alcohol was involved to influence them, but all the girls at the party were just all over this cheesecake.

I’ve found that showing up to a party with food is always the easiest way to make friends. Otherwise, I’m screwed. What with my personality and all.

Now, there’s two things I bet you’d expect of this cheesecake:

  1. Cashews for the filling
  2. Dates for the crust
  3. Dates for the caramel, definitely.

Au contraire, friends! The crust is held together with coconut nectar, coconut oil and a bit of tahini. Now, it’s not a fully raw crust if raw is what you’re into, but I have to ask you if going raw is fully worth forgoing the delicious, almost sexual smell of hazelnuts roasting in your kitchen on a lovely, laid-back summer morning.

‘Cause, like… damn.

So now I’m sure you’re wondering about that filling and thinking, “Oh, it’s probably silken tofu or something else I can’t eat.

Wrong, fella.

It’s actually buckwheat. I got the idea of soaking buckwheat from Evelyn at nourishnotpunish, one of my favourite bloggers for not only recipes but body positivity and recovery conversation. Of course, my whole thing with a cheesecake is that I’m not just trying to get a creamy texture, I want to actually have that cream cheese taste. I’ve never been a big fan of cheese, but cream cheese is apparently the exception.

So I figured out a trick.

If you want that actual tart taste for your cheesecake but want to still keep it subtle, add about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. You could also try lemon juice.

If you want to really give it a true “cheesecake” taste, add about an ounce (one shot glass for those of you who are like “whaa?!”) of nutritional yeast (yes, nooch in a sweet recipe. I know it sounds weird but… go with it, if you’re feeling brave)!

Of course, you could keep it out and have it just be a chocolate cream pie, but if you’re going for authenticity, be brave (will ya?!) and add the nooch!

Now… raw vegan caramel made without dates? It’s actually so. damn. easy. Brown rice syrup (or maple syrup, but I find the viscosity of BRS to be just right for caramel) makes a great caramel base, and then thickening it up with some nut or seed butter makes it totally drizzle-able. I used tahini to avoid making it super headache-sweet.

Now, to conclude the pre-recipe spiel (because that’s really what you want, right? The recipe?) I’ll leave you with one important note: this is probably the easiest dessert I’ve made all year.

Raw salted caramel mocha vegan cheesecake

Ingredients – crust

  • 1 cups hazelnuts
  • 1 tbsp+1 tsp coconut oil or other light-tasting oil
  • 1 tbsp tahini (or other nut/seed butter)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut nectar or other liquid sweetener
  • Pinch of fine grain sea salt

Ingredients – Filling

  • 1 3/4 cup raw buckwheat groats (not kasha)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut nectar or other liquid sweetener
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs (optional)
  • 1 oz nutritional yeast (optional, provides a more “cheesy” taste)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground espresso powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Ingredients – Raw salted caramel

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup brown rice syrup
  • A few generous sprinkles of fine-grain sea salt

Instructions

  1. Set the buckwheat groats in a large bowl and cover in boiling water. Let sit for about an hour. You may have to re-pour water occasionally as the buckwheat soaks up the water.
  2. While the groats are soaking, make your crust. Start by preheating an oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Fill a bowl with warm water and sit your coconut oil in there, to gently melt it without zapping it.
  4. In a large food processor, process your nuts to a fine-to-medium crumb.
  5. In a bowl, mix the nut crumbs, melted coconut oil, tahini, vanilla and syrup.
  6. Lay the mixture into your pie plate and press flat (use your hands if you’ve washed them since the last time you got in a garbage fight or pet a dog).
  7. Set in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until your kitchen is filled with the glorious smell of roasting hazelnuts.
  8. Drain and rinse your buckwheat groats.
  9. In your food processor, blend the groats, oil apple cider vinegar and syrup until it is a smooth, velvety texture.
  10. Now, add in your cacao nips and nooch (if using), vanilla, espresso and cinnamon. Since these are flavour agents, use my measurements as a guideline — add gradually and go with what makes you happy (I mean, that’s a general rule for life).
  11. Pour your mixture onto the nice toasty crust and smooth out the top.
  12. Freeze the pie for about two hours.
  13. In a small bowl, use a fork to mix together your tahini and syrup. Pour on top of your frozen cake in whatever formation you desire. Add a few generous sprinkles of sea salt — after all, it’s a salted caramel mocha!
  14. You can also assemble with any fruit or  toppings you desire — a coconut whipped cream topping would basically make this Starbucks on a plate.

Vegan shamrock shake two ways — green smoothie and dessert shake

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I actually was never into the whole shamrock shake thing as a kid. Call me a heartless little thing, but I was never into milkshakes (even while working my first job at McDonalds). I liked soft serve ice cream enough, but was never too into straight-up bowls of ice cream or any of its sweet spawns — no shakes or floats for me. Those are verbs, not foods.

But there’s one thing I do enjoy, and that’s mob mentality. Okay, I’m totally kidding, but seriously, when my old boss would have his yearly tradition of bringing shamrock shakes in for everyone at the magazine I used to work at, I’ll admit I felt left out.

I’ve also been looking at a way to add some zing with mint to a green smoothie lately, so I figured this was the perfect time to do it. I’ll admit my first take at the recipe had a few kinks to work out, but after a few experimentations it turned out alright. Oh, and of course, I had to go and make a dessert version, too, because I’ve had a tub of soy ice cream sitting in my freezer since, oh, Thanksgiving.

One thing’s for sure about both, it’ll leave your breath ridiculously fresh.

Vegan shamrock smoothie, serves one

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened, unflavoured non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup water or coconut water
  • 1 1/4 cup spinach or kale
  • 1/2 cup young coconut meat
  • A few springs of mint
  • 1 tbsp liquid sweetener (I used coconut nectar)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa butter (if you can’t find cocoa butter, use a smooth peanut or almond butter)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint extract

Instructions

  1. Simply blend all ingredients on high until smooth and green!

Vegan shamrock shake, serves one

Ingredients

  • 2 small scoops vanilla non-dairy ice cream
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 cup spinach
  • A few sprigs of mint
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Instructions

  1. Again, simply blend all of the ingredients on high until you reach a consistency you like. This one doesn’t need any sweetening, trust me!

How’s that for bridging the gap between your inner child and your total grown-up.


Nutella flax pudding (for breakfast!)

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I admit I got a little salty about something (while I was in California, working out and well-hydrated if you can believe it).

I received a comment from someone about how one of my recipes was “too complicated,” and I couldn’t quite articulate why it pissed me off. For one thing, I’ve never found my recipes to be very complicated, because I’m not that great of a cook and I can still manage. But more than anything, the reason I got a little salty is because this isn’t the first time I’ve felt the pull of people wanting me to change my website to suit THEIR needs.

My mandate ISN’T to be a minimalist and so-simple-your-cat-could-do-it recipe site. Now, I do believe in making food with ingredients you can buy at your average market. That said, my shtick is vegan food, not vegan food that can  be made in one bowl or in five minutes. You know what can be made in (less than, I hope) five minutes? A sandwich. You know what I’m not going to tell you how to make? A sandwich. Because you know how to make a sandwich. It’s bread, or bread-type-things, and then it’s other things encased between those bread-type things.

Now, I realize I’m a little overly salty about this. I’m McDonalds Fries salty about it. But like I said, this isn’t the first time others have tried to tell me what I should do with my website, and most of them don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.

“You should focus on meals that can be made for under $X.”

“You should put stuff that picky eaters will like!”

“You should make stuff that’s good for transitioning vegans!”

“You should make your recipes more allergen-friendly!”

You know what I hear whenever I hear those “suggestions?” “You should change your site to suit me.”

Now, I know that most people don’t think that that’s what they’re saying. They’re happy that Urban Garlic has potentially provided them with a good resource but wish it were just a little bit more tailored to them. I can respect that, and the fact is, I am here to be a resource to other people. If I was totally ignoring my potential audience, I’d be a real shithead, wouldn’t I?

But, well, I do have an audience. Sometimes when you know a blogger personally, you’re convinced that the people they know offline are their only readers. But I know my stats — I know that most of my views come from the States (and a few from Europe!), that most of my clicks come from Instagram, and that very few of my friends, even if they actively support my blog, actually make my food (shout out to the ones who have shared pics with me!! Eeeeee)!

I’m not even saying this is a bad thing. I think it’s incredible that my friends who have no interest in vegan food have been so engaged and supportive of my blog. Hey, let’s all celebrate that fact!

But that’s besides the point. I have an audience and they like what I post. And while anyone could tell you that they key to failure is trying to please everyone else, I feel pretty confident in saying that a lot of them would also want you to please them.

Anyway, I feel like I had to get that off my chest, and the reason I’m putting it out there on my blog is because I want people to know that while suggestions have a time and a place (“Hey Bree, you should do a cake recipe!”) there comes a point when your “helpful suggestion” is like going into a Canadian History class and going “When are we going to get to Canadian contemporary studies?”

So… pudding?

I’m sorry, I just kept talking myself in a circle and still found no way to get to pudding.

Everyone loves a good chia pudding/parfait. The thing is, chia seeds are expensive as hell and not all that different, nutritionally, from flax seeds. This is a way cheaper option that has just as much goodness for you — and yes, it’s chocolate. Hey, Nutella got away with trying to claim it was healthy for years (mothers across the world were shocked — a creamy, chocolate spread wasn’t as healthy as eight bowls of spinach? Zut alors!) so I’m pretty sure I’m one step ahead.

Speaking of one step ahead, you also don’t have to prepare this overnight (aside from making your milk ice cubes). Freeze about those suckers overnight and you should be good to enjoy yourself some yummy pudding!

Nutella flax pudding for breakfast, serves two

Ingredients

  • 5 frozen cubes of non-dairy milk (standard ice cube size — it’s a tough conversion if you’re me and your ice cube molds are little porcupines and squirrels)
  • 1 1/2 cup unflavoured, unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 5 tbsp whole flax seeds
  • 3 tbsp smooth peanut or almond butter
  • 2-3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup, coconut nectar or other liquid sweetener
  • 1 tbsp macca powder (if you don’t have macca on hand, add the third tbsp of cocoa)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • A small handfull of hazelnuts, plus more for topping

Instructions

  1. Sit the flax seeds in the milk and allow to plump for a few minutes while you prep and chop everything else.
  2. Add all of the ingredients besides the milk cubes into the blender and blend on high until all is pureed and there are no chunks (watch out for those tricky hazelnut bastards)
  3. Add the milk cubes and blend once again!
  4. Serve garnished with hazelnuts and, if you’re feeling really wild, some coconut whipped cream.

I hope you all enjoyed my rather neurotic post. I hope no one starts tugging at their collar and going, “Wow, that Bree’s a real Squidward in the morning, isn’t she?” And if they do, well, not much I can do to change that. Except eat more pudding.


Peanut butter and banana cream pie

Another weekend, another fun series of adventures to talk about. And by “fun series of adventures” I merely mean one very fun dinner with my sister and her husband (and my partner, of course!) where we ate tons of yummy food (my sister is the queen of appetizers), played fun board games and laughed at her silly cats.

I was in charge of bringing the dessert (for the record, my sister is not vegan, but had fun making some vegan mains and apps for me — for the record, she found all of the vegan food delicious too) and wanted to REALLY impress the crowd. At first I was just going to make some banana soft-serve, but obviously the logistics of that were a bit too stressful. Then I started to think of one of the pie recipes from my various vegan cookbooks.

But then, I thought, if there’s ever any time to try something new, it’s now! Especially because my sister will have NO CHOICE but to be polite about my dessert.

(Just kidding, she’d be rather blunt).

I love peanut butter and banana. When I was a kid, it was my favourite sandwich. Unfortunately, I was always heartbroken when I couldn’t bring them to school because the bananas would go brown. So PB&B was a “weekends only” thing.

This pie is DEFINITELY a weekend kinda pie — perfect for now when our days are getting longer and warmer, and you just want to chill out (hah!) with a nice, cool pie that is a hybrid of creamy/comforting with fruity/fresh.

It actually didn’t end up taking all that long — a combined 40 minutes for the crust from the start of making to the cooling, and maybe 20 minutes to actually make the filling. Add a few hours for freezing (during dinner will do ya) and you’ve got yourself a peanut butter and banana pie!

Peanut butter and banana pie, makes one medium pie

Ingredients – nut and seed crust

  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup whole flax seeds
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup or other liquid sweetener (I wouldn’t recommend using coconut nectar or brown rice syrup as you want something with a runnier consistency)
  • 3-4 tbsp softened coconut oil
  • Pinch of fine-grain sea salt

Ingredients – creamy banana filling

  • 2-3 medium-ripe  bananas (I used two large)
  • 8 oz silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup brown rice syrup (you can use maple syrup or agave, but it will be a lot thinner)
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, Earth Balance or vegan margarine
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract

Ingredients to assemble

  • 1 large banana
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight
  • 2-3 tbsp powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a pie tin.
  2. In a food processor, process your hazelnuts (aka filberts!) to a fine crumble.
  3. Add the nut crumbs, flax seeds and sea salt to a bowl. Mix in the coconut oil and the maple syrup. Add more if needed to get the mixture even and consistent, and pat it firmly into the tray to make a nice, even crust.
  4. Bake the pie for 10-12 minutes or until the moisture of the oil has evaporated. Once removed, allow the pie crust to cool for up to 20 minutes before adding your filling.
  5. While all that’s going on, make your filling by combining all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blending until smooth. Pour into the cooled pie crust and let freeze for several hours.
  6. Remove from the freezer for about 20 minute prior to serving (or else cutting the crust will NOT be a fun experience).
  7. To assemble, adorn with another sliced banana (we sliced them into medallions) and some whipped coconut cream. To make the coconut cream, remove your chilled can (it has to be chilled in order to get the fat and the liquid to separate) and scoop out the top, thick layer. Add to a bowl and mix (it is far easier to mix with an electric beater than by hand). Add a little bit of powdered sugar as you go so it can penetrate the thick cream more easily and really fluff it up.
  8. Eat it and love yourself for it.

Work-friendly spiced chai berry coffee cake with spiced chai custard

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You should have seen how silly I felt when I learned that “chai” meant “tea” and that all my years of saying “chai tea” I was really just saying “tea tea.” In fact, I looked even sillier, because I used to HATE spiced chai, but would say “I hate chai tea!” As a matter of fact, I do LOVE tea tea. It did take me awhile to come around to rich, flavourful, aromatic kinds of teas (I’m still a classic green tea kind of girl, and sometimes enjoy a good herbal tea) but after this past fall I couldn’t get enough of it (chalk that up to everyone else being on the pumpkin spice train and me just needing to be different).

Believe it or not, chai spice doesn’t have to only be an autumn-type flavour. In my quest to create the most original-tasting dessert ever for my last day at work (yeah, didn’t think anyone would offer to take me out for lunch or even a coffee, so I came prepared to celebrate) I found that the warm and comforting flavours blended well with the berries, which made this cake taste, for lack of better words, rustic. It’s great for enjoying with a coffee on your break, or maybe… instead of your breakfast (I’m not tellin’ anyone).

It’s a moist but not gooey cake and, despite being made with a gluten-free flour, doesn’t have that overly dense taste that a lot of gluten-free baking brings with it.

Learning how to bake gluten-free treats is hard, but it’s a really useful thing when you attend a lot of group gatherings. I’ve often found myself working with people who have celiac disease or other illnesses which prevent them from consuming gluten, so if you like to bring snacks, it’s great to know how to make something that everyone can eat (and then you, the resident vegan, hope that someday they’ll do the same for you)!

Spiced chai berry coffee cake and spiced chai custard, serves eight

Cake ingredients

  • 1 cup plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used almond milk, but there are plenty of nut-free options)
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup garbanzo and fava flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (but be liberal with this)
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice (again, be liberal)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • Pinch of fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen berries, whatever mix your preference (I used even amounts of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries)
  • One flax “egg” (1 tbsp flax seed meal+3 tbsp lukewarm water)

Custard ingredients

  • 2 cups plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp corn starch or arrowroot powder
  • The exact same spices (and measurements) from the cake, which is:
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (but be liberal with this)
    • 1/2 tsp ground allspice (again, be liberal)
    • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and lightly grease an 8-inch baking pan
  2. In a small bowl or mug, make your flax egg and let sit for ~5 minutes.
  3. Combine all your dry ingredients save for your berries (so flours, sugar, baking soda, powder, xanthan gum, spices) and whisk to combine evenly
  4. Add in your liquid ingredients one at a time, including your plumped flax egg (I prefer this method to combining in different bowls; unless you need to let something sit for awhile there’s really no need to dirty two bowls).
  5. Finally, fold in your berries and mix all until it’s nice and thick. Go ahead and taste it. It’s vegan! It won’t hurt you! (If the berries are frozen, simply sit them in a fine mesh sieve and rinse with warm water for awhile so they warm and drain).
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a fork comes out of the cake clean.
  7. While the cake is baking, in a medium saucepan, heat the milk, flour, starch, sugar and spices on medium-high heat, stirring constantly. When the milk begins to boil, reduce heat. Keep stirring pretty much consistently for 10 minutes.
  8. Let the custard cool before you package it (I put it in a mason jar and kept it separate from the cake to reduce mess on the way to work, that way everyone could add their own amount). It will also thicken when cool.

That’s it for my post today — enjoy some cake on this beautiful Monday and don’t forget to subscribe to Urban Garlic on Bloglovin’ or add me to your Feedly app. I’ve got another great recipe this Thursday (as per usual) and some supplemental content throughout the rest of the week I’d hate to miss out on!


Cinnamon mocha swirl soft serve

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Is anyone really surprised that despite all of my pep on Friday, I did not end up eating pancakes? In fact, I hardly ate anything all weekend. Turns out, even when norovirus passes through you, eating, drinking and doing much of anything is about as appealing as a root canal for a few days afterward. I managed to have one meal yesterday, but other than that, it’s been a series of small, sweet and cold snacks.

Bananas, though, bananas are like a gentle, loving hug from nature. And banana soft serve? Oh my.

Banana soft serve is not a new concept, nor am I claiming to have invented banana soft serve. But I’m still amazed at the number of people — usually non-vegans — who aren’t aware of it. The best thing about banana soft serve is that it honestly doesn’t need a flavour. You can just do pure bananas and it’s still amazing! But now that I’m no stranger to the banana soft serve life, I like to experiment with flavours, and I wanted to share with you this concoction I whipped up on the weekend.

Cinnamon mocha swirl banana soft serve, serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 bananas, chopped and frozen for 1-2 hrs beforehand
  • 1 tbsp nut butter
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener, but maple gives it a really distinct flavour)
  • 3/4 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch fine grain sea salt
  • Water, as needed
  • Nuts, cacao nips, chocolate chips or any other toppings you desire

Instructions

  1. Peel, chop and freeze bananas for about 1-2 hours
  2. In a large food processor, begin processing the bananas, nut butter, cinnamon, espresso, cocoa powder, maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt until the chunks begin to disappear. You’ll probably have to scrape off the sides quite a bit, especially at first.
  3. Gradually add water 1 tbsp at a time until you’ve reached the consistency you desire. Just under 2 tbsp got me a consistency that was like soft serve without being too liquid.
  4. Divide into two bowls and add your toppings.
  5. Embrace your inner child!!

What’s your favourite food when you’re sick? When I was a kid, it was banana popsicles.