Happy Anniversary: Vegan Carrot Cake

Four years has passes since that chilly November morning in Lower Manhattan when we said I do. We have a house, a two-year old daughter and our marriage is legal in all 50 states. Those three things felt like they were so far away from happening in that moment but here we are.

img_2055Our wedding day was as much about food as it was about the whole legally binding contract we were entering. We had lunch at the Cinnamon Snail Food truck, rehearsal dinner at Candle 79, reception at Blossom Cafe in Chelsea, and lunch at Loving Hut NYC to name a few. We hit all of the important NYC vegan food we could possible fit in! As irony would have it, we were married atop the Irish Hunger Memorial. Our amazing friend B.B. made sure we had a delicious vegan cake to celebrate the day from Erin McKenna’s Bakery (formerly Baby Cakes). We chose carrot cake with cinnamon icing.

 

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My awesome wedding cake with our Day of the Dead Dolls. 

This year I decided to attempt to recreate our wedding cake. I had never attempted a carrot cake or a cinnamon icing. I think I have always steered away from a carrot cake because of all of the carrot prep work seems like a lot…the peeling, the shredding…heh. Turns out I am ridiculous and can peel and shred a carrot like a boss.

But….WHY ARE ALL OF THE RECIPES GLUTEN FREE? I am not gluten intolerant (real or imagined). Also, I am not a huge fan of apple sauce in baking so I generally try to find a recipe that doesn’t call for applesauce. But…Minimalist Baker is my go to vegan baking guru so I used their…

1-BOWL VEGAN GLUTEN-FREE CARROT CAKE

  • 3 flax eggs (3 Tbsp flaxseed meal + 7 ½ Tbsp water)
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) melted coconut oil* (or sub other neutral oil)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) maple syrup
  • 1 scant cup (~235 g) unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup (110 g) organic brown sugar* (or sub coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) cane sugar* (or sub coconut sugar)
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 – 1 cup (180-240 ml) plain unsweetened almond milk* (or other non-dairy unsweetened milk)
  • 1 1 /2 cups (~165 g) loosely packed grated carrot
  • 3 Cups of All-Purpose Flour (my choice instead of gluten free)
  • 3/4 cup (87 g) chopped raw walnuts* (if preferred, omit, or sub 1/2 cup (70 g) raisins)

You can find the directions here.

For the icing I chose to make a plain cream cheese icing because I had one shot to do this before my wife came home from work…

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick ) vegan butter, softened to room temperature (such as Earth Balance | butter sticks are best, not the spreadable tub)
  • 1 8-ounce container vegan cream cheese, slightly softened (such as Tofutti or Trader Joe’s brand // out of the fridge for 1 hour)
  • 3 – 5 cups (300-500 g) sifted organic powdered sugar

My icing broke…I think because the vegan cream cheese was too soft and possibly b/c I mixed too long. But a broken icing is still a tasty icing…

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Birthday Parties and Being the Vegan Kid: Age 2

When you are the vegan person in the room people seem to be hyper aware of their food offerings. Hosts like to say sorry for not offering more vegan friendly options. Sorry really isn’t necessary AT ALL. We go to parties for the company, the friendship, the camaraderie not to be fed all the food. Although we may completely devour your humus tray after a few cocktails. Plus when WE have a party…it’s all vegan.

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LADC only went to two birthday parties at the age of one. One was hers. What she knew both times was that we took her to a room full strange people (big and small). But there were toys for when and if the initial shock wore off. We did the responsible thing for the friend party. We brought her snacks and some ice cream. I do not even remember her eating either.

She is two now and her social circle is slightly larger. We have attended a few birthday parties inthe last few weeks. We, as her parents, will try our best to make sure she has what she needs to feel included and not different during parties. Our methods will, no doubt, evolve over time. Right now, she is only two so she mostly just eats what we give her with no question. She just wants to play. She does not yet get the concept of birthday cake so that has been a non issue.

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We will keep adjusting our plan as she gets older. For now…she just wants to jump in the bouncy house, eat all your blueberries, and pet your dogs and babies.

To Party Parents: You have a lot to think about when planning a party these days. So many dietary restrictions to plan for…from nut allergies, to gluten issues, to vegan friends. I would say let’s worry about those nut free kids first. That’s life and death. We know that you can not please everyone. As party planners, just be open to questions about your food options, the other parent is just trying to plan ahead for their kid. Also, don’t be offended when someone walks in with their own snacks. When possible let the guest parent take the lead in offering their child food. Some children will not know exactly what is the safe choice without a little parental guidance.

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National Burger Day: Hold the Cow Please

If you woke up this morning and had no idea it was National Burger Day, you’re not alone neither did I. Then Twitter was all National Burger Day this and National Burger Day that. Of course, now I want a burger! Don’t worry, even vegans can get their National Burger Day on!  If you’re out and about today, here are some places you can snag a vegan burger!

Red Robin’s Vegan Boca Burger – This is by far my favorite vegan burger at a national chain. They get one of our burgers wrong every time we go but they always make it right the second time. I just assume I’m teaching a very important vegan lesson by ordering carefully and being compassionate when it is screwed up (But seriously, I really like Red Robin). Lisa likes to pile on fresh ingredients like avocado and pineapple while I prefer the savory flavors of BBQ sauce and onion straws.

Oddly this is only picture I could find correctly identifying the Boca burger.

Loving Hut’s Crispy Burger – This is the vegan equivalent of hangover food. It is not at all greasy but it feels really comforting and NOT at all good for you. It’s a patty topped with pickles, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, soy cheese (Daiya), and a special sauce. The special sauce actually makes the burger to me. Lisa is not a fan but I really like it. However, I haven’t ordered it in like a year. It’s definitely a special occasion thing. If you’re not familiar with Loving Hut, click here. There may be one in your area and you didn’t even know! There are totally some international locations too!

Nom, Nom, Nom, Nom

Native Foods’ Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger – I have no idea what anything on this burger has to do with Oklahoma but thank you Sooner state for your tasty burger. Sliced seitan, melted cheddar, caramelized onions and tofu bacon with BBQ sauce, ranch dressing, carrots, tomato and romaine. Native Foods expanded their reach to the DC area last year! Such an amazing selection of vegan food and desserts! And Lavender Lemonade is so yummy!

Elevation Burger’s Veggie Burger #2 – This vegan burger is made with organic grains, veggies and spices. It is a simple but tasty option you can dress your way with toppings. Also, they have awesome fries!

Even though grabbing a burger out and about is fun sometimes you just want the freshness of a home cooked vegan burger. Here are two of our favorite vegan recipes to help you celebrate National Burger Day at home!

Barbecue Black-Eyed Pea Burgers from FatFree Vegan Kitchen – We just discovered this simple and delicious recipe a few weeks ago when we wanted burgers and had left over black-eyed peas! This is what you call a win-win! This is our favorite burger recipe because it is simple but full of rich flavor. (My notes are in red. We didn’t really alter the recipe. We just used what we had on hand which worked out great). 

Ingredients

  • 1 can cooked black-eyed peas, drained (or 1 3/4 cups cooked)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup organic barbecue sauce (or homemade BBQ sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos, soy sauce, or tamari (soy sauce works well no need to run out for specialty items)
  • 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce (we always leave this out)
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups rolled oats, panko, or dried bread crumbs (rolled oats were fabulous and probably something you already have on hand)

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients except the oats (or bread crumbs) in the food processor. Pulse a few times, just enough to break up the peas a little but not puree them. Stir in 1 cup of the oats. Check the consistency. It should be moist but not wet. Add more oats to achieve the right consistency.
  2. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Form burger patties on the prepared surface using about 1/2 cup of mixture per burger. Bake for 25-35 minutes. Burgers will be hot throughout, but don’t let get too dry. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before serving.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s) | Cooking time: 30 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

Lentil Walnut Burger from Oh She Glows – This burger is nutty, hearty, and easy to make. We have made this burger on multiple occasions then freezing the leftovers for an easy dinner option. This is not a burger that require any special ingredients. Even if these aren’t ingredients you keep in your pantry or on your spice rack. They are easily found. No need to run out to the one Organic grocery store across town.

 Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1 piece bread, toasted OR 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 chia/flax egg (1 tbsp ground chia or flax + 1/4 cup water)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl make the chia or flax egg and set aside. Place lentils in a small pot and add a couple cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 25 minutes. Remove and rinse in colander. While the lentils are cooking, toast the walnuts by placing the walnuts on a baking sheet and cooking at 350F for about 12 minutes until golden brown and delicious. Let cool. In a food processor, process the garlic, walnuts, toasted bread OR breadcrumbs, garlic, spices & seasonings until combined. Now add oil and lentils and pulse until coarsely chopped (some lentils should be visible and left chunky). Add the flax or chia egg and pulse a bit more until combined. Now shape 4 patties with hands and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a non-stick mat. Bake at 350F for 20-22 minutes on each side for a total of 40-45 mins. bake time. Makes 4 patties.

I don’t have pictures of either of these burgers on hand but trust me when I say they were so good no one wanted to sit and wait while food was being photographed! Check out both websites for more vegan recipes.

Enjoy National Burger Day! I know I will even if I decide to have pizza instead. #YOLO

A 5 Month Baby Update

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The other morning LA snuggled up to me and grabbed on to my arm. At first, I was afraid she was waking up and I was not ready to get up but she just wanted to be close…and so did I. She is starting return affection and seek it out. She is snuggled, kissed, hugged, held and loved all day, every day between her mom, grammy and I. The other day I said give me a kiss and she open mouthed me right on the cheek. I think she might be familiar with the term kiss. She reaches out to be passed to the next one of us or holds her arms out when the Exersaucer has just exhausted her patience. She will grab your neck to hug you and plant an awesome open mouthed kiss anywhere on your face that she lands.

She is always on the go now. Attempting to crawl with her face pressed against the floor and butt in the air. She hasn’t quite mastered crawling but she can smoosh herself where she needs to go. She wants to stand and takes steps much to our doctor’s dismay. She is so strong she can push herself up with minimal effort. She still is too wobbly to stand or walk but she really wants to. Our doctor didn’t believe that she was sitting up on her own until we put her on the table. LA just sat there balancing herself.

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She is playful, determined, slightly impatient, smiley, funny and soooo cute. I fall in love with her a little bit more every day. I watch her sleep and still check to see if she is breathing like a crazy person. It is so fun watching her grow and change. Sigh…

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Anyway, at her appointment last week we had an official weigh-in and measuring. She is just about 14 lbs. and 28 in. All of her other vitals were normal. She did not enjoy her shots but did enjoy scooting around on the doctor’s stool with her mom.

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LA LOVES:

  • Sophie the Giraffe – mostly putting the feet in her mouth.
  • Putting her own feet in her mouth.
  • Putting any feet around in her mouth.
  • Jumping in her jolly jumper.
  • Laughing at stuffed animals being dropped on her.
  • Eating avocados, bananas and carrots.
  • Toys that crinkle.
  • Walks in her stroller.
  • Bath time bubbles!

LA LOATHES:

  • Sweet potatoes.
  • When the seal on her ExerSaucer will not fit in her mouth properly.
  • When other people eat. Always. Every meal.
  • Poachers…especially Lion poachers.
  • Donald Trump. Don’t know why but she cries every time he’s on TV. (I may have made that up)

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Day 22: Holy Guacamole, Baby’s First Food

LA has been sticking things in her mouth for a long while now…Toys, books, her fingers, her foot, other people’s limbs. She finds that it all tastes delicious. She studies us when we eat. She is very interested. We have been talking about introducing her first food. We knew it was just around the corner but then last night, LA ripped the lettuce right off of Lisa’s plate then she stuck it straight in to her mouth. We took that as a clear indication she was ready!

So what’s a vegan baby to eat? Tonight we mixed some fresh avocado with a little breast milk. LA loved it! She ate and ate until she was covered in green from her head to her toes. I would say it was a success!

Avocado is delicious! DSC_0073

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Learn more about avocados and babies – Here! (Just one of many resources out there)

P.S. Also check out this cute onesie at VeganCuts.

Day 16: And I Would Walk 500 Miles…

Some days you’re just minding your business on Instagram when you come across a delicious picture of some donuts.

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Mmmmmm bourbon…

Then you convince your coworker to walk two miles (a total of 4) to the vegan bakery, Sticky Fingers, to buy your wife a maple bourbon donut. IMG_1478

She would really like one even if she is slightly annoyed at such an unhealthy treat. Besides this donut has sentimental value…It reminds me of that Jim Beam donut we never got to taste from Cinnamon Snail. This donut is full of romance and nostalgia. It’s a very powerful donut.

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Of course, I need a donut too.

Operation Donut Run turned out to be a success. I introduced a new person to vegan food. Walked 5 miles. Saw Spiderman (Photography opportunity missed but I think he was charging for photos).

NaBloPoMo July 2015

US VegWeek 2015 – April 20-26

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If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ve likely already seen my plea for you to join me for US VegWeek by taking the VegPledge. It is only a 7 day commitment to try out a plant-based diet. If you sign up, you will receive coupons and recipes! Also, I am here to answer any questions and offer my support!IMG_0786

I am taking the VegPledge even though I am already vegan. Why? Because I think it is good to remind myself why I am vegan – for my health, the animals and the environment.

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Weeks 21-25: Heeeey, Heeeey Baby!

The past few weeks have been crazy busy. All good things. Here is a quick run down of what we’ve been up to the past couple of weeks.

  • We had our 1 year anniversary. Since the first year was paper, we both got each other books…How adorable right? AND better yet the books were baby related and totally fit our personalities. (I may or may not have gotten caught up reading Shitty Mom and not realized I had gotten on the wrong train adding an extra 30 minutes to my commute…)

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  • We interviewed and selected our doula!  I’m very excited about our choice. Choosing was hard! The candidates were all so nice and professional. In the end, I wanted someone for us who was strong and would be supportive…even a little tough if need be when things seem hard during a natural birth. I’ve seen the Business of Being Born…I know what’s coming!
  • Worked on our baby registry (more about that in another post).
  • We toured the hospital where we will be giving birth. This gave us a sense of accomplishment as we tick off the pre birth to-do list! I talked Lisa’s mom in to posing on a gurney. I call this one “Overwhelmed Grammy”.  IMG_0313_2
  • Lisa’s mom came for a visit. She helped me with a few nursery projects that needed to be finished before winter sets in.
  • We put our crib together! It is gorgeous. I love it! There were a few bolts that were super challenging. Most awkwardly placed holes in the world…I dropped the hex key/allen wrench thingy a million and half times.

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  • We raked so so so many leaves. So many leaves…

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  • Have been attempting to learn some lullabies…our favorite these days.

  • AND one really super important thing that I’ll share later in another post.

In pregnancy related news, Lisa had her 24 Week appointment two weeks ago. All things looked and sounded great! Lisa has gained 13 lbs…in pregnancy related bumps and lady lumps only (wink wink). So far the second trimester has been very kind. We have some insomnia..that’s right I said We! (i.e. it’s Sunday and I have been up since 4:47 AM) The baby has been so active…like a little acrobat It’s so exciting to watch the baby move and feel the kicks. I am waiting for the day when Poe (our dog) has his head on Lisa’s belly and feels the baby kick for the first time. He’s going to be so freaked out…

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I think I was singing along to Lisa Loeb’s version of Twinkle Twinkle in the picture above. Singing to our little cauliflower sized bambino is my favorite thing to do. In my version of singing to the baby, the baby is mesmerized by my voice and thinks it is the best sound in the entire world…even better than Lisa Loeb. Allegedly, the baby can now move to the rhythm of songs…Lisa’s comment to this was, “the baby is not even born and can already do things I can’t do.”

25 Weeks Pregnant

25 Weeks Pregnant

Instead of posting 5 recipes to make up for the blog neglect, we had a meal with the carrot of Week 21 and the cauliflower of Week 25. This worked out perfectly! ONE thing that I crave every once in a while is hot wings and blue cheese dressing. Like always, it has nothing to do with meat, it’s the sauce…buttery hot goodness…so I made Buffalo Cauliflower Bites…

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About to run out of hand!

Week 25 – Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower Bites
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup rice flour or all-purpose flour (any type really)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 22 oz (6 1/2 cups) cauliflower florets
  • 3/4 cup Franks Hot Sauce (Yes, it’s vegan!)
  • 1 tbsp melted Earth Balance

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly spray a large non-stick baking sheet with oil.
  2. Combine the water, flour, and garlic powder in a bowl and stir until well combined.
  3. Coat the cauliflower pieces with the flour mixture and place on the baking sheet; bake for 20 minutes.
  4. While the cauliflower is baking, combine the hot sauce and Earth Balance in a small bowl.
  5. Pour the hot sauce mixture over the baked cauliflower and continue baking for an additional 5 minutes. Serve with vegan ranch dressing if desired and celery sticks.

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Week 21 – Carrot and Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:

  • sweet potato, washed and cut into 1/2 inch wide strips
  • 6-8 carrots, washed and cut into 1/2 inch wide strips
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dried herbs (try parsley, rosemary, or thyme)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven at 400°F. Cut sweet potato and carrots into french fry strips. In a large baking sheet, toss carrots and sweet potatoes with olive oil, dried herbs and salt & pepper.
  2. Arrange in a single layer and make sure to flip the fries over two or three times to brown evenly. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Keep an eye on them making sure not to burn.

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Bonus: Vegan Ranch Dressing (because buffalo bites are nothing without it!)

I haven’t yet tried my hand at homemade vegan blue cheese but ranch dressing is super easy and most of the time I have all of the ingredients already on hand!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Vegenaise (It’s my favorite)
  • 1/4 cup soy milk (or vegan sour cream depends on the consistency you want)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp fresh chopped parsley (or dried, 1 tsp)
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp fresh chopped dill or 1/4 tsp dried

Directions:

This girl literally pulls an appropriately sized bowl out. Adds all of the ingredients in no particular order to the bowl then stirs until everything is mixed together. You can eat it right away but the flavors really blend well after it sits in the fridge.

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Week 20: It’s Official! We’re Having A…

Human baby! That’s right, a real live human baby! The sonographer…nope, that’s not a word I don’t thinkI’m confusing that with stenographer…The ultrasound technician (thank you Google!) let us know several times during the course of our ultrasound that we are indeed having a human baby. What?!? Of all the things I have been worrying about, I should have been worried about her giving birth to an alien or a T-Rex and I did not even know. Of course, I would love that alien or T-Rex to pieces, though the challenges of raising a giant short-armed dinosaur would be great! How do you even swaddle a dinosaur?

Well now that we know we have a 100% human child on the way, I will sleep .00009% better at night. We do not know the sex of the baby…we closed our eyes tight when the scan reached that portion of the body…just in case we were naturally master ultrasound readers. I held my breath for most of the scan…waiting for her to say…”Whoa, that’s crazy!”…or “Eh, that doesn’t look good.”…The fear seems natural and totally rational…It is extremely hard not to worry that something is or will go wrong…But I try to remain normal and calm instead of screaming…”Good God woman, just say everything looks great!” The baby was less than enthusiastic about the long 20 week ultrasound. The baby was lying on his/her face at the beginning…then after Lisa was tilted to try to get the baby to turn over…which did happen…the baby would not turn his/her head for the entire scan…but did show promising ninja skills…maybe we have a soccer player on our hands! We also saw the baby open his/her tiny little hands. So awesome to see. Turns out everything was perfect with the baby and it is in fact a homo sapien. We also received a little lecture on evolution and how Lisa should eat more fats so she has a nice protectant barrier.

Below is proof of human life in Lisa!

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Not a Dinosaur! Rawr!

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Human Life Form!

As Lisa’s bump continues to grow, we make changes and prepare for our little one’s arrival. Not only has Lisa sacrificed her body for the cause…she also had to sacrifice her Jeep. Lisa has loved and owned a Jeep for a long time…but we just couldn’t see a two door vehicle being very practical…and it would be super annoying pulling a baby and a baby carrier in and out. Not to mention…getting in a two-door vehicle as a grown human is pretty difficult…seatbelts slapping you in the face…getting tangled…Do you go in butt first or head first?  It’s an overly complicated task for an adult…imagine what it feels like for a toddler! Lisa searched for something she would be able to tolerate driving for a few years or more…And that my friends is how we became a two Subaru family…

 

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Bye bye semi young friend…go make some other cool cat happy…

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Love, it’s what makes a Subaru!

I know things will keep changing but so far I am loving and enjoying our ever evolving life. It is crazy to think that 20 weeks have come and gone. We are lucky that things have been so smooth even though Lisa has had EVERY single pregnancy symptom…but her bump remains a slight hump…but there is a 13 oz. little human inside kicking and squirming about! Allegedly, our little life form was the length of a banana…B-A-N-A-N-A-S

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Poe wanted in on Banana-gram!

In honor of our little banana, I made a recipe I found on the Esther’s Kitchen Facebook page. Do you know who Esther the Wonder Pig is?  You should!  Get to know Esther…She is changing hearts and minds about animals…her dads recently held a campaign to help them buy a farm for Esther and rescued farm animals.  You can read all about Esther and experience the Esther Effect yourself!  For now here is the recipe for Banana Bread Snack Cake by Esther’s Executive Chef.

BANANA BREAD SNACK CAKE

Wet Ingredients

  • 5 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 flax egg*
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/3 cup cacao nibs or dairy free-chocolate chips
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil, just melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

*To make a flax egg mix 1 Tablespoon ground flax seeds with 3 Tablespoons water and allow to sit for 10 minutes (ground chia seeds can also be used)

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups oat flour (simply grind rolled oats in a coffee grinder or blender)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

  1. Preheat over to 375 degrees. Line a 9×9 baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix wet ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Mix dry ingredients together in a medium sized mixing bowl. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients bowl until just mixed. Spoon mixture into lined pan and bake for 30 minutes or until top starts to brown.

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