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9.11.15 vegan hummingbird cake

So I made this vegan hummingbird cake for my birthday and decided it was pretty delicious. If you haven't heard of hummingbird cake before, it's a banana-pineapple cake, which is a good base for adapting to vegan. 

You can read the blog post about this cake here.

I am not a good recipe follower, so as usual, I didn't stick to the recipes I found. I mixed and matched and came up with this. But as closely as I can remember, this is the recipe.

Grease three 8" or 9" layer pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350. Have all your ingredients at room temperature.

Blend together until smooth (I used an immersion blender):

  • 4 good-sized organic bananas, very ripe
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
  • 1/2 cup organic, unrefined coconut oil, in liquid form
  • approximately 10 ounces of crushed pineapple in juice (or any form of pineapple, since you'll be blending it)
  • 1/4 cup liquid sweetener of choice (like agave, rice syrup, honey, maple syrup, etc)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

Dries.... Sift together

  • approximately 3 cups organic oat flour (I always start with a little less because flour is touchy; then if your batter isn't quite thick enough, you can add a little more in)
  • 1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch of freshly grated allspice
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Add dries to blended mixture, along with sugar and pecans, and gently fold it all together with a spatula, taking care not to over-mix

  • 1 heaping cup sugar of your choice 
  • chopped pecans, however many you like

Pour into prepared pans and bake for about 30 minutes, but check after 20 so that you don't over-bake them. Test with a toothpick for done-ness. It's better to underbake this cake than to overbake it, and since there are no eggs, there's not any harm in it being a little less-than-done, though it will be heavier. Let the cakes rest for at least 10 minutes in their pans and then remove them to cool on racks.

Then I made a filling for between the layers since I wanted raisins and coconut in my cake and didn't want to make a giant batch of sugary frosting. 

For the filling (sorry, things get sketchy here): 

  • 1 cup organic raisins
  • 3/4 to 1 cup shredded, unsweetened organic coconut
  • organic almond-milk, or whatever "mylk" you prefer, enough to mostly cover the raisins

Combine all in a small saucepan and heat until the raisins get soft and plump. Remove from heat and add in about 2 Tbsp. of chia seeds and more mylk, enough to give the chia seeds something to absorb. Add a splash of vanilla and one mashed banana. Set aside until the layers cool.

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces of vegan cream cheese alternative - I used Kite Hill brand, a product exclusive to Whole Foods which will set you back $6. But it was worth it for a special occasion. It is much, much better (by like a 1000 times) than any other faux cream cheese I've tried. Everyone thought it had to be real cream cheese.
  • 1/4 cup vegan buttery spread (I use Earth Balance)
  • almond extract, or vanilla, to taste
  • approximately 2 cups powdered sugar, maybe a little less
  • 2 Tbsp. tapioca flour - OPTIONAL

Blend the spread and cream cheese and almond or vanilla together, then add in as much powdered sugar as you need to get the consistency you want. I have tapioca flour so I added a little to thicken the frosting without making it too sweet. But it's completely optional. 

Assemble the cake with the raisin filling between the layers and then frost the sides and top. Decorate as you feel inspired.

You will need to keep this cake refrigerated to keep the filling and frosting nice. And I always make cakes the night before, as they get better as they sit.

This looks like a lot of work, but trust me, I got it done last night between 6:00 and 7:30 and along with that, I scrubbed the upstairs floors, fed Nettie twice and did some laundry. So it's doable. I hope you'll try it. Delicious, not-too-bad-for-you and definitely not-bad-for-animals vegan cake.  

7.12.15 my new favorite veggie burger....made with - you guessed it - beets

I've never really been crazy about veggie burgers. The patties you buy are full of fillers and very few vegetables and mostly taste like dehydrated onion. And the ones I've made in the past just weren't very impressive. They were bland and difficult to cook, either falling apart or drying out.  But about a month ago I pulled some roasted beets out of the freezer that needed used up and decided to try one of the recipes I'd pinned for veggie burgers. This recipe is from The Minimalist Baker (www.minimalistbaker.com). I tried it because I've used several of their recipes in the past and they have all been excellent. So I felt confident. Here's a photo from their site to tempt you, and I've got to say, ours did look pretty good. They did not fall to pieces like a lot of veggie burgers do.

photo by The Minimalist Baker  www.minimalistbaker.com

photo by The Minimalist Baker www.minimalistbaker.com

This is the original ingredient list. You can find the blog post as well as awesome photos and recipe directions here: http://minimalistbaker.com/smoky-black-bean-beet-burgers/#_a5y_p=2459891


  • 3/4 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 large red onion, finely diced (~3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup finely chopped mushrooms (shitake, baby bella or white button)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, well rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup finely grated raw beet
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (or sub extra cumin)
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • ~1/2 cup raw walnuts, crushed or ground into a loose meal

 I made a few additions and changes. I added several raw, grated carrots, I didn't use as much cumin, and I used cooked buckwheat groats instead of quinoa. These were just personal preferences; I'm sure the original recipe is awesome as-is.  These can be baked or fried. We opted to pan-fry them in a little oil to get a crisp on the outside and then bake them for about twenty minutes to get the centers done. 

 So next time you're hungry for a burger, don't reach for the beef..... reach for the beets!  


7.05.15 "can't beet it" raw beetroot smoothie

Beets (as in the beetroots) were my favorite vegetable as a child and they're still my favorite part of the summer garden... I like them even better than garden tomatoes! I grew up eating them boiled and sliced with butter and salt, but the last few years I don't bother with boiling and slipping the skins. I usually just chop them up and roast them at high heat in the oven with the skins on. As much as I love beets, though, I never considered trying them raw. I have to confess I had never even nibbled a raw beet until this year when I decided to try a raw beet in my smoothie.

If you are as unadventurous as me, let me enlighten you: raw beets are amazing! They have pretty much the same flavor as a cooked beet, and they aren't as hard and tough to chew as you might expect.  It's a lot like eating a raw radish or turnip or even carrot, except with the awesome flavor of a beet! And the added benefit of eating beets raw, besides the fact that you don't have to bother cooking them, is that none of the nutrition is lost. The betalain (which is what give beets their deep red color) is all retained when eaten raw, and betalain is a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifying substance. 

I like to use an entire medium-to-large-sized beet in my smoothie, and if you have the greens, throw those in, too. The greens are extremely high in vitamin K, as well as vitamins A and C. Beets also contain good amounts of iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sulfur. I have been enjoying a raw beet smoothie daily for over a month now, and I'm a little addicted. I just don't feel as good when I don't drink my daily beet. I also like to throw a beet and a few carrots in the food processor, shred them, and eat them as a salad. I'm telling you: a whole new world of culinary inventions opened up to me once I tried raw beets!

Our first beets from the garden, picked last week, and greedily devoured by me a few minutes later. Yep, I'm a beet glutton. Always have been.

Our first beets from the garden, picked last week, and greedily devoured by me a few minutes later. Yep, I'm a beet glutton. Always have been.

I've tried just about everything with my beet smoothie, but I've found that some vegetables and fruits are more complementary than others. I usually include one item from each of these groups... but simple is good, too. If you're feeling cautious, just try beet with watermelon (and maybe a handful of cilantro) - it's absolutely delicious.  

Celery, Cucumber, and Carrots

Watermelon, Oranges, Peaches, Berries

Greens, any kind

fresh Lemon or Lime juice

Fresh Ginger root

Cilantro or Parsley

Chia seed, sprinkle of cinnamon, or cardamom

As a vegan, I see a lot of back-and-forth about the benefits of eating exclusively raw foods or a mixture of cooked and raw. Beets are a vegetable that I'm pretty convinced are more healthful raw.... the science seems to show that, and I feel better effects from the raw than cooked. But however you like them, eat your beets! Your mama knew what she was talking about!

5.28.15 :: It's not easy bein' green :: early garden progress and a "get hoppin' green smoothie"

If rabbits owned blenders, this is probably what they'd be drinking for lunch right now. I've been loving parsley lately (this is a completely new preference for me; I've never really liked it that well before), so I've been adding it to my daily green smoothie. Sadly, parsley is one of just a handful of herbs that is believed to hurt milk production in nursing mothers, at least when consumed in large quantities, so I have to temper myself.  Even without loads of parsley, this smoothie is light and energizing and has lots of zip! I've found that green smoothies can be a bit of an acquired taste, but they become almost addicting pretty quickly; I think my body starts to crave those vitamins! I usually use a mix of spinach or kale, parsley, cilantro, celery, cucumber, lemon, and one piece of fruit like a pear, kiwi, or orange. Then depending on how I feel on a given day, I might add fresh ginger or chia seeds, flax oil, or spirulina powder (a dark green powder made from seaweed that is an excellent vegan iron source; you can find it in the supplement section of stores like Whole Foods or Natural Grocers, or order online). Yum! Tastes like, ummm...... green!

We came out of a drier-than-usual winter into a wetter-and-cooler-than-usual spring - very little sunshine, so the garden has had a slow start. It looks like the spinach is the only vegetable that has really enjoyed the cool and cloudy weather. That and the cilantro are doing well, and I add generous amounts of those greens to my green smoothie.  I just planted parsley this year, so I'm happy that my sister has been supplying me with that from her garden. Our other seedlings sprouted and are now stalled out, waiting for some sunshine. Everything is small and looking a little anemic. But we remain hopeful that the sun will come back someday and we will have some heat to get things going!

Follow little cottontail to see what's growing in our garden so far...

kale, two types; spinach; cabbage; zucchini and cucumbers in hills; beets, both red and gold; zinnias just sprouting; yarrow back from last year; very tiny radishes.... beans are planted but haven't shown themselves, and the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are planted but were not up to a photo session just yet!

The rain has kept us out of the garden for the last week, but we hope to have our squash and pumpkins and the rest of the flowers planted by the end of the weekend. We don't often wish for less rain in this part of the country, but right now, I would be happy to see the rain clouds passing us by for a few days.

3.15.15 :: early spring garden clean-up

We've had some wonderfully warm temperatures for early March here in Nebraska, so it has felt like spring, but things are just starting to show signs of coming to life. Still only little bits of green, and you have to dig for them. It's been a dry winter.

Over the weekend D spent a lot of time cleaning up the leftovers from last year's garden, which I have to admit, got away from us. It was our first year with the new garden plot (it's a big one!) and we didn't manage to get much clean-up accomplished last fall. But all the organic material provided a nice cover on the soil over the winter so there is decent moisture content and it's nice and soft for tilling. (If we ever get the tiller running! Oh, the battle of the tiller... every year!)

Today's the first day you can plant spinach for our growing zone, so we'll try to get some in this week

Here are a few pictures of the acreage and garden.... lots of monotone, but it's pretty in its own way.

Coming soon to this space: Plant-based or vegan recipes, gardening vignettes...

As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness β€” just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breathe it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.
— Laura Ingalls Wilder, Writings to Young Women from Laura Ingalls Wilder - Volume One: On Wisdom and Virtues

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