Coconut Chocolate Cake.

Chocolate and Coconut combination. What can be better? Especially if you combine them in the healthy version of cake. This is the perfect recipe for special occasions, holidays, birthdays etc.

I made it last weekend after spending few days instead because Sophia has been sick for a week already. So to make myself busy and everybody else happy I made this delicious, chocolate, guilty free cake.

Gluten, dairy free with the vegan option( replace eggs with the flaxseed eggs).

 

Coconut Chocolate Cake.

IMG_0477

Ingredients:

Cake:

1.5 cups almond flour
½ cup raw cacao powder
½ cup raw coconut palm sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, room temperature ( for vegan version replace with flaxseed eggs)
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
⅓ cup coconut milk, full fat
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Coconut Layer:

1.5 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tablespoon raw honey
⅓ cup almond flour
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
¼ cup coconut milk, full fat

Chocolate Glaze:
½ cup 70% dark chocolate
1/4 cup coconut milk, full fat

 
Prepare your pan by greasing the bottom and sides of an 8-inch removable bottom pan with coconut oil, then cut a piece of parchment paper and place it on the bottom of the pan. Mix together the almond flour, cacao powder, coconut sugar and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, coconut oil, coconut milk and vanilla extract.
Using a spatula, gently mix dry and wet ingredients together. Mix just until ingredients are combined, being careful not to over mix the batter
spread batter evenly in the pan and bake at 350°F until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately 17 minutes.
Set pan over a wire rack to allow cake to cool.
Coconut Layer:
Mix all ingredients for the coconut layer together until everything is well combined. Spread the mixture over the top of the cooled cake in an even layer, then freeze for 10 minutes
Chocolate Glaze:
Slowly melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over simmering water (double boiler). Once chocolate is melted, stir in the coconut milk and mix until the glaze is smooth and shiny. Pour glaze over the top of the cake.
Refrigerate for about 2 hours or until the glaze is set. Tastes the best the next day.

IMG_0479

Is Grape Seed Oil Good For You?

I used to use the grape seed oil in my recipes before. Every time when something “healthy” comes out on the market you want to substitute it with something that sounds not too healthy. This is what happened with the Grape seed oil. Few years ago you could find the information that it’s good for you, it’s better than the other vegetable oils, it has a lot of vitamin E etc. By the way, you can still find those articles these days.

But the more you learn, the more knowledge you get about this or that product which turn out not healthy after all.

I made a lot of research about the Grape Seed Oil and found very interesting facts that I will share with you today. By the way, I don’t use it in my cooking more than a year now. and let me tell you why:

Grape Seed Oil is processed from the seeds of grapes, which are formed as a by-product of wine making.

For thousands of years, wine manufacturers have been left with tons of this useless by-product, grape seeds. Due to modern technological advances, they are now able to extract the oil from the seeds, something that wasn’t possible a hundred years ago. The oils are usually extracted in factories using an industrial process. It involves high heat and various chemicals, which includes the toxic solvent hexane.

The “healthier” types of seed- and vegetable oils are “cold pressed” or “expeller pressed” – this is a much more natural way to extract the oil from the seeds. If your oil doesn’t explicitly state how it is processed, then you should assume that it was extracted using chemicals like hexane.

Grape seed oil is extracted from grape seeds, a by-product of wine making. This process usually involves various chemicals, including the toxic solvent hexane.

150grapeseedoil

 

The health claims for grape seed oil are based on the supposedly high amounts of nutrients, antioxidants and polyunsaturated fats.

But here’s a newsflash… most of the nutrients and antioxidants (including the proanthocyanidins) from grape seeds are not present in the oil. After it has gone through the intense chemical extraction process, most of the good stuff has been filtered out.

The only nutrient left in there in any significant amount is Vitamin E. A tablespoon contains 3.9 mg of Vitamin E. However, calorie for calorie, grape seed oil is NOT an impressive source of Vitamin E. Other much better sources include nuts, spinach and various others, these foods also contain a ton of other beneficial nutrients instead of just Vitamin E alone.

One of the claims is true though: grape seed oil is very high in polyunsaturated fats. However, it is important to keep in mind that there are two main kinds of polyunsaturated fats: Omega-3s and Omega-6s.

We need to get these two types in a certain balance in order to maintain optimal health. Most people are eating too few Omega-3s and way too many Omega-6s (7). Many studies show that too many Omega-6s lead to poor health and disease. As it turns out, grape seed oil contains mostly Omega-6 fatty acids, the bad kind.

In several cases, grape seed oil has also been found to contain harmful levels of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) – substances that are known carcinogens in animals.

Really, there is nothing positive to be said about grape seed oil. It is bad news all around.

Grape seed oil has a high smoke point. For this reason, it is advertised as a good choice for high heat cooking like frying. This is based on a huge misunderstanding. The smoke point of an oil is NOT the determinant of whether it should be used for cooking or not. The number of double bonds in the fatty acid molecules is much more important.

Because grape seed oil is so incredibly high in polyunsaturated fats, it really is one of the worst oils you could possibly use for cooking.

The healthiest cooking oils are those that contain mostly saturated fats (like butter and coconut oil), because they don’t have double bonds and are therefore less likely to react with oxygen when heated.

Grape seed oil isn’t all bad… there are a lot of people who claim that it is good for moisturizing hair and skin. It is also used in massage and aromatherapy.

For this reason, it may have some topical benefits.

But really… this oil should NOT be eaten. There is nothing healthy about it.

Grape Seed Oil

Portobello Mushroom Burgers.

This recipe is from Kimberly Snyder’s book which I am a big fan of.

The main ingredient in the recipe is Portobello mushroom which has a lot of health benefits.

Nutrition for Portobello Mushroom
One cup of grilled portobello slices contains:
Calories: 42 kcal
Fat: 0.9 g
Carbohydrates: 5.9g
Protein: 5 g
Fiber: 2.7 g
Glycemic Index (GI): Low (below 55)
In addition to being low in fat and high in fiber, portobello mushrooms pack a serious nutritional punch. For example, they are an excellent source of selenium (very important mineral for optimal antioxidant activity), many of the B vitamins, and potassium. In addition, their polysaccharide and beta-glucan components exhibit anti-cancer properties.
When buying portobello mushrooms, look for smooth firm caps without wet slimy patches. Store them in the refrigerator inside a loosely closed paper bag or wrap them inside a damp cloth.

So this is the meatless alternative for the regular burger which is healthy and delicious.

Portobello Mushroom Burgers.

IMG_0428

Ingredients:

4 portobello mushroom caps or 8 ounces of diced portobello
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 tbsp. Vegetable Broth
1 clove minced garlic
3/4 cup finely chopped white onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2 1/2 tbsp. organic ketchup
1/2 tbsp. thyme
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp sage
1 tbsp low sodium tamari (similar to soy sauce)
1 tsp sea salt
2 cups gluten free bread crumbs (I used
Mary’s Gone Crackers Just The Crumbs Bread Crumbs Gluten Free Original — 16 oz

brand)

Put Mushrooms and Parsley into a food processor and mix until completely blended. Then remove and place in a large mixing bowl. Heat vegetable broth in a large skillet on medium heat. Add onions and sauté for about 3 minutes, add garlic and sauté another 2-3 minutes until onions are almost translucent and then finally add celery for an additional 3 minutes. Add onion mixture to the mushroom mixture. Stir in the remaining ingredients, cover and place in the fridge for at least 45 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 350. Remove the burgers from the fridge, form into patties (wet your hands a little to prevent sticking) and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the burgers for about 20 minutes.

Serve with a salad, on the bun, on romaine lettuce hearts etc.

IMG_0431

White Bean and Mushroom Soup.

Here is the other vegan version of creamy mushroom soup which is one of the favorites in our family.

The trick of the recipe is white beans that make the creaminess of the soup without adding any cream, flour etc.

The more mushrooms you have the better, because it really adds the mushroom flavor and make the soup rich and delicious.

The recipe is vegan, gluten, dairy free.

White Bean and Mushroom Soup.

IMG_0511

Ingredients:

16 oz. mushrooms, halved
1 large sweet onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves, slightly crushed
1-2 tablespoons coconut oil
1½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
8-10 fresh sage leaves
8-10 stems + 1 tablespoon leaves fresh thyme
48 oz. vegetable broth
3 – 15 oz. cans white beans
Additional salt and pepper for seasoning
Sauté mushrooms, garlic and onion in coconut oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add sage leaves and stems of thyme.
Add broth, beans, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves to a large stock pot over medium heat and simmer.
When mushrooms are done ( golden brown), let cool slightly. Separate mushrooms from onions and garlic.
Retrieve 2 cups of the white beans, and 1 cup of broth from the stock pot, add to a blender along with the roasted onions, garlic and herbs. Cover and blend until smooth.
Add pureed bean mixture back to stock pot, whisking in until smooth. Add roasted mushrooms to soup. Salt and pepper to taste.
Warm over low heat until ready to serve.

Serve warm. ( I served mine with homemade whole wheat toast with avocado).

IMG_0500

Let’s DressUp Birthday Party.

Sophia is turning 4 tomorrow, and I can’t believe how the time flies. I remember her being born and spending our Christmas 2010 in the hospital, and now we’re celebrating her 4th year of the life and enjoy her presence in our life every single day.

It’s fun to be a mom of a girl, because there are so many fun things to do with the girls. One of Sophia’s wishes this year was to celebrate her Birthday as a princess. Lucky us, because we have the perfect place for that in our neighborhood.

The place calls Let’s Dress Up. I mentioned about this place last year, when we celebrated one of Sophia’s friend Birthday there.

The place offers a unique experience allowing your child to dress up and become a princess with a small group of friends or just with you.

It’s all about dressing up at Let’s Dress Up -The Premiere Princess Party and Playdate Place … a place where you become the princess!

The place has two locations: one in Manhattan NY, and the other one in New Canaan CT.

To imagine how it looks like I even found the video on line from their place in NY. It’s several years old, but you can still see the atmosphere and the specialty of this place:

 

The range of the costumes is reflected in the variety of their theme birthday parties, which include a Princess Party, Cupcake Party, Red Carpet Party, Doll Tea Party, and Perfect Princess Tea Party. All the parties include Full Dress Up for the girls (beautiful dresses and accessories, sparkly nail polish, eye shadow, lip gloss, fairy dust, and tattoos) and Knight Costumes and Princely Toys for the boys; a tea party; cake; and a party favor (group photo and framed individual photo for each guest).

So we picked Sophia’s closest friends and invited them to a special Event at the Let’s Dress Up place: Dance with the Sugarplum Fairy!!!!

The place was decorated very pretty before holidays

IMG_0362

 

The girls had a chance to dress up in different outfits:

 

IMG_0372

IMG_0360

 

Then The Sugarplum Fairy came to visit and read a book for the girls, put their make up on and played with them:

IMG_0379

IMG_0396

 

Girls also had a tea party and after that made an ornament for the Christmas Tree:

IMG_0405

 

IMG_0418

 

It was an amazing Birthday Party and everybody loved it:

IMG_0388

 

IMG_0423

 

We will definitely be back to this magical place.

Candied pecans. Vegan.

There is an easy recipe I have been making a lot recently and I would like to share it with you today.

When the holiday season and cold weather comes the best thing is to stay at home with your family, drink hot cocoa, eat cookies etc.

I made this crunchy snack a month ago for the first time and now my daughter is asking to make ” yummy nuts” every other day.

Of course I am not making them too often but we always have them now for the family movie nights.

You can even make them and put in the glass jar, as a piece of a holiday present for your friend or a family member.

It takes very little time to make and makes everybody happy.

Vegan, gluten free recipe.

Candied pecans.

IMG_0042

Ingredients:

½ cup coconut sugar

2 cups pecans, or any other type of nuts (slivered almonds, walnut halves etc.)

pinch kosher salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

Line a cooling rack with a parchment paper and set aside.

Heat coconut sugar with a little water, spices in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Stir occasionally with wooden spoon. After several minutes, the sugar will begin to look sticky. Continue to stir. After several more minutes, the sugar will begin to melt. Continue to stir gently. When sugar is completely melted, add nuts.

Empty contents of skillet into thin layer onto prepared rack. Heat the oven to 250F and put the nuts in the oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Let cool and break into pieces. Store in cookie tin or glass jar with tightly fitting lid.

Enjoy.

IMG_0044

 

Winter girl’s clothes wishlist.

Every season there is something in the fashion field that I really like. I will try to make a list of my favorite pieces now, to keep it organised and easy to find when I want to buy something. I like to check the lists like that from the other people too, so maybe mine will be a help for somebody as well.

Collage wish list

So let’s go:

1. Polarn O. Pyret Merino Wool Dress.

How cool is that? Perfect to wear as a layering item or warm fashion piece. 100% merino wool.

2. Polarn O. Pyret Swedish Embroidered Holiday Dress.

Swedish folk style with short capped sleeves. Decorative contrast color Broderie Anglaise detail at skirt. Dress has back button fastening.100% cotton.

3. NextDirect Frozen T-shirt.

The most popular theme for the last year. It’s hard to find some nice piece of clothes with Frozen on it today. 65% cotton, 35% polyester. I am not really happy with the material of this shirt.

4. TeaCollection Chevron Dress for Girls.

Stylish and wellmade dress for girls. 100% cotton sateen.

5. NextDirect Cream Jewel Embellished Coat.

Fancy, stylish coat for a little lady for this winter season. 50% wool, 50% polyester. Lining 100% polyester.

6. NextDirect Pewter Glitter Long Boots.

Show me the girl who doesn’t like glitter? These boots will look great with jeans, dresses, leggings etc.

Upper: textile. Lining and sock: textile/other materials. Outer sole: other materials.