Oh Sweet Sunday, it's Vegan Carrot Cake.

There is a one week window every month where my love of savory and salty foods is over-powered by an intense sweet tooth. So to this I say... let's make cake.

Nut-free. Gluten-free. Egg-free. Dairy-free. Refined-Sugar-free. But yes, it still tastes like cake. :)

The cake recipe has been adapted by me from The Candle Cafe Cookbook. I make a few substitutions here and there depending on what I have on hand. I also always substitute regular wheat and pastry flours with gluten-free flours. To make this recipe gluten-free I used a blend of quinoa and oatmeal flour. I used an additional 1/2 cup of the gluten-free flour to assure it was thick enough. I also substituted olive oil for safflower oil, apples instead of pineapple, unsweetened rice milk for soy milk. It turned out to be a less sweet version of their carrot cake recipe .. but it was delish. The key is to stick the cake in the fridge after its been iced so it can get really cool before eating.

The other change I made to the original cake recipe was to the icing. The cookbook icing recipe is a sweet version of a vegan cream cheese icing. However, if you are cool with a healthy and mildly sweet icing you will love my icing recipe instead! Plus this recipe keeps the cake completely free of refined-sugar. What could be sweeter? The recipe is below.

Also note: the only high allergen included in this dish is soy, tofu (soy) is used in the icing. I easily switched out soy for rice milk in the cake with no problem. But if you are allergic to soy ditch the icing and serve the cake with some cold-pressed oil (grass-fed butter if you can do dairy) and honey or maple syrup. It will still be really yummy!
Let me also say a few things about the original carrot cake recipe. In addition to its place in the cookbook it's also served at one of my FAV vegetarian cafes EVER, located in New York City, The Candle Cafe. At Candle Cafe they serve the cake cold, which is why I say stick the cake in the fridge for a few hours. In addition to this amazing cake, the cafe has a bunch of excellent dishes and alternative desserts so I highly recommend dining there for a casual meal if you are ever in NYC.

Also worth mentioning, Candle Cafe recently started a line of frozen food entrees and desserts that are available at select Whole Foods. And guess what? The list of SKUs available includes a frozen Carrot Cake Muffin and a Ginger Miso Stir-fry.

Easy Vegan Vanilla Icing
1 1/4 cup of drained firm tofu
4-5 tbsp of maple syrup (use grade B for more mineral content)
2 tbsp of lemon juice
1/2-1 tsp of vanilla extract

Blend together all ingredients and then refrigerate.

Eat up and enjoy!



Hiking Mt. Rainier.

Nick is sitting beside me reading his newest science fiction fantasy. I've decided to a take a few moments to reflect on our spectacular weekend adventure. Nick's parents came for a visit and we finally made the trip to Mt. Rainier.

We rode up 5,400 feet to the Paradise area, famous for its amazing views and wildflower meadows (which were still snow covered during our visit). The views from the top were some of the most picturesque and breathtaking that I've ever seen. Perhaps the fact that there is still about a foot of snow on the ground only adds to the drama and the unexpected nature of a trip to Mt. Rainier. How often to we see pine cones in August? I'm considering it a rare privilage.

The hike through the snow was a challange. But so worth it. On the trail we munched on Enjoy Life not nuts! Mountain Mambo
trail mix, bananas and bags of carrot sticks. A few easy healthy gluten-free and nut-free trail snacks.

I'm looking forward to our next hike through paradise. :)



Wonderful Weekend beneath a sun in Leo.

We had a productive and adventurous weekend. Finished gathering apartment décor items--a few pictures of our place to come. I finally tried the amazing yoga studio in our neighborhood on Saturday morning. Nick and I enjoyed a decadent dinner and date night out in Capitol Hill. And we also had the pleasure of Sunday brunch at our favorite breakfast place in Seattle, Portage Bay Cafe--Nick piled his french toast high with real whip cream (reminiscent of his mom's homemade version) and I enjoyed my HUGE gluten-free buckwheat flapjacks/pancakes with real maple syrup from their pancake toppings bar--YUMMM (gluten and nut free)!

We finished the weekend off at Amazon's company picnic at Mountain Meadows Farm in North Bend, Washington where I discovered a pretty white picket fence! I just couldn't resist the photo op. :)
Just another August weekend in Seattle!



It's Taco Tuesday!

I have a not-so-secret obsession with Mexican food. Wrap just about anything in a corn tortilla and it's a dinner fiesta! My favorite tacos are these simple salmon tacos.

Side Note: Don't know if you noticed but Nick and I are finally eating at a kitchen table. Our new kitchen chairs finally arrived! :)

Classic Salmon Tacos -- with spiced veggies

A taco can be filled with whatever you like. These are classic tacos with a twist--the twist is really just the use of salmon and goat cheese (instead of the typical meat and cow cheese variety) The goat cheese and salmon both add very bold and earthy flavors to an old favorite.

1/2 pound of salmon (we actually had .73 lb)
Olive oil or coconut oil
sea salt to taste

Veggie Stir-fry
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 whole carrot, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 small shallot, chopped
3 cups of spinach
Olive oil spray

2 limes
2 avocados
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Additional Ingredients
1 cup of raw cabbage
Grated goat cheese, to taste (we like the raw goat variety)
10 to 12 small (6-inch) soft corn tortillas

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add spray of olive oil (or coconut oil if you prefer). Add chopped shallots and cook one minute. Add chopped onion and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the onions become clear and caramelized. Add some cayenne pepper and sea salt. Chop up carrots and zucchini and add into stir fry. Finish with 3 cups of spinach. Let the spinach wilt slowly while you prep the rest of the meal.

Rinse and rub salmon down with some oil and salt-we stay on the conservative side. Heat another large sauté pan over medium heat. Melt or spray additional oil into the hot pan and once hot, add the salmon. Char each side of the fish for several minutes. Continue on medium heat until it is cooked to your preference.

For the guacamole I simply blend (or mash/stir for chunky guac) all ingredients, adding salt to taste. We use two limes to make it taste extra sweet.

You can heat your tortillas more ways then one. I wrap the whole stack in foil and place it in a warm (300 degrees) oven for 15 minutes during prep time.

Fill each taco with a few small spoonfuls of the guacamole. Add fish and veggies. Top with a spoonful of your favorite goat cheese and a bit of the raw cabbage. Serve with an extra lime wedge on the side if you like and any additional toppings. We always blend up some fresh salsa too. But any brand of salsa you like will do just fine. Hope you had a Happy Tuesday!



Alki Beach.

This was one of the easiest faux getaways I've ever taken. A mere twenty minutes from our house is Alki Beach. Alki is a Seattle summer park destination with 2.5 miles of sand that extends from Alki Point to the Duwamish River. The day was so relaxing. Nick and I munched a huge goat cheese salad and some crusty Ezekiel Bread on a grassy hill beside the beach. There was a nice breeze coming off the ocean which seemed to disappear once we finally laid by the ocean. I love lazy days like these.

So even when we can't escape our lives in the city. We can always pretend.