Mostly Non-Awkward Ultra Chocolaty Cake

Categories: Uncategorized,

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Let’s take a look at this cake for a moment, shall we? To be noted, I was torn between calling it a cake or a pie. What is the difference between a cake or a pie? Is there a gray area of possibility in which a dessert can be in-between a cake and a pie?! I needed to know. I am a nerd ~ well, I think I am a nerd given that I love soaking up knowledge everywhere possible and am one of those people that ask, “whhhhhyyy is that?!” almost to the point in which certain individuals in my life get annoyed at me.

So, does it matter if we know what the true difference between a cake and a pie is? I would say that it depends on whether or not you are a “whhhyyyy?” sort of person. This may also be determined based on whether or not you care about food and cooking and/or baking. If you don’t care about food, that’s not good because we all require food to survive, but if you do not care about cooking and/or baking, I am not sure why you are reading this post in the first place. You may want to stop reading right now. For all others, continue reading.

CAKE: “A form of sweet dessert that is typically baked. In its oldest forms, cakes were modifications of breads but now cover a wide range of preparations that can be simple or elaborate and share features with other desserts such as pastries, meringues, custards and pies. Typical cake ingredients are flour, sugar, eggs, and butter or oil, with some recipes also requiring additional liquid (for example milk or water) and leavening agents (such as yeast or baking powder). Common additional flavourings include dried, candied or fresh fruit, nuts, cocoa or extracts, and numerous substitutions for the primary ingredients are possible. Cakes can also be filled with fruit preserves or dessert sauces (like pastry cream), iced with buttercream or other icings, and decorated with marzipan, piped borders, or candied fruit…”

PIE: “A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients. Pies are defined by their crusts. A filled pie (also single-crust or bottom-crust), has pastry lining the baking dish, and the filling is placed on top of the pastry but left open.”

These are Wikipedia’s definitions. Thanks Wikipedia for your perpetual {since Wiki’s inception, at least} almost complete reliability.

Now that we understand that pies are defined by their crusts, I think we can both agree that this cannot be called a pie under any circumstances as there will be no adding of any pastry dough casing to this recipe. It’s too delicious as is and I won’t stand for it.

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Now that we have solved that question, a valid question remains. What is the recipe for this now unquestionably accurately named cake? That is a valid question and nobody will deny you of its legitimacy, especially if you are a chocoholic like myself. If you are not a chocoholic or worse, you dislike chocolate, a) I am not sure I could ever be friends with you and b) yet again, I wonder why you are reading this blog post. If this is the case, I highly recommend leaving this page and perhaps questioning your sanity, for I don’t know how you got to this page in the first place and why you’ve continued to read this.

Also to be noted, the previous paragraph was mostly a joke. You see, I questioned myself and realized that yes, I would be friends with someone who did not enjoy chocolate because I don’t believe in anti-chocoholic prejudices. It would go against my values and I apologize if you don’t like the taste of chocolate. Yet, I still do wonder why you are reading this.

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CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT AN UNEXPECTED HEALTH BENEFIT OF CHOCOLATE!

Here is the recipe *insert real life smily face that you can’t see but now you are aware of*:

Makes one extremely delicious pie

Bottom Chocolaty Cake Layer Ingredients:

1 cup cocoa powder of choice (I used Hersey’s extra dark variety to give it an almost black, rich color)
1 (15 oz) can black beans, aim for an EPA free brand
12 medjool dates, pitted
1/2 cup oat flour (oats are naturally gluten-free)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup natural peanut butter (I used smooth)
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon French roast coffee (or coffee of choice)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (aim for the ceylon variety)

Creamy Chocolaty Icing Layer Ingredients:

15 medjool dates, pitted
½ cup almond milk
½ cup cacao powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Garnish:

70+% dark vegan chocolate, shredded (optional)

Directions:

In a food processor, legit process every single bottom layer ingredient together. You shouldn’t have any trouble processing them all. I added the dates, cacao powder, beans and water first, processed those ingredients completely and then added the other ingredients. This worked well for me. In a lightly greased round springform cake pan with removable bottom (I used a 10 inch pan), pour in the batter and flatten the top with a large spoon. Bake for 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes and take out of the oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes.

Prepare the chocolate icing while the bottom layer is in the oven. Combine all of the icing ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender until smooth and creamy. Once the bottom layer is done baking and has cooled, pour the chocolaty icing on top and smooth it over the cake evenly. Garnish with some shredded dark vegan chocolate on top if desired. You can use fresh berries if you’d like!

Finally, this cake is mostly non-awkward because it’s got some awkwardness going on in the top chocolaty icing layer because icing is almost guaranteed to awkward in certain places, but the cake is mostly non-awkward if you are careful to spread the icing on decently neatly. The best cakes have a bit of awkward in them, so no need to worry.

Enjoy! ~Talia

Cool & Refreshing Strawberry Banana Cashew Ice Cream!

Categories: Desserts,Gluten-Free,Quick & Easy,Recipes,Uncategorized,

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What your eyes now behold is this raw and creamy, cool and refreshing strawberry banana cashew ice cream {perfect for any hot summer’s day, if I do say so myself!}, which I somehow created without an ice cream maker! I just went for it. I was bold, brave and sweltering! I felt it was much too hot outside for a gal living a decent ways away from the equator. I was a little bit crazy. I was crazy for ice cream. Crazy for taking a stab at ice cream recipe creation without an ice cream maker. Or a lot crazy. It depends on who you ask. I wanted guilt-free, good-for-me ice cream after spending the entire day in the sun doing crazy things involving rocks and too much sand. There was a lot of crazy going on, yes, but healthy ice cream was enjoyed, so I cannot complain.

Here’s the thing. While crazy for delicious and ever nutritious homemade dairy-free, strawberry-rich ice cream, I wasn’t crazy at all about why I chose to prepare it with strawberries. I was smart! Besides being utterly delicious, strawberries are one heck of an intelligent berry. Can berries be intelligent? Well, yet again, this depends on who you ask, but I declare, “Yes, yes, they can!”

Why strawberries are for smarties: They contain phenolic antioxidants which are a class of antioxidants that improve our health by promoting weight loss, reducing disease rick, reversing inflammation and reducing pain. A reduction in inflammation promotes weight loss!! Multiple studies have found that chronic inflammation blocks hormones that keep us skinny! Reducing inflammation is one way that strawberries keep us skinny but they are also extremely low in calories and contain more nutrients per calorie than even blueberries! Anthocyanins, a chemical group in strawberries, increase the body’s production of a hormone known as adiponectin, which suppresses appetite and keeps you feeling fuller longer.

Strawberries also contain unique compounds that can halt cancer cell growth in their tracks {and obviously, these compounds prevent cancer too!}. Strawberries can stop cancer cells from proliferating more effectively than any other berry! Even blueberries don’t halt cancer growth like strawberries. Why is this the case??? Strawberries contain ellagitannins {not found in bluebs and most other fruits}, a unique and rare-ish phtyonutrient that can karate-chop cancer cells right in half! Well actually, that’s not really how it works on a cellular level, but the results are the same. Strawberries can fight cancer!

Conventionally grown strawberries are sprayed with more than 54 different pesticides, nine of which are known or probable carcinogens, so always buy organic!

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Ingredients (makes enough for 2-3 servings):

1/2 cup raw cashews soaked in water over night
2 large frozen bananas, sliced
1 cup frozen organic strawberries
½ cup your fav nondairy milk
1 teaspoon ground Tahitian vanilla or vanilla extract
½ -1 teasoon Stevia (optional, can use to make sweeter)
1 tablespoon beetroot powder (for color, optional)
Your favorite toppings (I used freeze dried raspberries)

Directions:

In a high-powered blender or food processor, blend (process) all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Adjust sweetness to taste. Pour into a glass container and freeze for at least 30 minutes, stir and freeze for another 30 minutes. Take out of the freezer and enjoy! For a harder ice cream, freeze for a longer period of time. A half hour of freezing will produce an ice cream texture similar to soft serve. It depends on what you enjoy! Summer days were meant for ice cream, but why not make your own version jam-packed salubrious strawberries and beneficial bananas and raw cashews? Don’t forget the vanilla. It’s critical for the best flavor! I like to top this ice cream and other homemade ice creams with ground flaxseeds for an additional nutrient punch too!

To learn more about the health benefits of strawberries and other berries, check out my book and/or visit World’s Healthiest Foods page on strawberries!

Healthy Passion vs. Unhealthy Passion In This Crazy Age of Social Media

Categories: Uncategorized,

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This is me being silly, wondering how I discovered such a beautiful bathroom, not obsessively passionate about using my camera {cough cough yes you are cough cough who are you kidding cough cough} and deciding that writing about harmonious versus obsessive passion is a good idea. That is a lot to think about in just one camera click, but it happened and this blog post was the result. Let’s go…

The research of positive psychologist and passion expert Robert Vallerand is fascinating, and I can see why he became passionate about passion! More importantly, his research is wise and conducive to our happiest and most satisfying lives. It’s easy to get wrapped up in what everyone else is doing. It’s easy to do things that you think will make you happy but will end up hurting you in the long run. Most of the time, we don’t even understand that we are doing it! The funny thing about us is that we don’t always comprehend what is truly going to make us feel good. Robert Vallerand understood this and he set the record straight on two very different types of passion.

Robert Vallerand has a great lesson for all of us to take to heart and apply every single day of our lives.

Get ready for this because it may alter how you see others’ actions on social media and it may alter even your own habits and routines. Vallerand discovered that there are two types of passions: harmonious and obsessive. The first is a healthy type of passion and the second is a hot mess of unhealthiness and unhappiness which we do because we think it’s good for us but is actually detrimental and the life equivalent of eating junk food.

Both types of passion can occur together, and both of them can contribute to how we define ourselves. Harmonious passion comes from our hearts and has no psychological strings attached other than our enjoyment. Obsessive passion, on the other hand, occurs when we become dependent on our hobby or activity or do it for the wrong reasons, such as the approval of others, for attention, accolades or in the age of social media, “likes”. It represents an uncontrollable urge to engage in the activity. According to this article, “Obsessively passionate individuals routinely fall back on the activity for self-protective purposes… obsessive passion is expected to be associated with less adaptive outcomes, such as pathological gambling, excessive online gaming, and online shopping dependency.”

For example, say you are an avid ice-skater and you twist your ankle on the ice. A harmoniously passionate person would take time off from skating to rest and heal, but someone who is obsessively passionate might keep skating and probably make the injury worse.

Obsessive passion can decrease your performance, increase stress, and reduce your overall health and happiness. It can even make you feel shame during or after the activity and interfere with your relationships. Obsessive passion can make us behave in ways that hurt other people while also hurting ourselves, they can be the propelling forces behind superficial friendships if you are “friends” with someone just to potentially increase your skill level and/or “likes”.

Social media is new in the big picture of life, but it’s making people do crazy things that make it “look” like they are passionate about what they post on social media, but is actually detrimental to the person posting it. Often posts are posted for the wrong reasons and to garner attention, rather than for the right reasons, which are to share help, knowledge, beauty, art and/or fun just because you love it and want to share your joy, creativity or knowledge. The important thing to recognize is why you are doing something. Are you doing it because you genuinely love it? Or for another reason?

Don’t get me wrong; it’s important to find things we love so much that we are willing to make sacrifices to achieve them or be the best that we can be. Just look at olympic hopefuls, expert musicians or that expert clown that traumatized you when you were a child! Wait, the expert clown was the one that traumatized me. Anyway, making sacrifices to pursue your dreams can be 100 percent healthy as long as you’re making them voluntarily and they don’t prevent you from enjoying the rest of your life.

If you start to feel like you’re making too many sacrifices, or that you’re too competitive or obsessed with one thing, take a step back and reevaluate. Your happiness and self-esteem are more important than other people’s opinions and/or approval from a group. Don’t forget about the other things in life that get you fired up, even if they’re seemingly small, like tuning in to a favorite show each week. Am I the only one who doesn’t watch Game of Thrones?! Don’t hurt me for this! It’s not because I am obsessively passionate about something, I promise!

We should allow ourselves the time and space to explore all the things that make us happy. When we are harmoniously passionate, we are happier and healthier, and will achieve success and greater fulfillment in our chosen activities!

Toffee Cinnamon Almond Cookie Bars

Categories: Uncategorized,

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Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences. ~Eckhart Tolle

Let’s face where we are right now. Let’s face head on whether or not our current situation can be improved. We always have options. Always. Now, one way any situation can be enhanced is by incorporating delicious food that also happens to be good for us. No matter what you are doing or where you are doing it, you can always have more pleasure hitting your tongue while not harming your cells.

Okay, well actually. I’m lying. Not every single situation can be improved with more delicious food. In fact, in order to make this work, you are going to need to be hungry. And on top of this, you shouldn’t be performing physical activity while you are eating. I am attempting to come up with any form of physical activity in which eating these bars would be ideal while performing the exercise and I am currently at a loss. If you happen to think of one, please let me know.

Yet, this still leaves us with many hours throughout the day in which you are potentially hungry. Hence, perfect opportunities to improve your day and ameliorate any feelings of requiring food which will likely ensue {unless you are not mortal and don’t require any food at all ~ I won’t rule out any superhuman creatures reading this}. You never know. Wow, and how old am I? Shockingly adultish. Shockingly or unshockingly my Peter Pan Syndrome {PPS for short} diagnosis remains as strong as ever. Let’s continue.

Recipe time for daredevils, non-daredevils, mortals and everyone else who has a sweet tooth without the guilt of eating calories that don’t serve your cells with health. This includes fellow PPS Syndrome diagnosed individuals. Mermaids I am excluding you because you live underwater and this recipe requires an oven. Sorry.

Note: The word toffee in this post comes from the usage of coconut sugar. I used coconut sugar when I made this recipe even though I usually use date sugar or whole dates as a primary sweetener. Why did I do this? The short answer is that I ran out of both dates and date sugar. Meanwhile, using coconut sugar definitely produced a toffee-like effect. A scrumptious, dark golden hue-contributing, toffee-like effect!

Ingredients:

2 flax eggs: (2 tbsp ground flax mixed with 6 tbsp water)
1/2 cup white beans from an EPA free can
2 tablespoons coconut oil
3/4 cup date sugar or coconut sugar
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground vanilla bean
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ceylon cinnamon
3/4 cup oat flour or whole wheat pastry flour (both work beautifully)
3/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup nondairy dark chocolate chips and/or raisins
Optional: Favorite coffee of choice to sprinkle on top (I used my fav dark french roast)

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper. Mix flax eggs in a small bowl or mug and set aside so a nice gel can form. Add all ingredients to a food processor except for the chocolate chips. Process until thoroughly mixed and pour the dough into a large mixing bowl. Evenly mix in chocolate chips and/or raisins.

Spoon dough into prepared pan and spread out until smooth and even. If desired, sprinkle extra chocolate chips on top and/or cinnamon. I use a pastry roller to roll the dough out evenly.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and slightly cracked around the edges. Place pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then, lift out and place bars directly on cooling rack for another 10 minutes or so, until cool. Slice and enjoy!

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