Babycakes NYC Waffles

Last Saturday morning (after promising for many weeks since the opening) I took the Spoonman for a waffle breakfast at Babycakes’s new location on Larchmont Blvd. The waffles were dessert like,  softer than the ones I make from the Babycakes cookbook recipe, probably the result of a shorter cooking time and a generous coating with coconut oil or melted frosting. While spreading frosting on my waffles might not what I do at home they were sure a tasty treat. It was the first time in many years I was able to order waffles at a restaurant since I have been gluten-free/wheat free. Growing up as a kid my favorite restaurant breakfast was waffles, the whole family would walk down to Nat’s Early Bite  on the corner and I would always order the belgium waffles. I can still remember how in awe I was of the waffle making process since it was never something my mom made and I always thought that if my mom didn’t make it is must have been very difficult since she was such a hard worker and a great chef.  Thanks Babycakes for helping me re-join the ranks of angelnos who enjoy enjoy a good breakfast out.


Chocolate Avocado Vegan Ice Cream

Behold the most indulgent vegan chocolate ice cream ever, with a texture  like a Four Seasons Hotel mousse. It all started when a co-worker gave me a bag of avocados from his tree and — not knowing what the heck to do with so many avocados all at once — I made ice cream. One word of caution: please tell people there is avocado in the ice cream, since the chocolate acts as (an edible) camouflage!

Some notes on the other ingredients: I used half chocolate and half carob to reduce the bitterness and to use less sweetener. But this ice cream could be made with 100% cocoa or carob, just adjust the sweetener accordingly. My last batch was with two jumbo avocados from a different co-worker’s tree and with local honey, so my  ice cream was local and low-cost. I used Pacifica local raw honey that I picked up at Whole Foods — but you can find it at local farmers markets around Southern California.

I am submitting this recipe to The Wellness Weekend on Diets Desserts and Dogs — visit the site to find other gluten-free vegan treats to start 2012 off right.

Chocolate Avocado Ice Cream

2 large avocados (or three small ones)

1/4 cup raw honey, maple syrup or agave

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/4 cup carob powder

1/4 cup coco powder

Mix all ingredients in the food processor or with an immersion blender. Chill the mixture overnight or until very cold. Process in an ice cream maker according to the manufactures directions. I use this ice cream maker but anyone will do. Check your local Goodwill for ice cream machines, I have found 3 of them for $25 or less their over the years and have given them to friends. My theory is that many newlyweds receive ice cream machines as wedding gifts, they never use them, and then they end up at the thrift store.

Pear and Parsnip Soup Inspired by Dwell Magazine

This winter I have been on a soup kick,  inspired by anything I find at my local Larchmont Farmers Market. However, this time inspiration came from an article in Dwell magazine (which I get free as a part of my MOCA membership ). The article in dwell featured a renovation of Holyoke Center, originally designed by Josep Lluís Sert, former dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, for Clover Food Lab, a vegetarian restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At the end of the article there was a recipe for pear and parsnip Soup from Clover Food Lab. I tweaked the original recipe, adding rutabagas and removing the potato as it made it too starchy. Hope it  warms up your winter nights.

This yummy soup has been submitted to the Wellness Weekend event.

Parsnip and Pear Soup

Inspired by Pear and parsnip Soup from Clover Food Lab

1 tsp. canola oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1.5 pound parsnips, roughly chopped
2 rutabagas, roughly chopped
3 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 pears, unpeeled, cored, roughly chopped
Salt and honey to taste
Splash of white-wine vinegar

Heat a soup pot on medium-high heat. Add canola oil, garlic, and onion. Sweat for 10 minutes (be sure not to brown the vegetables). Add parsnips, rutabagas, vegetable  stock, bay leaf, and thyme. Simmer about 10 minutes. Add pears simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and blend soup (in a food processor or with an imersion blender) until super-smooth. Season to taste with salt, sugar, and vinegar.

Roasted Carrot Garnish 

Carrots with partial tops
Dash of Cinamon
Dash of asian 7 spice mix
olive oil
Salt to tastes

Rub carrots with oil, salt and spices. Place them on a parchment paper on a baking sheet or roasting pan. Bake on 40o degrees F for 25 minutes.

Opening Day at Babycakes on Larchmont

Babycakes has finally opened a bakery in my neighborhood! After a few teases, the beloved vegan, gluten-free and refined-sugar free bakery opened its Larchmont Blvd. location at 8AM this morning. Since it was announced in August, I have been watching the papered storefront  like a kid watches the presents under the Christmas tree (or in my case under the menorah). The other week I was like the lady from the Mervins commercial with my head up against the glass, tapping my hands and  whispering “open, open, open”.

Well, deliciousness comes to those who wait, today I picked up thin mint cookies (one for me and one for spoonman) and a chocolate covered donut.

The only problem with a Babycakes in walking distance from my house is that I may eat so many gluten-free/vegan cakeballs (my favorite) and freshly made waffles (oh my) this winter that I may turn into a cakeball by summer. Well, today let’s eat cake, but tomorrow I may have to use restraint and walk on by, but don’t worry Babycakes – I still love you!

The Babycakes ladies hard at work (Erin McKenna in the middle).

Arcata Scoops, Arise Bakery & Avenue Of the Giants Marathon

On my Avenue of the Giants Marathon necessitated vacation with my mom, sister and niece I had a chance to taste all the humboldtian goodness Arcata, CA had to offer. I had taken the Marathon plunge only two months before, signing my sister and I up for the Avenue of the Giants Marathon which is know for it’s senic route through one of the oldest redwood forests on earth. The race was a chalenge, sister got winded on mile 17 and I thought I should sit down at mile 20, but we made it to the finish line.

The local cuisine was some of the best hippy-dippy organic fare this allergy-free city girl could wish for. The Arcata Co-Op  had a great selection of bulk food items at a great price. At the Arcata farmers market in the town square I picked up gluten free/vegan carrot rasin bread from Arise Gluten Free Bakery which served as delicious pre and post running fuel.

Here is the motherload of gluten-free vegan carrot rasin bread, YUM-O!

Most notable was Arcata Scoops ice cream shop. The shop served artisanal ice cream made with local milk from Humboldt County dairy farmers and vegan flavors (that I can have!) made with coconut milk and agave . The shop was super cute with a ice-cream cone sign and ice cream cone-shaped pendent lights. They even had a mini ice-cream shop for kids for kids to pretend to play ice cream shop, complete with dress-up aprons and cash register. The shop makes all of their ice creams from scratch, I tried the chocolate sorbet (water based) and the coconut milk based mint-chip and they made be howl yum!

Raw Mini-Cupcakes

This passover I finally tried out Ani Pho’srecipe for raspberry ganache Fudge Cake from Ani’s Raw Food Desserts: 85 Easy, Delectable Sweets and Treats. Months ago when I first bought the book, I had bookmarked it with a post-it titled “passover” since the recipe is kosher for passover since it contains no flour or grains. For that particular recipe, Ani called for the cake to be made in two layers in a cake pan, but I decided it would be easier to make it the mini-cupcake pan. The results were great, the mini-cakes turned out super cute, are great for portion control, and can be frozen and defrosted individually for a quick snack or dessert.

I have listed my two mini-cupcake recipes inspired by Ani Pho’s raspberry ganache fudge cake. These are my go-to snack that I store in the freezer at work and at home. They are great for a pre or post workout and great when you need something sweet.

However, the basic principle for making these raw mini-cupcakes is a simple 1:1 ratio of nuts/seeds/dry ingredients to sweet dried fruit. I always use some dates in each recipe as they are the best at sweetening and binding. If you are feeling adventurous try making your own recipe based on the 1:1 ratio. For example :1 cup dates + 1 cup sunflower seeds + stevia OR 1/2 cup dates + 1/4 cup dried figs + 1/4 cup dried apple rings + 1 cup walnuts + 1 tbs grated ginger + stevia  OR 1/2 cup dates + 1/2 dried apricots + 2 tbs coco powder + 1 cup pistachios + stevia.

Raw Chocolate Mini-Cupcakes

2 1/2 cups roasted sunflower seeds (or any other nut or seed – pistachios, walnuts, brazil or pecans would work well)
1/3 cup carob powder
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cup pitted dates (OR 1 cup dried figs + 1 cup dates)
Stevia to sweeten (optional)

Process the sunflower seeds in a food processor on the pulse mode. Once the nuts are chopped add all the remaining ingredients and process until mixture starts to ball (come together) in the machine. Line a mini-cupcake pan with papers. Scoop the mixture into the mini- cupcake pan compacting the mixture with your finger so that they hold together. Freeze until firm and keep in the freezer until they are ready to serve.

Raw Mango Ginger Mini-Cupcakes
For my running buddy (who is allergic to chocolate in addition to gluten).

1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup dates
2/3 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup fresh mango (about 1 small mango)
Stevia to sweeten (optional)

Process the sunflower seeds in a food processor on the pulse mode. Once the nuts are chopped add all the remaining ingredients and process until mixture starts to ball (come together) in the machine. Line a mini-cupcake pan with papers. Scoop the mixture into the mini- cupcake pan compacting the mixture with your finger so that they hold together. Freeze until firm and keep in the freezer until they are ready to serve.

*If you don’t have cupcakes papers use squares of parchment paper or plastic wrap as shown below. If you don’t have a pan or papers you can roll them into balls. I buy my papers online or at Bed Bath & Beyond.

Coconut – Friend or Foe

While talking to my mom about using coconut milk in vegan cream of broccoli soup I brought up the point that coconut fat is good for you. This is contrary to the widely believed notion (popularized during the 80’s) that coconut fat is an unhealthy saturated similar to butter.

Lots of vegetarian, new age, raw, and vegan food blogs recommend coconut oil (like here, and here and here) however, I wanted to see the hard evidence for myself. After a little internet sleuthing I found this journal article that links consumption of coconut oil with a reduction in total cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids, LDL (bad cholesterol) levels and a increase in HDL (good cholesterol). Coconut milk is especially handy for those who find dairy to be a foe; it is a great replacement for cream,  half & half or milk in recipes. For example, the other night I used coconut milk in place of heavy cream in this recipe for roast chicken with dijon sauce and it came out delicious. My dad loathes the smell and taste of coconut so for him coconut remains a foe but, for everyone else dig in since coconut is your friend.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

(taught to me by my running buddy DS)

1 can of lite coconut milk

1 large  head of broccoli

1 bunch of cilantro (chopped)

1 green onion (chopped)

2 tsp salt-free blend seasoning (seasoning of choice – curry spice would be nice)

1 lime (juice)

salt to taste

Steam the broccoli in a pot with a few inches of water or in a streamer for 20 minutes or until the broccoli is well cooked. Strain away the water from the pot and  add the  coconut milk, cilantro, seasoning, lime juice, and salt blend with an immersion blender or in a food processor. Serve hot or cold.

Here is what all the ingrediants look like waiting to be blended.

Here is the blending process. The best part of this soup is that you only have to wash one pot.