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[Sometimes, you just want to eat something now.  I’ve decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly or else is so easy to make that no recipe is required. Here’s today’s “Flash in the Pan.” (For other FitP recipes, see “Categories” at right).]

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[With Collards, Chard and Red Onion]

It’s been a truly crazy past week, what with our new semester starting up today at the college and my cookbook deadline being perilously close.* (And let’s not forget the Golden Globes from last evening–didn’t B & A look marvelous amidst the hubub and Moet & Chandon? And did you hear that Tracy Morgan is the new face of the US?  But Mamma Mia, that Ms. Streep is timeless! ) With all that, there’s been no time for handiwork in the kitchen.

Instead, here’s what I’ve been eating lately–and by “lately,” I mean pretty much every day.  I’ve made this three times in the past six days: it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s delicious and it contains nature’s most nutritious vegetables, leafy greens.  And with all the deep browns, ochres, ambers and ecrus I’ve been consuming over the past few weeks, I figured it was time for some green.

greenswapple3

[With Collards and Yellow Onion]

Besides, I adore leafy greens and have been trying to include them in my diet more often. Jagged, zippy dandelion greens are like the tough kid in the schoolyard, the punk who wears his black leather jacket like a trophy and loiters in the corner of the schoolyard chain-smoking.  With a hard and bitter exterior, he’s really a sweetheart once you get to know him.  Collards, with their elegant, frond-like shape, are the modern jazz dancers of the group, deftly swaying side to side as they harmoniously meld the delicate and the cacophonous. And kale, my very favorite, is the ditzy neighbour, the plucky, perky best friend, the Mary Richards of leafy greens; she fidgets and bobs and sighs histrionically, clad in her ruffly collar and matching cuffs–she’s a little wacky, maybe, but always honest and reliable.  How could you not love greens?

This dish was created when I had intended to try out a recipe for brussels sprouts and apples I read about on Vegalicious a while back. When I discovered I had no sprouts, I opted for the greens instead (heck, they’re all brassicas, right?). Using the other recipe for inspiration, I threw this together.  It was ready in ten minutes, and I was left to marvel that something so simple could taste so good. 

The barely-wilted greens are chewy and toothsome, while the apples and onions, having softened and caramelized slightly, provide a balancing sweetness to the slightly bitter leaves. The addition of lemon juice here, besides imparting an appealing tang, renders the minerals in the vegetables more bio-available (and thereby more easily absorbed) so you can best benefit from their high mineral content.

* As to the cookbook, right now, it looks as if the publication date will be mid-April; I’ll report back as soon as I’m given a “firm” date from the publisher. What this means, however, is that my blogging may become slightly more sporadic over the next few weeks, as will my commenting on other blogs.  But know that I’ll keep reading and enjoying all of your blogs even if I don’t make my presence known. And I do hope that you will still comment here–I always look forward to, and read, every single comment on this site–it is truly a high point in my day! 

Sautéed Greens with  Onions and Apples

inspired by this recipe

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

greenswapple4

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

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DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!  Please visit the shiny new home of DDD by clicking here.

* [Absolutely no relation to the reality show of the same name] ##

swpotsmoothietop1

[That is one MoFo huge smoothie!]

Now that the holidays are over and a new, fervently hopeful year has begun, I’ve decided to simplify my life.

It might have been the post-apocalyptic array of file folders, sticky notes, to-do lists (to-do lists ON sticky notes), drafts of recipes for the cookbook, empty interoffice envelopes, glasses (of both types), half-filled mug, pens, pencils, scotch tape, daybook, boxes of tissues, assorted and sundry notes-to-self, a stapler, checkbook and magazines and paperbacks and various other items that seem to have settled randomly, like nuclear fallout, on my desk. 

Or perhaps it was the never-quite-cleared kitchen table, the kitchen counters encumbered with bins of flour and Sucanat and oats, bottles of agave nectar, cannisters of raisins and dried cranberries, bowls and spatulas and whisks and pans and measuring cups and spoons (okay, I do have an excuse: the aforementioned cookbook).

Still, it could have been the closet full of wayward shoes, or the three distinct, mostly unworn wardrobes (that would be “slim”; “gaining weight”‘; and “fat”), assorted scarves, out of season accessories, fuzzy slippers and terrycloth bathrobe. 

No, no, no–it must have been the 14 unanswered emails, 27 unanswered voicemails, three scheduled doctors’ appointments, two scheduled vet appointments, one hair appointment, one dog training appointment, as-yet to be determined appointment to set up an appointment with myself to get it all together and finally organize all my appointments. . . .

Okay, I may be exaggerating a tad.  But just a tad.  It’s true what they say: the older you get, the more complicated your life becomes.  (Or was that, the older you get, the louder you turn up the volume on the television?  Same difference.) 

swppotsmoothieside1

[Simplicity at its finest.]

A while back, my friend Eternal Optimist informed me that she’d completed a total purge of her abode, sort of like an emotional smudging.  She tossed boxes of garbage, shredded reams of old papers and files, donated countless bags of clothes to charity, and repurposed old posters, kitchen chairs, picture frames, unused shelving, CDs and books, and various and sundry other long-neglected items courtesy of Freecyle. It felt great, she averred.

And while I’ve never been a huge fan of the magazine Real Simple (it seems too self-consciously austere and geometric for my taste, reminiscent of Dieter on Sprockets), I have frequently nurtured a dream of chucking it all and moving  to a one-room cabin in the woods, complete with wood-burning stove, 100 acres of surrounding forest, and plenty of space for The Girls to gambol to their hearts’ content. 

Just think of it:  freedom to do what you like, at one with nature, fresh air, green grass, no schedules, no time-stealing technology.  On any given day, I could just wake up, throw open the door and inhale a long, deep breath of unpolluted, pristine country air. . . well, after I chop the firewood for that stove, I guess.  And after I shoo the raccoons out of the food bins at the end of the cabin.  And I guess I’d have to chase a few mice from the cupboards, too, which would mean cleaning up mouse poop.  And also swat those spiders in the corner above the bed–oooh, I hate spiders!  And snakes.  I hope there aren’t any snakes out there.  And I’m scared of mice.  And don’t raccoons have talon-like claws?  I’ve heard they can be really vicious if cornered.  And I bet they don’t serve Triple Mocha Lattes at the intersection of Pine Tree and Deciduous. 

But it did make a lovely reverie, didn’t it?

(“Yes, Mum, a perfect reverie!  But does this mean we don’t get to gambol in the woods now?  Oh, and would you mind turning down the volume on that TV?“)

I also failed miserably at organizing my life over the holidays.  My initial zeal to reorganize my desk, clear out some boxes from our basement, organize the garage, draw up a Five-Year Plan, and resume my lost habit of daily meditation never materialized (oh, and let’s not forget: get my finances in order, secure a retirement plan, start a new workout regimen, finish a cookbook, and clip Chaser’s nails–nothing too onerous, you understand.  Well, excepting Chaser’s nails.).  All I managed was to clear off the desk–and that task alone took two weeks.  

Still, the sense of accomplishment and buoyancy I felt prompted me to seek out other ways to simplify.  After the recent holiday excesses and toppling with a (very heavy) thud off the healthy-eating wagon, I’ve decided to pare down my diet as well.   So I’m afraid you won’t be seeing much fudge, or pecan pie, or marzipan-topped shortbread, or any other dessert that, for some strange reason, seems to spike my blog stats exponentially for a while.  The blog stats will just have to wait until I get my body stats in order. 

Which brings me to today’s recipe.  Coincidentally, over the holidays one gift I received was a book called The Healthiest Meals on Earth, by Jonny Bowden.  It contains breathtaking photographs of really healthy foods, along with pertinent nutritional information and great recipes.  This smoothie is one I adapted for breakfast the other day.  It features one of my all-time favorite foods–sweet potatoes (yes, for breakfast!), and is both simple and quick to make.  The potatoes confer a natural, light sweetness, and the oranges add a bit of tang.  I loved the cheery color and the thick, almost pudding-like consistency (I was tempted to eat this with a spoon, in fact). 

If simple living can taste this good, I may have to reconsider that cabin in the woods.

On second thought, nah.

## Well, unless you count the fact that we’ve both dated Rocker Guys (hers of the black leather punk; mine of the black leather pants).

Sweet and Simple Sweet Potato Smoothie

adapted from The Healthiest Meals on Earth

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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Unlike many smoothies, this really does feel like a meal.  The sweet potato provides a substantial density and nutritional profile here (both beta carotene and antioxidants), along with vitamin C in the fruit.  I used eggnog flavored soymilk for a festive touch, but you can use any milk you please in this. 

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

You know, there are days when I just marvel at how much my life has been enriched by joining the world of blogging. I’m amazed at how many positive experiences this little outlet for self-expression, culinary creativity and the occasional star-struck reference to my favorite soap opera has brought my way.

At the forefront, of course, is YOU–the readers and commenters.  What an inspiring group of compassionate, intelligent, witty and loyal people you are!  Thank you for coming back here on a regular basis; thank you for your thoughtful comments (I am, literally, thrilled every time I see one appear at the end of a blog entry–and they keep me coming back here, too); and thank you for your feedback and knowledgeable advice (I’m so excited to start cooking from my recently-acquired cookbooks, courtesy of your suggestions–yay Crescent Dragonwagon!).  Truly, a blog is a sorry, desolate place without its readers.

Along the way, I’ve also discovered many other blogs and bloggers, and what a revelation that has been. I was dumbfounded the other day when I realized there are now approximately 150 blogs on my Google Reader, and I seem to discover new and intriguing blogs every day (and I promise, they will all eventually make it to my blog roll).  Where were all these talented writers hiding before the advent of blogs?  Whether primarily for the recipes or mostly for the prose, I delight in reading every one and perk up each time Google informs me of a new post by a favorite blogger. Lately, I’ve been a bit remiss with my own comments on other blogs, but please know that I do read regularly and am enjoying all your posts!

Speaking of great bloggers, yesterday I had the unique pleasure of actually meeting another Toronto-area blogger, Giz from Equal Opportunity Kitchen .  As you’d expect from her posts, Giz is witty, sharp, and very, very funny. We chatted like two teenaged chums who meet up again at the 10-year high school reunion, gabbing and giggling and catching up on what we’ve been doing over the past decade.  In fact, our conversation flowed so smoothly and effortlessly that we were on our way out the door of the coffee shop before we realized we hadn’t even touched on the topic we’d ostensibly met to discuss–Giz’s “slimdown challenge” to me from a while back! Thanks, Giz, for a great start to my morning!

As many other bloggers have noted, blogging also forces enourages one to try out new recipes.  In her recent 100th post, VeggieGirl mentioned how each blog entry represents a new recipe (can it be that the HH and I have eaten 186 new dishes–not counting all those that don’t make it to the blog–since last October??).  And part of this impetus to cook novel food arrives in the form of blog events, another aspect of blogging that I thoroughly enjoy. 

These days, it seems there’s a new blog event posted almost daily; I sorely wish I could participate in all of them.  Unfortunately, my schedule at the moment prohibits too much experimentation in the kitchen.  It’s currently end of semester at the college and my marking, like all the ripe, luscious seasonal fruit, is at its peak.  I’ve got a stack of papers on my desk that just might trump the CN tower as the world’s tallest freestanding structure.  And while preparing foods for blog events is admittedly more colorful than marking essays (which involves only black and red, after all), it wouldn’t do to set aside the former for the latter (well, not too often, anyway).

Still, when I read about the Healthy Cooking: Eat Well, Live Well event hosted by Mansi at Fun and Food, I knew I had to submit something.  After all, isn’t the very raison d’être of this blog, more or less, “to create healthy, delicious foods”?  (That, and to provide The Girls a forum in which to air their observations and opinions, of course). 

(“Thanks, Mum, we appreciate that.  You know we HATE having our opinions squelched.”)

I thought about what to prepare, but my mind came up blank.  Then, while attempting to clear the non-marking clutter (eg., half-filled tea mug, empty water bottle, digital camera, sticky notes with recipe ideas, cookbooks previously used for blog entries, magazines previously used for blog inspiration, my checkbook, Bram Stoker’s Dracula [the novel, not the vampire], stray Chaser hairs, my journal, an anniversary card from the HH, and my calculator) off my desk the other night, I came across June’s issue of Cooking Light.  Where have I been living, under a rock or something? I mean, I’m aware there’s such as thing as zucchini bread, the moist and delectable quick loaf that’s a staple in many a baking household. I am also aware that your classic carrot cake is often studded with bits of juicy pineapple.  But zucchini and pineapple?  Together? It just never occurred to me.  Yet there it was, staring at me from the pages of Cooking Light.

The funny thing is, the magazine’s recipe was a “lightened-up” version of an older, original recipe, that contained 3 eggs, 1 cup oil, and 2 cups sugar.  The Cooking Light version cut back to 2 eggs (plus an additional 1/2 cup chemicals made to taste like eggs), 2/3 cup oil and 2 cups (2 CUPS!!) white sugar.  Granted, the recipe yields 2 loaves, but still–an entire cup per loaf?  Seemed a bit excessive to me.

And so, I decided to lighten the already-lightened version.  (Is that sort of like asking Michael Jackson to bleach his skin?)  Seemed to me I could accomplish a fine job of it by reducing the oil even more, and most definitely by reducing the sugar and replacing it with natural sweeteners instead.  My recent avocado kick provided yet another brilliant twist.  My ratiocination went something like this: zucchini is green.  Avocado is green.  Why not add some more green to the green, and use avocado purée instead of egg in this recipe?  Along with the Omega-3’s in the flax seeds, the avocado provides a good dose of monounsaturated fats to the batter, allowing me to reduce the oil even further. And so, my own idiosyncratic variation of zucchini-pineapple loaf was born.

The bread is fragrant with cinnamon, sweet with pineapple and soft, melting bits of chopped dates throughout.  The zucchini contributes a certain depth of flavor and even more moisture–in fact, this bread treads the very limits of moistness; any more moist, and it might not qualify as a solid.  The flavors meld and intensify once the bread is cooled and rested, so it’s even more tasty the morning after it’s made.  And like blogging, it will enrich your day with a healthy dose of sweetness and discovery.

Zucchini and Pineapple Mini Loaves

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS BY CLICKING HERE.

A healthy, hearty version of a heavier standard, this bread mixes up easily and is a great recipe for using up leftover zucchini, pineapple, or overripe avocado.  

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS BY CLICKING HERE.

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! PLEASE VISIT THE SHINY NEW HOME OF DDD BY CLICKING HERE.  

cosmiccookie2.jpg

[Unretouched photo of unidentified, disk-like objects, hovering in the air over my kitchen table]

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

Before I metthe HH, I’d read exactly one science fiction novel (Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End, when I was about twelve) and seen only the standard TV shows or movies, such as Star Trek (in all its incarnations–though Deep Space really was an inferior specimen, don’t you think?) or Planet of the Apes.  It’s not that I’m uninterested in what might be happening on other planets or other universes; it’s just that, frankly, I have a hard enough time dealing with just this one–I mean, who needs more stress? 

Still, as a huge fan of all types of film (except anything with violence–which, I suppose, eliminates just about everything on screen these days, even down to Shrek the Third or Get Smart ), I was perfectly agreeable when the HH offered to introduce some of his favorite SF films to me, shortly after we first got together (of course, I was still trying to impress him back in those days, so I was pretty much agreeable to almost anything he suggested*). 

From La Jetée (the inspiration for Twelve Monkeys, aka The Only Film in which Pretty Boy Brad Pitt was Actually Any Good) to the original The Day the Earth Stood Still to Blade Runner, I have to admit I’ve enjoyed them all.  And these days, we’re both hooked on Battlestar Gallactica,  that terrific Canadian-U.S. co-production that’s not only well written and well performed, but a fascinating allegory for today’s political and religious climates (oh, and hunky Jamie Bamber in the role of Lee Adama doesn’t hurt, either). 

It seemed fitting, then, that I’d spy a recipe the other day for something with the oh-so-clever name of Cosmic Cookies (ie, they’re “out of this world”–get it?) at the new Planet Organic store that opened recently not too far from us. This was a monumental ouverture, as it was the first Big Organic Market north of the city (Toronto does have Whole Foods, but that’s way downtown in the tony Hazelton Lanes/Yorkville area, a far way to go for those of us orbiting out here in the ‘burbs).

cosmiccookiebite.jpg Well, I couldn’t wait to amble through the aisles and explore this newfound “planet.”  The atmosphere seemed amenable: I spent about 45 minutes inspecting the inventory, from prepared foods (salads, veggies, patties, croquettes, loaves, etc.)  to vegan baked goods (the orange-cranberry muffin I bought was, unfortunately, disappointing) to pastas, produce and packaged goods. 

Pleased overall, I ended up purchasing “just a few things” (at the checkout, once I regained the ability to breathe, I calculated that my little spree worked out to approximately $1.00 per minute. Clearly, this is no impoverished planet).

Here’s my haul:

1) Veggie patties.  Fittingly alien-looking with nubby edges and a deep carmine color, these little creatures were a mélange of carrots, beets, almonds, and an array of spices.  A bit too sweet for my taste; nevertheless, good lunch food.

2) Teriyaki tofu “steaks.”  Basically the first tofu recipe I ever cooked for myself: slabs of tofu marinated in the ubiquitous mix of soy sauce, ginger, something sweet and garlic. These were fine, if less than inspired.

3) A slice of bison meatloaf for the HH.  He loved it.  Enough said.

4) The pièce de resistance, the holy grail, the UFO (Unidentified Flour Object) I’d been seeking for weeks: a bag of coconut flour. I’d read about this elusive ingredient many times (it’s a mainstay in Deb’srecipes) but had never been able to find it before.  The coconut flour will provide me with hours of kitchen fun, playing with recipes for yet more cakes, cookies, bars, muffins, or pies free of wheat, eggs or dairy–and now, perhaps, free of gluten, too (it’s a GF flour).

In the meantime, I whipped up a batch of the store’s own Cosmic Cookies, a signature sweet made primarily of oats, seeds, raisins, chocolate chips and coconut.  I was so fixated on my coconut flour that I forgot to add the shredded coconut to the mix; they still came out fine. Since the store published the recipe in their own flyer, I assumed they wouldn’t mind my sharing it here as well.  

And though I enjoyed my visit to the store, I think I’ll restrict any future inter-planetary shopping to just the coconut flour. As much as I enjoyed the visit, it seems more like a special-occasion, rather than a regular, destination. Just like every other planet.

*No, nothing like that, you perverts!

Planet Organic’s Cosmic Cookies (verbatim from their flyer)

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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I modified this recipe ever so slightly. These are not too sweet and very filling, yet somehow, strangely addictive.  Could it be the extra-terrestrial influence?

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

[Diet, Dessert and Dogs has moved!  If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

[Disclaimer:  With all the responses I’ve gotten to this cake–good AND bad–I felt it necessary to point out that I created this recipe as a response to all the hype over a particular cookbook that has taken the spotlight over hiding spinach in a chocolate dessert. As I mentioned in the original post about sweets with hidden veggies in them, neither Mrs. JS nor I invented this idea.  And if you’re more accustomed to “traditional” sweets with white flour or sugar, be warned that these are simply not like that.  They have spinach and zucchini in them, after all 😉 . ]

One of the sure signs that we’ve embarked on a new, health-conscious, era in our food history is the rash of vegan cookbooks recently flooding the market. 

For a sweets fanatic like me, these books offer ostensibly endless possibilities, from the mega tome by Colleen Patrick Goudreau with its shortcakes, fudge, or classic chocolate layers, to the spectacular, every-flavor-every-color masterpiece by Hannah (wasabi cupcakes, anyone?) to the ever-popular Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

One persistent problem for vegan bakers, however, is the fact that some recipes simply don’t translate easily into vegan versions (meringues, for instance, or dairy-dependent treats like cheesecake or cream-topped mousse pie).  Inevitably, we’re served up  “cheesecake” (or cheezecake) made from processed tofu-cream “cheese,” or items like the newly-marketed Soyatoo when whipped cream is called for; similarly, margarine (usually Earth Balance) is the perennial stand-in for dairy butter.

While these recipes all look and sound fantastic, most of them are usually verboten for me. Ever since I revamped my eating habits about eight years ago in accordance with dietary restrictions, I willingly said “so long” to eggs, milk and most other dairy; “au revoir”to wheat and meat; “toodle-loo” to refined white sugars and flours.  This all-natural, organic, whole-foods diet can be rather prohibitive as well; my authoritarian menu permits nothing artificial, no ingredients hatched in a laboratory, and nothing whose name is too complex for a 7 year-old to read aloud. 

Consequently, even many of these otherwise delectable vegan baked goods are banned from my baking repertoire.  So it’s “so long” to all those lovely margarine-based shortbread cookies dusted with icing sugar, “au revoir”to chocolate cream pie with its Soyatoo-derived peaks and dollops; “toodle-loo” to that sublime fudge that relies on cane sugar or pies and puddings with soy creamer as a major ingredient. Basically, it’s “bye-bye” to almost all manner of vegan baked goods attempting to replicate their more conventional cousins.   

Instead, I’ve spent the last eight years experimenting with a variety of whole food ingredients in a quest to reproduce both the quality and the appeal of standard desserts, but in a more healthful package. I generally use organic oils or coconut butter, whole grain flours, natural sweeteners, or dark cocoa powder (which contains more flavonoids than Dutch process) for my treats.  For the most part, I’ve had great fun developing a variety of recipes. My HH isn’t complaining about the freshly baked cookies, muffins, or cakes constantly hoarding counter space, and my colleagues at the office tend to perk up, eagerly peering round their computer screens, when I arrive with plastic containers in hand.  

moltenwcup2.jpg Recently, I set myself the task of creating a trio of chocolate recipes for Valentine’s Day. I was determined to come up with something decadent, something spectacular, something alluring that was, at the same time, mouth-watering.  I wanted something that would both express and elicit heartfelt affection when it was served. 

And so, I created a recipe for Molten Lava Cakes.

Which are vegan. 

And healthy.

Why Lava Cakes? Well, to begin with, this is for Valentine’s Day–which can mean only one thing: chocolate.  And these babies spell “LOVE”: they’re rich-tasting, they’re chocolately, they’re warm, and they even serve up in their own personalized little packages (perfect for indulging a loved one, or, if you’re feeling intimate, sharing).  And with the addition of pureed spinach and zucchini, they pack a nutritional punch as well. What could be more romantic than contributing to your loved one’s good health?

A quick Google search on “Molten Chocolate Cake” will reveal that these treats are generally comprised of only 4 main ingredients:  butter, sugar, eggs, and chocolate–none of which I’ve added here.  I opted for cocoa powder in lieu of the chocolate (so that I could control the sugar and fat, and for the greater flavonoid content). I also used spelt flour, which has a lower gluten content than wheat, and sunflower oil, a light oil with a good balance of mono- and polyunsaturated fats. 

To compensate for the fact that there is no egg-based center available to underbake (the usual source of the “lava”), I’ve simply whipped up a second batter that serves as the molten interior, to be placed inside the cake before baking.  The result is a gooey, oozing filling that provides all the richness–and romance–of the original.  A healthy indulgence this Valentine’s Day?  Now, that’s sweet.

Because they’re so darned healthy, I’m also submitting this recipe to Cate at Sweetnicks for her weekly ARF/5-A-Day Roundup.  Spinach is an amazing antioxidant food, after all!

And since Susan over at Fat Free Vegan has requested some Vegetable Love for her event of the same name,  I couldn’t resist sending this along there as well.  As Susan wrote, “Last year I asked food bloggers to post their most romantic, most seductive vegetable recipes…something suitable for a cozy dinner by candlelight…something that says ‘I love you, and I don’t want to see you keel over with a heart attack!'” So really, do these fit the bill, or what?

Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes 

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Even if you are able to eat traditional molten chocolate cakes, this version is worth a try for its ultra-healthy ingredients.  Don’t worry; no one will know the veggies are there, but they’ll definitely feel the love in these decadent-tasting treats.

TO VIEW THE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

 [Edit, February 15th: I baked these again last evening for Valentine’s Day, and made some of the cupcake version on the side. moltencupcaketrio.jpg  

I thought I’d add a note in response to some questions/ feeback about the recipe I’ve either received or seen.  This recipe is definitely a bit fussy. There are two points I think are essential to keep in mind when making these: 1) the size of the ramekin or custard cup.  If it’s too small, there won’t be enough room for the molten center; you need quite a generous dollop of filling to stay soft and mushy inside all that cake.  2) if you want your molten center to remain separate from the cake (and not be absorbed by it), it’s important to ensure that the filling doesn’t touch the side of the ramekin and is covered completely with batter before you bake this; the amount of filling used in each cake also seems to play a role.  I’ve found that if the filling spreads, you end up with a layer of chocolate across the middle, but not a concentration of it. But still, soft gooey chocolate inside a chocolate cake can’t be bad, right?  My HH actually liked these better the next day, as the cake takes on a more fudgy texture. 

moltencupcake.jpg

[An updated and slightly revised version of this recipe will also appear in my upcoming cookbook, Sweet Freedom, along with more than 100 others, most of which are not featured on this blog.  For more information, check the “Cookbook” button at right, or visit the cookbook blog.]

 

 

 

 

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Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we?  Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans on this blog than you do.”

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Years ago, when I taught a course called “Feeding Body and Soul,” students were asked to contribute a recipe that had been handed down in their family as a way to illustrate the power of food through the generations.  One young woman (who, in her words, had been “raised by hippies”) gave me a recipe for Navy Bean Muffins, made from the usual ingredients but using pureed navy beans instead of flour.  I thought this twist was just groovy, man, and resolved to some day make them myself. 

Well, that day hasn’t yet arrived, but I did think of beans as the perfect addition to my GF brownies, about which I posted last Monday. This recipe for Gluten-Free Brownies is one of three for chocolate treats with hidden healthy ingredients, just up today on VegFamily magazine. To see the other two as well, check out the entire article

The hidden gem in these rich, chocolately squares is pureed beans.  Now, before you go running to the hills, consider that many gluten-free recipes contain bean flours (such as chickpea, gram, soybean, etc.), so this recipe just takes the concept a step back, to the unprocessed, whole beans before they’re dried and pulverized.  And beans add a great boost of protein to any recipe, along with both soluble and insoluble fiber, and a host of minerals. 

Initially, I thought that pureeing the beans in a food processor would be sufficient, but found the final product a bit grainy that way.  But cooking the beans really well, then pureeing in a blender, did seem to do the trick.

Because of the added loveliness of the legumes, I’m going to submit this recipe to My Legume Love Affair, hosted by The Well-Seasoned Cook.  

Oh, and Sally, this one’s for you! 🙂

Gluten-Free Chocolate-Walnut Brownies  

FOR THE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS BY CLICKING HERE.