You know when you’re running out the door or packing lunches and wish you had a healthy snack to grab? These little muffin bites are perfect for that aaaaaaand for using up all those ripes bananas you’ve got hanging out in your freezer (it’s embarrassing how many I have in mine!!! I just don’t like the idea of throwing them out so I end up with half my freezer loaded with bananas waiting for me to get in the baking mood). These little bites pack a nutritional punch and are perfect for an on-the-go snack or as a healthy addition to packed lunches. View Post
Does anyone else crave comfort food this time of year? For me that’s carbs (well, I pretty much crave cabs all year, but let’s not go there right now…) and sweet things like baking. If you saw my post last week with The Sweet Life Apparel, you saw the chocolate cake Ari and I whipped up together. It was one of our messier endeavours (and crankier- at least in the beginning- for Ari), but we ended up having a blast and the cake turned out amazing (sprinkles EVERYWHERE!). While we still make everything gluten free, I’ve been able to add dairy back into what we eat since the end of Summer, re- introducing it in meals and baking. I’m not going to lie, I’ve missed cooking/ baking with butter. And milk. But that’s not to say this recipe wouldn’t turn out if you used a dairy- free milk, I just enjoyed the chance to try it out (this is the first cake I’ve made with milk in a long time, yahoo!). It’s about as easy as it gets, with simple ingredients, and if you’re like us, the decorating is at least half the fun (and most of the mess 😉 ). If you want a sweet treat for holiday parties, why not whip up this baby? Enjoy.
2 cups gluten free flour (I used 1 cup brown rice flour & 1 cup coconut flour) use an unbleached or all- purpose flour if not gluten free
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
– frosting (I cheated and used the store- bought stuff)
– toasted coconut
– fresh flowers
– whatever you like! 😉
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cake pans with parchment paper- use two 9- inch pans for 2 layers, or four 6- inch pans for 4 layers
2. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Tip: to help make it lighter- especially if making a gluten free cake- sift the dry ingredients to aerate them.
3. In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients and slowly add to the dry mix, stirring to avoid lumps as you go.
4. When combined, pour the batter into your pans, distributing equally among the 2 or 4 that you’re using. Bake for 30 -35 minutes until you can insert a toothpick into the centre and it comes out clean. If baking four 6- inch cakes, bake them two at a time.
5. Allow to cool before removing from pans. Use frosting between the layers and frost the outside however you like. We went more for a naked cake look (at least that’s what I”m calling it!), but pick an icing/ decoration that you like. This is a nice, moist cake that’s not too rich/ heavy so there’s lots of options.
Growing up I loved baking with my Mum. I have so many fond memories of us whipping up everything from sponge cakes and scones to cookies and shortbread (still a favourite holiday tradition). When I had kids, I always knew I wanted to share this love of food and baking with my kids, and Ari has been helping me stir, sift, and scoop for a little over a year now. Of course there’s a flour cloud as we stir, sprinkles go everywhere, and little fingers always seem to be sampling what we’re making, but that’s part of the fun. A beautiful, delicious mess if there ever was any.
Now that we’re knee- deep into the cooler months I totally crave carbs and comfort food. There’s something satisfying about a house smelling of baking and then enjoying hot- from- the- oven cookies. Or cake. Or muffins. Or… you get the picture. 😉 I’ve been experimenting with the mixes of gluten free flours I use and as we’ve been re- introducing dairy back in to Ari’s diet I’ve enjoyed trying out recipes I’d almost given up on. I’ve been craving a good old chocolate cake, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to collaborate with the lovely Jen of The Sweet Life Apparel, and her baking- inspired fashion line. I love me some matchy- matchy styling with my little blondie when I get the chance, and Jen’s CAKE shirts were perfect for a morning of baking- what else?- cake.
My kitchen is on the small side, so whenever I get the chance to use the one at my parent’s house I jump at the chance- and taking photos definitely called for the extra space. And of course, when the day came to shoot the photos, Ari was not in a good mood. Of course she wasn’t she’s a toddler, why would she cooperate when I need photos of her rockin’ her CAKE tee? 😉 But after some major tantrums, and coffee for moi (this was before I went off coffee for the month), we were ready to go. Even though I snap photos of her when we bake, I wanted to get some ones of us together, and once things settled down, we had our usual fun. Me measuring, her stirring and conducting her quality testing- aka finger licking. And the best part? The icing. And sprinkles. That went everywhere (insert teary- eyed laughing emoji right here). I’ll be sharing the recipe for this easy chocolate cake next week, but for now I leave you with some of the photos of our latest baking session and those adorable shirts from The Sweet Life Apparel.
The Sweet Life Apparel was created by Jen Stafford, a baking enthusiast, on her second maternity leave. Jen creates all of the designs herself and has them printed in the Vancouver area on items produced in sweatshop- free factories, for babies, kids, and adults. As a hobby baker, Jen wanted to share her love of baking with her kids, and The Sweet Life Apparel is a business focused on family and supporting other local small businesses. Pieces include tees, raglans, and onesies, so every member of the family can show how they rock their #thesweetlife pieces.
Check out the full line by The Sweet Life Apparel on their website and get the latest news on social media:
OK- how many of you have a) a freezer full of ripe bananas just waiting to be made into something delicious and b) are digging the cooler weather because it means you can turn on your oven for baking without feeling like you’ll melt like a human popsicle?
How’s that for a recipe post intro (insert teary- eyed laughing emoji here!)? But seriously- how many times do you buy bananas and end up tossing them in the freezer because they get to that ‘too ripe I don’t want to eat them’ stage? This recipe is perfect for this exact situation. Whether you go for it and make a whole yummy loaf or opt to make muffins, the strawberries and chia seeds are a yummy addition to this oh- so- classic of recipes. There’s also a secret ingredient that I love including in a lot of my baking for some added flavour/ moisture/ nutrition, but you’ll have to scroll down to see what that is. Happy baking all!
1 3/4 cups flour (I used a combination of a gluten free flour blend and brown rice flour)
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2- 3 bananas)
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup of apple sauce (my secret ingredient instead of an egg! I’ll tell you why after the directions…)
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (for a dairy- free version, swap in 1/4 coconut yogurt or another 1/4 cup of apple sauce)
2 tbsp coconut milk
3/4 cup strawberries, diced
1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut
2 tbsp chia seeds
Fresh strawberry slices
Unsweetened dried coconut
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees & line a 9″ loaf pan with parchment paper
2. In a medium bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients; in a separate, larger bowl, mix together the wet ingredients, including the mashed banana & strawberries (remember to keep some for garnish!)
3. Slowly add the dry mix to the wet mix- about 1/2- 1 cup at a time to avoid lumps
4. Pour the batter into the baking pan and top with strawberry slices and unsweetened dried coconut
5. Bake for 50 minutes- to 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean (I find with my oven it’s always closer to an hour or just over an hour)
6. Allow to cool for a few minutes & enjoy the loaf fresh with your favourite toppings or slice it up & put it in an airtight container for snacking and lunches throughout the week
And as for that secret ingredient: why apple sauce?
When I first started baking gluten and dairy free recipes, I also tried some alternatives for eggs out of curiosity and apple sauce has become a staple in some of my sweet recipes as an egg substitute: simply swap in 1/2 cup of apple sauce for each egg the recipe calls for. And if you’ve followed the blog for a while, you know that our family is a fan of Love Child Organics and their awesome organic food options for littles. Well, guess what I used in this recipe? A pouch of their apple puree! One pouch is equal to almost half a cup, so they work perfectly as a pre- measured ingredient (lol can I consider that a #momwin? 😉 )
I love that I can trust the quality of their ingredients and that their pouches are an allergy- friendly option, free from dairy, gluten, nuts, and absolutely no additives/ fillers. If you look on the back of the pouch I’m talking about there is one ingredient: organic apples. Don’t you wish more food labels were simple like that? And if you have a hard time getting your kids to eat fruits and veggies, their pouches are a great option for babies just starting out on solids and for older kids as well (Ari & Liam practically pounced on the pouches I had on hand for these photos- safe to say they’re a hit with the kids!). If you want to learn more about this awesome company, I’ll share more at the end of this post, but for now let’s get back to baking!!!
A little about Love Child Organics
Love Child Organics was started by a husband & wife team who were frustrated with the food options available for little ones when they became parents. Foods that were labelled ‘organic’ and natural contained added ingredients and fillers that offered no nutritional benefit, so Leah and John set to work creating healthy meals for their kids from organic ingredients and superfoods for an added boost of nutrition. From these efforts, the company was born, with the goal to make pure organic food accessible for all kids. Since then, LCO has grown to offer a variety of food and snack options and will be introducing an organic infant cereal soon. The company also partners with First Book Canada as part of their Spreading the Love Campaign, to provide new books to children in need. From nutrition to overall well- being, LCO is committed to helping kids get the best start in life possible.
To see the full selection of products from LCO & learn more about the company, visit their website.
For the latest product announcementss, giveaways & more make sure you follow Love Child Organics on social media:
This cake is far from perfect. It’s lopsided, uneven, and messy. And I love it. I don’t bake the way I used to very often, and even though I made this as a gluten and dairy free cake for Ari’s 3rd birthday, it came pretty close to the cakes I used to make. Instead of using cream between the layers I used a vanilla pudding mix as a dairy- free alternative, but if you want to make the regular version, it’s worth the indulgence. We were so happy with it I’m thinking I might try making this again for Canada Day. It pretty much never happens that a recipe I’m trying out works on the first attempt, but it happened with this one (I even ended up putting the cake stand on the floor so I could get photos with good light- haha oh the things I do for a photo!- so pardon my floors in some of the shots!). This is the perfect cake to load on fresh Summer berries and really indulge, so I hope you give it a try, in all of it’s messy, imperfect glory.
2 1/2 cups gluten free flour mix (use regular flour if you prefer)
1 1/4 cups coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups coconut oil
1 cup sugar
3 whole eggs, + 2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 can coconut milk
zest of 1 lemon
fresh berries and edible flowers for decoration
For between the layers
vanilla pudding (I cheated and used a mix- but this is where you’d use whipped cream or be really naughty and use clotted cream for a real English- inspired treat)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three 8″ round cake pans with parchment paper.
2. In one bowl mix together flours, baking powder, and salt.
3. In another bowl, beat together the coconut oil, sugar, honey, eggs and egg yolks, and the vanilla extract until blended.
4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet to avoid lumps, blending well.
5. Add the coconut milk and mix until smooth. The batter will be quite thick (I had to spread my batter with a spatula), but if you find yours is too thick, add 1/2 cup water or coconut milk until it’s a little thinner.
6. Add in the lemon zest and mix.
7. Distribute the batter evenly among the 3 pans and bake for 25- 30 minutes until you can pull a skewer out clean.
8. Pop the cakes out and let them cool.
9. In between each layer, spread some of the crumbled meringues and drizzle some of the vanilla pudding. Repeat with all 3 layers and top off with some more meringues and pudding and finish off with some fresh flowers and berries.
… as a fun addition to this recipe, I also made the meringue since I couldn’t find any at the store. If you have the same problem, they’re about as easy as it gets to make. Instead of piping individual ones, I made one large one and crumbled it up after it cooled. Top leftover meringue off with extra berries for a pavlova- style dessert.