Bake Me a Cake as Fast as You Can

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.


What we’re wearing:

About 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:
Instagram: @thesweetlifeapparel 
Instagram: @akanekondophoto

Yummy Mummy Recipe: Strawberry Chia Banana Bread

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

For garnish:
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:
Facebook: Love Child Organics 
Instagram: @lovechildorganics
Twitter: @lc_organics


LCOMOM01. Up to Dec. 31, your friends and followers can receive 15% off on a one time LCO order (no limit on order size.)

Yummy Mummy Recipe: Eton Mess Cake

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
crumbled meringues
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.

A Year Without Gluten: Our Family’s Journey So Far

It’s been a little over a year since we removed gluten and dairy from Ari’s diet and I thought now would be a good time to chat about our journey in the hopes that it might help others. While ours is far from being figured out, our journey over the past year and a half has taught us many things- how we eat and even how we think about food has changed considerably in that time- and I like to think we were already quite informed about food before Ari’s diet became a curve ball to figure out. If you’ve followed the blog for a little while, you’ll know that Ari and Will are the inspiration behind many of the recipes I share and have adapted for these dietary changes. I get asked quite a few questions about how we came to the conclusion to remove gluten from our then 18- month old’s diet, what we eat, and general tips and suggestions, so I’m going to do my best to share about our experience in this post.

I have been asked ‘what does your family eat?’ on more than one occasion. I sometimes ask myself the same question on evenings when it’s been an especially busy day and I’m facing the task of cooking dinner and have no idea what to make. Toss in a picky toddler and you have the recipe for a cranky mama. Those days are still the most frustrating for me, the ones where I can’t fall back on a quick and easy option, where I have to improvise. But in many ways, those are the times where I’ve been forced to think outside the box and come up with new ideas. Thanks to Will cheering me on (and putting up with many of my frustrated culinary tantrums) I’ve began to think of food less as ‘what we can’t eat’ and instead focus on everything that we can. And that little change in perspective has helped a lot. In addition to the swaps for gluten free versions of things like bread and pasta, our family has found other new foods and recipes to love: I make most of my own salad dressings and marinades, bake way more than I ever used to, and changed what we consider to be a meal or snack (Ari loves seaweed, something I never would have tried outside of sushi before this experience). If you’re looking for some tips and ideas, see below.

Favourite Gluten Free Foods

  • gluten free pasta, bread & crackers (look for whole- grain versions)
  • quinoa flatbread (this is also delicious as a pizza crust)
  • oatmeal raisin cookies (these are like little granola bar balls)
  • seaweed, raisins, and naked popcorn
  • nuts and homemade trail mix
  • lots of fresh fruits and veggies
  • zucchini ‘noodles’ 
  • if you’re looking for some other ideas, see the blog’s Recipes page 
Tips for healthy gluten free eating
  • Healthy options aren’t a guarantee- just because something is gluten free doesn’t mean it’s a healthy option; while white rice, corn, and potato flour are popular ingredients in place of wheat flour, they lack nutritional benefit
  • Pay attention to sugar content- pay attention to the sugar content in gluten free baking, etc. Many of the store- bought items we’ve come across are loaded with sugar to compensate for a lack of flavour  
  • Look out for crappy ingredients- while common in many gluten free products, I try to avoid certain ingredients if they’re not organic/ non- GMO, such as corn. This can sometimes limit choices and I can’t always do this, but I try
  • READ THE LABEL- if it isn’t labeled as gluten free, it isn’t. Of course I’m not suggesting a banana isn’t gluten free. What I’m referring to is anything from salad dressings and condiments, to potato chips to… anything you can think of. Some products are ‘gluten free’ but processed in a plant with wheat and/ or other allergens. If you are highly sensitive or have Celiac disease, this risk of cross- contamination can be a problem. (I remember getting angry when a jar of baby food- plums- had wheat in it. I had bought it to help Ari’s digestion and if I hadn’t read the label I would have accidentally made the problem worse)
  • It’s trial and error- And trial and error. And trial and error. Going gluten free isn’t budget- friendly, especially when you’re trying to figure out different gluten free flours, mixes, recipes, etc. It can also be frustrating and time consuming. A recipe you know in your sleep probably won’t be the same when it’s gluten- free, and figuring out a version that’s close to what you want can take several attempts (just the other day I tried whipping up a batch of GF pancakes and since I switched up the combination of flours, they were too soft to flip so I ended up having to bake them in the oven! And I totally admit getting angry- they’re just pancakes for goodness sake, not a souffle!)
  • Rethink why you eat certain foods- We don’t need wheat in our diets to be healthy. The same with dairy. But we do need quality foods to meet our nutritional needs and some fun stuff tossed into the mix so we don’t go crazy (everything in moderation, right?). A big change we made was taking our toaster out of the kitchen. I don’t buy bread as often since store bought GF loaves are pricier (I’m still working on perfecting a sandwich bread we love) and without really intending to, we’ve almost removed this carb from our diet. 

As I’ve said, we’re also mostly dairy free, so that can make things a little interesting, but not impossible. What we do isn’t perfect, but it’s worked for us so far, and I’m always trying to make gluten/ dairy free versions of meals we love. Some things I’ve just had to accept won’t be the same, or even possible (mac n cheese and soft tortillas are 2 things that have eluded me). And as someone who isn’t limited to her food choices, this admittedly can be frustrating when I just want something familiar (but before I get too pouty I remind myself that Will feels this way too, but doesn’t have a choice, so I try to shut up). And baking gluten and dairy free is in a league of it’s own, but I’m learning what blends of different GF flours work best for sweet (some combination including coconut and tapioca flour(s)) vs savoury  (some combination of brown rice and quinoa flour(s)) recipes.

Before and since our family faced these dietary crossroads, I know of many friends whose families have had to adjust what they eat- whether it was for themselves, a spouse, or a child. Like us, they didn’t make these changes because they were trendy, or a fad, it was out of a need for change. With Ari, we suspected things were amiss when she broke out in head- to- toe rashes and had other lingering health issues she couldn’t kick, but there are a variety of symptoms to be aware of, and I suggest you look into them based on what you’re experiencing. Be an advocate for your health. Since embarking on this health journey with Ari, we’ve had her at doctors, naturopaths, a paediatrician and gastroenterologist, had xrays and an ultrasound, blood tests, and various other tests along the way. And we’re still not entirely sure if what she suffers from is something we can resolve or ‘fix’ or if it’s something we’ll have to contend with forever. We just don’t know, but we’ll keep doing the best we can.

Whether a dietary change is something new that you’re trying to navigate, or you’re just looking for more information, I hope this post helps a little and I’d love to hear how your family has adjusted around dietary needs. We have learnt so much more about food in the time since making these changes, gone beyond gluten and dairy free eating- researched, read, and watched (thanks Netflix!) as much as we could to educate ourselves not just on ‘eating healthy’, but trying to gain a true understanding of nutrition.

Yummy Mummy Monday: Gluten Free Rice Crispy Treats

I don’t think these sweet treats really need an intro. They’re a classic. And after making them with Ari, I have a new understanding and appreciation for why they’re such a staple for bake sales and class parties- they’re super simple and quick to make! The only changes I made to the classic version were to make them gluten & dairy free: swapping coconut oil for the butter and using gluten- free cereal. These are great if you want to whip something sweet up but don’t have a lot of time and they’ll be gone in even less time. 

5 tbsp coconut oil, melted 
8 cups mini marshmallows
6 cups rice crispy cereal (we used gluten free)
Optional: 1 tbsp beet juice or red food colouring

1. In a large pot over low heat melt coconut oil. Once melted toss in mini marshmallows, stirring continuously
2. Once melted, remove from heat and add in rice crispy cereal. Stir until combined (I let Ari help with this part, but if you’re nervous about burns you can quickly transfer the mix into a bowl so little ones can help)
3. If you want to make the treats pink, you can add food colouring or reduced beet juice for colour. To make the beet juice reduction: dice up a small beet and pop into a pot and fill with water until pieces are just covered. Bring to a boil for approx. 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce until the beet juice has mixed with the water and the liquid has thickened to a syrupy consistency. Pour into a glass pyrex jug and set aside until ready to use.
4. Add in colouring and stir until mixed through
5. Transfer mixture onto a piece of parchment paper. Use the sides of the parchment to shape the mixture into a ball (don’t worry if it isn’t a perfect shape, this step is more to compress the mixture for rolling ). Cover with a second piece of parchment and roll the mixture until it is 1/2″ thick (if you like thicker treats, don’t roll them as long/ apply as much pressure)
6. When you’ve reached your desired thickness, remove the top piece of parchment and fold in half (sticky sides in) to place the shapes on
7. Using cookie cutters, cut out the shapes you like and place on the folded piece of parchment

9. Once you’ve cut out all the shapes you can fit, you can either try re- rolling the mixture or takes pieces that are roughly the same size and roll into balls

10. You can serve the treats like this or insert cute straws to make pops. For the balls, you can leave them as- is or add cute cupcake toppers like the sparkly ones I used from Grace Miller & Co– see below)

11. … for added fun, dip in sprinkles!

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