Wednesday, 22 March 2017

HOMEMADE BANANA MUFFINS (WITH A VEGAN HEART)


One vegan meal each week

That's it. Just one. With the start of the new year, I set out to try to make one vegan meal per week. It wasn't necessarily a cry to be ethical or a cry to be healthy (although those were welcomed bonuses), but more so a cry for some variety in my meal-making. Our old favourites were getting to be just that - old.

In the past, I've always been intimidated by vegan food, so why I chose to take it on ultimately beats me. 
"How will I even find any recipes?" I asked. 
"I hate vegetables." I remarked. 
"Will I even feel full?" I wondered. 

Needless to say, I was one of those people. You know, the ones who think vegans only eat salad.


I told my husband my new year plan. As a person with even more of a distaste for vegetables than myself, I was surprised to find he was on board. He bought me a vegan cookbook for Christmas and I spent that morning skeptically scanning through the recipes. To my surprise, the photos actually looked pretty tasty, the recipes involved more than just vegetables, and oh boy - an entire section completely devoted to smoothies! Things were looking promising.

And things were promising. We are now three months into the year and it would be safe to say that my diet is nearly fifty percent vegan. That's pretty impressive if you ask me. I have gone from someone who didn't understand vegan cooking one bit to someone who now loves experimenting with vegan recipes a few times a week. Especially baking recipes.

Like these babies. Vegan banana muffins. Say what?


These muffins are fantastic. They taste like my classic banana muffin recipe - just with a little less guilt. They are only slightly denser than a regular muffin, but are full of moisture and flavour. I added a few walnut pieces to the top of each muffin for a little extra crunch, but I'm sure some dairy-free chocolate chips would add something special too.


1-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 cup of white sugar
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
pinch of salt
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup of coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup of almond milk
walnuts, dairy-free chocolate, or other nuts of choice (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin pan with muffin liners. Combine the flour, sugars, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate glass bowl, melt the coconut oil. Mash the banana into the oil. Add the almond milk and mix well. If the coconut oil begins to solidify, warm the mixture in the microwave. Add to the dry mixture and gently stir with a spatula until just moistened. Scoop equal portions of the batter into the cupcake liners. Sprinkle on the nuts and/or chocolate, if you so choose. Bake for 10 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees, and bake an additional 8-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the muffins comes out clean.

Yield: 8-10 muffins


If you would have asked me even half a year ago whether or not vegan muffins could be so good, I never would have been convinced. But they are. They're better than good. I really hope you try this recipe. I'm convinced that these will convince you, too.


Sunday, 26 February 2017

A WINTER WEDDING CAKE


This weekend I baked a wedding cake. 

The first in a long while. Eight months ago, after much contemplation, fear, and uneasiness, I made the difficult decision to stop running my baking business. A decision I feared making for a really long time, until finally, one warm day last May, while sitting in my wicker chair on my patio, a quiet whisper encouraged me to finally make the decision. It was a whisper from within. A calming whisper in the midst of a tense mind filled with constant anxiety. From that point forward, I stopped accepting new orders.

I thought I would miss it more that I have. It's a decision that has really impacted me in ways that I am still processing. It's been a journey of letting go and finding contentment. One day, I will joyfully share my journey to that decision. But today, I'm still not quite ready.


So for now, I will share these few photos. It's been a while since I have been challenged with a cake, and although I made my decision, doing this cake felt right. It was right. I felt joy as I spent my Friday evening creating it. No, I won't be taking on orders again. But yes, this one felt good


Here's to finding joy in the little things. The scary things. The things that we don't feel have the capacity to bring us joy any more - but that somehow still manage to surprise us and do. 

Monday, 20 February 2017

QUIET RAMBLINGS ON A DREARY WINTER MORNING


Courage, dear heart. Courage.

Nelson Mandela once said, "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it." Simply put, courage cannot exist without fear. There needs to be a fear in order for there to be an opportunity for courage.

I've been thinking about courage a lot lately. Sometimes I find myself so paralyzed by my fears. Living a courageous life is so appealing until it comes time to actually do it. My life is dominated by fear and the resulting anxiety, and more often than not, I'm left hiding in the comforts of my life instead of pushing myself to pursue the really good satisfying stuff. Mostly because I'm afraid of the really tough scary stuff that can come along with the really good stuff. I definitely lack in courage. I definitely settle for comfort. I definitely forget, like Mr. Mandela, that courage is actually the triumph over fear, not the lack thereof.


I long for fulfillment and meaning, as do many people seeking a great life. Sometimes I wonder if there is something bigger for me out there. Maybe one day soon I'll find myself somewhere I never could have imagined I would be. Maybe one day far down the road I'll find myself somewhere I never could have dreamed of going. But is my lack of courage to triumph over my fears going to prevent those opportunities from knocking? Am I playing a roll in my destiny by limiting myself? By living in my fears instead of at least trying to triumph over them?

We weren't promised the easy path. We weren't promised a life with no fear. Instead, we are constantly encouraged to be courageous. And we all remember that there is no opportunity for courage without the presence of fear.


So why do I kid myself? Why do I long to be fearless? I have something better - the chance to face my fears and triumph over them. To be brave. To stand firm. To be strong. To live a meaningful life with the help of my God - one who doesn't promise a simple go at it, but does promise that he will never leave me or forsake me as I try. 

This is where I sit this morning. Just me and Sutchi. With a mess of pencils and ink pens around us. Doodling. Praying. Thanking. Reminding. Courageousing.