Gluten Free, Vegan Smash Cake with Chocolate Avocado Mousse

vegan agave vanilla smash cake

vegan agave vanilla smash cake

We celebrated A’s birthday a week early, as his actual birthday falls on Labor Day this year; I wanted to make him a cake, but I wanted to avoid dousing him in sugar just because he happened to make a trip around the sun; until his birthday the sweetest thing he had was fruit, and I kind of wanted to keep it that way. My compromise was to make an agave sweetened cake, and use avocado mousse for the frosting. It was healthier, and In my opinion- tastier! I’m not a huge fan of super-sweet sweets, so this cake really hit the spot for me, too!

 

Vanilla Agave Smash Cake

makes 2, 6-inch cakes

adapted from Tatiana Amico

2 cups Namaste Foods Gluten Free Flour Blend

1/3 c coconut oil, warmed to liquid, can be swapped 50% for apple sauce

1/2 c Agave Nectar

2 tbs ground chia seeds mixed with 1/2 c warm water

1/2 c almond milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

 

Preheat your oven to 350

mix all wet ingredients together, and in a second bowl mix all the dry ingredients thoroughly. Combine the wet with the dry, and gently mix until smooth. Pour into 2, 6-inch cake pans and smooth the tops. Place in the center rack of your oven and bake until light gold, and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean- about 20 minutes. Invert on a cooling rack, and cool completely before frosting.

 

Avocado Mousse

2 firm-ripe avocados, halved and pitted

1/4 c agave or to taste

1/4 c coconut cream (scoop from the top of an un-shaken can of coconut milk)

1/3 c cocoa powder

Puree your avocados until smooth- I used a food processor for this. Once smooth, add the chocolate, coconut, and agave, and sweeten to taste. This gets even firmer when chilled. 

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It’s that time of year, again!

VEGAN FOOD AT THE MINNESOTA STATE FAIR!.

I figure what better time to crawl out from under my postpartum rock than in time for the Minnesota State Fair? I scoped out the new food vendor list  and didn’t see anything that looks suspiciously vegan- maybe chilaquiles done naked? Regardless, I plan on making my yearly pilgrimage to the deep-fried, farming mecca of the midwestern world- this year with a little dude in tow!

Baby Led Feeding, and life with an 8 month old

So… It’s taken me almost 2 months to finish a blog post :)

Baby A is already 8 months old, and has become an exuberant, chatty ball of chub that never ceases to amaze me. These past 8 months have been a never-ending roller coaster; we’re teething (but no teeth yet), rocking, rolling, army-crawling, and eating food with the best of them. We decided to do “baby led weaning” (or as I like to call it, baby let feeding, as the definition of weaning differs here vs the UK which can confuse people) when it was time to introduce solids. Our pediatrician is pro BLW which we were glad to hear. With BLW, instead of purees we give A large chunks of super ripe or steamed foods so that he can learn to chew first, and then learn to swallow. It’s super easy to do as there’s minimal food prep involved (yay!), and it’s teaching A how to chew and move food around his mouth before swallowing, so it may reduce his risk of choking (double yay!). And of course it’s ridiculously cute watching a baby devour a kiwi. I’m amazed at how quickly he got the hang of things; in the beginning he’d use his gag reflex a lot as he practiced moving food around his mouth, but now he rips through things and actively chews and swallows! We have given him some super mashed foods when caregivers who aren’t familiar with BLW have fed him, or when we were out of large pieces or produce- we just left the food super chunky so that he can still chew it. When spoon feeding, we use a Num Num Dipper spoon so that he can still feed himself. It’s pretty simple; you dip the spoon and hand it over, and the baby takes care of the feeding part. Baby A has yet to refuse or dislike something we’ve given him- Babies have a heightened taste for sweet, and most of the things we’ve given him fall under that category, so everything has been agreeable so far. Once he develops his pincer grip I’ll be able to give him beans and peas. * As of recently I’ve been giving him beans to help him practice pinching, and I can’t help but pop one in his mouth for him, he LOVES them so much!

One thing I love about BLW vs spoon feeding is that A doesn’t get angry or frustrated when feeding himself like he does waiting for me to load up a spoon to give to him. I also can’t help love how simple food prep is; pop a couple things in the steamer, grab a couple extra fruits at the grocery store, and boom: done. Only a few friends have been apprehensive when they learned what we were doing, “You don’t cut the food up?! What if he chokes?”, but once they actually watch A eat, they quickly realize how much control he really has, that he is actually chewing/gumming the food, , and how big the pieces really are in relation to his mouth. For example, If I were to give pieces of bell pepper, I would cut a pepper length wise from stalk to end, and leave the strips 2 inches wide. Also, since babies receive the bulk of their calories and nutrients through breastfeeding or formula until their first birthday, you don’t need to obsess or worry over how much food your baby actually swallows when first starting out.

Foods we’ve given thus far;

Chunky Mashes:

Avocado – too hard to eat with hands for the first month

Steamed carrots mixed with curry, and cashew butter

Sweet potato with curry and cashew butter

Butternut squash with- you guessed it- cashew butter and curry powder! I swear I’m trying to get the kid hooked on indian food early.

Steamed Foods:

Apple halves, sprinkled with cinnamon and steamed until soft

Bell Peppers, cut lengthwise and left several inches wide

Broccoli, large florets with plenty of stem

Cauliflower, same as broccoli

Sweet potato, roasted or steamed, skin removed. large half moons as thick as his fist

Black beans, whole, unsalted

Pinto beans, whole, unsalted

Raw Foods:

Melon, long slices one inch wide

Seedless watermelon, large wedges

Banana, half at a time. *these can be constipating, so don’t give too many in a week

Avocado, a third of an avocado, peeled

Champagne mango, roughly half at a time, excess peel removed as needed during mealtime

Pear, half at a time, cored

Peach, half at a time, skin removed

Strawberry, whole large berries * our pediatrician gave the a-ok on all nut butters and fruits

Roma tomato, half of an egg-sized tomato at a time. *these can give kiddos a raw tush, so don’t do too many in a week.

Kiwi, peeled, cored and left whole. I though kiwi would be too tart but A gobbled one down in 30 seconds!

Other:

Unsweetened plain coconut milk yogurt

His first veggie- Broccoli!

His first veggie- Broccoli!

Showing off his "num num dipper"

Showing off his “num num dipper”

*sigh Mango

*sigh. his hair
Mango

We don’t plan on giving any grains to Little Dude until he’s a year old, which is already in four months (*tear). I’ve read conflicting info on whether or not grain intolerances can be prevented by waiting, but since it’s been proven that rice cereals and other grains don’t cause a baby to sleep better, longer, or have prolonged satiety, I’m not going to worry about them til later. He seems more than thrilled with his fruits and veggies, so I’ll enjoy his exuberance while it lasts.

When we first started BLW, he was nursing or getting expressed milk in a bottle every 2-3 hours, with one solids meal at dinnertime. At 8 months, he’s getting two solids meals a day; one between nursing/bottles in the early afternoon, and another at dinnertime. I plan on adding in breakfast around 10 months, and between meal snacks after a year. My plan is to nurse Baby A until he self-weans, so depending on teething, growth spurts, etc, his nursing schedule will fluctuate. Some babies will still nurse several times a day, others might only before naps or bedtime, so we’ll see what happens!

Creamy Spiced Sweet Potato Soup with Chickpeas

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I love simple, fast soups on chilly nights, or really just about any night that I’m in a rush to get dinner on the table. Sweet potatoes are just so delicious on their own that they don’t need much to make them shine. This recipe is perfect for a slow cooker; just pre cook the onions, and combine everything but the garnishes and set the timer, and when you come home all you have to do is blend!

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 cups carrots, roughly chopped into 1 inch pieces

2 cups cooked chickpeas

1 small yellow onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups vegetable stock

1 tsp garam masala

chopped peanuts and cilantro for serving’

Immersion blender, or countertop blender

Start by heating a few tablespoons of oil in a large dutch oven or large soup pot/stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, and just beginning to change color. Ad the potatoes, carrots, garlic and half the stock. Bring to a simmer and cover. Cook until the potatoes and carrots are soft, about 20 minutes. If using the immersion blender, add in the rest of the stock, and then puree in the pot. If using a countertop blender, add the soup from the pot to the jar of your blender, and puree, being careful to avoid steam burns. Ad the pureed veggies back to the pot, mix in the rest of the stock, and add the chickpeas. Heat soup back up to a simmer, and add the garam masala, salt and pepper to taste. Garnish individual servings with cilantro, crushed peanuts, and sriracha.

He’s here! DIY Coconut Baby Wipes and Breastfeeding Fuel Breakfast

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Actually, he got here back on September 1st, and ever since my life has been a whirlwind of breastfeeding, diaper changes, burping, napping, short errands to maintain sanity, visitors, baths, trying to find time to cook, eat, bathe myself, etc. So far, life with Little Dude has been pretty sweet, and no matter how frustrated I get when he’s too lazy to latch properly, or poops through the diaper I just put on him, I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world. We saved up so that the hubby could take 4 weeks off with us- this is by far the best idea we’ve ever had, and I only wish we could afford to have him stay with us longer; he’s been keeping the house clean, washing laundry, making food, doling out vitamins, taking care of midnight diapering, rocking, burping, bonding- essentially serving as second in command, and helping me from being completely stuck in the bedroom. I have no idea what would become of us if he weren’t here!

Things I’ve learned in the last 2 1/2 weeks:

No matter how much you educate yourself prior to giving birth, you will still have a metric ton of questions, second guess everything you pre-planned, and spend hours googling your parenting skills during 4am feeding sessions.

You will be pooped on.

You will be peed on.

You will forget to wear deodorant, and unless your hubby reminds you, shower.

If someone offers to bring you dinner, let them.

You will learn what tastes good after being neglected in a crockpot all day.

If you didn’t pre-make meals, prepare to live off of cereal, or takeout for the next 2 months.

A ring sling, or other infant carrier might just be your saving grace to get your little one to take a nap, or relax them without nursing 24-7.

You will go through a million baby wipes, so you may as well learn how to make them.

DIY  Coconut Baby Wipes

Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial, making it great for preventing  and treating diaper rash. These will mold if made early, and will last roughly a week or so before spoiling- though in the early weeks you’ll find yourself going through a roll every 2-4 days. Do yourself a favor and buy a jumbo pack of paper towels, cut them all in half and have them ready so you can make a fresh supply of wipes in 5 minutes!

1 Roll Viva! or similar, thick, non-quilted paper towel

1 Tbs Organic coconut Oil

1 Tbs non-toxic/USDA Organic shampoo or baby wash; non-minty. Make sure it’s free of sulfates, fragrances, parabens, dyes etc.

A 2 quart food canister with lid

1 1/4 c hot water

Take a large kitchen knife and cut the roll of towels in half widthwise. Cram one roll into your container. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the oil, soap, and water. Pour half of the liquid into the center of the roll of towels, and pour the rest over the top and into the sides of the container- pull the center of the roll to help get solution into the sides. Place the cap on, and tip the container upside down. Let soak for 5 minutes before pulling out and discarding the center tube. Et Viola! Your wipes are ready.

Breastfeeding Fuel

I’ve read on numerous sites that oatmeal and quinoa can help foster a good milk supply, and when combined they make a great hot cereal that’s affordable, filling, and high in protein and fiber! I make a container of trail mix once a week, and spoon it generously on top, and add chia for extra omegas and protein.

Crockpot Quinoa and Oat Cereal with Coconut Trail Mix and Chia

Makes 8-12 servings- can be halved

10 cups water

2 cups steel cut oats

1 cup quinoa

1 crock pot

Coconut Trail Mix

2 cups raw walnuts

2 cups raw almonds

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/2 to 1 cup raisins

1/2 to 1 cup dried cranberries

2/3 cup coconut flakes

Chia seeds, non-dairy milk of choice, agave, cinnamon, for serving- optional

To make the cereal, combine the water, oats and quinoa in a large slow cooker, and set on high for 4 hours. Stir well before storing in the fridge. Combine all of the trail mix ingredients and store in an airtight container- use or as much or as little of the fruit as you’d like. To serve, spoon some of the cold cereal into a bowl or sauce pan and add a few tablespoons milk. Microwave, or heat until hot, stirring occasionally, adding more milk as needed. Top with a tablespoon of chia and add some cinnamon, agave, and trail mix to taste.

breastfeeding fuel breakfast

DIY Postpartum Care

I’m still waiting for Little Dudes arrival, so I’m passing the time by making all sorts of remedies for my body after childbirth. A client passed this link on to me a while back for Passionate Homemaking Blog’s DIY Natural Postpartum Care Kit. If you didn’t already know, I am a spaz when it comes to making sure that my body care items are non-toxic, and preferably organic- and DIY’ing it is sometimes the best alternative to store bought because not only do you get 100% control over the ingredients, some things are so inexpensive to make yourself! All of the recipes are super simple, and I have already stocked the freezer with pre-treated pads, and have perineum spray at the ready. I couldn’t find synthetic fragrance-free Witch Hazel at either of the co-ops closest to me, but at Target you can get a 16oz bottle for under 2$, and all it contains is Witch Hazel (86%) and Alcohol (14%). The alcohol content is a little worrisome because I think it might add some sting, but most brands of Witch Hazel have the same alcohol content, and I think its partially included as it’s what’s used to distill the herb. So, we’ll just see if it’s a hindrance later. I also discovered Earth Mama, Angel Baby- a super affordable brand of mom and baby care supplies that are 100% vegan and plant-based, and they have great gift sets that would make a great gift for a baby shower. I’m doing my best to keep from going stir crazy, including stocking up on true crime novels, cleaning the house (yet again), going to yoga every day, taking long walks when it cools down at night, and thinking of witty responses to “Has the baby come yet?!”. Hopefully, Little Dude doesn’t make me wait past this weekend, or I may just rip my hair out. :)

40 week vegan baby bump

40 week vegan baby bump, and I STILL have a belly button, although its no longer in the center. 

Yum Alert! Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana “Shake”

This was so delicious I only had time for a crappy phone pic in the dark. oh well. My sweet tooth was running wild, and I realized I had bananas that needed to be used ASAP. Normally, I’d make banana bread, but its 97 out, and with the humidity it feels like 110 or something ridiculous, so obviously baking is a no-go- even when you’re about to pop out a baby and hormonal. I devised a plan; coin and freeze the bananas, and put them to use with coconut milk, melted chocolate, and peanut butter for a sweet treat that doesn’t totally kill it in the indulgence department.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Shake

makes 2, 16 oz treats

3 large bananas, sliced into coins and frozen- about 2 1/2 cups

Unsweetened almond milk

1 tbs agave nectar

1/4 c chocolate chips

3-4 tbs peanut butter

Start by melting the chocolate in the microwave or on the stove until soft. Mix in the agave, and continue to heat until smooth. Place the chocolate, bananas, and peanut butter into a blender and add 2 cups of almond milk. Blend on high, slowly adding more milk as needed to create a smooth, but thick consistency. Pour into a glass, and top with whipped coconut cream if you’re really going all out.

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Easy Coconut Whipped Cream

makes roughly 1 1/4 cups

One can coconut cream- not coconut milk, chilled

Agave or stevia to taste

High powered mixer, and a metal bowl that has been chilled

Remove the can of coconut cream from the fridge and scoop all of the thick cream into the cold bowl- there should be very little coconut water at the bottom of the can, and you can save it for a smoothie.  Place the bowl under your mixer, and beat on high speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Add sweetener to taste, beating well after each addition. Cover and chill immediately if not using ASAP.