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Carrot Cake with Cashew Frosting - Whole Grain, Macrobiotic, Vegan & Gluten Free

Carrot Cake with Cashew Frosting

Oh my goodness.

WAY back when this year, I made a delicious treat for Easter. It was a super dense, hearty carrot cake, made with a variety of healthier baking ingredients. I topped it off with a delicious lemony cashew frosting. This recipe will create a cake that is almost like baked oatmeal, so please expect a super dense, hearty cake - not a fluffy, light, blood sugar crashing kind of treat.

If you want to have a super duper healthy "I can eat this for breakfast" kind of cake, or simply a healthier way to indulge, please give the following recipe a shot and let me know what you think. Personally, I was mega pleased with it, and I had to stop myself from just spooning the icing directly into my mouth.
 

Carrot Cake

Ingredients

DRY

  • 2 cups regular rolled oats
  • 1 cup gf oat flour (can sub any other flour!)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • pinch sea salt
  • sprinkle of cardamon

WET

  • 1 - 398 ml can pumpkin puree

  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut (can leave out if you want, but I'd replace with some sunflower seeds perhaps)

  • 1 small container of applesauce (about 1/4 cup)

  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or other milk)

  • 1/4 cup oil of choice (I used avocado, but you could use any veggie oil)

  • 2 medium carrots grated

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (makes a very minimally sweet cake! you could double or triple this amount if you'd like it to be more sweet).

  • 2 tsp vanilla

  • Optional: 1/4 cup raisins, grated or diced apple

Instructions

  1. Set oven to 350F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in one bowl.
  3. Mix wet ingredients together in a separate bowl. I whisked it all together with a fork.
  4. Grease a pyrex dish ( I used an 11x7 one, greased with coconut oil).
  5. Add dry to wet, and mix together. Pour into pyrex, and smooth with a spoon.
  6. Bake for 75 mins.
  7. Cake will firm up more once cooled. The consistency of this cake will be a LOT like baked oatmeal.

Lemon Cashew Icing

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups soaked cashews, drained and rinsed (soak for a couple of hours on counter)

  • Juice of 1 whole lemon.

  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil

  • 3 tbsp maple syrup

  • splash of vanilla

  • a bit of water to thin if necessary

Directions

  1. Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy... it seems to get creamier the longer you blend it. You can add a splash more of water or maple syrup if you like, or try adding in a couple of soaked dates instead of maple syrup.
  2. Place frosting in fridge and let firm up a bit while cake is cooling.
  3. Once cake is completely cool, slather it in the icing, and keep in the fridge until serving!
  4. I decorated mine with some veggies and lemon zest :)

I personally think the cake tasted even better on the second and third days. Happy Eating!

Macro Monday: Checking in / Markets / Grocery budget chats.

Hi there friends,

It's been awhile since the last Macro Monday! But now it's June, and June is a lovely month. So Happy Macro Monday!

I've been feeling more inspired by cooking again lately, and am working on a few recipes I'd like to share with you soon.

One of these is a vegan lentil bolgonese sauce. I have a bit more tweaking to do, and then I'll send it your way.  

And another recipe in the works for you is the lovely vegan wholegrain carrot cake I made at Easter. It had a lemon cashew icing, and was delicious. If you follow me on instagram (here's the link!), you may have already seen it. This carrot cake was super healthy, hearty, and very much like what I imagine baked oatmeal would be like. I enjoyed the leftovers for breakfast.

Other than that, I have been doing some gardening, and have already enjoyed eating kale and komatsuna from my little container / pot garden on my balcony. The weather has been fantastic, and T & I have been spending as much time as possible outside. 

GROCERY COST / BUDGET CHAT

I have been doing the larger part of my produce shopping at my local market again, now that it's open at full capacity. This has gotten me thinking a lot about grocery budgets. If you've seen my instagram posts, you'll know that I love sharing pics of my weekly grocery haul. Sometimes I just get a few things, but usually I get a large full basket full of a variety of produce, and while the berries are in season, lots of berries. I try to make this my only produce shop for the week, and this usually works just fine for T & I.

In my experience, at least here in Victoria, despite what many people think, this is much friendlier to our grocery budget, than if I were to buy the equivalent organic things at most grocery stores. And sometimes, I feel like it's even better priced than some of the conventional produce. I know that Vancouver Island has an amazing growing season, but I just can't get over how fairly priced the local and organic veggies are.

In case you're interested, I'll list a few items I regularly buy, with the market price listed first (M), and then a common grocery store (GS) price after:

DAIKON - $2 - 4 M // $5-10 GS (side note: perhaps cheaper in china town).
KALE - $2 -3 M // $3-5 GS
SPROUTS - 2 packages for $5 M // $3-5 per package GS
STRAWBERRIES  - $4-6 M // $5-7 GS (on sale perhaps you can get them for $4).
Fresh BASIL -  $3 giant bunch M // $3-5 GS for a smaller container
Mixed SALAD GREENS - $3-5 M // $4-7 GS 

Here's my giant basket-full of veggies from this weekend:

In case you're wondering, all these vegetables are local (duh), and organic. The quality of these vegtables are MUCH higher than anything I can find at the grocery store. The daikon alone is about half the price of what a similarly sized organic daikon would be at any store, and it is of such higher quality I can barely even compare the two. (most daikon I find at stores is either limp, spongy, or worse yet often moldy!).

This Saturday I packed my basket full of: komatsuna, broccoli, daikon, sprouts, green onions, radishes, collards, salad turnips, the most beautiful green leaf lettuce, basil, mixed kale, baby summer squash and the most tasty little strawberries. The hummus I bought from a local shop on the way home so I haven't included in the price. The total for all these vegetables was $37 CAD. Now, I'm definitely no financial wizard, and perhaps I'm crazy, but this seems like a STEAL of a DEAL! Also considering both the turnips and daikon are sold with their beautiful tops - you can eat these like any other leafy green. I'm all about the 2 for 1 veggies.  I am fairly confident that had I chosen to buy all of these things at a health foods store, I would have paid much closer to, if not more, than $50 CAD. And perhaps more like $40 - 45 for the organic versions purchased at a conventional grocery store.  

I would say this is likely the average amount of produce I buy weekly at the market (some weeks more, some weeks less), but when the berries really start to roll out, my weekly produce price will increase as berries are my fav and are our ultimate summer treat and I will be adding those along to my regular veggie haul.

How much do you spend per week on produce? What do you think - especially fellow Canadians - does $37 seem like a reasonable price, expensive price, or good price for this basket full of organic produce? I'm honestly curious here and welcome your opinions. If you think I can do better, I'd love to know how! (other than growing all the veggies yourself, as I'm doing the best I can at the moment with my balcony garden). 

It makes you think and realize - if you stick to eating veggies, and then items from the bulk bins (whole grains, dried beans, nuts and seeds), with the occasional detour for things like tempeh, tofu, fish, high quality bread, oils, etc., healthy groceries can definitely be affordable.

And one more thing: I understand if organic produce is not importance to you, but it is to me for a few reasons. Firstly, TASTE! Not always, but most often, organic versions are tastier. Seriously. Especially local and organic veggies - so much PRANA! Secondly, the nutritional content issue. Most organic versions of food are higher in vitamins and minerals. Usually, they are grown in better soil yielding more nutritious crops. More nutrition bang per bite. And lastly, obviously, the potential chemicals used in conventional crops are a bit scary. I know that many big organic chains use "organic" pesticides that are supposedly better (they may or may not be), but in my own experience, I have never had organic strawberries that tasted like chemicals, but I have had regular ol' strawberries that do. And ditto that for grapes and all other berries. YICK. 

I'm not completely rigid over organic - I do tend to follow the dirty dozen / clean fifteen guidelines whenever buying 100% organic produce is not possible. And I will try to choose local foods with equal importance as organic because I believe it is the most responsible thing to do environmentally speaking, but I also understand reality and budgets, and I do realize that often organic foods can be more money.

That is why I'm SO EXCITED when it's market season, because my grocery bills usually drop! 

So to wrap up please, tell me about your healthy, perhaps organic, grocery budget tips and tricks!

Check back soon for those recipes <3 <3 <3 

And I'll leave you with a beautiful article written by Phiya Kushi that I found to be extremely inspiring.
 

Hiya! Updates + It's almost Spring.

Hi Guys,

I've been laying low these past few months, busy with work and other things, and have been feeling like I've been in a bit of a funk.

When I stop to think about why I have been feeling this way, a few things instantly jump out:

1. My sleep schedule has been alllllllllll over the place. Late nights / late mornings combined with feeble attempts to get back to my beloved early bedtime. This does not work well for me. Some of this has been out of my control (noise disturbances etc.), and some of it has been my doing - such as just giving in, and staying up late even though I know it's not good for me.

2. Of course, having an erratic sleep schedule has led to me having an erratic eating schedule. This too, does not work well for me. I like to eat at the same time, every day. Call me boring. I don't care. Eating at random hours feels way too cray cray for this little guy (me).

3. Erratic eating schedules also lead to erratic eating choices. Poor sleep + inconsistent meals times = plenty of snacky snack snacks.  I would say that I'm always fairly consistent in eating vegetables and high quality natural foods, but I have definitely been eating a bit "wider" on the Macrobiotic spectrum these days, mostly because I've been eating out more than usual, and I've been feeling very carefree. Hello red wine! yee-haw! This for sure can be good every once in while. But, my body is telling me that it needs a little re-centering.

4. It also makes sense that if I haven't been getting proper sleep, and proper fuel, that I might also overlook the self-care routines and practices that make me feel so good. No matter how erratic my days are, I am always good at taking a few moments to sit in the sun and enjoy a cup of tea. But self-care goes beyond this. It means finding the right balance between social obligations and alone time. It means being consistent in the practices that improve your life. It includes processing emotions and feelings, and taking time to breathe, and to meditate [if you don't meditate, then contemplate ;) ]. And sometimes, self-care means a hot bath and a green sea monster face mask.

Self-care, self-love, and creating a happy and healthy life require diligence and maintenance.

I always appreciate these down phases and feel-like-i'm-in-a-funk periods because they remind me that a good life doesn't just happen to you ... you have to create it! Each person is different, and will require different things to live a big life.

I wouldn't say that it's unusual to feel in a funk in January / February. These are generally considered to be two of the hardest months of the year. But, Spring is in the air (at least over here!) and I'm already feeling my energy shift.

Spring energy is upwards moving. It is invigorating, and motivating, and I'm definitely tapping into that. Think about the colour green. Fresh new buds and sprouts. Right now, there are a billion cherry blossoms and magnolias. Every single time I step outside, I am instantly grateful for this.


So, I know what I need to do to shift back into feeling lovely and balanced! It's always about the simple things for me. Consistent sleeping schedule, regular meals, and lots of cooking at home. In fact, I am already dreaming of the beautiful produce that will soon be in abundance at the market!

So friends, please share: if you're feeling off, what do you do to shift yourself back into balance?

Much love and pink cherry blossoms,
Jess

Vegan Ramen with Brown Rice Noodles

Oh mama.

First, just to clear the air - I have never actually had a bowl of real ramen. Yes, I've had the packaged instant ramen noodles back in the day. Does anyone else remember that terrifying phase in the 90s where kids just ate crunchy ramen noodles out the bag at lunchtime? Though I was sad at the time, looking back now, I am so glad my mom wouldn't let us do that. And I've had some fish or veggie ramen out at restaurants before, and they've been wonderful. But I have never had a bowl of delicious, high quality ramen out a good Japanese place or ramen shop - here in Canada, or when I was in Japan.

But don't worry. My guy T, who has indeed tried and loved many a real ramen in his day, loves this version just as much. So do I. I bet you will too.

It's super quick to make, very warming and satisfying on a cool winter evening, you can use up all the odds and ends kind of veggies in your fridge, and really let's be honest: eating squiggly noodles is just fun.

Vegan Ramen (with Brown Rice & Millet Noodles)

for two.

Ingredients

  • 2 packages of brown rice ramen noodles. I use this one here, by lotus foods. FYI - they have it at Costco - a 10 pack for around $10 <3
  • 4 - 6 cups of water, or soup stock (we like a lot of broth with our noodles, so we use 6 cups)
  • Veggies of choice. We love: thinly sliced daikon or turnips, carrots, mushrooms of any kind, broccoli, greens - especially cabbage, and green onions.
  • Protein of choice: chickpeas, or some tofu are delicious. Sauteed tempeh would also be mega-yum.
  • lemon juice or vinegar.
  • 3 tsp miso paste of choice (we rotate through mugi miso, a millet miso I picked up, and brown rice miso) OR 1 tbsp shoyu.
  • some spice, if you like it hot: chili pepper flakes, a dash of cayenne, some grated fresh ginger
  • dash of nori flakes or other seaweed flakes.

Directions

  1. Heat up a dash of toasted sesame oil in a large saucepan.
  2. Saute your veggies, starting with the green onions (you can add a pinch of salt), and then add the rest one at at time, starting with the thicker or longer cooking veggies first. Leave out the greens to add in later (unless you're using cabbage, if so, throw them in now).
  3. If using tofu, add it in now and saute for a richer flavour. You can also throw it in later.
  4. Add in soup stock / water.
  5. Bring to boil, and let simmer with the lid on until veggies are fairly tender. If you slice your veggies thinly, then probably around 10 - 15 minutes.
  6. Somewhere along the way, add in a squeeze of lemon, or a dash of brown rice vinegar, and any spices you desire. If using shoyu rather than miso, add the shoyu in now.
  7. Add in sliced greens, and the ramen noodles, and let simmer for about 4 minutes (as per package instructions).
  8. If using Miso, after you put the noodles in, stir your miso with a bit of water or some stock, and add to the pot. let simmer on low (not boiling) for about 4 minutes.
  9. I usually throw in some seaweed flakes near the end, after the noodles are added.
  10.  Enjoy! I like mine with a fresh squeeze of lemon or lime.

MTF: Macrobiotic Friendly Vegan Gingerbread Cookies

Happy MACRO TREAT FRIDAY (MTF). It's been awhile since I posted a sweet treat, and Christmas is almost here, so a cookie recipe seems appropriate.

I wasn't sure if I should call these gingersnaps, ginger molasses cookies, or gingerbread...so let's mix it all up and call 'em gingerbread cookies.

Delicious, whatever you call 'em.

Macro Gingerbread Cookies

Wholegrain. One bowl. Super Simple. Very light on the oil. Lightly sweetened with maple.
Makes about 16 small gingerbread cookies.

See other possibilities at the end of the post.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sprouted whole spelt flour (+ 2 TBSP if dough is a bit too sticky)
  • 1/4 tsp each cloves & nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp of FRESH grated ginger
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 TBSP olive oil or other vegetable oil of choice.
  • 4 TBSP maple syrup or brown rice syrup.
  • 2 tsp blackstrap molasses (for flavour)
  • 4 TBSP water
  • Maple sugar for rolling (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix flour and spices together in a large bowl.
  3. Grate ginger. Add to bowl.
  4. Add to the flour: oil, maple syrup, blackstrap molasses and water.
  5. Mix together with a fork.
  6. Wet hands (this is key!!) and roll into small balls, about 1/2 ". If dough is just too sticky after trying with wet hands, don't be shy to sprinkle in a bit more flour.
  7. If desired, roll in maple sugar. Place on parchment paper.
  8. Bake until lightly browned on bottoms, about 12 minutes.
  9. Let sit for 5 minutes and then move to a wire rack.
  10. Let cool completely, and enjoy! Store in an airtight container.

NOTES:

* If you wanted to roll these out and cut out gingerbread men, I'm sure this recipe would work. You might want to let the dough cool in the fridge for a bit first, and I'd roll it out between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Because it'll be thinner, it will take less time to bake. :)

*Also, if you like bigger gingerbread molasses cookies, then I'd recommend making 8 larger balls instead of about 16, and let cook for the same amount of time for really chewy cookies, and a few minutes longer for a bit crispier ones.

* I like them just as much without the maple sugar, as with <3

* And, for your viewing pleasure, here's a video of my class and I making these cookies together, during a Macrobiotic Sweets Class I taught earlier this December, where we made these cookies! I have been so honoured to teach a few Macrobiotic nutrition classes per month at the lovely Templed Mind Studio here in Victoria, and this clip gives you a sneak peek into their delightful studio.


Happy Holiday Baking!!

 

Macro Monday: October & November Catch-up.

Hi Friends,

It's been awhile! October was a delightful and busy month, and time seems to have gotten away from me! It's the last week of November - wow!

October started off with a bang! I went to Seattle to attend some Macrobiotic classes with Warren Kramer, set up by the lovely Teresa who blogs at Sweetveg and Littleveg.

Short version of all of this: AMAZING!
There were just so so SO many good things about it:

#1 - I got to meet Teresa, which was purely delightful. She is just as sweet and caring as you would imagine when reading her blog posts. She organized an amazing weekend, and I'm beyond thrilled that I was able to attend. Thank you Teresa! :)

#2 - MACROBIOTIC CLASSES. Can you believe that I have been doing the whole Macro thing solo for over 6 years!? This is the first time I've taken a cooking class or attended a weekend workshop with multiple classes in all this time. It was SO wonderful to be around other people who use the words "yin" and "yang" regularly - ha! And who also appreciate things like the perfect kabocha, brown rice, and all kinds of things Macrobiotic. It was definitely worth it for me, times like a million!

# 3 - Learning! Warren Kramer is a wonderful, wonderful teacher! I feel super lucky to have been able to attend some classes with him. I definitely tucked away more than a few new-to-me pieces of information. So grateful for all of this!

#4 - FOOD. Can you say full-on multiple course Macrobiotic meals that I didn't have to make...just there for me to enjoy? Heaven, I tell ya'. Here are a couple of photos of one of the meals that I was so lucky to enjoy:

#5 - Seattle. What a great city. In a very non-Macrobiotic fashion, T and I did a coffee tour of the city after the weekend's Macrobiotic classes. ;) So many cute and fun cafes. Amazing coffee. Like, some of the best I've ever had anywhere. And it's a great city full of good veggie eating options - I might do a post later about some of my favourite veggie meals I enjoyed there. We took the ol' city bus and/or walked everywhere, which worked out perfectly. We stayed in a sweet little 1 bedroom suite we found on Airbnb. We just took the ferry from downtown Victoria, straight to downtown Seattle. We booked in advance, so it was only $120 return for each of us. Super easy, and super fun.

Also, in the past few months I have continued to teach a few Macrobiotic classes, which were great fun - thanks to everyone for attending! I will be doing another two before Christmas. Next on is Monday December 1st and is on sweets <3

Also, since October in particular was quite rainy, we have been spending a bit more time inside. T and I have been going through our stuff once again - we are continually trying to downsize. We share a 470 square foot suite, and we both work from home...and we both love it! It just forces us to be on a continual minimizing mission. It feels so liberating to sell or donate stuff you don't need or use anymore.

I'm working on a post for the vegan ramen that T and I have been making fairly frequently. It's super delicious, cozy and makes a great quick meal on a rainy/snowy day. Check back later this week for the recipe - I'll have it up by Friday <3

Also, I have gotten back into reading again - any book recommendations? I enjoy reading all kinds of books :)

Hope the past weeks have been wonderful for all of you.
xoxo jess

 

MacroTreatFriday (MTF): Pumpkiney, pumpkin, pumpkin!

Hi there sweet friends,

If you read anything related to food, no doubt you've been swarmed lately with pumpkin everything. Drinks, treats, soups, casseroles, you name it. I can't really say I'm that sad about it. I do love pumpkin in cooking and in baking. I use pumpkin year round, but there is something extra lovely about it, at this time of year.

So, without further ado, this Macro Treat Friday post is a Dainty Pig round-up of all things to do with pumpkin, that I have posted on the blog over the years.

MTF: Dainty Pig Macrobiotic Pumpkin Recipe Round-up

Get your oven mitts out, crank up the music, and put your apron on :)

ALL of these treats are vegan, whole-food based and use natural ingredients. Most are gluten free friendly, and are in tune with Macrobiotic principles.

 

Dainty Pig Pumpkin Pie

RECIPE HERE

Crustless 10 Minute Macro Pumpkin Pie

pumpkinpie2.jpg

RECIPE HERE

Chocolate Chip & Pecan Pumpkin Oat Cookies

RECIPE HERE

Baked Oatmeal Pumpkin Muffins

RECIPE HERE

Pumpkin Pudding / Custard

RECIPE HERE

Easiest Pumpkin Spice Cookies Ever

RECIPE HERE

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

RECIPE HERE

Pumpkin Oatmeal Carrot Cake

RECIPE HERE

And, I also have a whole bunch of tips and tricks for selecting winter squash, the differences in the types, how to perfectly bake squash every time, and some recipes using all kinds of winter squash in your meals.

Winter Squash How-To Guide

CLICK HERE for TIPS & WINTER SQUASH RECIPES

 

Also, I am super happy to announce that I'll be teaching another class next week, Friday the 26th, at Templed Mind, on Macrobiotic Sweets - finding sweetness within the Macro lifestyle, and how to make some tasty treats - great tips for the upcoming holidays. Class info is HERE. Hope to see you there!

What's your favourite PUMPKIN treat?

Happy day, weekend, baking, life, you name it.
Sending some love your way.

xo jess
 

 

 

MTF: Gluten Free Tahini Cookies

Hi Friends,

It's Friday...yipee!

It's been a busy start to the Month, and so today I'm sharing with you a repeat (reEAT more like it) recipe for MacroTreat Friday!

MTF: Gluten Free Macrobiotic Tahini Cookies

I made THIS RECIPE that I posted awhile ago...but I used tahini in place of the sunflower seed butter. Super yum! Tahini almost tastes like peanut butter. Truth.

To make them gluten free, use gf oat flour. I used all oat flour, and no oat flakes this time, and these cookies were way to easy to make (mere minutes), and even easier to eat!

I put a few dark chocolate chips in some, and left some plain.

They go perfect with a chai tea, and a reading nook in the sun! yum <3

Happy happy day, friends!

Macro Monday: September Reflections

Hi Friends,

September has always been my time. It's the time of year when I feel the most energized , revitalized, and determined. I just LOVE when the air gets a little crisp. Not to mention the way the sunlight filters through the still-a-little-green pretty red & yellow leaves.

I think this is why I have always loved the start of school. I always dreamed about crunching leaves with my new boots on the walk home, and having an excuse to wear a few cozier things like scarves. My heart just swoons. And I know I'm not the only one.

This summer has been mega busy. Good busy. Bad busy. A little bit of all kinds of busy. I am so grateful to have been able to spend to much time with family and friends this summer. Lots of beaches and outings and all of that. And we'll be getting to see more family in a few short weeks, which is super fun! It goes without saying though, that life has been a little more chaotic than I am used to. Finding balance has been hard. But I am learning (trying) to find my grounding within it all.

So, this long weekend T and I unplugged. In fact, there would have been no other choice - we simply needed to regroup and relax and take a break from everything and everyone. We'll be back into the swing of things later on today (this post was written a few days ago, actually, so I could truly unplug over the weekend).

Anyways, back to September - I always love watching how we naturally adapt to the changing seasons. Without consciously thinking about it, I haven't been craving salads in the last few weeks. And I haven't been drawn to the berries at the market the last few weeks (I still got a few, duh). My intuition has been pulling me towards celeriac, and squash, and carrots, and has me planning soups and stews and warm, nourishing plates of delicious hearty food.

I also am drawn to work inwards and see what needs a little polishing. What kinds of things are not serving me at the moment? How can I focus my time more effectively on the things that matter? What can I let go of, and is there anything I need to bring more of in? There are definitely a few habits that I'm going to focus on letting go of, which I may write about in a future post.

I'm also excited, and gearing up to teach a few more Macrobiotic classes in September and October at one of the most lovely & wonderful spaces I've ever been in: Templed Mind. Definitely check them out, and their amazing schedule full of wonderful classes and events. Next Monday, September 8th, at 5-6:30pm, I'll be doing a class on some of the Macrobiotic Healing Foods. Hope to see you there!

Are you an Autumn kind of person? What's your favourite season? Any foods you've been craving lately?

Sending you a big crunchy-leaf, wool socks, and hot mug of tea kinda hug!
xoxo Jess