Friday, March 28, 2014

GF Vegan Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes and My E-book

Mmm...healthy dark chocolate cupcakes. And they're gluten-free and vegan too! This recipe was developed for my upcoming ebook (available in April). It was delicious but didn't quite make the cut for the new book so I'm glad to be able to share it with you today! These healthy cupcakes get their amazing texture and depth of flavor from golden sweet potatoes and whole grain gluten-free flour (most flours will work).

So, yay!!! If you haven't heard, Baking Backwards will release an e-book for sale next month! Recipes are primarily e-book exclusive (ie. brand spanking new!). I am currently sharing unedited pics of a little of my recipe development on instagram. Have you followed me there yet? Get on it! A few modest unedited recipe development pics are also up on a special pinterest board! These are nowhere near the quality of my edited book images!!!

Let's see what I mean by that:

Big difference, eh? In short, my finished ebook photos are far superior to my instagram recipe development snaps so if food photos get your motor running, watch out for this ebook! And the best part is, if you like what you see I chose a publisher that can print the book to order! So the choice is yours whether you want an ebook or a hardcover! I'm going for hardcover!

Looking for the recipes that go with the new instagram pics? You'll have to order the ebook (don't worry, it will be super affordable!) next month to snag them, but I promise I'm putting all my energy,  heart and soul into this book so you won't be disappointed! These are by far my healthiest and most delicious recipes ever guys and I'm saving them just for you!

As I mentioned above, today's recipe is one off the new recipes I've been developing that didn't make the cut for my ebook. It is so delicious though that I had to share. It got beat out of the running by another cupcake recipe that's too delicious for words. I hope you choose to make these cupcakes asap so you know how high my bar was set for my new book!



Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes
(gluten-free,vegan, whole grain)
Part 1:
  • Just under 3 cups golden sweet potato (peeled and chopped and steamed until tender)
  • Pinch salt

Add potatoes and salt to food processor and blend well.

Part 2:
  • 3-4 tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp maple
  • 3 tbsp pear or apple sauce
  • 1 tbsp pear or apple butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 6-7 tbsp cream from can full fat coconut milk

Add and  blend well until smooth.

Part 3:
  • 1 2/3 cup coconut water
  • 1 tbsp oil of choice ( I use evoo)

Add and blend well

Part 4:
  • 1/3 -1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/3 cup dark coconut sugar

Add and blend well.

Part 5:
  • 2 tbsp chia
  • 1.5 tbsp milled flax
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vinegar

Add and blend well.

Part 6:
  • 3/4-1 cup whole grain gluten-free flour or gluten-free all-purpose blend (I used millet flour but I think they would taste better with brown rice flour or quinoa flour)

Add and blend in well.

Part 7:
  • 1/4-1/3 cup mini vegan chocolate chips (optional)
Mix in by hand. Spoon batter into muffin liner lined muffin pan. Bake in oven preheated to 350F until semi firm to touch. Remove and cool fully. Make ganache frosting while they cool.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting
(gluten-free, vegan)
Part 1:
  • 4-5 tbsp coconut cream
  • Pinch salt

Melt together in pot over medium heat.

Part 2:
  • 1 tbsp maple
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut sugar

Whisk in until smooth. Remove from heat.

Part 3:
  • 1.5 tbsp cacao paste or 2 tbsp raw cacao powder

Whisk in until smooth. Dollop on cooled cupcakes.

Friday, March 21, 2014

DIY Cinnamon Toothpaste

So...this post is a long time coming. By that I mean I have been toying with the idea of making toothpaste for months. Why? Well I live a pretty 'clean' life. I'm mostly vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free...I exercise daily...use organic shampoo...wash my face with olive oil...moisturize my hair with olive oil...the only thing I haven't revolutionized is my toothpaste. For years I've used standard toothpaste. Up until recently I wasn't too concerned. I guess it all started when I ditched my expensive face cream and turned to olive oil that I noticed what a huge impact a little change can make. My skin has never been more clear and evenly moisturized. Recently I've been getting a sore and irritated throat constantly. It's been driving me nuts. I thought it might be food related at first but it came and went after no particular foods. Then I wondered...could it be my toothpaste?? Sodium laurel sulphate and other additives are found in most toothpastes and can apparently cause throat irritation. I spent a little time researching homemade toothpastes and came up with what I hoped would be a good mix to try. I had no idea what a discovery it would be.

I am now two days in to my natural toothpaste experiment...I frickin' love this stuff! My teeth feel clean, my plaque is quickly vanishing and my pearlies are whiter than ever. And my mouth and throat are soothed! Yesterday I woke up to my usual sore throat. Coughed around the house for an hour, brushed my teeth and within ten minutes sore throat gone! And the effect lasted all day! I attribute this to the coconut oil in my toothpaste. Coconut oil is a miraculous food. It's anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and in my opinion delicious! It is the base of my homemade toothpaste and provides a good thick and familiar paste consistency. To it I add an equal amount of baking soda and some cinnamon to taste. And that's it! Three ingredient healthy toothpaste!

Will I keep it up? Absolutely. I am due for a cleaning so I'll be sure to ask my dentist for their opinion while I'm there. If you decide to give this toothpaste a try be warned that it tastes...salty. Baking soda provides a nice and gentle abrasive texture to the paste to help scrub your teeth clean, but it also imparts a strong saltiness. I prefer to avoid adding peppermint oil in this paste as it irritates my throat but feel free to add some pure peppermint oil to give your toothpaste that fresh mint flavour if it hoes my bother you. I instead use ground cinnamon to flavour my toothpaste. More than imparting a nice flavour, cinnamon is also a potent anti viral. I love cinnamon so for me it's flavour and health properties are welcome in my toothpaste any time.

I hope you give this recipe a try! It's a game changer.

3 Ingredient Cinnamon Toothpaste
(vegan, paleo, gluten-free)
  • 3-4 tbsp organic virgin coconut oil
  • 3-4 tbsp baking soda
  • ½ -1 tsp organic cinnamon

  • A few drops food-grade essential oil of your choice (peppermint, lemon, orange etc.)
  • A few drops stevia (if you like your toothpaste sweet)
Using a fork, mash together the baking soda and coconut oil in a sealable jar until it forms a paste. Mash in the cinnamon and essential oil if using.

Give the toothpaste a try by brushing your teeth with a little of it. I just dip my brush into the jar to get a little on it. Add more cinnamon or oil if the taste is not up your alley and mix.

Use as toothpaste!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Healthy Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip Shake and a Cookbook!

Monday is St. Patrick's Day so for most people that means dusting off that green fedora and apologizing in advance to your liver. But for someone like me that means a green coloured dessert at the most. I don't drink much. I can probably count the number of drinks I've had this past year on one hand. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy alcohol -- wine, beer,'s all kind of wonderful. But I have NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) so even moderate drinking isn't recommended during recovery. 

I found out about my NAFLD a year and a half ago when I went to the doctor with constant pain in my stomach. She did an ultrasound to see if I had gall stones but the only thing she could find was that my liver was fatty. I asked how I should proceed having never heard of this condition before. She said to keep on with my vegetarian/vegan diet and that she was stunned that I had developed the disease with my healthy diet as a healthy diet is generally the way to turn it all around for the better. I am a bit of health freak so I did my own research. Most people have fatty liver as a result of a high fat low fiber SAD (standard american diet). Not fitting this box I looked further and found that prolonged use of antibiotics and corticosteroids is another cause. It all made sense. Up until earlier that year I had been on high doses of asthma medications for most of my life. I had also used my fair share of antibiotics over the years as my asthma frequently led to episodes of severe bronchitis as a child. The theory is that these drugs are so toxic to the liver that it becomes overburdened trying to remove them from the body. Tired and listless it has an even harder time trying to process the dietary fats that pass through it resulting in fatty tissue development in the liver itself. If untreated this fatty tissue can cause inflammation in your liver and progress to more serious liver disorders like Cirrhosis of the liver and liver failure (which results in death!). 

Over the past year my symptoms have not improved much on their own despite the fact that I am no longer on meds and still follow a healthy vegetarian/vegan diet. I did a lot of research into natural ways to heal the liver and now incorporate many of these into my daily routine. If your liver is fatty you should try to incorporate the following foods: tumeric, sesame or flax seeds, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, grapefruit (be careful if you take heart medications, ask your doctor first), artichoke juice, kelp and other sea vegetables like spirulina and chlorella, and B vitamins. I take a B vitamin complex daily, I drink tumeric tea, add artichoke juice to drinks, add raw sesame tahini to drinks and meaks, use kelp in my salad every evening instead of salt, and always have a full serving of broccoli and greens every day. I use grapefruit now and then but it often doesn't agree with me.

That sidetrack aside, I often enjoy green smoothies like this Mint Chocolate Chip Shake in order to deliciously incorporate liver-loving ingredients into my day. Lately I have really enjoyed adding some raw sesame tahini to them instead of a splash of non dairy milk. Raw tahini is delicious (less bitter than roasted) and makes an awesome milk substitute when blended with dates and coconut water. Though it may sound like an odd ingredient to throw into a mint flavoured smoothie, give it a try, it works beautifully in this drink. 

This shake is a perfect treat for celebrating St. Patrick's Day. It's healthy but tastes indulgent and can be enjoyed as a light meal as it has a good balance of greens, fiber, protein and good fat. If you don't have raw tahini you could substitute roasted tahini or a handful of raw cashews if you have a powerful blender like a vitamix that can puree them smoothly. If you want to spike this drink, try creme de menthe or a chocolate liqueur.

My post title mentions a cookbook! I am proud to say I am almost finished writing my first ebook! This shake recipe was made for the book but it was too St. Patrick's Day friendly not to share today. The book should be available here to purchase before Easter so check back to baking Backwards for more details!

Take care!


Healthy Mint Chocolate Chip Shake
(vegan, raw, paleo, plant-strong)
  • 1.75 cups coconut water
  • 3-4 pitted medjool dates
  • a few drops peppermint oil
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1 cup spinach
  • ⅛ tsp raw vanilla bean powder or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tsp maple syrup (or substitute agave or raw honey)
  • 2 tsp raw sesame tahini

Blend all of the above ingredients until very smooth in a high speed blender.

  • 2 tsp raw cacao paste (or equal amounts chopped dark chocolate bar)  OR use 2 tsp raw cacao powder

Add and pulse to incorporate. If you are using cacao paste or dark chocolate you can create a mint chocolate chip effect by pulsing instead of blending.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Healthier peanut butter cookies! (grain-free, gluten-free, vegan)

Oh peanut butter cookies. You're awesome.

I love peanut butter, a lot. In fact these days it's one of my few vices. I know that it has protein and it is vegan and gluten-free and all, but there's something about peanut butter...anything that addictive can't be good for you!

 I generally follow a very healthy diet that doesn't involve a lot of bad-for-you foods. I know full well that peanut butter has it's fair share of ups and downs (like contributing to the growth of candida for example which causes mental fogginess, digestive issues and a host of other considerable health problems), and is totally debatable as a 'healthy" food but in my mind if the worst thing you're eating is organic unsweetened roasted peanut butter than you're probably doing alright! Though I generally limit my peanut butter intake to once or twice a week at the most, I have been hooked on it since my childhood. In University I would come home late from night classes and eat peanut butter straight out of the tub and on toast before bed. It was perhaps the best part of my day.

These days peanut butter is not my primary choice of spread. I usually try to abstain from it if I can muster up the will to because once I get into it I find it genuinely hard to stop eating it. I try to stay away from foods that induce a trance-like eating state because I don't think it's good for anyone to lose control with food. For me these foods include peanut butter and dairy ice cream.

Though it does pack some great vegan protein and some essential nutrients, peanut butter also packs a huge whack of fat and calories in fairly miniscule portions. I think the standard recommended serving is max about 2 tbsp, but I've never been able to stop there. It's just too damn good! That being said there are lots of great alternatives to peanut butter that don't seem to be as eerily addictive. My favorite peanut butter swap is pumpkin seed butter. It's really delicious and nutty, has a beautiful pale green color, is nut and legume free and packs a huge hit of healthy fat and protein. Pumpkin seeds also have the ability to paralyze parasites in the body, helping you to flush them out of your system with greater ease. I both make and buy pumpkin seed butter. Nuts to You is my brand of choice but there's not much of an excuse not to make it yourself. You just whiz roasted pumpkin seeds together in a food processor for a few minutes until they release their oil and become seed butter. Fresh also tastes much better.

Though pumpkinseed butter will do just fine when a peanut butter craving strikes, they are still quite different. Lately I've been trying to keep peanut butter in my life in small quantities by adding it to recipes. Because it doesn't take a lot of peanut butter to strongly flavor a dessert or drink, I find it far easier to control my portion size when I mix a little bit of it with other things. One of my favorite combinations these days is peanut butter and dates. When I'm craving something sweet and energizing I crack open a medjool date, remove the pit and smear the inside with peanut butter. Then I promptly eat it like a miniature sandwich -- HEAVEN.

Peanut butter also seems to pair well with dried figs. These delightful peanut butter cookies combine organic unsalted peanut butter with chewy figs, sweet and dense dates, and shredded coconut. The result is awesome. These cookies are sturdy, chewy and loaded with peanut butter flavor. Though they're great on their own, I prefer these smeared with some peanut butter. Insanely good.

If you like peanut butter and chocolate, these are great with some mini vegan chocolate chips thrown in. Trust me on this. My recipe below shows you how to make half the batch as plain peanut butter cookies and the other half as chocolate chip peanut butter cookies.

These delicious little cookies can easily be made peanut free by swapping the peanut butter for your favorite nut or seed butter. I recommend trying pumpkinseed butter. The best part about these cookies is they're no-bake and grain-free! They whiz up in mere minutes in your food processor, take a little nap in your freezer to firm up and voila! Peanut butter perfection.

2 Takes on Healthier Peanut Butter Cookies (one plain, one chocolate chip)
(no-bake, gluten-free, grain-free, vegan)

Part 1:
  • 3 dry turkish figs
  • 1/3 cup pitted medjool dates (loose pack)
  • 1 cup shredded organic coconut
  • pinch pink salt

Add to food processor and blend till crumbly.

Part 2:

  • 1 tsp virgin coconut oil
  • 3.5 tbsp organic smooth peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut

Add and blend well.

Part 3:
  • 4 tsp water or coconut water

Add and blend until mixture pulls together like dough.

Part 4:

  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp raw cacao powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 1 tsp coconut water
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Add and blend well. Scoop tsps at a time and roll half the mixture into little balls. set on parchment lined pan or plate and chill in freezer to set the shape and firm up texture.

Part 5:
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup vegan mini chocolate chips (like Enjoy Life brand)

Add and blend well with remaining mixture in food processor. Roll into balls and chill in fridge like first batch. If desired, flatten each ball with fork to make cookie shapes.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Creamy Zucchini Magic Sauce

Ah, zucchini. How do I love the, let me count the ways. Delicious, easy to digest, versatile, colorful and nutritious -- what's not to love?! And there are so many ways to love you. From slices for dipping to raw noodles to this creamy sauce or dip -- zucchini is one vegetable I always have in my fridge.

I have loved zucchini since I was a child. I think my first experience which showed me how versatile an ingredient it is came when my friend Francesca had me over for dinner one night. Her father Fred was from Spain and was a wonderful cook. He would make seemingly simple dishes unforgettable. That night Fred made fettuccine pasta with a homemade zucchini cream sauce studded with fried zucchini slices. Zucchini gave the sauce a beautiful pale green color, a lightness and a unique almost bitter yet delicious flavor which I would try to replicate for years to come.

In highschool, I always made my own version of Fred's pasta sauce for my little dinners with friends and for parties. I carried on the tradition in University, swapping the heavy cream in the sauce for the more interesting flavor of soft goat's cheese. As an adult vegan I began searching for ways to make a similar sauce. 

Raw Tahini (sesame seed paste) is my cream and/or cheese replacement in this recipe that I am sharing with you today. I had never tried raw tahina paste before, just the standard roasted tahini paste. I recommend it if you can find it -- it is more nutritious, less bitter and easier to mix (tahini separates like a nut butter) than roasted tahini paste.

Today's recipe is a great alternative to my favourite zucchini sauce. It is just as creamy, very filling and mostly raw and vegan. This sauce is thick enough to be a dip (similar to hummus) but creamy enough to be a sauce for pastas, salads and vegetables. I enjoyed it last night as salad dressing, a topping for steamed vegetables and a creamy addition to my bowl of millet grits. 

I call this recipe my Creamy Zucchini Magic Sauce because it is so versatile. Everything I have added it to comes out totally different. In my salad it made a creamy dressing that was vaguely reminiscent of caesar. On my hot steamed vegetables the flavor became more pronounced and transformed the bowl into garlicky, creamy and smokey bliss. On my millet grits it enhanced their creamy texture and gave them a really interesting and delicious savory flavor. My favourite way to eat this sauce was on top of my steamed vegetables. Though I have yet to put it on top of pasta, I know it will be delicious. You could also try it as a topping for rice or other grains.

This sauce is also great as a dip for vegetables and bread -- think hummus. Healthy, creamy, tasty and fresh -- this is one sauce I know I will be making again and again.

Zucchini Magic Sauce
(gluten-free, raw, vegan, paleo)
  • 2-3 tbsp evoo
  • 2.5 zucchinis, chopped
  • 1-1.5 cloves garlic (or substitute garlic powder, 2 tsp or more)
  • juice of ¼ OR  ½  small lemon
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2-4 tbsp raw sesame tahini
  • pinch pink salt
  • pinch chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • paprika or smoked paprika (optional garnish)
Add everything but the paprika to a high speed blender and blend until very smooth. Transfer to a bowl or container and sprinkle on the paprika as a garnish. Serve with veggies or bread or use as a salad dressing or pasta sauce.