Nolan’s Birthday Cupcakes

Yesterday, my first-born son turned three years old! I cannot believe how fast the time has flown.

 

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Two days ago, I posted a picture of the cupcakes I made him in the cooling process and received many inquiries for the recipe, so here it is!

These cupcakes are just sweet enough and super fluffy. They are delicious on their own or topped with your frosting or icing of choice. My cake formula is also easily adaptable, should the recipient have special dietary needs or preferences, as was the case at Nolan’s daycare (one little one couldn’t have peanuts). Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE: CAKE

Makes 12 cupcakes or one 8 x 8 square or round cake

  • 1 cup flour –> I’m using whole wheat.
  • 1-1 ½ cups (depending on the flour) unsweetened, unflavored plant milk –> I’m using 1 cup cashew.
  • ¾ cup sweetener –> I’m using turbinado sugar.
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed
  • ¼ cup oil –> I’m using melted coconut.
  • 1 vegan “egg” substitute (i.e. mashed banana, applesauce, etc.) –> I’m using 1 small banana.
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum (a binding agent, if using gluten-free flour) –> I’m not using it.
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½-1 tsp extract (depending on the flavor intensity) –> I’m using 1 tsp vanilla.
  • ¼ tsp salt –> I’m using pink Himalayan sea salt.
  • Up to ½ cup specialty ingredients (chopped nuts, dried fruit, shredded coconut, cocoa powder, citrus juice/zest, etc.) (optional) –> I’m using nearly ½ cup chopped raw walnuts and ½ tsp ground cinnamon.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your “egg,” whether that involves scooping, mashing, combining, etc. in a large mixing bowl.   Mix together all of your wet ingredients in the same bowl. Separately mix all dry ingredients. Using a whisk or wooden spoon, slowly incorporate the dry into the wet until a smooth, pourable batter forms. Stir in any specialty ingredients, if using.

Pour the cake batter into a greased square 8 x 8 baking dish or round baking dish, or evenly into 12 lined muffin cups. Place the cake/cupcakes in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. My mom always told me that it’s better to over bake a cake (and under bake a brownie); nothing worse than goopy batter in the middle!

 

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Set your cake on a cooling rack for an hour or two. Speed the process by placing it uncovered in the fridge. When your cake (or cupcakes) is cool, frost and decorate (if you want), and dig in!

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Is Your Spaghetti Missing Its Meatballs?

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I have met many vegetarians/vegans over the last few years. Although they can be categorized in a number of ways, when it comes to meat, I see only one: those that do not like the flavors and textures of meat and those that do, but don’t eat it for health and/or ethical reasons. Today, I’m offering a homemade meat substitute for those like me that did actually enjoy meat, but couldn’t bring themselves to eat it any longer.

Is this vegan sausage exactly like its pork, beef, or chicken-based counterpart? No. In my opinion, like vegan diary substitutes, it is different, but equally satisfying. In addition, this recipe is one that you can feel good about since it is not processed and prepackaged with excessive salt, preservatives, and other unnatural additives.

I so wish I could take credit for this Walnut “Sausage” recipe, but it belongs to the amazing Sage Kitchen, which I reviewed last month. Remember the “sausage and mozzarella” pizza I tried from owner Kita Centella’s menu? In reading through an issue of Green Living Magazine, I came across the recipe for that very sausage. It kind of felt like the stars aligned for a second, and as if I needed more proof that plant-based living works for me, that was it. 🙂

I am still working on a meat substitute formula, so for now, this is a stand-alone favorite vegan recipe. I was thrilled to see that the base of SK’s sausage is walnuts, which I don’t particularly enjoy raw unless they are mixed into something else. Although they can sometimes taste a bit bitter, I find ways to incorporate these nuts because they are known to fight and prevent many diseases, can assist in weight control, and contain fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.

DSC_1837This recipe also contains a number of fresh herbs and spices and a touch of “soy sauce or substitute.” I encourage you to try liquid amino acids as your substitute. My sister Petra, who works for eVitamins and is the author of the expat blog 100 Tacks, got me into these, pictured below. Bragg’s is a combination of soybeans and water, and contains no added salt, genetically modified organisms, or MSG. It is gluten-free and offers sixteen of the twenty amino acids (the building blocks of protein), nine of which cannot be produced in our bodies naturally.

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You will LOVE this sausage recipe! I’ve included the ingredients and directions exactly as published in GL, with a few of my notes alongside. Enjoy!

SAGE KITCHEN’S WALNUT “SAUSAGE”

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups walnuts
  • 1 ½ tbsp nutritional yeast flakes (found at specialty markets) –> To learn more about “nooch,” check out my pesto formula!
  • ¼ tbsp soy sauce or substitute –>  I’m using Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.
  • ½ tsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/8 tsp Chakra 4 cayenne powder, 35K –>  Chakra 4 is the brand from the tea shop next to SK.  If you don’t have this brand on hand, you could substitute another.
  • ¼ tsp Chakra 4 ground caraway seed
  • 1 tsp Chakra 4 ground fennel seed
  • 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp mineral salt –>  I’m using pink Himalayan sea salt.
  • 2 ½ tbsp fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
  • ½ tsp fresh oregano, minced
  • ¼ tsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • ½ tbsp. fresh sage, minced

Directions

Place walnuts in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. –>  I followed these directions exactly, but next time, I would process the nuts until they are paste-like.

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Combine all other ingredients together in a mixing bowl. –>  Use a mortar and pestle to grind down your seeds before adding to the other ingredients.

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Slowly fold in chopped walnuts until fully incorporated.

For a raw vegan dish, serve this blend fresh.

It can also be heated to serve as crumbles, or formed into “meatballs.” –>  SK served it sliced in discs atop pizza when I tried it.  Look for my pizza formula using this sausage next week.  🙂

Store in refrigerator for up to seven days or freeze for up to six months.