Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Banana Bread

Rebirth is an incredible thing. To look back at who you were just a few years ago and see a totally different person is not at all alarming. In fact it feels right, it feels satisfying, it feels healing.

Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Banana Bread - gluten, dairy and refined sugar free! Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Banana Bread - gluten, dairy and refined sugar free!
I have come to learn something important in the last few months that I feel so grateful for knowing. And more equally grateful that I’ve started to take this lesson and promote it as much as I can in my future. And this lesson is to welcome, embrace and celebrate change.

To be able to heal because of a change in my life was a concept I never expected to make sense. To me staying in what felt comfortable, staying grounded in every aspect of my life that I knew, that I was familiar with, that I knew would never change – that felt right.

Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Banana Bread - gluten, dairy and refined sugar free! Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Banana Bread - gluten, dairy and refined sugar free!
It wasn’t like holding onto anything such as looking back to the past and never letting go of that. It was more like keeping life in a standstill. Keeping life unaltered, safe. It was my way of making sure I was immune to everything, anything that would come my way. You know, the unknown. Little did I know, that unknown is what everyone knows as moving on.

So I continued to keep myself stifled, continued to repress change until finally it burst out of me. I was free, I was scared but I was free. Rebirth was all that I was waiting for and rebirth is what makes me look forward tomorrow, the day after that, next month, next year, next decade and its such and awesome thing!

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Date Walnut Blueberry Breakfast Muffins [DF + GF]

I have always love blueberry muffins, I mean who doesn’t? They were one of the first recipes I had the guts to make all on my own after my fast-food college days, and I remember how delicious they were!

I had bought Joy the Baker’s first cookbook, my first every cookbook I bought (thanks Joy!) and I made her blueberry muffins recipe so many times that the pages are glued together from so much butter, sugar and flour! Who would have thought that ruining a book means that you gave it the most love!

It was after a year or so that I started to understand the effects of eating all that butter, sugar and flour, especially sugar! I started baking blueberry muffins with more healthier sugar, if that is even a thing, like coconut palm sugar. But at end of the day it is still sugar! It is pretty hard to call anything that has sugar in it healthy, though we like to tell ourselves that sometimes it can be.

date-walnut-muffins-2 date-walnut-muffins-3
So then I started to experiment with dates! I had bought them recently to make these peanut butter snack bars and I was amazed at how sweet they were! They also add another layer of caramel-like flavor which makes them even more delicious. I was incredibly curious to see if I could ditch sugars all together and bake using dates instead.

I was so happy when I discovered how easy it was to replace sugar with dates in my baking recipes! I felt that the blueberry muffins even tasted better and they had much more flavor instead of just having a taste of processed sugar.

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Cinnamon Blueberry Banana Pancakes [GF + DF]

Oh gosh aren’t photos of pancakes one of the sexiest things you ever see on the internet nowadays? Most of the celebrities I had crushes on in my adolescence have gotten older so I find myself staring at pictures of pancakes instead.

Yes I could stare at these Cinnamon Blueberry Banana Pancakes ALL DAY. Well you know I take that back, most of the male hunks I adore on the big screen are still pretty hot and have gotten even sexier as they have aged. But since I don’t have posters of them on my wall anymore, you know the ones that you rip out from teen magazines (What happened to Josh Hartnett?), I’ll still stare at these pancakes.

Seriously whenever I am on the internet, the images that always catch my eye are that of a tall and sexy stack of delicious looking pancakes. I was always asking myself, is this how people eat pancakes every morning?? Like all even, round and perfectly stacked (not to mention quite a lot of pancakes for one serving). Was there just a secret pancake making tip that I was aware of?

blueberry-pancakes-6 blueberry-pancakes-7
Well I realized that when making pancakes you have to treat it like its a main course or you somehow got chosen to make breakfast for the Queen of England or something. This was my secret pancake making tip and then all of a sudden my pancakes no longer look like something that had just gotten run over or, in worse cases, like scrambled eggs. 

I will never become perfect at making pancakes but I will now start to make the act of eating pancakes a little more special by stacking them up nice a pretty and adding lots of yummy fruits and toppings that will make me feel like I am eating pancakes fit for royalty.

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Almond Butter Chocolate Marble Pound Cake [GF + DF]

One day I just woke up and had a crazy sweet tooth. It happened because I had a sudden realization that there were NO sweet things to eat in my fridge or pantry. No cookies, no chocolate, no cake — it was catastrophic.

Almond Butter Chocolate Marble Pound Cake Almond Butter Chocolate Marble Pound Cake
It’s kind of like that ‘you only want what you can’t have’ sort of thing. And at that moment I could not satisfy my sweet tooth, even if I had one or not, hence I psychosomatically gave myself a sweet tooth to fix this most gravest of problems.

And of ALL the sweet things to choose from in that moment to save the day, I chose to make marble pound cake. That was what I knew would immediately solve this problem. Marble pound cakes were one of the few sweet things I grew up on. They were even my birthday cakes as opposed to the ultra sugary pre-made and pre-frosted white cakes you would get at the supermarket. But for me they were still sweet and they were always so delicious.

Almond Butter Chocolate Marble Pound Cake Almond Butter Chocolate Marble Pound Cake
When assembling a marble pound cake, the swirl is the most satisfying part. Whenever I slice into the cake I always gasp and go like “oh look I made this!” Because when you swirl the batter before putting in the oven I always think: “Oh no did I over mix it?” “Did I ruin it?” “Is it gonna come out without a swirl cause the two batters just seeped together?”

Well each time it comes out right and the marble patterning is just lovely. It’s like when a singer performs a song multiple times – though it is the same song, the performance is never the same, each rendition is unique and beautiful in its own way. And I guess it’s the same when making marble pound cakes, but it’s not as romantic.

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Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pancakes

Disclaimer: Do not eat these pancakes for breakfast. I know when you think pancakes you think breakfast. But in this case pancakes most certainly means dessert. Please be advised.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pancakes
I’m not sure you should ever eat cookie dough or chocolate for breakfast in any way shape or form even if it is cleverly disguised in pancakes. I have a feeling the sweetness and the lack of nutrients would definitely throw you off for the rest of the day! I’ll admit though, in college I definitely had my early mornings where I went to the diner across the street and ordered chocolate chip pancakes. I guess that’s the problem about going to a college that’s located smack in the middle of Manhattan. There are 24-hour diners EVERYWHERE and you can order pancakes at ANY TIME.

It definitely threw me off, but after college I learned my lesson that maybe I should avoid eating pancakes for breakfast from now on. Especially ones that are store-bought or from restaurants that are most likely filled with lots of crap. You feel like you are just eating slices of airy sugared cardboard.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pancakes Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pancakes
My love for pancakes came back when I finally accepted them for what they truly are: sweets. And boy do I love pancakes when they’re dessert!! So I reinvented the classic chocolate chip pancakes by not only making them vegan AND gluten-free but filling them up with lots of vegan cookie dough! Cause how upsetting is it when you eat some yummy cookie dough and then have a major tummy ache afterwards? NOT COOL.

These pancakes literally taste like cookies, and those balls of cookie dough on top! I LOVE it. And because it’s dessert, I cheated a bit and added a bit of leftover powdered sugar that I have laying around from back when I used to bake with NAUGHTY ingredients. I guess a little powdered sugar doesn’t hurt right?!

So do you ever have pancakes that are basically dessert for breakfast? I mean we were all kids once but sometimes we still like to act like it again!

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Post-Workout Blueberry Açaí Banana Protein Smoothie

So far in 2016 I have learnt a pretty valuable lesson — working out is not meant for losing weight or obtaining the perfect body, it is meant for so much more.

Post-Workout Blueberry Açaí Banana Protein Smoothie Post-Workout Blueberry Açaí Banana Protein Smoothie
When this new year started I began to look at my lifestyle and started thinking to myself, how can I be sure that this year I will be my happiest, both mentally and physically? I had already changed the way I eat to a plant-based diet which was very rewarding and I am already seeing the positive side effects from sticking to that way of eating. But there was still something else I felt I wasn’t giving my body and more importantly my mind. And that was exercise.

I started to work out 5-6 days a week for 30 minutes each day and it absolutely feels amazing. It has nothing to do with how I look in the mirror or if I can even see my abs, it is entirely a transformation in my mind. Not only does feeling physically stronger makes you feel amazing but the benefits it has on my mind, wellbeing and general happiness is staggering.

Exercising definitely clears my mind, and because of this I have realized that my objectives and goals have become clearer too. I have become much more efficient in my day to day life now because I don’t feel like my clouded head is bogging me down. Have a strong body is great, but having a stronger mind is beautiful.

Post-Workout Blueberry Açaí Banana Protein Smoothie
And to nourish that strong body and strong mind I knew I needed an awesome superfood protein smoothie! Drinking a smoothie after working out is always one of the best feelings ever. Because you are not really hungry, your body is yearning for lots of nutrients and vitamins and you feel like you can hear you body calling.

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Moon Phase Molasses Cookies [V + GF]

Cookies!! But not just any cookies, vegan cookies! But not just any vegan cookies, these are vegan moon phase cookies, and they are fun and simple and you guessed it, delicious.

Moon Phase Molasses Cookies Moon Phase Molasses Cookies
The main objective of this recipe was creating the moon phase and bringing that element into one of my bakes. I got inspired a few months ago when checking out Rosanna Pansino’s Nerdy Nummies Cookbook. She has this macaroons recipe with the different phase of the moon iced on top of them and I just thought it was the COOLEST thing!

Actually everything in that book is mind-bogglingly awesome cause she’s pretty awesome (I am assuming this is a fact though I have never met her). Unfortunately I can’t eat ANY of the things in her book because it’s sugar this and sugar that but the moon phase thing really stuck and I couldn’t get it off my mind!

Moon Phase Molasses Cookies Moon Phase Molasses Cookies
So fast forward a few months. I was thinking what I could bake that would be the right color and shape and that I could adorn with the phases of the moon. My mind went right to some yummy and dark spiced chocolate molasses cookies.

Now please forgive the rustic-looking frosting job I did on these cookies. I am not an expert froster and I don’t think I ever will be. I wanted the frosting to be simple and didn’t want it to seem like too much of a feat to accomplish. For me, who doesn’t like to complicate baking and desserts too much, I am comforted by the fact that these cookies can be made by anybody and with very little effort, yet you still feel like you made something pretty nifty and cool.

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Maple Tofu Noodle Bowls with Peanut Ginger Dressing

Hello noodle bowls! If anyone has come and stayed with me in the past few months, noodle bowls were most likely what they were made to eat on a daily basis. Sorry.

Maple Tofu Noodle Bowls with Peanut Ginger Dressing Maple Tofu Noodle Bowls with Peanut Ginger Dressing
Never mind, totally not sorry! Noodle bowls have just become my all time favorite meal in 2016. It all started with this rice noodle salad and then from there on me and noodles bowls were fast friends.

Not only are they SUPER easy to make (once you’ve made brown rice noodles, regular pasta seems like it takes an eternity to cook) but they are so wholesome and replenishing. In the countless times I have eaten this meal, I always feel so fulfilled afterwards and more importantly my stomach (hey Gertrude) is happy. And lately that has been my top priority!

It is really awesome when you come home from a long day at work and you are actually all giddy and excited about what you are going to eat that night. We all should be looking forward to our next meals not because we are hungry but because we become better and happier people when we eat it. It is amazing how good, wholesome and nutritious food has that effect on you! Seriously whenever I have a doughnut now I become pretty grumpy for the rest of that day!

Is there that one meal that you absolutely love and always look forward to eating? Is it junk food or to your surprise, is the meal healthy with whole ingredients?

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Flourless Dark Chocolate Beetroot Cake [GF + DF]

Yep, it’s another cake! Yet this cake is dark, decadent and positively sinful. I have eaten so much cake these past few days yet this one is little bit more special.

Flourless Dark Chocolate Beetroot Cake Flourless Dark Chocolate Beetroot Cake
Yep that’s right it’s the week of love, obviously. Now I might as well come clean, I am not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. Let’s be honest I am not a fan at all, and never was.

Ever since we had to send little love cards in 3rd grade with a chocolate attached to our prepubescent classmates and I felt the humiliation of only getting one or none at all (and seeing your archenemies getting a few chocolates, when you know she is not very nice!), I have never been able to warm up to this ‘holiday’.

Flourless Dark Chocolate Beetroot Cake Flourless Dark Chocolate Beetroot Cake
As my cynicism developed as I got older (oh those turbulent teenage years) I became less convinced by all the in-your-face pink and red mania you are bombarded with whenever you go to a convenience store or even the dentist office (very strange).

It didn’t help that nobody else around me celebrated or believed in the fervor of Valentine’s Day. After a while it just seemed this day was more for the candy and jewelry companies (not to mention roses that are incredibly over priced) to make loads of money and it just felt it wasn’t really about love itself.

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Cumin Sweet Potato Cornmeal Pancakes

I am totally on board with this whole savory pancake thing. The idea that I can still feel like I’m having pancakes at any time of the day is just an awesome feeling!

Cumin Sweet Potato Cornmeal Pancakes Cumin Sweet Potato Cornmeal Pancakes
And when they are piled up high like that it really does feel like you are eating pancakes when in all seriousness these are more likely termed fritters or latkes to most people. But I’d rather call them pancakes!

Cumin is another ingredient that I wasn’t very familiar with. I took the opportunity to explore this spice with the inception of my New Year’s resolution of going out of my comfort zone picking out ingredients I have never tried out before. And hey, my resolution is still going strong! I might have found the one that actually sticks.

Cumin Sweet Potato Cornmeal Pancakes Cumin Sweet Potato Cornmeal Pancakes
Turns out I love this Indian spice. It still gives the same taste profiles and color of the food from the East, yet I don’t find my mouth burning and needing a gallon of water nearby to chug after every bite. I know it sucks I am a total wimp when it comes to spicy food, I must have inherited a ‘recessive taste bud’ gene or something.

But once again I am so happy I sought to incorporate cumin into my food and perhaps keep it in a permanent place on my spice rack instead of hidden somewhere deep in my cupboard not knowing what in the hell to do with it.

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