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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Vegan Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Matcha Cashew Filling

Let’s play a game: How many sandwich cookies can Linda stack on top of each other without them toppling over and falling to their doom?

Well surprisingly I was able to stack five on top of each other with very few complications. Well I would say they only fell over like 7 times, not sure if that is a total success, but it is in my book!

My inspiration for these lovely Vegan Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Matcha Cashew Filling came from the Moon Phase Molasses Cookies I made a couple of months ago. I really loved that cookie recipe from Faring Well that I slightly adapted for those moon phase cookies that I found myself making a batch whenever I felt like it cause they are so easy and so yummy and, wait for it, VEGAN.

One thing that definitely struck me when I looked at those moon phase cookies after I had posted them was why I didn’t make them into sandwich cookies! I think some lovely woman commented on my “in progress” photo I posted on Instagram asking what filling I had used and I was like oh dear, this lady knows better than I do! Wish I had come up with that before!

But as ALWAYS you can find another excuse to make cookies again. I mean there is never an inopportune time to make cookies. It is just against our nature as humans cause we are ALL about the sweet life. Am I right?

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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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Peanut Butter Coconut Chocolate Snack Bars [V + GF]

Aren’t you just sick and tired of getting ripped off buying all those pre-packaged energy bars for like two dollars a pop? I’ve realized that it is a total rip off.

Also have you looked at some of the ingredients? Granted some of them are actually pretty decent and of course much better than your pop tarts or candy bars but some store-bought energy bars do manage to sneak in a unfriendly ingredient here and there without our knowledge of it.

But either way I did get addicted to energy bars for a while. One I was particularly obsessed with were those Peanut Butter Crunch Clif Bars. Oh my goodness are THOSE GOOD. So good that I would buy the 24 packs for 24 dollars and stash them in my cabinet and munch on them every morning. And then buy them again, and again, and yes, again.

peanut-butter-bars-3 peanut-butter-bars-7
Well I started to realize that this was a pretty bad habit. And I was getting a little tired of buying them when I could just make them myself and probably put the right ingredients in them! So I just took a stand and said no more! I saved a Clif wrapper to have the ingredients list for reference and the rest was history.

So I went on the quest to make MY OWN peanut butter snack/energy bars that’s customized to satisfy my needs and my stomach. I wanted to make sure it still had the characteristics of Clif bars like its crunch and signature chewiness. It seemed like a challenge at first but a pulled through and completed my quest (I’m reading Lord of the Rings right now, all about the quests).
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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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Chocolate Açaí Peanut Butter Protein Bars

Just like I’ve gone ‘bowl’ crazy in the last couple of months (I’ve made these tofu noodle bowls like 237504 times), I think it is safe to say that I am now going ‘bar’ crazy.

Chocolate Acai Peanut Butter Protein Bars Chocolate Acai Peanut Butter Protein Bars
When you are mostly eating a plant-based and allergen free diet, bars can really substitute pretty much any of the guilty sweets out there that you can’t have anymore. Like in this case I think it is safe to say that what I made here are literally raw brownies. Fudgy, chewy and utterly sinful raw brownies! I can totally get down with that.

I don’t how they could say that eating gluten and dairy free can be boring (one thing that I know gets boring is the annoying stomach palpitations I get every time I eat a burger). After eating these bars I realized that I most certainly proved them wrong, and its give me great pleasure to know that my meal will never ever be anything but boring (thank the universe for these chocolate chip cookie dough pancakes as well).

Chocolate Acai Peanut Butter Protein Bars Chocolate Acai Peanut Butter Protein Bars
These bars super easy to make AND they satisfy your sweet tooth AND you can put whatever superfoods and nutrients you need in one serving to get you going. Like acai powder! I have been putting this stuff pretty much in all my smoothies now (hello blueberry smoothie). It is a little expensive as are a lot of superfood ingredients and powders when you buy them in bulk but it is so worth it cause acai also tastes so good as well!

And an even bigger plus is that acai powder goes so well with chocolate! I was really surprised as I don’t usually like to flavor my chocolate with anything else, especially berry. I am pretty traditional with my chocolate and usually want it to be and only be the main attraction. But the additional flavor of acai didn’t overpower the chocolate at all or make it too sweet like other flavors usually paired with chocolate. I don’t think I will ever warm up to the concept of orange bitter chocolate!

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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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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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