“Unicorn” Rose Swirl Cake

We recently celebrated my daughter’s five-year-old birthday party and her theme of choice was unicorns. As we planned each detail, she and I came up with a beautiful birthday cake that got a lot of praises both for the design and the taste. A few of my friends have asked me for the recipe, so I thought it would be a good idea to share not only the recipes, but instructions on how to put this baby together. I am not a baker so I had to do a lot of google searches to make this happen, but hopefully my blog will provide you a one-stop shop so you don’t have to do your own research.

If you have read any of my previous blogs, you probably know that I like healthy eating. And in the past, I have made whole grain cakes, sprouted grain cakes, cakes with spinach, etc. However, I need to warn you, that is not the case for this cake. I threw in the towel and decided that this is a once a year event and I wasn’t going to worry about the excess sugar, color dye toxins, nor the evils of white flour. Although I used mostly organic ingredients and replaced some of the ingredients for healthier options, it is still a not-so-good-for-you cake, but it was sooooooo good!

Well this delicious cake was a chocolate cake because, simply, that is what my five-year-old requested. I do not use some secret family recipe that was passed on through the generations nor did I develop some amazing recipe (Did I mention that I am not a baker?). Nope. This recipe was taken from the back of a Hershey cocoa box. A few years back I had used that same recipe and I remembered people loved it so there was no need to reinvent the wheel. Thankfully for me, that recipe is still printed on their cocoa powder boxes and you can also access it online. Hershey’s own “PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE” Chocolate Cake Recipe is to die for and I highly recommend it.

In order to make my three layered 8″ cake, I had to double the recipe (and use the left overs to make cupcakes). I used mostly organic ingredients with the exception of the Hershey cocoa and the baking powder/soda. I also substituted coconut oil for the vegetable oil. (TIP: If you do use coconut oil, I recommend you warm up the milk so the oil does not clump up.) Once you are done with the cakes, put them in the fridge for a few hours before putting on the icing. Trust me, it will make your life easier.

I knew from the beginning that I wanted a cream cheese frosting because I genuinely dislike buttercream icing. At first, I was not sure if cream cheese frosting would work well for the details my five-year-old wanted on her cake, but after a little google search, I came across this recipe that uses cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and lots of powdered sugar. The recipe worked well for all the decorations just as the author said it would. Make sure to follow her advice to keep the icing from getting too warm in your hands. It makes a difference. You will either need to make two batches or double the recipe to frost the cake and for the filling. However, if you want enough for the cupcakes I mentioned above and maybe to give yourself a little wiggle room, buy enough ingredients for three batches.

I cannot take too much credit for the design of the cake because I had a lot of help from a very intentional five-year-old girl. As she and I perused through Pinterest, we couldn’t find a design we both agreed on. Instead we pulled our favorite details from various cakes to come up with her “perfect” unicorn cake (Feel free to look at our Pinterest board to see where we got our inspiration). Notice that our unicorn cake does not have a unicorn anywhere near it, but my five-year-old felt the color scheme is what made it special. The final product fit perfectly with her party decorations and motif and more importantly, she was thrilled with it.

To actually decorate the cake, you want to first cover the cake with frosting. Roses line the sides and the top is covered with multi-colored jimmies. The roses are actually called “rose swirls” as I found out. To fit four rows, I used the equivalent of a Wilton 129 drop flower tip. If you want larger roses, you can use a Wilton 2D tip (the 2D works better for the cupcakes). I recommend you get at least four tips so that you can have several bags of frosting ready to go. It will allow you to move easily from one color to the next. I didn’t have the extra tips so I had to finish one color, wash the tip, and move on to the next color. It was a bit of a pain. This video shows you exactly how to do the swirls and it is as easy as it looks. Just practice a couple of times before you put it on the cake.

Well friends, that is basically it. I hope you enjoy making this cake and good luck!

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Easy Red Lentil Kale Soup

photo_fotorThis is one of my go-to recipes for a quick easy winter lunch, especially this winter. It has been so cold that almost the entire family (excluding my eight-year-old who hates soup) looks forward to no matter how many times I make it. It warms the soul and it is yummy too. The best part is that it is super easy!

I use home-made chicken stock as my base. I regularly buy a cut-up whole organic chicken. I will use the chicken for chicken salad sandwiches, wraps, or tacos and I will freeze the stock to use at a later date. I think that for this recipe you could foreseeably use store-bought chicken stock, but it may take some of the yumminess out of it.

The other key ingredient is kale. I love kale for so many reasons but it is an awesome cold/flu season food. It is extremely high in Vitamin C (not to mention Vitamin K and A), high in antioxidant nutrients, anti-inflamatory nutrients, and anti-cancer nutrients. You really can’t go wrong with kale as far as your health goes.

The final ingredient is red lentils. The real reason I love these is because they cook so quickly! But red lentils are a great source of fiber and protein and I even hear that it can help prevent weight gain.

That is it. Three ingredients. Can anything else be so simple?

Easy Red Lentil Kale Soup
Print Recipe
An easy winter soup that is healthy and nutritious too!
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Easy Red Lentil Kale Soup
Print Recipe
An easy winter soup that is healthy and nutritious too!
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Combine the chicken stock, lentils and kale in a small pot. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the lentils are soft. That is it. You are done. Serve hot with some fresh bread!
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Easy Granola Recipe

Finished GranolaOur family loves granola, especially for our parfaits. For awhile now, I have been shying away from buying the pre-made stuff because I noticed that most of them contain rice.  Since I try to stay away from rice and rice products, I thought making my own would be a good alternative. For some reason I thought it would be a really complicated process so I have been procrastinating. However, a few weeks ago I visited my sister-in-law and she offered me some homemade granola. It was delicious. I decided to finally give it a shot.

As usual, I brought my first batch before my critics to see what they thought. They loved it! If you are interested, here is the recipe. It really is not all that complicated.  The recipe below is a basic one and I suggest some alternative ingredients in parenthesis. Feel free to experiment and comment below on your own unique combination of ingredients. Enjoy!

 

helping granola

Mixed with a lot of LOVE.

 

Ingredients

5 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)

2 cups chopped walnuts (or pecans, almonds)

1/4 cup flax seeds

1/4 cup wheat germ (or cocoa powder)

1/4 cup coconut palm sugar (or brown sugar)

1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon

1/2 cup coconut oil (or butter)

1/2 cup honey

2 tsp vanilla

2 cups raisins (or chocolate chips, dried fruit)

 

Directions 

baked granolaPreheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl mix the oats, walnuts, flax seeds, wheat germ, and sugar. Set aside. In a small pot, warm up the honey and coconut oil until the oil melts.  Whisk in the vanilla.  Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well.  On a large baking sheet, spread out the granola. Bake for 50 minutes mixing it every ten minutes.  Keep an eye on it so it does not burn.  When it is done, let it cool completely.  Mix in the raisins and store in an air-tight container.

A Healthier Fruit Tart

My husband’s favorite dessert is a fruit tart. Usually, I make the trip to Wegmans and pay a ridiculous amount of money so that he can enjoy it for his birthday. This year I decided to make my own. Although my first attempt was not made with the most wholesome ingredients, I combined and revised a few different recipes for a delicious but more wholesome version of this yummy dessert.

This is NOT a fat-free or low-fat recipe. Those of you that follow my blog, know that I am not a calorie counter and I do not believe or follow fat-free or low-fat diets. I do believe in using the best and most wholesome all-organic ingredients and eating things like desserts in moderation. What makes this a better-for-you dessert is that I used sprouted grain flour instead of white flour for the crust (more information on why sprouted grains are better can be found on my blog on breads). I also used coconut sugar instead of regular sugar for the glaze and filling.

Coconut palm sugar comes from the sap of the coconut plant. Unlike regular sugar which has no nutritional value, coconut palm sugar retains certain key nutrients like iron, zinc, calcium and potassium. Keep in mind, however, that coconut palm sugar may be better for you than regular sugar but it is still sugar. As you enjoy this dessert, it should still be eaten in moderation (or at least that is what I keep telling myself as I try not to go for seconds). Also, because it is a brown sugar, it will give the filling and glaze a brown tint.

You can easily find these ingredients at Wegmans, Whole Foods, and/or Trader Joes. However, if your grocery store does not yet offer these options, you can click on the links in the ingredients list and order them from Amazon.

 

Ingredients:

Supplies:
12 inch tart pan with a removable bottom

Crust
1/2 cup organic powdered sugar ( I could not find a good alternative for this so if you have one please share!)
1 1/2 cups of sprouted grain flour
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted organic butter (softened and cut up in chunks)

Filling
1 (8 ounce) package of organic cream cheese
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1 tsp organic vanilla extract

Glaze
3 Tbsp coconut palm sugar
2 tsp organic corn starch
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup organic limeade (Any non-pulpy juice should work. I didn’t have it on hand for one of the tarts I made, Instead I just used juice from one of my kids’ juice boxes and it came out fine).

Topping
assortment  of kiwis, blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, and/or raspberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, combine sugar, flour, and butter until a ball forms.  (If you use regular flour a ball will form really nicely, but with the sprouted grain flour you get more of a ball with a crumbly mess.  Just pick up the crumbs and ball with your hands and form into a smooth ball. ) With your fingers press the dough into the tart pan. Pat with the palm of your hands until the crust is even. Bake for 12-14 minutes until lightly brown. Let it cool completely.

Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together until smooth. Spread over the cool crust and place the fruit on top. This is your opportunity to be creative so do not feel like it has to look a certain way.  For example, I personally just cut the strawberries in half before putting them on the tart, but you can slice them or leave them whole.

The coconut palm sugar gives the filling a brownish tint.

For the glaze, combine the sugar and cornstarch in a sauce pan. Stir in the lemon juice and limeade until smooth.  Bring to a boil and stir for two minutes or until it thickens. Let it cool completely.  Brush the glaze over the fruit tart and keep in mind that you will not use all of the glaze.

This is the unglazed tart. If you want to cut down on the sugar, skip the glaze. It will still look beautiful and taste good too.
Now stand back and admire your master piece!

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Healthiest Apple Muffins Ever!

Apple Muffins
It is apple picking time!Well, we now have a whole lot of apples to get rid off.  The first thing I did was make the girls some apple muffins.  This is a very healthy, low-fat, low calorie recipe.  I am not a calorie counter nor am I afraid of healthy fats in my food.  However, if for some reason you do need to watch your sugar intake or your consumption of fats, this recipe may work for you.

A few key things to note: 
This is a low-sugar recipe.  That means, I did not use a lot of sugar; it does not mean that I used artificial sweeteners. Unfortunately, the terms “no-sugar” or “low-sugar” on labels usually means they used some sort of artificial sweetener.  That is NOT the case here.  I just used about a fourth of the usual amount of sugar a recipe like this would require.  That also means it is not a super-sweet muffin, but my six-year-old and 18-month-old still loved it.
Instead of using oil, I experimented with apple sauce.  I was pleased with the results.  If you do want to use oil, a good substitute is coconut oil.  It will add fat to the muffin, but a very healthy fat.
The main ingredient is sprouted wheat flour. Sprouted wheat is whole grain, but the grain is allowed
to sprout. To learn more about sprouted grain and why it is so good for you read my blog on breads here.Optional:  I didn’t add any nuts to this recipe but I think it would taste great with walnuts.  Feel free to add some in.

Sprouted Grain Apple Muffins
  • 4 free-range and/or organic eggs 
  • 1/2 cup organic turbinado raw cane sugar 
  • 1 cup organic apple sauce, unsweetened. 
  • 2 cups sprouted wheat flour (If you can’t find it in your grocery store, you can order it here- Arrowhead Mills Organic Sprouted Wheat Flour, 28 Ounce Bag (Pack of 6))
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder 
  • 2 teaspoons ground organic cinnamon 
  • 2 cups grated organic apples

Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners (I greased the liners to keep them from sticking).  Beat eggs until fluffy; add sugar gradually.  Pour the apple sauce into sugar mixture slowly and beat well. Sift the dry ingredients together. Add to batter in 3 additions and beat well after each.  Fold in the apples.  Pour into the cupcake liners.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes and turn out onto a cooling rack.  Let cool completely and then enjoy.

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Making PB&J Healthy for Kids

These make for great and healthy ingredients for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich is a classic and believe it or not, it can be a great lunch for your kids or you (with a side of fruit or veggies).  Traditionally the PB&J is made on white bread, with of course peanut butter and jelly.  Unfortunately, the white bread and the jelly add little nutritional value to a children’s meal.  However, if you use quality alternatives, the PB&J can be part of a power punched meal.  Here is how I make my kids’ PB&J.

Bread:  I use Ezekiel Bread made from a variety of sprouted grains which I believe is superior to just plain old whole wheat.  However, if whole wheat is more affordable that is okay too, just make sure you buy a brand that doesn’t have corn syrup added to it. (To find out more on the different types of breads read my blog on breads.)



Jelly: The jelly is unnecessary for the nutritional punch, but it is the part that makes a kid smile.  However, you can reduce the sugar use by putting just a slight coating on the bread and choosing a high quality fruit spread.  I use Crofter’s Organic Raspberry Fruit Spread.  Why?  Look at the difference in ingredients from the traditional Welch’s. 

——Welch’s Grape Jelly Ingredients:  Grapes (Concord Grapes, Grapes), Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Fruit Pectin, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate (Used As Needed).  13 Grams of Sugar per 1 Tbs.

——Crofter’s Organic Raspberry Fruit Spread:  Concentrated organic grape juice, organic raspberries, natural apple pectin, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), citric acid. 8 Grams of Sugar per 1 Tbs. 

Crofter’s doesn’t have added sugar like Welch’s (also known as corn syrup). 

Nut Butter:  
I use Almond Butter.  Don’t get me wrong, both peanut butter and almond butter are good options.  Almond butter rates better on Vitamin E, magnesium, and iron,but peanut butter provides more selenium.  The key is to find nut butters that are minimally processed with minimal ingredients.  The almond butter I use is from Trader Joe’s and it has only one ingredient: roasted almonds. No added sugar, salt, etc. 

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Cupcakes Healthy Enough for My One-Year-Old

My little angel just turned one and I wanted her to enjoy her first cupcake on her birthday.  As crazy as I am about health, there are some things that are just fun.  And watching your one-year-old try cake for the first time is one of them.  However, I can’t help myself but to try to make her first cupcake somewhat healthy.  I have not introduced sugar into her diet (other than what is natural in foods like fruit) and she has not been introduced to refined white flour.  Even though I knew there was no way around the sugar, I did I come across a recipe online that I could modify to cut out as much of the junk as possible and still be fun for her to eat.

Carrot Cupcakes for my Baby’s First Birthday!



The recipe I found is for a carrot cake. Perfect!  I can sneak a vegetable in there. The recipe is from To Your Health Sprouted Flour Company.  For the original recipe click here.  If you are not familiar with sprouted flour I suggest you read my blog about bread.  Sprouted flour is superior to whole wheat for a number of reasons and sprouted flour bread is what we eat at home.  Imagine my delight to have found a cake recipe that uses sprouted flour instead of white or whole wheat flour.

A Couple of Notes About my Changes to the Original Recipe
I decreased the amount of sugar than the original by half and the cupcakes still came out pretty darn good.  The original also called for maple sugar.  Honestly, I had never heard of it (and probably better for you) but I had to use what I had on hand which was organic pure cane sugar.  For the frosting, I wanted to add a little color just to make it fun so I used annatto (also known as achiote) as food coloring to get the orange color.  Artificial dyes are so bad for you that I am moving away from using them in my baking and switching to natural dyes.  If you have any suggestions on how to improve this recipe, please leave a note below!




 

Carrot Cupcakes Recipe

 

  • 4 pastured or organic eggs
  • 1 cups organic pure cane sugar (or your choice)
  • 1 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 cups sprouted wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • 2 cups organic carrots, grated 

Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.  (I sprayed the liners with olive oil to keep them from sticking).  Beat eggs until fluffy; add sugar gradually.  Pour oil into sugar mixture slowly; beat well. Sift dry ingredients together. Add to batter in 3 additions; beat well after each.  Fold in carrots.  Pour into the cupcake liners.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes and turn out onto a cooling rack.  Let cool completely and ice.


Same recipe, but also used turmeric for the yellow icing and an organic “oreo” as the center of the flower.  Sunflower idea came from the book Hello, Cupcake by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson.

 

To prepare the icing: 

  • 1 8-oz. package organic cream cheese
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup organic confectioners sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • annatto for food coloring


Using an electric mixer beat the cream cheese and butter together until light and creamy.  Add the vanilla and blend.  Add the sugar slowly to blend, and then mix on high until the sugar has dissolved and the frosting is light and smooth.  Divide frosting in half.  Add annatto to one half until you reached your desired color.  Decorate with the white and orange frosting. 



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