Lemon Sunshine Cake

Easter is upon us. For me, it is a reminder that we can all have a fresh start.  After days and days of grey, gloomy wet weather, that stretch into weeks with nary a ray of sunshine, you think you can’t bear to put on your trench coat and rubber boots yet again.  Then, all of a sudden, the days grow longer and the sun pokes its head out more; tulips, daffodils and fragrant hyacinths are in full bloom.  And that is when I feel the stirrings in my heart of new possibilities.

Easter - Lemon Sunshine Cake from Kake2Kale 2

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Valentine to a Golden Birdie

It wasn’t love at first sight, not even second sight. My “date” was quite verbose, but I was seduced by his vulnerability, the ease with which he stripped his….heart bare (clothes stayed on). Once I fell into his grasp, I fell hard for him. My husband knew of this love affair, and was fine with it because the object of my affection is a book, The Goldfinch. I devoured it for hours at a time, good thing I don’t have kids, otherwise I would surely have Child Services knocking on my door. I was swept away by the raw beauty of Donna Tartt’s writing, and how the main character wooed me into his inner life. The story unwound itself page by page and wrapped itself around me in sensurround. The Goldfinch in the title of the book refers to an actual painting that became very dear to the main character, but please go read it for yourself if you haven’t already.

I wanted to make an edible Valentine to The Goldfinch, and thought something lemony would be fitting. I decided to create golden cupcakes that are tart and sweet, which is one of the book’s messages, that is – even though your life may be sour, sweetness can still be found. Because the book is so substantial in content and length I wanted my cupcakes to be dense and substantial, almost like a pound cake quality.  For the love of The Goldfinch, below is my Valentine cupcake recipe.

Sweetheart Muffin Kake2Kale

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I Want to Be a Spice Girl

I don’t really do resolutions anymore, because I realize something about myself (which is probably true of a lot of people) and that is – I have no trouble starting something, but sticking with it is a whole other matter.  This doesn’t stop me from trying something new!

“Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want”  I want to be a Spcie Girl!  It’s because I want to use more spices in my cooking and which one to start experimenting with?  In the last few years, turmeric has been gaining popularity in the supplement world because of its powerful active compound curcumin, which is actually a golden orange hued pigment.  It has antioxidant,  anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory properties and may even be instrumental in slowing down the effects of Alzhiemer’s disease.  It has also supports the liver as a detoxifier.

tumeric drink 3 Kake2Kale

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The Ginger Bomb

Who knew cola could be a medicinal drink? When I had the sniffles or a sore throat as a child, I was given a hot drink of cola, boiled with ginger and lemon.  And, by gosh, after drinking this delicious concoction I seemed to feel better.  Once in a while, I order this drink, which is still served at Hong Kong style cafes, and let it transport me back to my childhood.

Now, instead of hot cola, my husband and I make a hot drink with ginger when we feel under the weather.  “Shall I make you the concoction?” offered by my wonderful husband is music to my ears when my nose is runny and my chest is congested.  After a cup or two of this drink, the congestion loosens up and I am able to expel the, ahem..mucous.  Since this drink does such a good job of chasing away those nasty symptoms I am calling it the Ginger Bomb!

Ginger Drink 2 Kake2kale

Ginger is a rock star in the superfood realm, it might not look very pretty with its knobby physique, but it is packed with medicinal and therapeautic properties.  You may think of it as a root, but in fact is the subterranean stem of the plant, called a rhizome, from which roots and shoots extend from.  It has been used in China for thousands of years, and spread to many other cultures via the Silk Road.

It is full of antioxidants like zingerones and gingerols, as well as having antibacterial, antiviral, anti-parasitic, and antiseptic properties.  Ginger may also be just as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in helping with pain relief.  Studies have found a significant decrease in pain from muscle soreness in women athletes, and a reduction in migraine headaches and even in menstrual cramps.  It is also well known to be effective in reducing nausea and upset stomachs.  It is also great for coughs because it helps drain the lungs of mucuous, which is why it is in our concoction!

Ginger is usually sold in pretty large chunks, so when I can’t use it up fast enough, I put it in the freezer, and just grate what I need.

Naturally, you can enjoy my Ginger Bomb concoction even if you don’t have a cold or the sniffles!  It’s a cozy and healthy drink anytime of year.

Other Superfoods in the recipe:
Pineapple – Contains Vitamin C, bromelain which is a digestive enzyme.
Lemon – Contains Vitamin C and lots of phytochemicals.
Honey – May help in treating seasonal allergies if you take a daily dose of honey made from your local area.  It fights infections, in particular manuka honey, which is made from the tea tree plant.

Ginger Drink Kake2kale

The Ginger Bomb serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cup water
  • 5 slices ginger*
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 T. honey
  • 2 T. lemon juice

Directions:

  • Put ginger slices into a pot of water and bring to a boil for 10 minutes.
  • Add pineapple juice and heat through for about 2 minutes.
  • Then add honey and lemon juice. Serve immediately while hot.

*You may save the ginger slices to be used for another bomb.

Eat well and stay healthy!  {Kake}

The Ins and Outs of Coconut Oil

Did you buy a jar of coconut oil because everyone is telling you it has soooo many benefits and you should jump on the coconut oil band wagon? Now your jar is in the pantry, but you remember that its got a reputation as being a bad fat.  Instead of using it, you eye it suspiciously as your hand reaches past it for the good ole olive oil.  Fear not, I am here to answer your queries about the controversy around coconut oil.

Coconut oil has received bad press because it was studied years ago, but the oil that was used was hydrogenated. As we now know, anytime you hydrogenate an oil it turns into a trans fat, which we should all stay away from.  So, naturally, those studies came to the conclusion that coconut oil was bad for you.

Some of the benefits of coconut oil are that it is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, and it also fights yeast (candida), because of its high lauric acid content.  Coconut oil contains about 50% lauric acid.  But, isn’t coconut oil a saturated fat and isn’t saturated fat bad for you?  It is a saturated fat, but not all saturated fats are created equal.  Coconut oil’s fat is made up of medium chain triglycerides (MCT), which behave differently in the body from other saturated fats.  MCT’s get metabolized quickly and doesn’t get stored as fat, but gets converted directly into energy.  There have also been studies done where high amounts of MCT’s help reverse Alzheimer’s.  A doctor, whose husband was diagnosed with the disease, wrote the book ‘Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was a Cure?’ to document how adding coconut oil to her husband’s diet cured him.

Apart from the occasional times that you pull it out for frying and perhaps use as a moisturizer, what else is there to do with that fabulous jar of coconut oil that’s just sitting on your shelf like a Ferrari in a garage full of Chevettes?

Below are some of my favourite ways to use coconut oil.  The following three recipes are vegan, gluten free and dairy free:

Coconut Oil use 5 kake2kale
Dulse-licious Popcorn serves one hungry snacker

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup popcorn
  • 1 T melted coconut oil
  • 1 ½ T Red Star nutritional yeast
  • 1 T dulse flakes
  • sea salt to taste

Directions:

  • Pop the corn kernels in which ever fashion you desire, I use a hot air popper.
  • Melt the coconut oil.
  • Then pour oil over the popped corn, sprinkle with nutritional yeast, dulse flakes and salt.
  • Devour while watching your favourite movie.

Coconut Oil use 3 kake2kale

Cheezy Toast* makes one slice
Ingredients:

  • 1 slice of bread (Gluten Free if you wish)
  • ½ T coconut oil
  • ½ T Red Star nutritional yeast
  • pinch of sea salt

Directions:

  • Spread coconut oil on top of bread, then sprinkle yeast and sea salt on top.
  • Put in toaster oven for about 3 minutes.

Voila, delicious crispy cheesiness!

* When you see the words cheez or cheezy, most of the time it means there is no cheese in it, but still has cheesy flavour.  Note there is a cheese cracker out there with the “z” spelling.  But if you are in a health food store and see “z” spelling, chances are it is dairy free.

coconut Oil use 4 kake2kale

5 minute Chocolate Mousse serves 4
Ingredients:

  • I can (398 ml or 14 oz) pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ½ small avocado (mashed)
  • ½ t vanilla extract
  • ½ t cinnamon
  • ½ t sea salt
  • sesame seeds for sprinking on top (optional)

Directions:

  • Put all ingredients into a blender and blend on high for 30 sec. or more if needed.
  • Portion into pretty bowls and serve.  At this time of year we have pumpkins of all sizes everywhere you go, so I served the mousse in a hollowed out mini-pumpkin.
    Note:  This recipe was inspired by Must Have Been Something I Ate by Peggy Kotsopoulos.

Pumpkin Mousse kake2kale

Other Superfoods in my recipes:
Coconut oil:  see above.
Red Star Nutritional Yeast: 
Full of B vitamins, nutritional yeast is really good for vegans and vegetarians because it has B 12, which comes mostly from animal products.  I often use this as a substitute for grated cheese.
Dulse: 
High in vitamins and minerals, iodine (good for thyroid).  Removes heavy metals from the body.  
Pumpkin: 
High in Vitamin A, lutein, cancer fighting antioxidant and also beta carotene which is good for eye health.  High in fiber as well.
Cocoa: 
High in vitamin B’s and magnesium, both of which supports the nervous system. It also has phenylethylamine, which stirs up happy feelings, and releases stress.
Avocado: 
Contains monosaturated fat which may help reduce bad cholesterol.  It also contains lots of vitamins, in particular C, B’s and E and also minerals.

coconut Oil use 2 kake2kale

Other ways I like to use coconut oil, besides putting them in smoothies and chocolate peanut butter cups, I also like to put them in my coffee.  There is a trend going around and perhaps you’ve heard of it – Bulletproof coffee.  It’s coffee made with fat, either grass fed butter or MCT (a form of coconut oil).  Drinking Bulletproof coffee in the morning is supposed to give you energy that will last until lunch.  So essentially lunch would be your first meal of the day.

Well, breakfast is my favourite meal of the day so I can’t give it up.  But I do make my own version, which is just coffee and coconut oil that is blended making a creamy satisfying drink that gives me a good boost through the morning.

One thing to remember about coffee is that it freezes your digestive system, so I wait at least 20 minutes after I’ve had my coffee before eating.

As for buying coconut oil for cooking and consuming, I use organic virgin coconut oil. It will have more of a coconut aroma/flavour, which I like. The version without aroma will be refined, which means more processed.  If the oil is  just for moisturizing skin then non-organic is fine and is less costly.

Coconut Oil use kake2kale

I leave you with a beauty tip, that is – I have been making my own exfoliator with coconut oil, which works really well.  It has lactic acid containing yogurt, which has moisturizing and exfoliating properties.  Yogurt also helps with lightening spots, as does the lemon juice.  Coconut oil is moisturizing of course.

Coconut Lemon Facial Polish/Mask single application

Ingredients:

  • 1 t coconut oil
  • 1/2 t sugar
  • 1/4 t lemon juice
  • 1 T plain yogurt

Directions:

  • Combine coconut oil, sugar and lemon juice, then apply to face and massage the paste into face with a circular motion.  Avoiding eye area.
  • Smooth yogurt over the polish and let it sit for 10 minutes and then rinse it all off.
  • Use this once or twice a week.
  • If you have sensitive skin test on a small area by your jawline.

What I’ve shared is just the tip of the iceberg of all that coconut oil can do for you and what you can do with it, so I encourage you to crack the coconut shell wide open to find out more of its benefits for your insides and your outsides.

Eat healthy, live and look great! {Kake}