A Little Less Young

In this household, we do not get older, we simply get a little less young.  My hubby is adamant about this.  Yesterday was his birthday and it’s always a challenge to come up with gift ideas for this boy.  But the one thing he always seems to appreciate is good food.  And since he truly is something to celebrate, I thought he deserved some special superfood treatment!

I started with his favorite weekend cereal bowl.  He loves this Protein Quinoa Bowl from Superfood Kitchen by Julie Morris.  He has adapted the recipe to fit his own tastes, so he gave me instructions on how to make his perfect quinoa cereal.  This bowl of green mush may not look terribly appetizing, but it’s full of protein and energizing flavor.  Not to mention, it’s very satisfying and a cinch to make.

  • 1 cup hemp milk (or your favorite nut milk)
  • 1/3 cup quinoa flakes
  • 2 tablespoon hemp protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon maca powder
  • 1 HEAPING (might as well make it 2!) tablespoon almond butter
  • 2 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 sliced banana
  • cinnamon

In a pan, heat the milk over medium heat until boiling.  Stir in the quinoa, turn off the heat and allow it to sit for exactly 3 minutes…no more, no less.  Then stir in the remaining ingredients except the cinnamon and bananas, they get to sit on top.  Apparently, I was a little stingy with the cinnamon, but the birthday boy enjoyed his birthday breakfast bowl nonetheless.

After breakfast was made and cleaned up, I started the birthday cake.  I look for excuses to make this raw, vegan Chocolate Cream Cake!  The perfect, decadent dessert to celebrate the day.

For the Crust, mix the following ingredients in a food processor until the nuts are finely ground and everything forms a crumbly mixture that sticks together when you pinch it.  If it’s too dry, add a tiny bit of water or maple syrup until you get the desired consistency.

  • 1 cup raw pecans (you can use your favorite nuts, but the pecan-chocolate combo is so yummy!)
  • 4-5 medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Next, press the mixture into the bottom of your cheesecake pan to form the crust for the cream cake.  I like to make little individual cakes, so I use an over-size muffin pan made out of silicone.  The silicone allows the cakes to be easily removed after they are set.  You could also use mini cheesecake pans, if you have them.

 

Now for the filling.  Cashews are a life-saver for this dairy lover!  I am still amazed by the delicious, creamy creations you can concoct with a bag of raw cashew nuts.  You wouldn’t believe that this creamy cheesecake type filling is simply made from cashews, cacao, water, coconut oil and a little sweetener!

While you are making the crust, set 2 cups of raw cashews in a bowl to soak in hot water.  Let them soak at least 15 minutes.

For the filling, you’ll need:

  • 2 cups soaked cashews
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup cacao powder

Blend the cashews, water, coconut oil, vanilla and maple syrup in a high-speed blender until smooth and creamy.  Add the cacao and coconut oil and blend again, scraping the sides of the blender as needed.

I used to make this in the food processor before we got a high-speed blender and I could never get the consistency very smooth.  This time, I used the blender and it turned out so perfectly smooth and deliciously creamy I couldn’t resist sneaking a spoonful or two…or three…okay, one more.

Pour the creamy filling on top of the crust mixture and set them in the freezer for a few hours to firm up.  Once the cakes are frozen, they can be easily removed from the silicone cups and stored in the fridge.  Allow the cakes to defrost in the fridge before serving.

Alright, breakfast served, cakes in the freezer, quick clean-up and now it’s time to think up a special birthday dinner.  I was in a lasagna sort of mood, but wanted something fresh and healthy at the same time.  I found a recipe for a marinara sauce from Crazy Sexy Kitchen with lots of garlic and fresh herbs and it sounded so yummy and healthy.  And simple.  In keeping with my cooking style, I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, I just threw in a little of this, a handful of that, left out the spicy stuff.

I sauteed some chopped white onion and garlic (about 4 or 5 cloves) in a little bit of olive oil until the onions were translucent.  Next, I added the tomatoes.  The recipe calls for 5 cups fresh, diced Roma tomatoes, but I used one 28 oz. can of organic crushed tomatoes and threw in one large, diced organic tomato.  I let that simmer for a bit (I didn’t time it, maybe 20 minutes or so) then tossed a handful each of freshly chopped parsley, basil and oregano.  A little salt and pepper to taste and my sauce was ready for…hmm…what should I make to go with my delicious sauce?

I decided to try making some sort of lasagna rolls using sliced zucchini instead of pasta.  For the filling I used some packaged vegan cream cheese mixed with some minced garlic, a teaspoon of lemon juice and some of the fresh herbs I used for the sauce (parsley, basil and oregano).  I spread each thin zucchini slice with the cream cheese mixture, topped that with a handful of julienned carrots, red and yellow bell peppers and sliced mushrooms, rolled ’em up and set them in the fridge until dinner.  Later, I heated the marinara and placed the raw zucchini rolls in the sauce until they were warm, but still fresh and slightly crisp.  I served the zucchini rolls with a chopped veggie salad mixed with lemon and olive oil and some herbed chicken breasts.  So simple, so tasty!

We enjoyed the birthday meal and a movie with family and celebrated being a little less young with some chocolate cream cake.

I am blessed to share my life and my food with such an amazing person.  He keeps me young.  Happy birthday!

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