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Back to School Treats Vegan Tofu Coconut Cookies, Raisin Cookies and Tofu Sticks

America’s leading tofu purveyor since 1983, House Foods Tofu, is making the transition of back-to-school simpler with their easy to make, healthy and delectable recipes. Revealing new school lunches, after school snacks and sweet treat recipes.

I have been treated to new cookie recipes from House Foods Tofu. Their Tofu Oatmeal Coconut Cookies and Tofu Oatmeal Raisin Cookies are made by combining House Foods Organic or Premium Tofu Soft with old fashion oats with either coconut flakes or raisins. For a quick finger friendly lunch, after school snack or family dinner, whip up House Foods Crispy Tofu Sticks. Simply coat House Foods Organic or Premium Tofu Extra Firm with a mixture of crushed cornflakes and spices. These Tofu Sticks look a great deal like the wings at my family’s favorite vegan restaurant, I can’t wait to get a kitchen and give them a try!  Let me know if you try these recipes and how they work.

Tofu Oatmeal Coconut Cookiesimage001

Created by House Foods America 

INGREDIENTS:

½ pkg House Foods Premium or Organic Tofu Soft
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 ½ cup old fashioned oats
¼ c brown sugar
½ c granulated sugar
⅓ cup vegetable oil
½ cup coconut flakes
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt 

DIRECTIONS:

Add Tofu, sugar, oil and vanilla to food processor and purée until smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, salt and coconut and combine with wet ingredients. Mix thoroughly and place in refrigerator for 1 hour to firm.

Spoon approximately 2 Tbsp worth of dough onto greased baking sheet. Repeat for remaining cookie dough. Bake for approximately 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

 

Tofu Oatmeal Raisin Cookiesimage002

Created by House Foods America

INGREDIENTS:

½ pkg House Foods Premium or Organic Tofu Soft
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 ½ cup old fashioned oats
¼ c brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup vegetable oil
½ cup raisins
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

 

DIRECTIONS:

Add Tofu, sugar, oil and vanilla to food processor and purée until smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, salt and raisins and combine with wet ingredients. Mix thoroughly and place in refrigerator for 1 hour to firm.

Spoon approximately 2 Tbsp worth of dough onto greased baking sheet. Repeat for remaining cookie dough. Bake for approximately 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Once batter is thoroughly mixed stir in chocolate chips.
Pour into greased baking tray and bake at 350° for approximately 30 minutes.

 

image003Crispy Tofu Sticks

Created by House Foods America

 INGREDIENTS:

1 pkg House Foods Premium or Organic Tofu Extra Firm, drained and pressed
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
½tsp black pepper
2 eggs, beaten (or egg replacer)
1 ½ cup cornflakes, crushed into small pieces

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice Tofu into 1 x 1 x 3 in. sticks. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper and set aside. Add beaten eggs to a small bowl, and cornflakes to a third bowl.

To coat Tofu sticks, lightly roll in seasoned flour, dip in egg, and roll in cornflakes, turning to coat all sides. Repeat for remaining Tofu sticks and place on baking sheet. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.

Figuring Out How to Stress Less – Finding a Way on Our Second Day

Our second full day in Portland started at 6am with a private ice skating lesson for my oldest, of course without another adult this became an early morning for all three kids, an idea I realized I did not relish late last night.  The first alarm went off and I jumped out of bed and began getting everyone ready, cleaning up the piles of Legos on the floor to facilitate cleaning by housekeeping and again returning to wake everyone up.

Sound Asleep

Too Early

Not the most easy beginning to a day but definitely not stressful.  In an attempt to keep my day relaxed I preplanned some work arounds for our family’s common pitfalls including brining the anti-epilepsy medication with, including a cookie to take the medicine with, bringing drinks and strollers for both younger ones.

We arrived at the rink and the younger ones were still tired, they didn’t even stay up to play in the soft-play area.  When the lesson was over I carted everyone to Bob’s Red Mill Restaurant – probably one of the best kept vegan secrets in Oregon.  We had a breakfast feast for $21 which included 3 giant flapjacks, 2 large pieces of English Muffin Toast, Tofu Scramble, Country Potatoes, Silk Chocolate milk and Nantucket Nectar Lemonade – more than enough for leftovers and everyone was happy. My little gal loves checking out the watermill outside and my older son, who is on a mission to complete an axel, is obsessed with jumping up to touch signs – so both were elated by our breakfast spot today.

Getting some serious air

Getting some serious air

Lots to Learn

Lots to Learn

Vegan Flapjacks

Vegan Flapjacks

After breakfast we dropped our ice prince off at the rink while the three of us checked out a brownstone in NoPo.  It was nice enough, the problem is the somewhat scam-like way that rental agencies operate here.  If you find a listing, you have to file an application paying $45 per adult.  Even if you are approved, they will not let you rent because they want to show the place to as many people as possible – for several weeks, each person paying the application fee.  It doesn’t seem like much but I have been at open houses that have a line of 15 people, to be told there are two applications ahead of mine (so what was the point then?!) Today was the same, I couldn’t leave a deposit or secure a home because they had other showings for the weekend and next week and wanted to get all applications in before making a decision.  Think about it, a 3 Bedroom could have up to 7 people living there – at $45 per application of adult that is $315 per set of applicants (all adults must pay) and with about 5 showings a day for even 2 weeks that is over $15,000 to show one townhome – it really is a racket out here and only one group can actually get the place.  I probably sound mad, but this is reality and it is really inconvenient and it seems unethical. Add to this that the rent is $2500 for 1500 square feet and no A/C, and you get why I have been a bit stressed, this place was the best deal and largest for the money.  Our first day here we stopped at a new complex that had bedrooms so small you could not fit a toddler bed in them at $2495 for 950 square feet. 

After our disappointing home showing we headed back to the mall for some time at the soft-play area – it was a hit but I was tired and I finally convinced everyone to head back to the hotel after a quick stop to pick our skater up some veggie sushi at Mio Sushi.  After much distraction I was able to take a short nap.  When I awoke I made the kids quesadillas before we headed back to the mall and the ice rink.  We hung around until 9pm, everyone had Auntie Annie’s pretzels and lemonade and finally we packed up for the night.

Finding Friends

Finding Friends

I am even keeping my cool as I look at a completely sheet free bed, calmly explaining to my eldest why you want the sheets on for sanitary reasons and asking him to use a calm voice when talking to his overly hyper brother who is jumping during the bed making.

The whole day has been about stressing less – actively.  Things are not necessarily less stressful, I am just choosing not to react to them in a negative way and instead focusing on the positive.

 

The Vegan UnVacation with @VeggieGrill and @MMASpdx

Welcome back dear readers! I have now been in Portland, OR since we touched down on July 3, 2013.  I did the first two weeks alone with three kids and a rental car at the Courtyard Marriott in Beaverton, OR.  The train that ran right by our window and the sprinklers that went off at 3 am did not help our situation which was one tired mom and three kids in a queen room. To say that our hotel stay was a vacation would be a lie.  I saw plenty of families enjoying their “weekend” vacation, we met them in the small indoor pool (I would like to add that their hot tub was permanently out of commission) throughout the two weeks and they were all blissfully away from their homes.  Maybe my problem was I no longer had a home to go home to?

The staff was very friendly but the location was more appropriate for business travelers, there was no continental breakfast and instead an upscale bar area; however, we were only 10 minutes from Washington Park, the Zoo and the Children’s Museum.  We also found some great local places such as My Masterpiece Art Studio.  Alex took a 4 day three hour summer camp on comic book illustrating for $185 and we did some drop in studio with the Sampler Pack (3 pieces of paper and a lump of clay) which may not sound like much but it was able to keep 3 kids busy for 1.5 hours at a price tag of $18. Although I am sure most parents will love the fact that MMAS does not require the children to clean anything up, I still tried to force my kids to wash their brushes and clean their stations.  For moms and dads looking for a great activity that will nurture brain development, hand eye coordination and art appreciation this place has it all.  They also do birthday parties. We witnessed one during one of our trips to the studio and the kids were having a blast!

Regularly we ate at Veggie Grill because it was 2 miles away.  We ran into it by accident looking for a local grocery store chain.  When the grocer didn’t have the treats we wanted we drove through the parking lot and found the recently opened location.  Veggie Grill is a faster food restaurant similar to Native Foods but less greasy and less expensive for the kids meals.  The serving sizes are also larger for the kids meals. Full size portions are equal to, sometimes slightly smaller than Native Foods, but the big plus factor is consistency. I have eaten there more than a dozen times and it is the same quality each time, I could never say that for Native Foods which sometimes tastes as if it is a different recipe and other times is inconsistent in content (more or less seitan, etc).

My gluten and garlic sensitivity shifted into full swing when I was face to face with all the delicious options.  By day four when I could barely stand up straight I decided to ask what options there were that were garlic free, lo and behold (gluten free is readily marked) they also have a garlic free menu!! I have been rocking out with the All Hail Kale salad, I love the tangy mango dressing and their tempeh is pretty good as an addition, the cauliflower mashed potatoes and the Bean Me Up Chili. My kids love the “chikin’” fingers and that is saying a lot.  As Alex told their manager, “They have great texture” and come with a side, dessert and a drink for under $6 (other kids’ items available).

What Veggie Grill does lack is diversity in its menu – there are a lot of “chickin” items and sparse dessert options.  The BIGGEST disappoinment was in their downtown Portland location.  We ordered the “Grilled Cookie” dessert “handcrafted chocolate chip cookie, griddled and topped with chocolate pudding, VG Crema and chocolate sauce” notice that nowhere in there was mentioned nuts.  But YES, this is a chocolate chip nut cookie.  When I brought this to their manager’s attention (since DH is allergic to ingesting nuts) she haughtily asked if we had mentioned a nut allergy. No, we didn’t because nuts were not mentioned on the menu. She refused to refund the item so we left it uneaten.

Now, the Beaverton Veggie Grill is a different story.  I FORGOT, yes me – my fault – to say no gravy on the mashed potatoes, it came to the table with gravy and I know the manager overheard me mention my stupidity in forgetting this fact to my husband and my request that he eat the potatoes so they not go to waste – not two seconds later a second cup of potatoes arrived gravy free – now that is how you handle customer service and why I drive the extra 10 miles out of Portland to eat at this Veggie Grill. Plus the manager looks like Owen from Drop Dead Diva and I have a thing for celebrity spotting even if they are look a likes.

Natural Summer Products to Keep You Looking and Feeling Super

I received samples of products in order to complete this review.  I was not compensated in any way and the opinions expressed are given freely and my own.

Summer finally rolled into our area and with it the need to keep hydrated both internally and externally – we all want to be comfortable in our skin. Don’t you want to look, feel and smell your very best? Check out some of the great new finds for summer.

Comfort starts with how we feel about ourselves and our bodies.  In the last year I have undergone a lot of changes to health and found that I can not eat all of the things I used to love: including wheat, garlic and onions.  When I do my stomach and intestines lead a revolt against me that has me curled in a fetal position and lacking sleep.  That’s when I grab for juices or cleanses.  I am not a fan of juicing – it leaves you with no fiber and lots of sugar, and I don’t believe that the population needs to cleanse but when my intestines are freaking out I like to go with something very basic with one or two ingredients that I know I can eat and get nutrients from without any of the inflammation.

Enter Kaeng Raeng 

Unlike other cleanses, you can eat as many raw fruits and vegetables you’d like over the course of the detox, and you don’t have to change your exercise image routine.  Created by certified personal trainer Lindsay Reinsmith, Kaeng Raeng means “be healthy, be strong” in Thai. Each Kaeng Raeng pouch is a full meal replacement and contains more than a full serving of fruit and fiber, 15g of lean non-GMO protein, probiotics, essential amino acids and vitamins, so you can detox without depriving yourself of important nutrients—or of flavor.

Kaeng Raeng is vegan, gluten-free, caffeine-free, eco-friendly, and contains no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, laxatives or stimulants. Celebs such as Jennifer Lopez, Alicia Silverstone and Lauren Conrad are all fans. I followed the mixing instructions and even added a little extra water but there was an overall too earthy taste for me with the flavors not shining through enough.  I also wound up with a paste in the bottom of each water bottle I used – it was nasty – like mushy flaxseeds.  Other than the taste and texture at the bottom, it was quite filling and not unbearable. Again, I used it when I needed to eat “clean” for me – with a guarantee of nothing new to over stimulate my system, I don’t recommend using cleanses to lose weight or stay healthy – those goals should be achieved through moderation and a healthy lifestyle.

Along with IBS can come dehydration, especially in the summer.  My younger son also has epilepsy and as part of his treatment we need to be sure he does not overheat or become dehydrated, that is where SOS+ steps in. In a nutshell SOS is a “drinkable IV,” the only drink to use the World Health Organization’s oral rehydration solution standard to provide the right balance of electrolytes and sugars for optimum hydration. It comes in single serving packets that are simply added to water, creating a drink with mild lemon flavor.

The Science Behind SOS

image SOS is a complex, specially formulated blend of sugar, sodium, potassium, citrate and magnesium. When fluid arrives at the first portion of the small bowel SOS activates the body’s sodium/glucose co-transport system when one molecule of sodium is pulled from the small intestine into blood vessels by one molecule of glucose. Due to osmotic forces, water is absorbed because it follows sodium.

Many sports drinks attempt to hydrate and fuel, but higher sugar levels often leads to GI distress. Sugar increases osmolality (the measure of solute concentration), and instead of pushing water into the blood vessels, it pulls it into the gut, causing bloating or even diarrhea.  For this reason SOS has only 25 calories per serving and a low osmolality of 230 Osm/L to more effectively transport water into the body.

SOS does have a very mild lemon flavor, it can be hard to get children to drink because it is quite salty tasting.  I could not trick mine to believe it was lemonade, but when they were thirsty after running around they definitely enjoyed sipping this, especially handy to keep around during flu season to keep everyone hydrated.  It is of course great for athletes and to use before, during and after exercise to keep yourself hydrated.

After Workouts Stay Sexy

image With the weather warming up, people flock to the gym to get that beach body that’s been hiding all winter long. Rocking a summer body is in this summer, but those intense workouts can have you sporting a not-so clear complexion. The combination of warm weather and sweat can make skin even more breakout prone, which is not on any summer check list.
M3K’s Bare Face & Fabulous Face Wash/Toner and Make-up remover is a must have for summer facial routines. Bare Faced & Fabulous face wash is packed with wonderful supernatural ingredients such as Goji Berry, Acacia Berry, Aloe Vera, Grape Seed Extract, Peppermint Oil, Ginko Biloba Leaf and much more. This three-in-one foaming cleanser comes in a convenient no spill pump and is ideal addition to anyone’s gym bag.

I have been giving this a try over the last week and was instantaneously a fan of the pump and foam.  I hate leaving facial bars in the shower to get mushy or attract errant facial hair from the hubs shaving. The first time I used this cleanser though I was disappointed by the smell, it was very medicinal and smelled much like over the counter acne products.  Then I took I shower with my kids in the bathroom, they touch everything and pulled my cleanser off of the tub ledge and it rolled to the floor – getting all shook up.  That did the trick.  With a shaken liquid the foam that comes out smells of peppermint and leaves your face feeling tingly and toned.  My skin has been looking brighter too.

Don’t Smell like a Workout

Would you ice an organic, low sugar cake with store bought tub frosting? No. Then why would you take such good care of yourself, eating, exercising and cleaning your body with the best products only to spritz on anything other than natural fragrances? Your scent should be as gentle on your body as the rest of your self care routine. Step into the smell of Pure Natural Diva. You can even test drive the smells with a sample set.  I received a sample set and immediately my inner diva slapped a little Diva on.  It was too cloyingly vanilla in its scent for me – but I’m not used to a pure vanilla botanical and may have slopped on instead of slapping on.

Natural was my favorite scent probably because of its notes of ylang ylang with hints of rose, along with the dilating scent of grapefruit.image

Elixir was a favorite of my children who used almost the entire vial – which could definitely be too much when first applied.  Before it evaporates it has the smell of household cleaner, but once on the scent lightens up into something unique and subtle, very familiar though I could not place the notes individually it reminds me of cooking smells – not quite the smells of baking like vanilla or cinnamon, but more like those of my favorite Indian restaurant – maybe jasmine?

I did not receive Pure but it is listed as sensually uplifting, like sunny day in a mixed field of lemongrass and Lavender. Notes include uplifting cassie, soothing chamomile, lemon, lime and an Egyptian neroli. I am a big fan of lemongrass so I may have to snag my own trio sample once we land in Portland so I can try it out.

Are you Looking to Dine Vegan Farm to Table in Chicago Burbs?

VeganOatmealandHash On our way home from one of our many museum outings I started scanning the area on my smartphone for vegan restaurants.  I was shocked to find one of off Harlem Ave in Palos Heights, IL called the Harvest Room Restaurant.  It is a farm to table run business that sources the majority of its ingredients from local producers.  They offer a wine list, which I wasn’t interested in, and a tea list with an in house tea-ologist who blends herbs and teas to create cup or pot fulls of elixirs and tea concoctions.

They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, all with vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options.  Although our first visit here ended with a mix up in the vegan meal, the staff and management were quick to rectify the problems and make amends (something you don’t often find these days when dining out).  With such great food and service we decided to give it another shot.

I had the vegan gluten free tomato soup – it was delicious, not too heavy and perfectly seasoned, nice and mild with the freshness of the tomatoes able to shine through.  I also have the Warm Eggplant Parcel, the Spaghetti Squash and the Tofu Torque over Quinoa.  Of the three my absolute favorite was the Spaghetti Squash in a mint olive oil with mushrooms, snow peas and petite onions (I skipped eating these because I wanted to be able to enjoy the aromatic garlic sautéed and my stomach can’t handle garlic alone). My husband had a burger (blah, I’m not writing about his carnivore experience – but it did look goodEggplantParcel and he did smile).

We both split the Sorbet Trio, green apple, blackberry and fruta de bosco.  OMG! That is all I can say.  The sorbet was light and airy, fruity but not cloyingly sugary which I can’t stand.  It tasted like you were eating whipped frozen fruit.  Served on a long tray with 2 small scoops per flavor it was great for sharing.  Of course hubby had to also have the Chocolate Lava Cake – it did look non-veganly delicious and was covered in berries to offset the chocolate.

Our first visit I had their oatmeal, home fries and the Eggplant Parcel Salad. My kids got organic wheat pasta and my husband had a biscuits and seitan gravy breakfast.  Both times we were pleased with our meals and the service was wonderful. Our first visit was a Sunday at 2pm, still in time for breakfast and it was quiet. Our second visit was a Friday night 8:30 pm and they were hopping! Even busy our water glasses never remained empty and we were asked several times if we would like more pretzel bread.

TwoSistersBrews I highly recommend you try this hidden gem of a restaurant

7164 West 127th Street
Palos Heights, Illinois 60463

Combat Free Radicals and Win @Bai5 Superfruit Drink CONTEST CLOSED

bai In just a couple weeks Bai 5-Calorie Antioxidant Infusions will be introducing its ninth adventurous flavor… Molokai Coconut. Don’t be confused, this is not a coconut water… it’s a coconut (un)water that has everything a coconut water lacks including rich, 100% natural coconut flavor with only one gram of sugar, while still offering the all-important electrolytes. By combining the antioxidant rich and often underappreciated superfruit, the coffee fruit, Bai5 has a new addition that all coconut lovers ought to try!

Sadly I am not included in the coconut fan club and neither is my husband who has a severe nut allergy.  I did however get a chance to try several of the classic flavors including: Brasilia Blueberry, Congo Pear, Panama Peach, Sumatra Dragonfruit and Limu Lemon.  I was a huge fan of the peach and pear flavors they were full and robust, the blueberry was a little artificial tasting but still good and the dragonfruit was quite powerful in tropical taste.  My least favorite was the lemon – it has an almost antiseptic taste and a very pungent aftertaste.  My children were in love with these as well.  I sipped on them to get a small dose of caffeine during our recent excursions to children’s museums so I could keep up with their youthful exuberance, a couple of times they snuck in sips from my bottle.  The caffeine is mild, natural caffeine (as much as a cup of green tea) and Bai has no preservatives.  You will find nothing artificial, OU Kosher, Vegan, Gluten and Soy Free. Every bottle of Bai contains 250% of the average daily antioxidant intake and bai5 has only 5 calories and is sweetened with  organic stevia.  One of Bai’s investors and marketing advisor is former Vitaminwater CMO Rohan Orza.  In 2012 Bai was named by Beverage World as the breakout drink of the season.

These are best served chilled.

Want to try some Bai? I have a 3 bottles to giveaway so be sure to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below and you could be sipping some chilled coffee fruit soon! Retail Value $2.30 per bottle

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I received Bai5 samples for review, I was not compensated in any way for my review or my opinions, they are my own and given freely. Bai5 is not responsible for prize fullfillment and is not involved in this giveaway. Giveaway prizes are from unused samples received. Open to US residents only.

 

Thanks to all who entered.  Our random winner was Steph C.

Lose 5 lbs Overnight on the Vegan Gluten Free Cupcake Diet

Yeah, that’s how crazy people on the Paleo, Carb-Free, Blood Type diets sound to me but you want to know something, I lost 5 lbs over the course of one night and the only difference in my meal planning was I ate two and a half gluten free vegan cupcakes from The Flying Cupcake in Indianapolis.

How the heck does something like that happen? I have my theories.  A new study released showed that people will overeat “healthy” foods consuming more calories.  I know cupcakes are loaded with calories so I adjust the rest of my meals accordingly.  This could be one answer. Let me say that I have been “eating clean” and a vegan diet well before they were hashtags and trends to tweet about, for 25 years and counting so maybe this isn’t the correct answer.

My second guess is that as a recovering eating disorder patient I have a tendency to over estimate calories.  Any good EDP will bash into your head the idea that too few calories puts the body into starvation and fat storage mode so possibly eating a few extra calories triggered my body into releasing some fat? Maybe.

My third guess is a mix of the two.  I eat a decent amount but as I recently learned during a trip to my doctor – there is no real rule of thumb for how many calories a woman who; regular exercises and almost exclusively breastfeeds a four and one year, while sporadically pumping milk for others should eat.  My doctor told me that my BMI is 27 but if I took of 10 lbs of weight for milk and extra breast tissue from nursing I would be at 24 and she was happy with that.  I quote, “Emily, we are real women – with boobs and butts – that’s healthy. I’m fine with your BMI and you should be too.” I must say that was a very yogic idea indeed.  Not looking for pleasure down outside avenues (more on that later).

Where did I get my cupcakes from? The Raw location of The Flying Cupcake which has a separate gluten free vegan case full of cupcakes regular and jumbo size.  A dozen and a juice box set us back $54.50 (thanks @cxi for the treat!) and I have to be honest – they were hit or miss.  A few were tasty and texture wise palatable but several were way too crumbly. Here is what we ordered:IMG_3544[1]

Bunny’s Favorite Carrot Cake – a carrot cake cupcake.  Now you have to do vegan carrot cake well for me to applaud because I consider myself a carrot cake aficionado and I know who makes the best. The flavor was spot on, and the frosting was good but the cake consistency was too moist – think underbaked, pudding like. When trying to use a fork it would mush down and not spring up, becoming a dense ball of dough.

IMG_3546[1] Happy Birthday To Me Chocolate – chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  There was way too much frosting, the edges of the cake were hard (either overcooked or stale) and the cake itself was sooooo dry. Think Mojave dessert. It crumbled to pieces and the frosting came off in a lump, for both of these that we purchased.  I also could have done without the cheesy plastic flower on top – never paint the peacock.

The Cosby –  a chocolate pudding pop cupcake as it was described on the menu suffered the same cake fate as the chocolate based cupcake above.  The frosting however was quite thick and like a mousse. In fact I make a tofu mousse pie that is very similar – to put it atop a cake was a bit overwhelming- a better name would be death by chocolate. I had one bite and pawned the rest of on the hubs.IMG_3540[1]

Strawberry Shortcake –  was highly recommended by the VERY friendly counter help as her favorite.  And while it was tasty, the cake was almost non existent.  A vanilla cake with overly sweet strawberry sauce in the center and piped filling.  The center became a pile of mush and the cupcake itself was almost hollow.  The frosting was crispy – like almost hardened. When I tried to separate the cupcake from its paper, the whole cupcake fell apart and had to be eaten with a spoon. The cake was neither moist or dry – if you have ever experienced this state of large crumbleness it is most easily described as oily but crumbly.

Ebony and Ivory –  A chocolate cake topped with rich vanilla “dream-cheese” frosting did not go over well with anyone.  The kids were used to similar cupcakes from other bakeries and ate half a bit of this one.  The frosting was not overly sweet may have been the problem and again the chocolate cake was gritty and dry. My husband wound up sharing the kids cake with me and eating the second one later himself on the car ride home.

IMG_3547[1] Bananas Foster –  I ate this one this afternoon and they nailed the taste spot on.  I love anything bananas honestly. Banana bread with a caramel and brown sugar Penuche frosting.  Again though the cupcake was too moist or dense? you can see that the cake is overwhelmed by too much frosting and after taking a forkful the cake does not spring back.  I left half of the frosting on my plate.

Lemon Blue Berry Tutti Frutti – lemon zest buttercream, the cake again was similar in crumble to the shortcake and there was a little too much frosting which made my mouth feel pasty with sugar, but the taste was nice  – a little sweet and a little tart.  I munched on it right before Zumba class this morning.

Orange You Glad I Said Pineapple – pineapple right side up cake with crushed pineapple and orange zest icing.  Again, a little too thick on the icing, it over powered the cake which was not as crumbly but the paper was not full.  The ratio seemed to be half cake half frosting.  I prefer 80% cake 20% frosting.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry –   My son wanted to share so I took a bite then went to cut him a piece, he tried to pick it up and it fell apart in a chunk and the frosting came off in a lump from both halves.  He was not a happy kid about it.  The frosting was mousse like thick, and the cake a little gritty and very dry. He didn’t stop yelling at me about how I ruined the last cupcake. Oh well.

IMG_3550[1] IMG_3551[1]

I would categorize my overall experience as good.  Vegan cupcakes are hard to get perfect and gluten free cupcakes are a real challenge.  Gluten Free Vegan cupcakes then by simple algebra are impossibly difficult to make perfectly. As I understand it too, the bakery just opened this Gluten Free location in April 2013 so they still have time to grow their gluten free knowledge.  The counter girl was amazed when I told her about another variety we buy frozen stating, “we were told you can’t freeze gluten free products. I’ll have to look into that.”

So maybe the cupcake diet isn’t a great idea – I don’t think any diet plans are – and add to that shake and meal replacement plans. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed.  Savor every moment. Live, love and enjoy the food you are eating