Vegan Carrot Cake Cupcakes and a birthday dedication


I’m a planner. If I could pencil in where I’m going to be this afternoon, tomorrow, the day after that, 5 years from now, I would probably do it. I live my life by setting goals and accomplishing them, sometimes at the expense of neglecting to see opportunities that are staring me right in the face, or realizing that the path I’ve set out on isn’t even what I want. Over time I’ve gotten better at adapting to the unknowns that life throws at you, but “going with the flow” is still something I will always have to work on. It’s an ongoing process but I’ve figured out how to balance my “J” qualities with a little bit of “P”, such that I can survive when things don’t work out quite as planned.

After all, sometimes the best things in life are the ones that happen to be the most unexpected. Like reconnecting with someone you haven’t seen in a long time who also happens to reside a world away. Someone who was the most important person in my life for the better part of a year and then gone. Having disappeared as quickly as it fell into my lap, I spent awhile trying to reconcile the fact that maybe fate put him there for a reason, in that place, at that time, but that was all it was ever going to be. It was a reality I tried to accept, and for the most part, succeeded in doing so. But every now and then I would have a random dream, thought, intuition that there was more. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that if your gut is telling you something, it’s probably right. And thankfully, it was.

I’m still as much of a planner as ever, but when life hands you beautiful brown eyes and a smile belonging to someone who is smart, witty, caring, and a continuation of adjectives that will never do the real person justice, you embrace the welcome detour that takes you from Point A, to B, to C, rather than the original journey from Point A to C, and never look back. And when cette individual’s favourite cake is carrot cake, and it just so happens to be his birthday, you dedicate your carrot cake recipe to him. Because what else would you do?

J, whatever serendipitous stroke of luck, fate, or kismet brought you back into the centre of my universe, I thank it every day. You challenge me and make me want to be a better person day in and day out, for you, for me, and for us. You’re right, there’s no earthly way of knowing which direction we are going, but there are 360 degrees of possibility from whatever angle I look at it. I couldn’t have planned it better even if I tried. Happy birthday.


5.0 from 1 reviews
Vegan Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Serves: 12
  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tbsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¾ cup shredded coconut
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 bar Green & Black's Organic Ginger Chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  1. Line 12 muffin cups with muffin liners and heat your oven to 325F.
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients, from the flour to the chocolate.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, whisking or stirring to blend.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated.
  5. Portion the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake at 325F for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  6. Cool and top with the frosting of your choice (or just eat as-is).


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Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate Crepes and a goodbye

So this “sorry I’ve been absent from this space for so long, please forgive me” post is going to be a little different than most. Because even though it’s not goodbye for good, it is for the foreseeable future. I mean, you probably saw it coming but I figured I should out and say it rather than pretending it wasn’t happening.

Let’s take a little trip down memory lane, shall we? I started this thing up under a different name, “The Starving Student” back in the first days of culinary school. I hadn’t met anyone yet, I was starting to feel homesick, and creating a food blog seemed like the perfect cure. In that year out in Charlottetown, I went from wanting to be the next (female) Thomas Keller, to losing my interest in cooking professionally altogether. I’ve tried to sum up how that happened here, but I’m not sure that mere words will ever fully explain my decision.

Anyways, I came back home to Calgary and started university. For the first while, I kept up with baking, photography and blogging. I changed my domain name and transferred the entire site all by myself (without losing any of it, somehow). I even went out and bought a fancy new camera, props, backdrops, you name it. If I was going to have a food blog, I was going to take it seriously. Traffic didn’t really increase though, not as much as I would have expected it to for the amount of effort I was putting in. Then somehow it went from blogging every day, to 2-3 times a week, to once a week, to now being lucky to post once a month.

I don’t think it’s really a mystery why this gradual decline has happened. Life takes over and when you are not making money off a blog, it’s far from your first priority. Creating this space has allowed me so many opportunities to pursue my love of food elsewhere, writing for other publications that people actually read, and I’m thankful that it helped to get me in the door. That being said, when I look longterm, I’m not even sure what role food writing will play in my life.

People tend to get confused when I tell them that writing is just a hobby for me. I lead a double life really. When I go out to events, I’m a food writer, but the rest of the time (which is basically 99% of the time), I’m a psychology student soon to be pursuing a Ph.D. in the fall. I’ll be moving to a new city, starting up a new life and whether or not food writing fits into that here and there, who knows? Only time will tell.

So that’s my story. Between finishing my degree, 2 jobs, volunteering and simply having some me time, I probably won’t think about this blog for another couple months. Don’t worry, it’s not going anywhere though. At the very least I’ll keep paying for the domain and web hosting – I’ve put too much time and effort in to just have it disappear. You just won’t see me around here very much (which I’m sure you are already used to). And on that note, I’ve got someone else’s recipe to share with you because I can’t remember the last time I actually baked something. I cook all the time, but dessert? Not so much. I basically just need a few squares of dark chocolate and I’m good to go. I do still like chocolate and that’s never going to change. Whether it’s here or elsewhere, “Because I Like Chocolate” is my mantra for life.

Chocolate crepes with chocolate sauce. How can you go wrong with a combination like that (especially when someone else gives you a recipe and pics and you don’t have to make anything yourself)? Throw in some Kirsch-soaked cherries and fresh whipped cream and you could even make fancy, black forest crepes. The possibilities are limitless really. You could toss in some orange segments, candied mint, toasted nuts, you name it. Or you could just leave these chocolate crepes as is and call it a day. Whether it’s Valentine’s Day or just a Monday night that you want to make a bit more special than the rest, these chocolate crepes are the perfect dessert to whip up in no time. Thanks to Green & Black’s Organic chocolate for the recipe!

Green & Black's Organic Chocoalte Crepes

Green & Black's Organic Chocolate Crepes
Serves: 18-20 crepes
  • 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 oz (57 g) Green & Black’s Organic 70% Dark Chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1⁄4 cup (60 mL) superfine sugar, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 3⁄4 cup (430 mL) AP flour
  • 1⁄4 cup (60 mL) cocoa powder
  • 4 eggs plus 2 yolks, beaten
  • 2 cups (480 mL) 1% milk
  1. Gently melt together the butter and chocolate over low heat. Set aside.
  2. Mix together the sugar, flour and cocoa powder and sift into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the beaten eggs, then the milk, then the melted butter and chocolate.
  3. Pass the batter through a fine sieve and leave to rest for a couple of hours.
  4. When you are ready to cook, heat up a large non-stick frying pan and rub with a little oil. Add enough crepe mix to the pan, tilting it from side to side, to make a thin cover.
  5. Cook for a minute on each side and slide the crepe onto a warm plate lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with superfine sugar. Continue to cook the crepes until all the batter is used and layer each one with a sprinkling of sugar as you go.
  6. Serve immediately, perhaps with some chocolate sauce (see recipe below) or mousse.
Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate Sauce
3 1⁄2 oz (100 g) Green & Black’s 85% Dark Chocolate, broken into pieces
3 Tbsp hot water
Melt the chocolate in a microwave or heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water, then remove from the heat. Add the hot water and whisk until fully emulsified.


January Happenings

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I haven’t blogged since 2014, crazy. Well not really that crazy. Life happens, other things take priority and next thing you know I’ve forgotten about this tiny space of the internet I happen to be responsible for.

I may not be overly present here, but I’ve been busy with lots of other food-related projects.

My latest Eat North food/psychology piece involves marketing, specifically the factors behind buying local and organic. I also did a similar one on food marketing and children.

I also have 3 articles in the current January/February issue of Culinaire Magazine. The New Year is the perfect time to address everything that is wrong with dieting and resolutions, so I tackle that issue here. I also have my usual Chefs’ Tips and Tricks column, subject “Healthy Takes on Comfort Classics.” Last but not least, I was fortunate enough to take a trip to Kicking Horse and the Post Hotel back in December to eat and eat and eat, so you can read about that starting on page 28.


I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season that left you refreshed and rejuvenated to start 2015 off with a bang! I was fortunate enough to spend a couple weeks on the island of Curacao vegging out and trying not to get too sun burned. The food was nothing to write home about, but I may actually be a fan of doing nothing every once in awhile. Now it’s back to the grind. One more semester of my undergraduate degree to go! See you in another couple of months 😉

Amore di Mona Vegan Chocolate Fudge


Vegan fudge. Not words you hear paired together too often. That’s because fudge is usually a labour intensive process that involves cooking a mixture of sugar, butter and cocoa to the exact right temperature in order for it to solidify into a texture that isn’t too firm, but isn’t so runny that it’s essentially a glorified caramel sauce. Well not this time. This vegan fudge is made of all of 4 ingredients, 5 if you include the salt used to garnish the tops. Amore di Mona vegan, gluten free and allergen free chocolate is melted down and combined with coconut milk and agave to sweeten the works. Let it chill and that’s it, you’ve got yourself a batch of fudge. Vegan fudge to be exact.

If you would like to WIN some Amore di Mona chocolate for yourself, scroll down to enter!


Amore di Mona Vegan Chocolate Fudge
Serves: 12-14 pieces
  • ½ cup full-fat coconut milk (the canned variety, not drinkable tetra packs or cartons), reserving 1-2 tablespoons in case the fudge splits
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 8 ounces (340g) Amore di Mona baking chocolate (4 x 2 ounce squares), chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons agave nectar, optional
  • Coarse sea salt, to garnish
  1. In a small pot over medium heat, reduce the coconut milk for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the coconut oil and chocolate until fully melted.
  3. If you notice that the mixture starts to split, in which case the oils will begin to separate from the solids, gradually whisk in the reserved 1-2 tablespoons of coconut milk to help it re-emulsify.
  4. Add in the agave nectar, if desired to sweeten the fudge slightly.
  5. Pour the mixture into mini muffin tins lined with muffin wrappers. Chill until firm, at least one to two hours.
  6. Sprinkle the tops of the fudge with coarse sea salt, just prior to eating. If you salt them ahead of time, it will dissolve into the moisture of the fudge in the fridge and you won’t get the same crunchy texture.
  7. The fudge can be stored in the fridge pretty much indefinitely, but I guarantee it will not last that long. Enjoy!


Vegan Fudge 1


Fancy yourself some vegan, gluten-free chocolates? Amore di Mona has been gracious enough to offer a gift box for one lucky reader so be sure to get your entries in!
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Holiday Cooking on a Budget

No time of year warrants sticking to a budget quite like the holidays, yet December is probably the most difficult month to be a penny-pincher; especially when it comes to food. First you’ve got the turkey. A good one will set you back at least $60-70. Then you’ve got to figure out what sides to pair with it. Everyone has their favourites so there really aren’t any you can eliminate. You can’t forget dessert either. Christmas chocolates? Yes please. But $15 for a box of Quality Street or Turtles, say what?

Thankfully good food doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are 3 dishes you can prepare to serve up to 6 people, for less than $30. If I did my math correctly, that’s less than $5 per person.

Your friends and family may throw a fit if you don’t have turkey for the holidays, so instead of cooking a whole bird, try opting for legs instead. They are dirt cheap – between $2.50 to $3 per leg – and braising them ensures they stay moist and tender, unlike that dry breast meat that no one likes.

For a side, try making a chickpea salad. Beans and legumes are a great way to add bulk to your meal and are a blank canvas to add a plethora of other flavours. The red and green colours of pomegranate and brussels sprouts scream “holidays” to me!

Finally, dessert is required at all holiday meals, regardless of how full you are. Grandma’s coconut snowballs are the easiest treats you will ever make in your life. You don’t even have to turn the oven on. Still they are a crowd favourite year after year.

I don’t know about you but that’s one tasty sounding budget meal right there. It will have everyone at your table saying “Merry Christmas”, your wallet included!



Serves 4-6 – costs $14.50


  • 4 turkey legs
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp. dried herbs (I used a combination of rosemary, thyme and oregano)
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Season the turkey legs with salt and pepper and brown them in a large skillet over medium-high heat. You are just looking to sear them, not cook them through.
  2. Remove the browned turkey from the skillet and place it in a large, oven-proof dish.
  3. Add the vegetables and dried herbs to the same skillet you browned the turkey in. Deglaze with chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  4. Pour the vegetables and stock over the turkey legs. Cover with foil and bake at 350F for 3-3.5h, or until tender. You can then use the braising liquid to make a gravy if you like, or you can serve the turkey as is. The turkey can also be braised a day ahead of time and just warmed up when you are ready to serve.




Serves 4-6 – costs $5 total


  • 1 14 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed thoroughly
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups raw brussels sprouts, shredded
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 2-3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. To make the dressing, whisk together the mustard and honey until smooth. Whisk in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Combine the chickpeas, pomegranate, and brussels sprouts in a bowl. Pour in the dressing and stir to combine.
  3. This salad is best eaten after a couple of hours because it allows the dressing to marinate the chickpeas and brussels sprouts. You can ever make ahead of time to serve the next day.



Makes 20 balls – costs $7.50 total


  • 2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 6-8 oz. chocolate chips (about 1/2 of a typical 350g package)
  • shredded coconut, as needed (about 1-1 1/2 cups)


  1. Stir together all ingredients except the shredded coconut.
  2. Roll the mixture into bite-sized balls and coat each with coconut.
  3. Refrigerate if not eaten immediately.