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Radiant Radish Pasta Salad

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Once summer rolls into town I love big bowls of pasta salads! Of course, the sky is the limit when it comes to ingredients and flavours and I can’t even tell you my favourite because I love them all! And I can’t even shoot and share each one because, well… sometimes I’m just too hungry to grab my camera, or it looks too good not to eat right away, or my family is gathered around the table ready to dig in and I could not ruin that moment with a photoshoot – I am sneaky but not that sneaky. 

This Radiant Radish Pasta Salad I do have to share though, because it’s just so good and hearty and healthy!

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Radiant Radish Pasta Salad 

Ingredients :

1/2 package gluten-free penne (cooked as per instructions)
handful of string beans, steamed or cooked al dente
8-10 radishes, sliced
1 stalk of celery
1 carrot, diced small
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
dash of mustard powder or 1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
2-3 tablespoons of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 tablespoon flax oil (optional)
juice of freshly squeezed 1/2 lemon

Directions :

Cook the pasta as per packaging directions. Near the end of cooking time, add the string beans to the pasta and cook for about 2 minutes (this saves time and another pot to wash). Strain.

Combine all the ingredients in a big salad bowl, season and toss. Enjoy!

 

 

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Radishes are just awesome! Do you agree?
Ok, so not everyone loves them, but here’s 11 reasons to enjoy them more often. Learn about the Health Benefits of Radishes here:

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Do you like radishes? What’s your favourite way to eat them?

 



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Dairy-free Quick and Easy Homemade Cream Cheese

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Ohhh how I love bagel and cream cheese for breakfast! 

It’s my go-to meal-of-choice for a quick little something that’s packed in flavour and nutrition and oh yes, protein!  

Enter the amazing Dairy-free Quick and Easy Homemade Cream Cheese Bagel! All vegan, all gluten-free, all absolutely delicious!

I used to be a big dairy lover! I love my cheeses of all kinds and cream cheese was something that was always in the fridge. But guess what? Cheese didn’t love me back! It took me years to realize that I just didn’t feel well after I had dairy. It’s amazing how hard it is to connect the food we eat to how we feel… and especially when we enjoy that food, it’s the hardest! Eating food we enjoy becomes a habit, something we don’t even think of changing. It’s the norm. So when I finally started to dabble in changing the food I eat to improve my health, you betcha that dairy came up very quickly (that and sugar!) I knew it just had to go! But it wasn’t until I eliminated dairy for 2 weeks straight and then reintroduced it back to realize it was really making me sick!

It wasn’t overnight, but I learned to not care for it or miss it one bit! What I’ve done instead is to recreate an old favourite recipe dairy-free and LOVE it! ;)

Ever since I removed all dairy from my diet and made other changes, I have never felt better! If you’re like me living dairy-free or are trying to eat less dairy, this is a delicious recipe for you to know by heart and make any time any day… Dairy-free Quick and Easy Homemade ‘Cream Cheese’ ~ really is quick and easy, with just a few ingredients in comes together in about 3 minutes, not more (I had the timer on) really ;) 

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DAIRY-FREE QUICK AND EASY PROTEIN PACKED ‘CREAM CHEESE’

VEGAN/ DAIRY-FREE, EGG-FREE, GLUTEN-FREE

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1/2 package of Organic firm tofu*
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of Vegenaise
  • 1 tsp of dried sweet paprika
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp finally chopped sweet onion*
  • chives for garnish

.

  • gluten-free & vegan bagels (from KinniKinnick)
  • toppings : organic cucumber, cherry tomatoes, pea shoots or other sprouts, extra chopped chives
DIRECTIONS:  

Mix all the ingredients except for the onions in a mixing bowl. Fold in the onions* (my 6 year old does not like onions and I do omit them for this recipe for her or have two batches going on.) I think a little onion is great though.

For a smaller quantity, for recipe above, the immersion blender is the best to use, or you could press all the ingredients down with a fork until well combined, if you don’t have an electric hand blender. For a full size (double all the ingredients) I would recommend using a food processor.

This Dairy-free ‘Cream Cheese’ recipe is fantastic as a sandwich spread (especially on these bagels if you can get your hands on some) – yum! It’s a great source of protein – a couple of sandwiches like that will keep you energized and full longer. The tofu spread really has a taste and texture of cream cheese, – hello, my husband (still a cheese lover) Loves it! Enough said ;)

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This is really something I can whip up with my eyes closed. (with the immersion blender pointing down of course!) It’s such a simple recipe even for my busy mornings now with a babe in the house.

I also love it because I really prefer savoury breakfasts. I find that if I start the day with something sweet, I crave more sweet foods. This is really delicious and has a good serving of protein which your body needs most for breakfast. Although this is a divine lunch spread too…. I guess there’s no rules as to when you can enjoy this ;) 

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 Give me a gluten-free bagel with dairy-free ‘cream cheese’ and I’m a happy girl! 

There was a time during my pregnancy that had my husband drive out to Wholefoods at 8am on a Saturday because I HAD to have this for breakfast ;) 
I miss those times…. the times I could ‘use’ my pregnancy to get what I want ;) Ha!

That said, I just buy a couple of bags of gf bagels and keep them in the freezer ~ those days are gone ;)
And the ingredients for the ‘cream cheese’ are a regular thing we often buy, so it’s all good… this is something I can’t wait to bite into very soon!

What’s your favourite breakfast? Do tell ;)



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Chocolate Chip Cookie + Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches : gluten-free and vegan

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Summer just wouldn’t be summer without ice cream! No wait, hold that. Make that Ice Cream Sandwiches!!! 

Or better yet ~ healthier, gluten-free, dairy free and egg free Chocolate Chip + Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches!!! Ahh…. So Delicious!!! ;)

What could be better than that? How about you eat and SHARE these goodies at your very own STREET PARTY!! (details below!) But first we, bake some awesome healthier, gluten-free and vegan cookies!

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 Then you turn those yummy Chocolate Chip Cookies into even better Ice Cream Sandwiches!!

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Then you set up an Ice Cream Sandwich stand! 

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And finally enjoy your very own Street Party!

Recently we had an amazing fun event happening just steps away from our front door. I always knew we had the best neighbours, but to come out and pitch in to throw a Street Party was the best idea ever! The kids had so much fun, the adults mingled and chatted for hours (way more than the usually rushed and polite hello’s and how-are-you’s). It was just the best day! There were sports games, bouncy castle for the littles, bunnies and a snake to pet (no thank you on the latter!) ;), a big potluck from all the neighbours, grilling, water gun fights, hula hooping contests and music blasting… and let’s not forget; even a fun Ice Cream Sandwich stand of course!

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We had so much fun! One family brought out their house pets : two bunnies and a snake! Pretty awesome. (you could also book a reptile show).

Amelia turned 1 month on that day and was loving the attention she was getting. She thinks we party every month now ;) ha!

 

Here I have the most essential list for you to Get Involved and plan your own Street Party right outside your door!

10 TIPS FOR AN AWESOME STREET PARTY

1. Discuss it with your neighbours! This one is obvious, I know. But you need to get the idea rolling first. Be enthusiastic and get your neighbours excited too. Have a date set and a rough idea of what it would involve. A month to two months heads-up is great to give people enough notice. Go start knocking on some doors! ;)

2. Check for a permit. In Ontario, Canada, we need a city permit for road closures. Here it’s free as long as over 20 signatures of the participants are collected and submitted to the city hall. (If this is not possible to close a street down for a few hours consider a street meet.)

3. Plan the details of what your (more specific) vision is and what everyone would like. This could come up at a second visit to your neighbours once you decide on the date and things are already set in motion. Is it a daytime event mostly for the kids, or evening for the grown-ups? This is also the time to ask for volunteers, donations, what they could provide, borrow etc. Don’t be shy. Delegate and be thankful for great support. (You’re all doing this for each other). 

4. Plan out what needs to be rented and get a cost breakdown of things to be rented. You need to provide a budget to your by-now-excited neighbours! (we only paid $15 from each family)

5. Plan specific activities. Ask the kids what they want to do/ play/ make? Popular activities are sports, bouncy castle (this usually needs to be rented), hula hoop competitions, maybe karaoke?, perhaps a raffle? Plan the activities based on the majority of the age of people on your street. If there’s lots of small children, plan fun hop scotch, bubble making and crafts etc. If there’s older kids, include sports and music for sure. Grownup party only? Get creative and maybe throw in a dress-up theme ;)

6. Plan food. Potlucks are the best and ask what everyone could bring for everyone to share. Be flexible and keep it informal. Plan out some savoury dishes, some sweet, fresh fruit, drinks and dessert. A little in each category is ideal. You can bring whatever you feel is missing (or what your specialty is). If you live in a mixed-cultural area, it’s a great idea to ask your neighbours to bring a dish that’s popular in their homeland! ;)

7. Send reminders about 1 week before. Either by visiting your neighbours or by email/ phone. Get any updates on items that people are donating or lending. 

8. Remember to delegate and get the people involved. You are the ‘project manager’ – don’t put too much on your plate – you want to enjoy the party as well! (just don’t be bossy!)

9. Arrange for legal road signs, etc. Plan for moving cars to make room for the activities so they’re not in the way.

10. Plan the music! Did someone volunteer to be the DJ? Great!! Be sure to start the party with this song! ;)

Get involved and have fun! Take lots of pictures! ;)

Of course, we had a great time making and sharing our Ice Cream Sandwiches! 

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Pure yumminess…. doing a cute Ice Cream Sandwich stand doesn’t hurt ;)
If you will do that, plan for ‘dessert time’ and even announce it. Bring out the ice cream just before serving time and serve immediately… or else it will melt! There’s nothing better than a great home baked ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day ;)

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CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE + VANILLA ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

(to be filled with So Delicious Frozen Dessert)

Ingredients :

1/2 cup organic margarine
1/2 cup organic raw cane sugar*
1 3/4 cup gluten free flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine textured sea salt
1/2 cup So Delicious Plain Cultured Coconut Milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup organic vegan dark chocolate chips
*optional : if making just cookies to eat on their own, add in 2 tablespoons extra raw cane sugar or coconut sugar

Directions :

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour with baking soda and salt, and set aside.

In a mixer, whip the margarine and sugar together until fluffy. Slowly, add in the flour ingredients into the mixer until combined. Add in yogourt and vanilla extract and mix to incorporate. Turn off mixer and stir in the chocolate chips with a spoon.

Scoop one tablespoon of batter onto the baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes. Tops should start to brown slightly. Let cool for 2 minutes on the sheet before moving them onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 15 large cookies – bake for 12-14 minutes or two dozen small (use less dough and flatten the tops with the back of the spoon) – bake for 8-10 minutes.

These keep their shape during baking.

Large cookies can be cut in half and fitted with ice cream in the middle. Two small cookies can be sandwiched with ice cream in the middle.

Just before serving, slice the large cookies (or use two small) and add a big scoop of So Delicious Dairy Free Creamy Vanilla Frozen Dessert!

These cookies are easier to slice through the day of baking, once they are completely cooled. They do loose their crispness the next day and are more crumbly when cutting. If baking a day before, just make the sandwiches out 2 cookies on top and bottom.

Store in an air tight container for up to 3 days at room temperature or up to 7 days in the refrigerator.

Serve on a plate with a fork for a no-mess treat. Enjoy!!

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What can I say…. these were So Delicious!!! ;)

These were so good and a huge hit at our Street Party! People had no idea that gluten-free and vegan could be so delicious!

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I hope you’re inspired to get your community together and enjoy each other’s company more with an awesome Street Party!! ;) If you’re doing that, and making Ice Cream Sandwiches that are gluten-free and vegan – I’m there!!

While you start daydreaming of the perfect Street Party, do yourself a favour and grab some ingredients and make these Chocolate Chip Cookies immediately and fill them with your favourite flavour of frozen desserts from So Delicious (but we like Vanilla the most here) keeping it clean and classic ~ Yum!!! Then, go knock on some doors and Get Involved!

‘Get Involved’ is a fun theme this week over at So Delicious Dairy Free for their #SaveMySummer contests that run all summer long! To get more info, visit their facebook, website, or simply hashtag your photos #SaveMySummer.

So, how do you Get Involved this summer?

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Veggie Protein Tacos with Avocado Lime Cream

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Summer is here and we couldn’t be more excited! Here is to sleep-in days, laid-back days, long walks, bike rides, pool days and living (and eating) in the backyard…

And who doesn’t love a summer menu when the food is light and vibrant and practically no-cooking required! At least that’s what our menu looks like! I love the summer heat and I tolerate it quite well… with lots of water on hand and very minimal clothing (tank top + short skirt + bare feet = summer love)… but my husband doesn’t stand up to heat very well. I guess it doesn’t help that our house doesn’t have the best air-conditioning and the front of the house (where the kitchen is) has very poor air flow and it doesn’t cool off that part of the house well at all. But this dilemma goes in my favour! I am banned from cooking on the stove! Seriously – this is great!! ;)

We still do a lot of grilling, but that’s usually a weekend thing and my husband does it. With the kids keeping me busy it’s impossible for me to stand by the grill. The Mr. is usually too busy to grill up anything on the weeknights – so I’m left to Not-Cook during the week! 

These Veggie Protein Tacos are so amazing and quick to put together, your whole family will love them too! Taco nights (whether it’d be taco tuesdays or taco thursdays or any other day of the week) are super fun to do. You can make homemade tacos that are gluten-free and vegan and still be packed in protein and be light and healthy. And drizzled with the Lime Avocado Cream – they are a must-try! Best of all, the cooking is so minimal and easy. I can’t wait to make these again!

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Veggie Protein Tacos with Lime Avocado Cream| gluten-free and vegan

Serves 2-3 // Prep & Cook Time : 20 minutes
You will need :

8-10 organic corn hard taco shells

Veggie Protein Taco ‘Meat’ Ingredients :

1 cup organic vegetable protein
1/4 – 1/2 cup water
1-2 teaspoons chili powder*
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder*
1/4 teaspoon onion powder*
1/2 teaspoon paprika*
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder*
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

* or 2 tablespoons all-natural taco seasoning

Avocado Lime Cream Ingredients

2 ripe avocados
juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons of avocado oil or EVOO
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion or shallots
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

Toppings :

handfuls of:
organic romaine lettuce
chopped tomato
a little chopped red onion (as little or as much as you like)
vegan cheddar cheese (optional) (we didn’t use any and they were great)

Directions :

Wash and dry all the topping vegetables and chop up very fine. Set aside.

To make the Avocado Lime Cream, simply halve the avocados and scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Add in the other ingredients and mix with a fork smashing the avocado until a creamy consistency forms. To get a completely smooth consistency, blend with an immersion blender before the onions are added in. Season to your liking and set aside.

To make the Veggie Protein Taco ‘Meat’, in a medium-sized skillet or pot, mix the vegetable protein with water and all seasoning and heat on the stovetop for just a few (about 3-5) minutes. Add a few tablespoons more water if the ‘meat’ looks too dry. Transfer onto a serving bowl.

For best, most fun way to eat, set the taco shells, Taco ‘Meat’ bowl, Avocado Lime Cream bowl and all the toppings spread onto a large platter onto the middle of the table for a self-serve taco station.

To assemble the tacos, layer a couple of tablespoons of the taco ‘meat’, add lettuce, tomato, (optional cheese) and top with the Avocado Lime Cream and a sprinkling of chopped red onions. And enjoy your delicious protein-rich, light-tasting, healthy, gluten-free and vegan taco night!! Yum! ;)

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These Veggie Protein Tacos are one of our favourite meals! And it’s funny too because it’s my 6 year old daughter who requested a Taco Night! You know how she got the idea? From singing the ‘Cups‘ song… 

When I’m gone
When I’m gone
You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone
You’re gonna miss me by my walk
You’re gonna miss me by my talk, oh
You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone

“talk, oh” just made her think of “taco”! and that’s how this summetime dinner idea was born ;) Kids are so fun!!! ;)
I am inspired by her thinking-outside-the-box! I want carefree inspirations like this ;)

Best part of this dinner, was just sitting down on our patio table and enjoying these delicious tacos! Oh yeah, the part with cooking time only being 2-3 minutes was pretty awesome too!! ;)

My daughter loved them and so did my ‘real’-meat-eating husband who loved them and who didn’t care there was no beef in them. I was happy that the flavour of the veggie protein was spot-on like taco meat that I remember. And working with vegetable protein is so quick and easy and no spoilage like you get with meat (or bacteria or antibiotics or hormones). And it’s so much healthier too!

Vegetable Protein is a mix of shredded dehydrated vegetables. It’s light on the digestive tract vs. meat and it’s packed with protein and other nutrients. I love working with it because it’s also incredibly convenient. I just always try to have a bag of it in the pantry so it’s at my finger tips if we need a quick meal. It’s so versatile too as it’s practically flavourless ~ which means, it quickly takes on the flavour of whatever you put on it! For example, you MUST try my Meaty-but-Meatless Spaghetti Sauce!

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 So here’s to Summer and no-cooking (or very minimal cooking), the cups song on repeat with performances, and many more “talk, oh” nights! ;)

Pure Ella 

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Raspberry Lemon Mini Vegan Cheesecakes : raw, gluten-free, paleo, sugar-free

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Hello Summer!

I can’t believe we’re nearing the end of June already… what a month it has been! Simply the best really because, as you know, it all started with a new baby joining our family on June 1st! Little Lady Amelia (as my older daughter started to call her) is just adorable. She’s growing speedy quick and is a great baby ;) I simply can’t get enough of those chubby cheekies on her!

Since our family and friends are making more visits to see the baby, I went and made something really delicious to have on hand when they come over.

These Raspberry Lemon Mini Vegan Cheesecakes were the perfect little dessert that made everyone happy ~ delicious, creamy and smooth with a lemony flavour and a fresh raspberry burst ~ oh my! These mini vegan cheesecakes are actually easy to make and healthy with all the good-for-you ingredients as they are raw, no-bake, vegan, gluten-free and paleo friendly. With a real melt-in-your-mouth goodness! 

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RASPBERRY LEMON MINI VEGAN CHEESECAKES :
RAW, GLUTEN-FREE, PALEO, SUGAR-FREE

Ingredients for the base :

3/4 cups almonds
1/2 cup dates, pitted
1/8 cup organic, naturally sweetened dried cranberries* (optional)
pinch of sea salt
1-3 tablespoons of water

Ingredients for the cheesecake filling :

2 cups raw cashews, previously soaked
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup water
juice of 1 organic lemon + zest**
1/2 cup pure light maple syrup
+ fresh organic raspberries and extra lemon zest for plating

DIRECTIONS:

Make the crust first: In a food processor, pulse all the almonds until a fine grind forms. (while it’s mixing you can pick the dates or prepare the other ingredients). Add in the dates and cranberries (if using), and pinch of salt. Continue mixing and check with your fingers if the mixture sticks in your fingers. (Be sure to turn off the mixer each time you check, and always form a habit of scooping with a spoon first!) If it’s too dry, add in water one tablespoon at a time. Mix again, check again. Once it sticks together and still falls off your fingers – it’s perfect.

Using a cupcake pan preferable a silicone one, press the mixture into the bottom evenly and set aside.

To make the filling: Soak the cashews for 1 hour in warm water at room temperature or overnight (6-8 hrs) in the fridge, strain well. Add all the ingredients into a clean food processor again : cashews, warm but not hot coconut oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, maple syrup, water. Mix on high for about 5 minutes until a very smooth mixture forms.

Pour over the bases in the cupcake pan. Tap the pan gently to let it settle. Place straight into the freezer for about 1-2 hours before serving. These defrost in just about 5-10 minutes in the refrigerator, and much faster at room temperature so give them enough time to defrost slightly before serving.  Top with fresh raspberries, lemon zest and mint leaves to serve. Enjoy!

(If you want to keep them frozen for longer and just have them ready whenever the occasion calls for a great impromptu dessert. Simply freeze for 1-2 hours, then be sure to wrap the pan with plastic wrap as tight as possible and return to the freezer for up to 1 month.)

* if using cranberries, keep an eye on the ingredients as they could be artificially sweetened and coloured and have lots of sulphites. I used organic cranberries that are sweetened with grape juice. I find they compliment the taste of the lemon and raspberries really well. Don’t have them on hand? Simply add 3 extra dates to the base recipe.

**if you’re using zest in any recipe be sure to buy organic as lemons are coated in toxins to preserve freshness. If you really can’t get organic lemons, place the lemon in a mug and pour hot boiling water over the lemon to melt the waxy coating. Do this 2 more times and wipe well when the lemon is still warm. 

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I love making vegan cheesecake in mini size. They are the perfect individual serving and they look so pretty on a plate. Best of all is that they take so much faster to get finished as opposed to a whole cake because they don’t need so much freezing time and later thawing time. I started to make them at 1ish on a Sunday and they were ready to serve for 4pm. Amazing because with a large cashew-based cheesecake you need to plan the recipe well in advance. With these baby cheesecakes you don’t! 

Also, if you’re having a few different get togethers, like we had, it’s nice to thaw out how many you need and they look perfect as if you made them just for this occasion. For a small gathering, it’s nice to share something delicious and homemade but something that doesn’t keep you busy in the kitchen for hours.

They were definitely enjoyed by my family and friends and me… because with a newborn keeping me busy, it’s priceless to sit for a few minutes and enjoy a perfect bite of an amazing lemony raspberry-topped vegan cheesecake! I even close my eyes and savour every morsel of the decadent flavour… yummmm ;)

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So, thank you for coming to see my baby girl ~ and I hope you enjoyed these scrumptious Mini Cheesecakes!!

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Pure Ella 

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