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Dark Chocolate Rose Cake for my birthday!



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Today is a special day because I have a birthday and I have cake!

Honestly, I couldn’t be happier to turn one year older + one year wiser. It’s a good age too, as I’m 33 3/3 today! 

I am just feeling so lucky to be here with so much good things going on.

If you know my story, then you know that I got very sick with a rare illness, just 4 months after my first daughter was born. That was almost 7 years ago. Those were some rough years full of ugly moments… what was supposed to be the most amazing time of my life as a new mom, was the most terrifying. I couldn’t walk on my own strength, pick myself off the bed, and even carry my baby girl. 

I never imagined I could live a normal life. But I started to believed in the healing power of food. I learned so much about nutrition and about foods that can nourish or damage our bodies. It all made sense, but it would take patience… but I kept at it. I made small changes for the better and introduced more plant-based meals, removed sugar and eliminated a few other foods that made me feel sick. It was not an overnight success but my health improved. I started to have more good days then bad. I committed even more to my wellbeing with a true lifestyle change; learned to enjoy the little things, tuned to my breathing, learned to let go, to talk less and listen more…

I started to live a normal life again. I became more confident in sharing my healthy recipes. After all, I thought that if these foods I eat helped me feel great and heal from a devastating illness, there must be others who are looking for inspirations to eat better.

This space right here, Pure Ella, became so important to my healing. It was and still is my outlet for everything creative and nourishing that I can offer to others. I am so grateful you’re reading this right now. I’m grateful for every single person reading my words, cooking my recipes and just being here even just popping in for a minute. Your presence is my present today as it is always!

Right here I can be myself and share everything… all my talents and skills are really right here wrapped in one package. Seven years ago, I had to decline jobs for clients because I couldn’t even hold my DSLR, my hands were so weak. But I still kept at it, doing what I loved – but just on my own time, on my good days. I had to keep being creative, it was in my blood and it was all I had. Food photography was born naturally from my need to cook healthier and to keep shooting. This is why this blog is so important to me. I did not decide one day to take photos of my food and start a blog. Everything right here, chose me.

It’s ridiculous to even think (especially for me as it’s something I would never say) that everything happens for a reason. But I actually feel like my illness was a blessing (in disguise). It opened up my eyes to the crappy foods we were eating and the food that was out there. It opened up my whole world to better things; to better food, to a better being and to this amazing community of like-minded individuals – people who also want to live healthier and happier!

So right now, I am just feeling so incredibly lucky to have all these good things in my life. Health, happiness, my two little ladies and my husband who’s been through the good and bad and stuck by “in sickness and in health”…

I don’t know what could be better at this very moment in my life… but I know that even more good things are coming. Because once you surrender to the good things in life ~ you don’t even notice the bad. You manifest your own destiny! You create your own happiness…

Thank you all again for being here. Now let’s have some cake!



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Gluten-free Vegan Dark Chocolate Rose Cake

Ingredients :
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/2 cup cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum OR 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons of warm water
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup organic raw cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup grape seed oil or melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup hot rose petal tea* (steeped for 5 minutes)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • gluten free icing sugar for topping
  • extra rose petals** for decorating
  • 1/4 cup dark 72% chocolate chips or squares, melted (optional)

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Directions :
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease and line an 8-10″ cake pan.
  2. Steep 1 heaping tablespoon of rose petals with 1/2 cup of hot water. Cover the cup and set aside for about 5 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift all the flours plus cacao powder, baking powder and soda and xanthan gum and salt together, mix them well and set aside.  
  4. In a separate bowl, mix sugar with all the other wet ingredients (add 1/4 cup of the hot rose petal tea).
  5. Combine slowly by mixing with a wooden spoon. 
  6. Leave the batter to sit for about 15 minutes to allow all the ingredients to activate.
  7. Pour into a lined cake pan.
  8. Bake 35-40 minutes at 350F. 
  9. Insert a toothpick into the centre to check for doneness.
  10. Melt the chocolate chips or squares and drizzle on top.
  11. Sprinkle with extra rose petals* and icing sugar.
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    *You can get a bag of rose petals in most Asian stores in the tea section.
    **The rose petals are edible, but the green parts of the rose buds are not – I liked the visual presentation of keeping the rose buds intact. You can pick off the petals off the roses and sprinkle just the petals for a fully edible cake. 



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This Dark Chocolate Rose Cake is so deliciously divine! It’s not only gluten-free and vegan ~ which means it’s lighter, gentler on your tummy with no cholesterol and allergen friendly. But it’s also rich and moist and has a deep luscious chocolaty flavour with a hint of delectable rose-infusion. Kind of amazing really.

And this cake isn’t just a delicious birthday cake that I want to share with you… it’s also kind of my personality manifested as cake.
It’s simple, down to earth, but intense, bold, dark and a bit mysterious… yet also delicate, romantic and a even fragile… beautiful and makes an impression with a pure sense of style and expression. At first bite, it’s addictive and leaves a lingering sweetness! ;)

There you go, if I were cake, I would be this cake! ;) 



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 I’m off to go on with my simple day with spit-up, house cleaning and baby snuggling. It will be just another day, but I look for beauty in the mundane… It’s the simple things that make me happy anyway. Today may not look special but it’s special in my heart as I am filled with gratitude for everything in my life right now…

My day already started with a gorgeous bouquet of these sunflowers from my husband and I’m looking forward to a little hand drawn birthday card from my daughter when she comes from school and a few giggles from my baby girl throughout the day and it’s just the best birthday ever! ;) Tonight we have plans for a sushi night most likely with a rerun of Frozen ~ best night ever with my favourite people ;)

I wish you all a great day filled with sweet happy things that make you smile… thank you for being here! Big hugs!! xo



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Spiced Apple Pie Super Smoothie

 

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Ahhh apple season, oh how much I love you…. There’s something amazing about every growing season, from strawberries, to blueberries, to cherries, to peaches to apples. Of course I get giddy about each local harvest, but apples have always been my favourite. Maybe because it’s the taste of childhood for me… from the morning porridge with stewed apples, to mom’s apple pierogies, to her amazing spiced apple pie with hints of cinnamon and cloves…. ahh so good!

Apples in every shape or form hit the spot every time. And this recipes proves my love for the season’s favourite combinations. This Spiced Apple Pie is a delicious treat for breakfast as it is a decadent sweet dessert… Try it, you’ll love it ;)

               

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Spiced Apple Pie Super Smoothie

vegan, dairy free, vegan smoothie recipe

Ingredients :

2 cups almond or coconut milk
2 organic apples, peeled and chopped (or 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce)
1/4 cup almond butter
4 medjool dates, pitted
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
2 tablespoons pre-soaked raw buckwheat groats or oats (optional)
1 tablespoon hemp seeds (optional)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions :

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend on high. Adjust sweetness level. Serve immediately ;)

This Spiced Apple Pie Super Smoothie just hits the spot! So much better and better-for-you than those expensive lattes out there and this really brings in the best of the season. 



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I hope you’re ready to embrace the autumn season in full excitement and full bellies! It’s the last of our growing season in Canada so I definitely enjoy every little last delicious crop I can get my hands on ;) (although, we’re still not ready for pumpkin pie just yet!)

Spices such as cinnamon, ground cloves and nutmeg are so important for your health ~ yes, even year round. But right now is a good time to include these spices everywhere from this smoothie, to coffee, chai tea, morning porridge or of course, baking. These spices lower cholesterol, they are anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. Great for treating candida and killing sugar cravings, among lots of good stuff. Enjoy!!

Do tell… what’s your favourite recipe to bring in the fall season?

 


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Horse Ranch Birthday Party



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OMG! My girl is 7 you guys! How does that happen that kids get older, yet we (the parents + our friends we’ve known since high school) don’t age? lol

One thing I love to do each year is a big fun birthday party for this girl! It just so happens it’s falls one week before summer’s over, so it’s just really nice to get together with our family and friends and have some fun! Not that we need an excuse to have cake and fun… This girl always gets the best birthdays, she’s been the only one so far, so it’s been easy to pull off one big party per year, now it will get more fun planning birthdays for both my girls. What can I say, I’m one proud happy mama!! ;)

Gabriella’s birthday was at a lovely horse ranch just a short drive away. This girl loves horses since forever and I’m so happy she had this perfectly ‘her’ birthday party. She kind of wanted to keep the horse and take him home ;) 

It was the perfect summery day, the kind you really cross your fingers for when you plan an outdoor birthday adventure. It sure was perfect. The kids had a blast, the grown-ups mingled, there was cake and cupcakes (gluten-free and vegan cake and cupcakes recipes will come at a later time) What else can I say…. I think I’ll let the pics to the talking ;) 



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This was the first big party that little Amelia attended and she was such a good sport! 
She’s a party girl just like her sister and kind of her mama ;)

I wished this day wouldn’t have ended… it was so great to see our friends and just enjoy the beautiful outdoors. 
The plan now is that we’re looking for a house with horse stables – I am totally up for that as long as it has a big vegetable garden and an apple, plum and peach tree ;)

Happy birthday my most amazing daughter. Sometimes I really do pinch myself that I have all this… #luckygirl

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Gluten-free Vegan Marshmallow Topped Guilt-free Brownie Cups


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Summer just isn’t complete until you have some toasted marshmallows… stuck to a brownie… topped with melted chocolate and cacao nibs! Right?

This is one more treat you have to make before summer days come to an end. This is the perfect Smores-inspired Marshmallow Topped Brownie Cups ~ made guilt free with no gluten, dairy, eggs or refined sugar!

Oh and you have to make them as individual serving cups – they’re just way more fun!!

 



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Gluten-free Vegan Marshmallow Topped Guilt-free Brownie Cups

Healthy gluten-free, vegan and sugar-free brownie recipe.

prep time : 20 minutes
bake time : 25 minutes
makes 18 cupcake-sized brownies

INGREDIENTS :

1 cup sweet potato puree (1-2 large potatoes)
20 medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cups buckwheat flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup potato starch
1/2 cup So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 cup dark chocolate squares or chocolate chips 
1/2 cup gluten-free vegan all-natural large or mini marshmallows
2 tablespoons raw cacao nibs

DIRECTIONS : 

1. First, wash, peel, chop and boil a large sweet potato (or two or four – might as well make dinner ;)) until fully cooked. Strain and set aside to cool.

2. Preheat oven to 350F.

3. In a small bowl, mix the flour ingredients and set aside.

4. In a food processor, mix all the other ingredients to make a smooth paste. Slowly add in the flour mix, a few tablespoons at a time. You may need to turn off the food processor and scrape down the sides of the food processor to get all the ingredients combined well. Fill silicone cupcake moulds about 3/4 and bake for 20-25 minutes. 

5. While the brownies are baking, melt the chocolate. Simply, place the chocolate squares or chocolate chips in a bowl over a small pot with water, bring to a simmer and stir the chocolate to fully melt. Turn off the stove and leave the bowl on top of the pot to keep the chocolate melted.

6. Cut the marshmallows up into small cubes (if they are not mini).

7. Once the brownies are baked, remove them from the oven. Turn the oven to broil.

8. Spoon a little chocolate on top of each brownie (kind of like glue) then top with pieces of marshmallows and put back into the oven for only 1-2 minutes to broil the tops slightly. Keep looking at them so the tops don’t burn. (mine browned nicely only at 1 minute).

9. Remove from the oven, allow to cool still in the cupcake moulds for about 15 minutes before serving. Serve still warm or refrigerated.

THE best way to make them is to bake the brownies one day before (or even 2-3 hours before serving), then topping them with the marshmallows and broiling just before serving so the marshmallows are still warm!! Oh yes!! ;)

10. For the final touch, sprinkle with raw cacao nibs ;) Yummmm!!!



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Ahh.. sometimes you just want to bite into something amazing without the guilt!

That’s what I love about baking gluten-free and vegan and even squeezing in some nutritious ingredients in there… like hello sweet potatoes!! 
(they are so great in a brownie recipe ~ they add that perfect fudgyness and really taste great as a brownie ;)
If you’re excited, you have to try my Guilt-Free Sweet Potato Chocolate Brownies also! ;)



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I like to enjoy these beautiful moist, rich and fudgy brownies with that fluffy marshmallow top while I day dream of beautiful things on the horizon… ;)

New exciting things await, I just know it! I think it could be the summer sunshine just shining a little brighter this year… with a new baby girl, new adventures ahead, my health continuing well and all the tiny little puzzle pieces fitting in… it’s all just so good ;) My heart is filled with gratitude and happiness ;)

That’s what summer days are really for… fluffy fudgy brownie cups and day dreams and just feeling good ;)

Because Marshmallow Topped Brownie Cups and Day Dreams just go together…

‘Day Dreaming’ 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 facebookwebsite, or simply hashtag your photos #SaveMySummer to join the fun and be in weekly draws for prizes ;)

What are you Day Dreaming of right now?

Pure Ella 

If you’re new to Pure Ella, please sign up for email updates and join me elsewhere: 
 
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Amaretto Peach Tarts



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The only good thing about the summer coming to an end is the beautiful bounty of seasonal produce that is at its peak. 

Peaches are my favourite thing about August. Sure they’re available year round, when imported from Chile or California, but when they’re local, they’re just the best.

Even looking at a basketful of these beauties makes my mouth water. We usually pick up two baskets right at the start of the season from the farmer’s market. One to eat straight as-is, and one for baking… like these Amaretto Peach Tarts ~ I’ve been seeing this recipe come to fruition the moment I laid eyes on this beautiful bounty of fresh peaches. 

Pure ingredients is what it’s all about. And although it may seem like I’m creating a ‘specialty recipe’, with no gluten, dairy and eggs… this is just making dessert better and healthier. No cholesterol, refined sugar free ~ it’s all good things. Tastes not altered but enhanced naturally with beautiful pure ingredients. Yum!

 



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Amaretto Peach Tarts

gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, cholesterol-free, refined sugar-free

PASTRY INGREDIENTS :

1/2 cup vegan buttery spread like Earth Balance, or cold coconut oil + extra for greasing
1/2 cup white rice flour*
1/4 cup potato starch*
1/4 cup tapioca*
1/4 almond flour
1 tsp xanthan gum*
1/4 organic raw cane sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup ice water

* this is a gluten-free flour mix that has been created for this recipe, but feel free to substitute with 1 1/4 cups of all-purpose gluten-free flour mix of choice.

Tip : This dough freezes well! I like to make a double batch separating into two balls and wrapping one of them into a plastic wrap so it’s air-tight and freezing for up to 3 months. When I want to bake these tarts again, I simply allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and quickly make delicious tarts for a yummy dessert craving ;)

FILLING INGREDIENTS :

5-6 peaches, pitted and sliced
2 tablespoons organic peach or apricot jam
2 teaspoons amaretto liqueur or almond extract 

To make the dough, sift and mix all the flours together. Mix in the sugar and salt and add in the cold vegan buttery spread or coconut oil and cut through the flour with a pastry cutter. (You can also pulse these ingredients in a food processor for a faster method.) Once crumbles form, create a well and slowly pour in ice-cold water, just a little at a time. Continue folding and cutting and adding more water a few tablespoons at a time until a dough texture forms. Keep dusting the work surface as well as your hands with some extra rice flour so the dough doesn’t stick. Do not over mix as little areas of fat from the ‘fat’ are necessary to achieve a lightness in the pastry. Overworking it may result in a tougher dough. If dough starts to get warm and soft, place in the fridge or freezer for just a few minutes to harden. For best results, keep the dough as cold as possible.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Grease and flour some tart forms (this is a very important step), and press some of the pastry dough into them. And return to the fridge or even freezer for just a few minutes (as you prepare the filling).

For the filling, slice the peaches and place into a medium-sized bowl and mix with the jam and amaretto liqueur. Fill the tart shells around in a circle and place in the oven to bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until edges are golden. Let cool for about 5 minutes in the tart forms, then remove gently and leave on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes before serving. Enjoy!



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I hope you enjoy lots and lots of fresh juicy local peaches also…. while you’re picking up a basket or two, don’t forget to make these scrumptious little gluten-free and vegan Amaretto Peach Tarts…. :)

Speaking of peaches… I just love this quote : “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” ~ Dita Von Teese Moral of this… you can’t satisfy everyone… but you can satisfy yourself with these yummy healthy peach tarts!! ;)

Pure Ella 

If you’re new to Pure Ella, please sign up for email updates and join me elsewhere: 
 
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