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Heart Shaped Sugar Cookies : gluten-free and vegan

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Valentine’s Day is just a few short days away and we have lots of cute things to do. Like make these lovely Gluten-free and Vegan Sugar Cookies – an old favourite recipe…. all the way from 2011! But I have gone in and tweaked this recipe to make it even easier for everyone to make.

Wow, I didn’t even realize that I have been eating and baking gluten-free and vegan recipes this long. I’m so thrilled that more and more people are jumping on the gluten-free diet as well as vegan and seeing great health benefits.

Back up a few years, and it was a lot harder to find ready made great product out there. Specialty foods like gluten-free were not around as much and now even Costco has a myriad of gluten-free and vegan products! Happy dance!

But I am thankful that the variety wasn’t as huge back in the day because that tested my skills in the kitchen! And baking from scratch gluten-free and vegan was what I had to learn in order to continue my journey of healing.

Luckily, not only did I get super confident in cooking and baking (the latter way more challenging I think) but also my health improved immensely! Avoiding gluten and wheat saved my life! (and I’m not even celiac or allergic to these foods – I just listened to my body) and voila! I feel so much better!!!

Anyway, back to these lovely Sugar Cookies!!
It is totally worth it to ditch the wheat and gluten and enjoy a yummy gluten-free and vegan sugar cookie! They’re really easy and fun to make! If you have some little hands around to help… get those involved too ;) My daughter loves baking with me… this is what Pure Love is all about ;)

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Gluten-free and Vegan Sugar Cookies 

Ingredients :

3/4 c dairy free organic margarine
3 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon of white ground chia seeds, soaked in 3 tablespoons of warm water
   (needed only if the gluten-free flour does not contain xanthan or guar gum)
1 cup raw cane sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
powdered sugar for rolling
+ extra powdered sugar for dusting or naturally dyed crystal sugar

Directions :

First, check your gluten-free all-purpose flour if it contains xanthan or guar gum – if it does, you can omit the Chia Seeds completely. If it doesn’t this cookie dough binds better if you do use the chia seeds.
So if you are using chia seeds – (I like the white ones as they will not leave speckles in your all-white cookies) If those are hard to find, you can just use any you have but they will leave a little dark speckles in your cookies (which is totally fine! ;))

Mix the chia seeds with warm water and set aside.

In a mixer, cream together margarine and sugar. Add applesauce, vanilla extract and chia seeds (if using) and mix well.  In another bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients. Slowly add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix gently long enough for the dough to come together. If the dough becomes too soft and sticky, especially when the room is hot, place in the refrigerator for a few minutes to get a little colder and easier to work with.

Preheat oven to 350. Cover work area and rolling pin with a little extra flour. Roll dough 1/4″ thick. Cut hearts, or other shapes and transfer to a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for about 7-10 minutes depending on cookie size and thickness. Also, if you’re making smaller and larger heart shapes, do bake the even sizes together so they bake evenly.  At my settings 3″ cookies that are 1/4″ thick for 9 minutes are great.  Remove them while they still look under baked. If you wait until they look golden, they are probably already too crispy and hard. Let cool on the sheet for a few minutes then remove to cooling rack.

You can decorate with just a dusting of icing sugar or spread a thin coat of icing on top (recipe below), and add some sugar crystals in naturally food-dyed pink or red. 
If adding the icing sugar to these cookies, I would just reduce the amount of sugar to about 1/5 cup less.

 

Gluten-free and vegan Icing Recipe :

Ingredients :

1/2 cup of icing sugar
1-2 spoons of warm water

Directions: :

Mix these two ingredients in a small bowl. That’s it. You never have to buy ready made icing again ;)

Spread on cookie tops with the back of your spoon, then sprinkle evenly with natural sugar crystals in your favourite colour or try raw sugar for an ‘earthy’ look.

 

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I hope you will enjoy these lovely Sugar Cookies as much as we do! These gluten-free and vegan heart-shaped Sugar Cookies are really our favourite. Can’t wait to bake these again this week ;)

If you’re wondering the isles of your grocery store this week and get lured by cutely packaged Valentine’s Day cookies with countless toxins, artificial flavours, colouring and more and more crap – and even consider eating that stuff (or worse giving it to your children!) Please don’t. Just don’t and consider a different aisle where you can get your hands on some great ingredients and have a blast making your own Healthier Sugar Cookies!

 Wishing you all a lovely Valentine’s Day everyone!!! 

 

Pure Ella 

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3 Clean Ingredients Peanut Butter Cups

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Lately we’ve been on a peanut butter kick! PB hasn’t been a real craze around here for a long time. But once upon a time I was addicted to this stuff. Seriously!

And um… who does not remember their childhood chocolate and peanut butter fave? – the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? Oh hello! I don’t know anyone who didn’t love this stuff! Except then you grow up and learn about how disgusting those cups really are. 

With a revived craving for Peanut Butter Cups (thank you baby #2) and yet a strong passion for eating *healthy* – I was not going to give up on the joy of biting into a yummy Peanut Butter Cup! No way!
(some of you Insta followers already witnessed my craving here. ps. yes they also go great with a nice bottle of wine – who’d have known ;) (I had one sip…. eek!)

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Move over Reese’s – these homemade *Clean* Peanut Butter Cups are way better! And they really do contain only 3 CLEAN ingredients! And this recipe for homemade peanut butter cups is really quick and easy to make too! Oh no wonder I’ve made these almost each day in these last few weeks. Obsessed is not even a good word to describe this. Basically they’re so good and kind of good-for-you that it’s hard to resist! And the whole 15 minutes-to-make-AND-eat is kind of ridiculous! Good ridiculous ;)

Ready…. go ahead and prep your 3 ingredients and let’s make some Peanut Butter Cups! Meet you in 15 for a bite of awesomeness!!! ;)

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3 Clean Ingredient Peanut Butter Cups | vegan and gluten-free

Your 3 ingredients are:

200 grams 72% dark organic chocolate squares or 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
about 3/4 cups organic peanut butter* (** check for substitutes)
4 tablespoons of coconut oil (divided)

You will also need a double boiler or a small pot with a bowl to melt the chocolate and about 12 paper cupcake or muffin liners.

* do get organic or quality clean ingredient peanut butter from a reputable company. Kraft or Jif does not qualify as “quality”.
** if you don’t want to use peanut butter, almond butter works great too. And if you want these peanut/ nut free – use sunflower butter.

Directions:

First melt the chocolate. Set up the double boiler or pot with water to boil with a bowl on top (be sure the bowl does not touch the water) and set heat to medium high. Add the chocolate squares with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and allow to melt completely. Stir occasionally to incorporate the chocolate with the coconut oil. Turn off heat and leave on the pot to keep warm.

In a small bowl, scoop out roughly 3/4 cups peanut butter and add in 2 remaining tablespoons of melted coconut oil. Mix well to incorporate and set aside.

Line a flat dish with muffin or cupcake liners. With a spoon, scoop in a little melted chocolate to cover the bottom of each liner. Place in the freezer for about 2 minute to slightly set. Add a small scoop of peanut butter and coconut butter mix in the centre and gently flatten with the back of a spoon. Scoop more melted chocolate to cover the top, about 1-2 tablespoons. Return to the freezer for about 15-30 minutes until serving.

If serving much later than 15-30 minutes. Then be sure to remove them from the freezer about 1/2 hour before serving and removing all the paper liners and placing them in the refrigerator to thaw out a little before serving. (if they appear soft to the touch – pop them back to the freezer for about 5 minutes to harden the chocolate). They are best when the centre peanut butter filling is soft and the outside is crispy chocolate.

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We like to eat them just by the handfuls! (hi hi) or serve with low-sugar Homemade Chocolate almond or coconut Milk. So good!! These don’t last long so be prepared for making another batch again and again ;)

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I made these for Super Bowl Sunday because I thought what football fans would not want to bite into their old favourite. They were an instant hit, except my only regret was that I didn’t make enough! 

In my husband’s words at his first bite: “These are way better than Reese’s!” – aha! Thank you very much! I think I’ll be off now because another craving is growing! You know sometimes 15 minutes is too long ;)

Do share: How about you? Did you like Reese’s Peanut Butter cups growing up? Will you be trying homemade peanut butter cups soon? Say Yes! ;)

Pure Ella 

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Hearty Miso Soup : naturally vegan and gluten-free

 

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There seems to be a big Asian influence in our cooking right around this time of the year…. Hmm… I wonder why?
I love great Asian food all year long but there’s something about the lightness that is perfect after heavier fall and winter meals. Yet, it still isn’t a Spring menu. (oh but I do have high hopes that we will be welcoming Spring any day now….)

And then of course, there is the Chinese New Year! That for sure sparks my taste buds to go towards Asian flavours. This year is the Year of the Horse. Anyone born of this year? My husband is actually… but there’s been some adjustments to his Chinese year animal… You see, our daughter is a big fan of horses. And she’s not fond of pigs (her Chinese Year : The Year of the Pig) soo…. she’s had this clever idea of switching the year with daddy.

Lol! So now the little one is from the Year of the Horse (sort of officially, if that’s allowed because she really loves horses!) And daddy is happy to take the Pig to keep the little one happy. 

See how much parents sacrifice to keep their children happy? They are even ready to give up their official Chinese birth Year. 

I myself am from the Year of the Monkey. I’m good with the monkey and so far there’s no interest in having me switch my birth year.

See how life can be so complicated when you have little ones to please…. it sure makes life a little more fun too because listening to these big important decisions is just pure joy….

And usually the best discussions happen when we’re in the kitchen and mama is prepping a good meal. It even gets better when we all get to sit down and enjoy a good hearty dinner…. just like this Hearty Miso Soup.

 

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Hearty Miso Soup | vegan and gluten-free

Ingredients :

package of rice noodles
3/4 cups organic firm tofu, cubed
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 organic carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
3-4 stalks of baby bok choy, roughly chopped
6 tablespoons of organic mellow white miso paste
1/2 cup seaweed, nori or wakame
optional : 1-2 teaspoons of asian hot sauce

sesame oil for frying tofu
sesame seeds for topping
green onion for topping

Directions :

You will need two pots. One for the soup ingredients, one to cook the rice noodles.

In one large pot filled with filtered water and a little salted water, cook the rice noodles as directed on the packaging.

In the other pot, heat the sesame oil to medium and fry the firm tofu until golden on sides. Remove from the pot and set aside in a bowl. Add garlic and saute for just a minute until a little golden colour appears. Also, remove from the pot and add to the tofu. In the same pot, gently pour in water to fill the pot (about 10-12 cups) (use hot boiling water from a kettle so it’s a quick temperature already for your soup). Add in carrots, bok choy and miso paste and stir well to dissolve and incorporate the miso paste. Season with a little hot sauce if preferred. This should cook for about 5 minutes as you don’t want to overcook the vegetables.

By now the noodles should be cooked. (they should be slightly al dente/ undercooked). You can avoid using a colander and just lift them out of the pot with a pasta scoop and add to the miso soup. Stir in the tofu with garlic and seaweed.

Serve immediately in bowls topped with fresh chopped green onion and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Enjoy!

 

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 I hope you will enjoy this amazing Hearty Miso Soup soon! It’s such a great dish to make for anytime of the year. And if you’re new to Miso – a jar of organic Miso paste lasts a really really long time. A year for sure ;)

So it’s great to have Miso paste added as a staple item and keep in your fridge – because you never know when a little Miso Soup craving will strike! (For us, it could be any day as having organic tofu and carrots is a regular thing for us.)

Essentially, this soup is very versatile. You can add in other Asian foods like Shiitake mushrooms and swap the rice noodles for white or brown rice if you like.

Let me know what other vegetables and food swaps you think would go. Enjoy!!

Pure Ella 

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Pure Happiness is…

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Hello and Happy Monday everyone!!

This week, I’m reflecting on a wonderful weekend and a few happy events in our life right now… this is my happiness list for this week…

Pure Happiness is…

- happy play dates

- art class sessions

- crafting, crafting and more crafting (mostly lalaloopsy stuff but lately we’re into foxes and woodsy things)

- home baked heart shaped cookies… the first of the Valentine’s Day season…(these cute ones were made by my sister and dropped off in a box by our front door when we weren’t home) the sweetest little thing to come home to.

- we’re into tortilla things of all kinds. a little veggie burger, various veggies etc. never disappoint

- plus seeing my belly growing is a really sweet sight which I can’t avoid… ;)

- Ms. G. was in a play which was really fun to watch (photo of her under a tree) we enrolled her in some drama classes and she’s been a great trooper getting into her characters so well ;) here she appeared as Dwarf #1 ;)

- our weekend was spent over some wine (drunk by the mr., not meee) and some homemade peanut butter cups – my latest recipe which will show up on the blog soon (of course, they needed to be ‘taste tested’ 3 times and I just kept making more and more… because there was never enough to keep for my recipe photo shoot ;)

- my husband loves a good game of chess and getting the little is always a great challenge for him ;)

- watching those two playing is a lovely sight and sound…. they have a blast and I can hear giggles across the house….

- on sunday, we went to my nephew’s b-day party – a really fun day for the kiddo – but can I just release some of my frustration…. if you ever find yourself committed to a diet change and think people will understand – they won’t. 5 years later and I’m pregnant and my sister just didn’t think that I would want to eat at a party too…. so it’s been a very emotional day (I haven’t had those for a while) I think the pregnancy hormones influenced my little breakdown of sadness. I eventually went nuts and bananas! (which means I reached for a banana and Brazil nuts I brought with me) sure they saved the day but I really didn’t think I would need them! oh well…. just always be prepared. Sorry for venting but it’s one of those things that gets stirred up once in a while. Food is emotional and it’s nice to be included – it’s especially nice when your own sister understands. But clearly she doesn’t… next time I just have to prep myself for the emotional challenge too ;)

- we came back home for the Superbowl and the night went by amazingly! A great game! And although I’m hardly a football fan it was nice to see everyone have a good time… for that moment captured, you have to visit my Instagram here ;)

Do share, what’s making you happy today?

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Pure Passion : Rose Petal Dark Chocolate Bar

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Today, there is even more love in the air… things are really heating up for Valentine’s Day around here… what can I say… it’s all about LOVE!

And what better way to say I Love You than with chocolate – a homemade luxurious chocolate at that.

This is the most beautiful homemade aphrodisiac chocolate bar that’s topped with natural rose petals! Perfect for your Valentine!

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Chocolate is my biggest pleasure…. so naturally, it’s pure joy for me to reinvent The Chocolate Bar! The ultimate lover’s delight, move over diamonds! This is SO much better!!

Some pleasures are not only exciting – but they get heightened when you eat better quality food (with no processed ingredients, preservatives, artificial flavours or colours and especially added sugar). And that’s why this is Pure Passion – this isn’t just chocolate…. it’s a beautiful and luxurious masterpiece. A very indulging, sexy, seductive, romantic chocolate masterpiece…. one that begs to be shared and enjoyed with pure pleasure!

This is the perfect Valentine’s Day dessert (or something special for any other occasion). When you make this beautiful Rose Petal Dark Chocolate Bar… you have to share it with the love of your life! (or a close friend) – someone who appreciates the good things in life. Like a beautiful sinfully luxurious handmade chocolate… all made with Love.

 

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PURE PASSION 
Rose Petal Dark Chocolate Bar

(a handmade luxurious dairy-free/ vegan and gluten/wheat free chocolate bar)

Ingredients :

1 cup squares or 200 grams of dark 72% chocolate
1/4 cup dairy-free creamer
1 teaspoon raw maca powder* (this is an aphrodisiac)
1/4 cup coconut butter or oil
roughly 1/2 cup rose tea petals ** 

* maca is an natural superfood that also has aphrodisiac properties! (omit if serving this chocolate recipe to kids or pregnant women)
** the rose petals I use are designed for tea brewing and can easily be found in Asian stores. A large bag costs about $5 and I hardly used any from it. A little goes a long way. They also make a nice tea and I’ve been experimenting in making other recipes with rose petals – stay tuned for those ;)

You will need : double boiler or a small pot with bowl for melting chocolate, steamer, a rectangular dish or pan for your form, parchment paper.

Directions :

Line a pan or any rectangular dish (does not have to be oven proof) with parchment paper and set aside.

First, set the double boiler or pot with water and a bowl, stacked over medium low heat, and prepare to melt some chocolate. Add all the chocolate pieces along with the creamer and coconut oil all together while ingredients are still room temperature, then turn on the heat to allow to melt. Mix gently with a whisk to incorporate all the ingredients well. Once the consistency is smooth and glossy, turn off the heat. Add in the raw maca powder and stir in to mix in well. 

Pour the melted chocolate mixture into the pan and smooth top. Tap the pan on a tabletop to press down and allow the chocolate to get into all the air pockets. Set aside.

On a steamer, place a handful of dried roses and cover to allow to steam. This will help the petals separate better from the buds. (this is an optional step, but it helps to keep the petals intact for a nicer touch. Otherwise they may break and crumble more easily as you try to remove them from the green buds.) Remove the petals and separate the greed buds away and discard. 

Take the pan with the still melted chocolate and sprinkle the rose petals right on top. With a knife or spoon, dab some of the petals right into the chocolate to let the sink into the chocolate layer. Take some additional rose petals and sprinkle them on top of this chocolate bar. Place in the refrigerator to set for about 1 hour. Or the freezer for an even quicker set time, about 15 minutes.

Once set, pull the parchment paper to remove the chocolate bar. Place on a flat surface and slice into smaller pieces. I liked making long triangles out of mine, but you can cut squares, rectangles or even leave as one whole piece which you can break into pieces once ready to enjoy.

 

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Don’t forget to package your beautiful handmade Rose Petal Chocolate Bar in a gift box and wrap simply with a red ribbon on baker’s twine for a casual look. I’ve cut a little heart out of some corrugated cardboard and glued that to the front. Pure and simple…. a perfect gift made with Love.

 

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Pure Ella 

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