Sunbutter Cupcakes for Alistaire

For my little buddy, I would try anything, just so he can have a treat like the rest of us.


Giving him a cupcake that can give wheat ones a run for their money? Yeah, that felt awesome! Moist, light with that cupcake texture and yes, allergy friendly. No gluten, peanuts, nuts, eggs, dairy….just a lot of flavor! I was proud of these cakes, I took them to our neighborhood National Night Out this week. And they were all gone in minutes. Woot!


Sunbutter Cupcakes




Preheat oven to 350°, line a 12 count muffin tin with papers (preferably Reynolds or Wilton).

Stir cider vinegar into milk, set aside.

Add Sunbutter to a stand mixer bowl (paddle attachment in place), beat for 2 minutes on medium.

Add oil, brown sugar, and vanilla, beat on medium for 3 minutes. Add in flax mixture, beat until combined.

Whisk flour, xantham gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the flour in slowly, in 3 batches, alternating with the milk, beat on medium until smooth.

Divide batter between the liners. Bake for about 22 minutes, until golden on top and a toothpick comes out clean in the center.

Let rest for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Makes 12 cupcakes.


Sunbutter Frosting


6 Tbsp vegetable shortening (Spectrum Organic)

1/3 cup Sunbutter

1½ tsp pure vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar

¼ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (used So Delicious)


Add shortening and Sunbutter into a stand mixer bowl, beat on low until combined, add in vanilla. Add sugar, beat in on low, then on medium until crumbly. Add milk in, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until smooth.

Pipe or spread on cooled cupcakes. Decorate with decorating sugars, if desired.



Zucchini Bread From Learning To Bake Allergen-Free

When I need inspiration that isn’t coming from the ever-growing stack of cookbooks waiting to be reviewed…I go wandering on Amazon. Amazon rarely fails in this: if I know a cookbook I like, I have many others presented to me that are similar. Then I go to the library’s website and start searching. Being that our county library system is massive (how big? 48 libraries!) and one of the most used in the US (it is a yearly battle between KCLS and one in New York – 22 million items circulated alone in 2012!)…well most times I can get the books I see on Amazon. It gives me a chance to find authors I might have missed and avoid stinkers (which is one reason I like the luxury of getting so many review copies of cookbooks!)l My goal was to find more inspiration in baking for Alistaire and the family. Finding gluten-free books isn’t hard, but those that are also egg, nut and peanut free? It gets a lot thinner in choices. Real thin. I picked up a pile of books and started flipping through. The first two went back into my library bag. One claimed to be nut free but wasn’t (really??), the second one used a GF flour mix in every recipe that was nearly all garbanzo bean flour (my stomach said nooo thank you!).

The third in my pile had me happy. It was that special-needs diet cookbook I was dreaming of. How had I missed it before? Learning to Bake Allergen-Free: A Crash Course for Busy Parents on Baking without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts by Colette Martin. And more so, it follows pretty closely to how we eat, unprocessed and plenty of whole foods. And will walk the shaky/nervous/overwhelmed through it (yes, it is a crash course, but there isn’t a learning curve  with allergens…ugh). And this is a relatively new book, having come out last year, with plenty of color photos, sprinkled throughout.


This made the most ethereal loaf of zucchini bread.


Ummm…this was beyond fantastic. Consider it this way: zucchini bread is usually a heavy loaf that is dark in flavor, texture and heavy in the stomach. This wasn’t that. The vanilla slips through, mingling with the sugar. It doesn’t taste gluten-free. Or allergy-friendly. If you brought it out and kept quiet, it would disappear quickly. Walker and Alistaire happily had it for dessert, and Walker ate what baby didn’t finish.



I took the boys out to the garden, and we picked a couple of small zucchini to use in it. There is something so cool about having fresh produce on the vine, waiting for you!



It never got above 65° today. What a way to celebrate the first day of August. No measurable rain in all of July, first day of August and it opens up dumping and cold. Loved it! The plants did as well….

The bread pulled together quickly, and was in the oven before we sat down to dinner. This could become a go-to for all those squash plants 😉 Yellow squash would be so pretty.



Zucchini Bread, pages 102-103 (adapted for our dietary issues)


  • 2 cups gluten-free flour blend (see notes)
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum (see notes)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer + ¼ cup warm water, mixed
  • ½ cup oil (called for grapeseed, used olive oil)
  • ¾ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (called for hemp, used coconut milk)
  • 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups zucchini, shredded



Preheat oven to 350°, spray or lightly oil a 9×5 bread pan.

Mix together the flour, xantham gum, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Blend together the egg replacer mixture, oil, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl, with a hand mixer on medium speed, for 1 minute.

Gradually add the flour mixture, blending on medium speed until the batter is smooth.

Add the zucchini and mix for an additional 2 minutes, until combined.

Scrape batter into the loaf pan, smoothing out. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick or thin butter knife comes out clean in the center, and the top is turning golden. My loaf took a full 60 minutes.

Let cool for 10 minutes, gently flip over to remove, let cool on a wire rack before slicing (a serrated bread knife works well). Once cool, store covered, eat within a day or two for best taste!


I used Trader Joe’s all-purpose gluten-free baking mix, a comparable version is King Arthur’s.

If the GF flour mix you are using has xantham gum, do not add any to the recipe. I used the GF mix I have, it imparts a light flavor, where other ones such as Bob’s Red Mill have a heavier taste (it has beans). Use what you prefer, but keep that in mind.

Overall, I bake with So Delicious coconut milk. I like the texture/flavor. My husband prefers to avoid Hemp products. As for the oil, I cook with only two oils: olive and coconut. Maybe I am used to it, but I love olive oil in baked goods. I don’t fine it strong at all.


Vegan Coconut Pudding “Bars”

I have had a few busy weeks of late. Best of all? I got out backpacking 2 weekends ago with my friend Dani. It had been far too long since I had slept out overnight. Like July of 2009 😦 My having 2 more kids kind of got in the way. Kirk is ready now with them not being infants anymore, so I got my first night away from them. It was a good trip, although I came home to a sick husband (yeah, that’ll make you feel guilty!!) We did our trip up the Carbon River, in Mt. Rainier NP. It is one of my favorite places to be and a great one when it is hot down low, but snow still up above. I slept better than I had in years and it really aligned my mind better than anything else can.

Me in purple, Dani in green, getting ready to break camp in the morning –


Dani had never visited a side canyon, just off the Wonderland Trail, to Ipsuit Falls. It is always so cool back there, the falls were simply running amazing.

But ah, back to reality. I am hoping for another trip later this summer. It’ll be a few years till I am back to my every month backpacking trip. I can’t wait to take the boys with me though, Ford and I hiked and backpacked together for many years, and it is just special!

So what did I enjoy around that time? After I got home? Oh yeah, it was like 84° when I crawled in. Yuck. Thankfully it has cooled off since then!

Not quite a pudding, or a firm gelatin, nor a bar…just a cool treat for summer that was a fun experiment.


I adapted a recipe I had seen, changing the super fatty canned coconut milk for the much lighter So Delicious refrigerated milk, and left out using macadamia nuts, so that Alistaire could enjoy it. Thankfully for now he can have coconut with no issues it seems!


Vegan Coconut Pudding “Bars”



Preheat oven to 375° or as directed on coconut packaging, spread coconut on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until toasted, 5 to 10 minutes, checking often and shaking pan. Set aside to cool.

Lightly oil or spray an 8×8″ glass baking dish with coconut oil, set aside.

Stir cornstarch into ¾ cup of the coconut milk, set aside.

Add remaining coconut milk, sugar, vanilla and salt to a heavy large saucepan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 5 minutes, whisking constantly.

Add cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 1 minute.

Take off heat and scrape into prepared dish. Sprinkle coconut on top, chill until cold, slice into servings.


Rhubarb & Pineapple Coconut Oatmeal

Last week I harvested my first rhubarb of the year, from my oldest plant.


A quick snap and discarding of the leaves and I was dicing up the red stalks. Maybe rhubarb isn’t part of breakfast usually, but maybe it should be 😉


Rhubarb & Pineapple Coconut Oatmeal




Heat a heavy medium saucepan over medium, melt oil and sauté rhubarb for 5 minutes, add pineapple and salt, sauté until golden. Stir in sugar till melted, then add milk, oats and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Take off the heat, divide between 2 bowls and top as desired.

Serves 2.


I found the toasted coconut chips at Trader Joe’s.


Vegan De-Lites: Avo Fudgesicles

What’s chocolaty, thick and rich and tastes fab-u-lous on a hot evening? These babies:


Walker helped me pick out a ripe avocado at the store, and protecting it in a paper bag he snagged from the apple display. Which I never tire of, I love how he will go hunt down the paper bags, and carry the bags of produce through the store.

As soon as dinner was over, he ran to the freezer and dragged it open asking for one. We went outside to enjoy the evening, and Walker scarfed his down, with Alistaire hanging around me, the baby ate half of mine!


Ford ate his, I asked him what he thought of it. He said “It was pretty good”. Kirk piped up “Did you know it was mostly avocado?”, to which then the teen started in on how “he knew it tasted weird”. Uh-huh. All I can say about being a teen is I remember having totally pedestrian tastebuds at that age as well. I wanted nothing to do with healthy or natural food. All I wanted was a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and a jug of pop. So I’ll cut him some slack I suppose. As long as he doesn’t know what is in a recipe he will eat it, and often enjoy it. The toddler and baby just go by taste thankfully 😉

Avo Fudgesicles


  • 1 ripe avocado
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  •  ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch fine sea salt


Add the ingredients into a high speed blender, process until smooth. Scrape into popsicle molds, tap gently on counter to settle, insert tops and freeze.

To remove, run mold under warm water for a few seconds, pop out.

Makes 4 standrad sized fudgesicles or 6 smaller ones, depending on your mold size.


Friday Catch-Up: Raw Cookie Dough & Gardening

Yowza! From non-stop rain to suddenly gorgeous weather all week? It has been nice here – Tahoma has come out of winter hibernation even! (That would be Mt. Rainier for the record)



Not to worry, I am sure the weather will change by tomorrow, in time for the weekend. Which is OK I suppose. It is easier to dig in overcast, slight chilly weather than 70° and sunny. I did find something neat this week. Last year I had picked up a random strawberry plant and later on it had hot pink flowers with a unique shaped fruit. I didn’t know what it was until; yesterday, when I came across more of them, tucked into a corner at the garden center.



They are Gasana Strawberries. So yes, I did pick up more of them, happily planted now with their umm…100+ cousins. I am hoping the squirrels will get sick of them and leave some for me (yeah right).

Maybe the pinwheels will drive them crazy. They work at driving the boys nutty, wanting to play with them….



I came home this morning and found a package waiting for me:




Ooh-la-la….I always love things from Tillamook! A nifty lunch sack, ice pack, 2 way-too-cute bamboo spoons (yogurt size, seen last with the toddler I might add), and a pamphlet:



So why am I so excited? My recipe for Triple Cherry Yogurt Scones is featured:




For dessert the other night I went back to a recipe I had posted in January of 2012, when I was way-pregnant, for raw cookie dough. This time around I swapped out the sweetener and fat for a new take. Hope you enjoy it – it was a tasty treat.



Raw Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough





Beat with a hand mixer the coconut oil and sugar till fluffy in a mixing bowl. Add vanilla, flour and salt, beat till mixed in. Add coconut milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until dough is smooth. Add more coconut milk as needed for your desired texture. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

Store covered in the refrigerator tightly covered (yeah right, like that will happen. Eat it and enjoy!)

PS: If you live in a hot-house, make sure your coconut oil is firm (chill it). Melted oil won’t give good results.


Strawberry & Coconut Oats

I thought about doing a 5th cookbook review this week….but then realized: It’s spring and I am strawberry obsessed…


Strawberries are one of my favorite berries…yum! Walker (The Toddler) and I have planted so many new strawberry plants this year, somewhere around 60 of them! In the coming years the squirrels and us will be eating well 😉 They joined the already existing ones in the gardens:



A bowl of oats & berries is a wonderful breakfast. Quick, tasty and filling:


Strawberry & Coconut Oats



Add the milk, oats, brown sugar, almond butter, cinnamon and half the berries to a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high, lower to medium-low, cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Serve topped with remaining berries.

Serves 2.


If your strawberries are of the “Plastic California” variety (big, large and not so sweet), you may want to sprinkle the berries with a bit of sugar and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes for best taste.


Double Strawberry Smoothie

I had strawberries all over my mind last weekend. Suddenly spring had arrived and the weather was amazing, hitting 70° both days! Ford (The Teen) had been sick the weekend before, who gave it to Walker (The Toddler), who then gave it to Kirk and I on Friday. Stuck at home, feeling run down I figured I could either sit on the couch feeling bad or go outside and sweat in the sun. That turned out to be a great (if tiring) idea. I weeded, removed dead plants, transplanted items and went plant shopping. I planted 20 new strawberry plants, 2 tomatoes and a few new herbs. My garden/yard looks a lot better but more…I know what direction I want to go now, and where to put my vegetable garden finally. Helps not being pregnant for once…the past few years I was too tired to care deeply.

And can I just say strawberry plants make me happy? It occurred to me that I had always wanted a place to call home, where I could grow as many as I wanted, to let them have runners. Enough for the squirrels, the birds, the kids and maybe, just maybe, some for me! I still want to try the method of making hanging containers for fences, using gutters. We shall see.


On one side of our back yard we inherited a large raised bed. It was a horrid mess, solid weeds. Over the years I killed everything by smothering with fabric, then last year I planted 2 rows of blueberry and huckleberry bushes (which I talked about last summer). I had left the center open, covered in fabric and mulch. So, I moved the mulch and removed the fabric, then transplanted 3 2-year old blueberries to the center. They had been in a shaded area which left them stunted. My experiences last year is moving them will pay off. I still need to pick up 2 more bushes to plant, to complete the row. Which should boost my plantation to um….nearly 35 plants. You can never have too many B-Berries!


It is spring when this tree flowers – so what is it? I thought it was a Dogwood but I am not sure? Any ideas? It is about 20 feet high and flowers in March every year. EDIT: My Mother In-Law emailed me and said it is a “magnolia Kobus stellata, Royal magnolia”. Well cool!!


But after 2 days of working through fevers and feeling like a mule ran over us, Kirk asked for a smoothie before dinner. Something creamy, cold and full of vitamin C and potassium. Poking through the kitchen, this is what came together.


Double Strawberry Smoothie


  • 2 cups frozen unsweetened strawberries
  • 2 small ripe bananas
  • 1 container strawberry yogurt (coconut or soy or regular)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk


Add everything to a high-speed blender. Process on high, tamping as needed, until smooth. If desired, sweeten to taste (we didn’t need any).

Serve with wide straws.

Makes 2 16 ounce drinks.


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