Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Mango Upside Down Cake (Vegan & Gluten Free)

I found myself with an abundance of mangoes last week. My friend brought me a whole case of em when I had a potluck, along with a bunch of bananas and a coconut - how's that for an awesome tropical treat? Hah!

Well needless to say even I can't eat that many ultra-ripe mangoes within a few days. They were good to go. 12 delicious, succulent Ataulfo mangoes. I felt like freezing them is so cliche. I wanted to do something different.

I've felt like I've really been in a food rut, which is something I truly hate. Food needs to be exciting and awesome, not just a play on the same old favourite dishes ALL THE TIME! I was getting too comfortable with my flavours and ingredients.

I decided to do one savory and one sweet recipe. I actually was dying for a chutney, and I found this great recipe online which turned out AMAZING! I would just recommend pureeing it a bit in a processor to make it less chunky.Also, I didn't add the nuts and I didn't put it in an ice bath because I was too lazy, and I found it cooled just fine.

As for the sweet recipe, I'm really not sure how or why I decided to do an upside down cake, but as soon as the inspiration hit, I was surfing the internet everywhere so I could compare recipes. I do this with all types of dishes I don't normally do, just to see the general method of preparation, baking time, ingredient ratios, etc.

So I put together my own recipe based on all the others I saw. I always bake vegan (duh), and I even made this gluten free, which is how I've been eating the last month or so. I also always use coconut sugar (or another natural sweetener), and I didn't use vegan margarine - just coconut oil! I can honestly say I loved the cake, and my family and friends did as well. I hope you enjoy my healthy spin on this classic.

Mango Upside Down Cake
-3 tbsp + 1/2 cup coconut oil (divided)
-1/3 cup + 3/4 cup coconut sugar (divided)
-3-4 mangoes, peeled and sliced -1/2 cup brown rice flour 
-1 cup chickpea flour
-1/4 cup potato starch 
-2 tbsp chia seeds or milled flax 
seeds + 6 tbsp water 
-1 tsp vanilla extract 
-2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 cup almond/non dairy milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice (let it curdle. This is vegan buttermilk!)
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a skillet, heat 3 tbsp coconut oil over low heat, then add 1/3 cup of sugar and 1 tbsp water. Keep stirring until the mixture is smooth like caramel.
3. Transfer the sugar mixture to a circular (or square 9 x 9") baking pan and spread evenly. Now take your mango slices and layer them in the prettiest pattern you can.  Set aside for now.
4. In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to fluff the remaining coconut oil and sugar. Now add the eggs and keep mixing. Add in the vanilla and the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Now add your vegan buttermilk and mix one last time 
5. Pour mixture over the mangoes and bake for 40 minutes. The cake will be golden and should spring back up when touched. 
6. Let it cool for about 5 minutes, then take a clean surface, such as a cutting board or a large, flat serving pan and put it over your cake pan. Then flip the cake pan over (carefully!) and let it sit for another minute. Now jiggle the cake pan off. This is your gorgeous cake!
Note: You never wanna let GF desserts sit in the pan too long. It'll dry them out like crazy! 

Also, I had leftover balsamic reduction which I drizzled on top... not necessary because it's such a sweet cake as is. But doesn't hurt. ;)

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Joining the GF club + vacationing as a vegan

In my last post, I discussed my soy and gluten elimination diet. I wanna give you guys a little life update.

2 weeks before I went away on a recent vacation to Cuba, I gave up gluten and soy. You can read about it in my last post. I felt good, but I don't think I gave myself enough time to feel a difference or to even rebuild any gut damage that could have been there. Not by a long shot.

I reintroduced soy after only a week. I gotta admit, I was missing a lot of my protein sources. I mean I love beans but I missed my tempeh, tofu, and also my delicious flavour enhancing staples tamari and miso. I've decided, though, that I am definitely reducing my soy. I don't eat it daily anymore, but I also don't label it "off limits". As always, it must be organic and non GMO.

The gluten is something I've always suspected needs to go. But I also knew it was that much harder to look out for hidden gluten when dining out. I've gotten very used to knowing how to avoid dairy and obviously meat when eating out, but gluten is a whole new set of questions. Will all waitresses hate me forever?

I actually work at an awesome restaurant with so many vegan and gluten free items, so I'm very spoiled in knowing what I'm eating while I'm there at least, hah.

So that being said, I reintroduced the gluten in my first few days in Cuba. I normally would never eat white bread, but once your only option is a buffet in which the only (pretty much surefire) vegan food is salad, rice, beans (sometimes) and squash (sometimes) and lots of white potatoes (always), the soft and fresh daily bread starts to look quite appetizing to go along with my other carbs. ALL THE CARBS! Hah, seriously though... definitely no tempeh or tofu there! My diet was probably 75% carbs.

On a side note, I have become so sick of restrictions, with calories and macros, that I really didn't let myself say no to eating "bad" stuff while I was away from home. Did I go hog wild? No. I ate a ton of fruits and veggies, and even brought my own homemade cereal to have in the mornings with almond milk. I also brought maca and spirulina and some organic trail mix. I did it because I like feelin good, and that's how good food makes ya feel!

ANYWAY, I felt so bloated and gross after eating the pasta and bread. I decided then and there I don't need or want gluten. I know all about it's bad rap (still wanna read more but I get the jist of it), and I know I feel very bloated after eating it. I also know I have gut issues, so it's time to say goodbye.

It's been almost a week since I've been back, and I don't feel super different yet, but I am keeping in mind my gut needs time to get a grip on not digesting gluten. I plan on taking lots of enzymes and gut-healing foods.

I've also started eating intuitively, and that's made my digestion loads better already. I don't count calories, so now I'm slowly starting to recognize true hunger signals. It's a process, and it's not easy, but I am healing my gut!

Any GF vegans out there? How long and why?