Happy Vegan Birthday to ME!
Welcome, everyone! It's my one year vegan birthday today, and I'm glad you're all here to celebrate with me. It's been an amazing year of new experiences, new flavors, and new priorities. When I first set out on this adventure, I was so excited, and so.. determined. I was nervous, but I kept speaking to myself positively ,and without pressure. We are, afterall, our own worst critic, so I always remembered that these were my changes to my diet. If I wanted to eat a dessert without regard to what was in it, so be it. If I wanted a piece of pizza, I ate it. That's my advice to anyone looking to eat vegan... or any diet, really. (and by diet, I don't mean Atkins or South Beach, or eat your weight in cabbage, or eat 100 calories M-F and go shithouse on Saturday and Sunday.. no, none of that. By diet, I just mean, simply, what you eat on a regular basis). If we put too much pressure on ourselves to conform to guidelines, and we consequently "fail", the experience has lost something. It no longer becomes an endeavor or an adventure. Instead it becomes work.. something else on the "To Do" list.
Listen, if there's one thing I learned becoming a yoga teacher, it's to be present in our experience daily - keyword: daily. I didn't begin to eat vegan with dreams of becoming a size 0 (didn't happen), or having bountiful energy like a Tigger (though I do have a ton more energy), or thinking this was the answer to all of my problems (it wasn't). There's nothing wrong with wanting all of that, but if it doesn't happen.. then what? As a wise guru (for real. he's a guru) told me, "You cannot put conditions on your happiness." These are my words to live by. In other words, you can't live your life constantly telling yourself, "I will be happy when... I'm a vegan... I make more money... I lose 10 lbs... [fill in the blank]" Because you will very well reach those points in your life, but how did you feel getting there? Or more honestly yet, how do you feel once you get there? Probably the same as you did when you started. Therefore, work towards positive changes, but don't miss out on the good in the every day, waiting for what may or may not result in happiness or rather, fullfillment. You dig? This is your life on your terms. Who else are you living it for? Whose terms are you conceding to?
Alas, I digress. You want more of that? You come to my yoga class. In the meantime, on to the birthday celebration! I have loved so many of the recipes Joe and I have made this year, and it'd be hard to pick one favorite, but I'll do my best. Here are some year 1 favorites:
Bread/Appetizer/Side Dish: Apple Cinnamon Toastie from Babycakes (vegan, sugar free and gluten free!)
Soup: Isa's White Bean, Quinoa and Kale soup from Appetite for Reduction
Main Course: Chloe's Black Bean burgers with Mango Salsa and Guacamole with Sweet Potato Fries
Dessert: Moosewood's Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache frosting
Restaurant: Vegitteranean! Although an honorable mention must go to my local hangout - Treehugger's (especially for their Scarlett Maccaw salad)
Cookbook: Gotta go with with Real Food Daily by Ann Gentry
Now, on to today's recipe. What's more appropriate for a birthday than cupcakes?! Ok, maybe an entire cake, but that is like, soooo 2009... although I've heard that cupcakes are soooo 2010, but I digress. I made these in 2010, so that still counts as being fab. I love these. Fluffy and moist chocolate cake on the bottom, fudgey chocolate frosting on top. Vegan what? Thank you, Isa!
1 cup soymilk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract, chocolate or more vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pan with liners. Set aside.
Whisk together soy milk and vinegar and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, extract to soy milk mixture and beat until foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add your drey ingredients to the wet and beat until no lumps remain.
Pour into liners, filling three-quarters of the way. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack, and let cool completely.
Thick Chocolate Fudgey Frosting
1/2 margarine, softened at room temperature (I use Earth Balance)
1/2 cup agave nectar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup soy milk powder (I found this at Nature's Bin, so I bet you could find these at a Whole Foods)
Beat margarine and agave with an electric mixer at medium speed till smooth. Whisk in vanilla, then slowly fold in the cocoa powder. Slowly beat in the soy milk powder at low speed. If it seems too firm, slowly add in some more agave.