Raw Chakra Birthday Cake

raw chakra cake // gratitude and greensThis past weekend, I celebrated my birthday. It was a weekend filled with much love, laughter, and, of course, food. My beardy ginger dude, who knows me best, lovingly gifted me with two Ottolenghi cookbooks and a Scrabble set. Saturday evening was a four-course dinner, which was comprised of the best egg raviolo, ever and the best chocolate cake, ever. The day of my birthday was spent eating breakfast at Winslow’s Home, a lovely shop/café/wine-cellar with the coolest decor, visiting Left Bank Books (because all I wanted to do on my birthday was to be in the company of books), and eating a tasty raw vegan lunch. When evening rolled around we headed to KeeKee’s, who had kindly prepared a birthday meal for me: a colourful caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes (she stuck a birthday candle in the ball of burrata. Yes, I had a birthday burrata); brussel sprouts with eggs; and for dessert, a raspberry cake. She made everyone whistle the birthday song with candy whistles, and I went home full of laughter and dessert. I’ve only known KeeKee for three weeks, but I already consider her a part of my St. Louis family.

raw chakra cake // gratitude and green

Although KeeKee generously made me a cake, I had also made a cake for the occasion. I was intent on making a cake symbolic of personal growth and my goals for the upcoming year. This year, I plan on improving my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing by opening up, unblocking, and balancing my chakras. With this in mind, I wanted to make a cake that showcased the colours of the seven chakras: red for the root; orange for the sacral; yellow for the solar plexus; green for the heart; blue for the throat; indigo for the third eye; and violet for the crown. My attempts in achieving these colours, however, were not entirely successful. Rather than seven layers (which would have been quite the cake project), I ended up with four pastel layers that were still delicious.

chakrasWhat are chakras? Why should we work on opening and balancing our chakras? Chakras are energy centers located in our body. Beginning at the bottom of the spine and extending to the crown of the head, chakras help to regulate the flow of energy that passes through our bodies. There are seven of them, which I mentioned briefly above: the root; the sacral; the navel; the heart; the throat; the third eye; and finally, the crown. When our chakras are blocked, underactive, or overactive, we are prone to physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual imbalances.

chakra chart

How do we open, energize, and balance our chakras? Although there are many ways to open and balance our chakras, one of the best things we can do is to maintain positive thoughts. As Sohini Trehan of MindBodyGreen writes, “Our thoughts create our reality, and by regularly practicing positive chakra balancing affirmations, we can achieve astonishing results in our lives… When our chakras are perfectly aligned with the universal flow of energy, every aspect of our life becomes harmonious and joyful. We reclaim perfect health, and our love and passion for life becomes renewed.” Meditation, visualization, yoga, and aromatherapy are also great ways to energize our chakras, not to mention seeing and recognizing the colour and light in our lives.

I know all this chakra talk sounds hippy-dippy, but give it a go. A previous yoga teacher of mine focused on opening our chakras in class, and I always felt a sense of renewal and rejuvenation after each class.

raw chakra cake // gratitude and greens

This cake was inspired by and adapted from Sarah B’s raw cashew dreamcake recipe, which is one of my all-time favourite raw vegan cakes. I used strawberries for the pink layer, nectarines for the orange-yellow layer, kiwis for the green layer, and blueberries for the indigo/violet layer. Feel free to add more than one cup of fruit if you want a more intense colour. Although the original recipe called for 1/3 cup of sweetener, my addition of the banana meant that I didn’t need to use much sweetener, and I only used a tablespoon or so of agave nectar.

I topped the cake with edible flowers, because why not?

raw chakra cake // gratitude and greens

Raw Chakra Birthday Cake
I doubled this recipe to make each layer of the cake.
1 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
2 lemons, juiced and zested
1 cup fruit of your choice
1 banana
1/3 cup coconut oil
agave nectar/liquid sweetener of choice, to taste

1. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor.
2. Pour into a silicone or springform pan and freeze overnight.
3. Remove from the freezer half an hour before serving to allow the cake to thaw.
4. Serve with fresh fruit and edible flowers, if desired.

Enjoy : )

Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,

Sources: [1] [2] [3] [4]

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Happy Friday! Some highlights from this week…

Last week I met the very inspiring Roxane Gay at a reading she did at Left Bank Books. I’m reading her book Bad Feminist, which she very kindly signed for me. If you haven’t read it or heard of it, I highly recommend it! She also penned an amazing piece for The Guardian, in which she discusses privacy and women’s bodies with regards to the nude photo leak that happened this week.

I finished Letter To My Daughter by Maya Angelou. Maya Angelou is a beautiful writer, and I found her words so comforting.  My favourite excerpt:

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking.”

Emily from This Rawsome Vegan Life has me drooling, as usual, over one of her recipes. This week it’s her oat and pecan cake with vanilla ginger frosting.

I’m also dying to try this vegan mint chip shake from The First Mess

The My New Roots cookbook is officially available for pre-order! I am SO. FREAKING. EXCITED. I can’t emphasize that enough.

And that’s about it for this week. I’m celebrating my birthday this weekend, and a raw vegan cake is in the works!

Have a great weekend,

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Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Salad

I am a girl who is crazy about watermelon. Nothing says summer like watermelon, and every summer, I look forward to heaving a big watermelon home and scooping out its sweet, ruby red flesh. I will have it for breakfast, as a snack, as a juice, in popsicle form, in salads, and in every possible way. I will always insist on buying more watermelon, even if there’s still a big bowl of it sitting in the fridge. Two summers ago I visited St. Louis for the first time, and I demolished two huge watermelons in the span of four days. What happened, in the words of my boyfriend, is as follows:

“When you showed up to the house there was a whole watermelon. Two days later, there was no watermelon. We went and bought another watermelon, and two days later, there was no watermelon.

There was never any watermelon because I couldn’t and wouldn’t stop eating all the watermelon in the house. I couldn’t help myself. I know watermelon and mint salads aren’t original and are becoming a ubiquitous menu item during the summer, but this salad is, truly, one of my favorite combinations of ingredients. It’s so fresh, vibrant, and easy. Some days I just want to throw together something fast and delicious, and this watermelon salad is perfect for precisely that. It was perfect as a starter for dinner last Saturday, when Lewis and I cooked for his parents and their friends, Ted and Jenny.

watermelon salad // gratitude and greens

We had planned a menu with a Middle Eastern and Eastern Mediterranean feel. For the starter, I made this watermelon salad.For the main course, Lewis made shakshuka, a stew made with tomatoes, peppers, and onion with poached eggs. It is popular in Israel, but is believed to have originated from North Africa. For dessert, I made poached plums in honey and water topped with chopped almonds and orange zest. I would love to share the recipe for both the main course and dessert today, but I’m afraid that will have to be saved for another time.

I should mention that Ted is an extremely talented baker who specializes in European breads, and is about to open his own artisan bakery in St. Louis. What I tasted that evening was pure heaven! He brought us bread made with sprouted Missouri wheat, as well as pretzels, which he is currently perfecting for an Oktoberfest event in St. Louis. The bread paired wonderfully with the shakshuka and we ended the evening with heavy and happy bellies. Readers, if you are ever in St. Louis, you have to buy bread from Ted. It will change your life. I can’t even begin to describe how delicious his bread is, because, sadly, I know that none of my words will be able to do his bread justice. All I will say is that the taste and texture of his bread is just beyond perfection. That first bite of Ted’s bread brought me back to Europe. I can’t hop onto a flight to France, Germany, and other great European bread nations, but I can enjoy bread made by Ted on this side of the ocean. (I believe his bakery is going to be called Union Loafers, but I will check with him and update this post later.)

union loafers bread // gratitude and greens

union loafer's pretzels // gratitude and greens

Anyway. Onto to the watermelon salad.

Why eat watermelon? Watermelon is extremely high in water content (92% of the fruit!), and eating it is a great way to stay hydrated during hot summer months. Watermelon is also a great source of vitamin C and vitamin A, not to mention lycopene, an antioxidant that helps to fight cancer-causing free radicals. In addition, watermelon is a source of citrulline, an amino acid that helps to relieve muscle soreness. A paper in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that the watermelon had the “potential to increase muscle protein and enhance athletic performance,” and that the consumption of watermelon an hour before exercise relieved muscle soreness.

With the above in mind, here’s a quick and easy recipe for a watermelon salad. This salad has Persian roots, and I’ve seen variations involving pomegranate syrup (I would have loved to use pomegranate syrup, but had none on hand), rose water, red onions, pistachios, and even harissa. Some people prefer more mint. I kept it simple, but feel free to play with additional ingredients. If you are vegan, skip the feta.

watermelon salad // gratitude and greens

Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Salad
*yields six servings
4-5 cups watermelon
1 cup feta
1/4 – 1/2 cup mint leaves
extra virgin olive oil, if desired

1. Chop and cube the watermelon. Place the cubes in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
2. Crumble the feta over the watermelon. Mix well.
3. Top with mint leaves.
4. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over the watermelon salad. This is optional, but I just love olive oil and thought it would contrast nicely with the sweetness of the watermelon.

watermelon salad // gratitude and greens

Enjoy : )

Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,

Sources: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

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