Tag Archives: agave nectar

Bake the World a Better Place: Vegan Meyer Lemon Cake

Vegan meyer lemon cake

What could be better than seeing the look of pure joy on someone’s face when you bake them an awesome, beautiful, delectable Meyer lemon cake? Well, the fact that it took you only about 35 minutes start-to-finish makes it better. And for me, what makes the moment even sweeter is when I get to serve this yummy cake to a die-hard carnivore, knowing that in just moments when they’re moaning with joy, I get to see their jaws drop when I tell them that this cake is vegan…and healthy, and good for the environment, and good for animals!

That’s right, this moist, delicious, lemony heaven-cake has no animal products at all.  And since it uses olive oil to make it moist (which has a host of benefits, from helping to prevent strokes and heart disease to protecting cells from damage), and agave nectar as a sweetener (which means your blood sugar level won’t spike), it’s a healthy dessert. Without traditional animal-based cake ingredients, like eggs, milk and butter, it saves some chickens and cows while also being better for the environment.

So bake the world a better and happier place by making this easy, super yummy crowd-pleaser that will make both carnivores and vegans smile. Happy holidays!

– Cimeron

Meyer lemon cake with berries

Cimeron’s Vegan Meyer Lemon Cake
From pantry to table: about 35 minutes
Serves: 8

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour *
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup agave nectar
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice
Zest of one Meyer lemon
2 tsp vanilla extract

Mixed berries to serve on top

* I like baking with whole wheat pastry flour since it makes desserts lighter and fluffier. I get mine at Whole Foods, but you can find it at most high-end grocery stores or health food stores.

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a Bundt pan lightly with oil.  In a small bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In a large bowl, blend the olive oil, agave nectar, water, lemon juice, zest and vanilla extract. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and blend just until the lumps are gone. Pour into your Bundt pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cake, invert, dust with powdered sugar and serve with fresh mixed berries or a simple compote. (To make a compote, toss the berries in a bowl with a generous squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of salt and agave nectar to taste – let sit for 15-30 minutes to allow the berries soften and release some juices).

This cake is definitely best when served on the same day it’s baked. Be sure to ziplock and refrigerate the leftovers to keep it moist. Enjoy!

How is it possible that my pencil-thin Meyer lemon tree produced approximately 8000 lemons this year? And how is it still upright?!

How is it possible that my pencil-thin Meyer lemon tree produced approximately 8000 lemons this year? And how is it still upright?!

Foods That Fight Stress

Moist and delicious oatmeal blueberry cashew vegan cookies

It’s a natural tendency to reach for a cookie when we’re feeling stressed out. In addition to providing a little respite, they also make great projectiles. But these tasty Vegan Spiced Oatmeal-Cashew-Blueberry Cookies (recipe below) aren’t like most comfort foods that provide only a fleeting moment of emotional anesthesia. These cookies are actually packed with incredible ingredients that alter your brain chemistry to reduce stress hormones and increase the production of chemicals that will elevate your mood.

Can you believe that something as simple as eating the right foods can decrease anxiety, depression and stress? It’s pretty amazing! It’s all chemistry, really. Every time we feel tension, our brains produce the stress hormone cortisol, which elevates blood pressure, impairs the immune system, makes our shoulders reside near our ears, and inspires some of us to throw objects at the heads of annoying people.  Here’s why I’ve felt a bit stressed lately:

Our stress-inducing apocalypse-style patio

Yes, it’s loads of fun trying to write articles with the pleasant sound of the jackhammer just inches away! Stress is a killer – literally. John knows four people who have dropped dead at his workplace in the past year. Yikes!  So when I started seeing his brain-vein pounding more prominently in recent weeks, and when my legs began jackhammering at my desk (even when the demo guys were taking a break), I decided to do a little research about ways to combat our tension with food.

Check this out:

Oatmeal makes your brain produce the “feel good” brain chemical serotonin. It modulates mood, helps us combat stress and makes us feel happier.

Blueberries are high in vitamin C, which researchers have found reduces the psychological and physical effects of stress by curbing the secretion of cortisol. It has also been shown to help people bounce back from stressful situations more quickly. And bonus: blueberries are rich with anthocyanin, which improves cognitive function and memory. They’re also a source of potassium, which lowers blood pressure.

Cashews are rich with zinc, which has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. (By the way, did you know that our bodies can’t store zinc? Unless we consume some every day it can lead to zinc deficiency, which causes a host of other nasty problems like hair loss, mental lethargy and sexual health issues. So unless you want to be an impotent, balding slug, eat your cashews!)

So I figured: why not combine all these stress-busting, anti-anxiety foods into a delicious and healthy snack? Give these easy-to-make Spiced Oatmeal-Cashew-Blueberry cookies a try – they’re moist, delicious, addictive, and they’ll even help you suppress your urge to use one as a projectile. They’re so good that even carnivores who are fearful of anything vegan will love them.  And since they’re packed with complex carbs (verses the empty simple carbs found in most cookies) and are super good for you, there won’t be any guilt-related stress if you happen to gobble up, say, all 25 of them in one sitting. Enjoy!

Vegan spiced oatmeal-blueberry-cashew cookies. YUM!

Stress-Busting Spiced Oatmeal-Cashew-Blueberry Cookies

Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 25 cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour*
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp nutmeg
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup agave nectar**
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 olive oil
2 cups old fashioned oats (uncooked)
1/2 cup dried blueberries, rehydrated (soak in hot water for 5 minutes. Be sure to pat them dry)
1/2 cup toasted and unsalted cashews, chopped

* Whole wheat pastry flour is a little lighter and yummier for baking, but you can use regular flour if you can’t find the pastry flour, but if you do, just use a tiny bit less than ½ cup since regular flour is denser.

** If you prefer, you can use 2/3 cup brown rice syrup in place of the agave nectar. But cut back on the salt to 1/8 tsp. The cookies turn out even chewier this way, and with slightly crispier tops. 

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare cookie sheets with parchment paper or a light spray of olive oil.

In a small bowl, stir together flour, salt, baking soda and all the spices. In a larger bowl, mix the applesauce, agave nectar, vanilla and oil until blended. Then add in the flour/spice mixture and stir well. Add the oats, blueberries and cashews and mix until blended. Now let the mixture sit for 10 minutes – this will soften up the oats and make the cookies chewylicious.

Using your cookie scooper or a spoon, create 25 little cookie mounds on your baking sheets and bake for 12-13 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown. Now here comes the hard part: wait at least 10 minutes before wolfing down the cookies. They hold together better after they’ve had a chance to rest. Plus, waiting will help you keep the flesh on the roof of your mouth!