Valentines Day Bouquet Cake with Rosewater and Citrus – Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free. FULL OF LOVE!

Rosewater Cheesecake

I have lots of mixed feelings about Valentines Day, but I have ZERO mixed feelings about cake. You should always eat cake, especially when it’s pink. 

I hope that no matter your relationship status this upcoming Saturday you know that you are perfect, whole and complete just that way you are. No amount of rose’s, chocolate or teddys bears influences your self-worth. I promise.  And, if you drink endless bottles of Champaign and make this pink cake with your girlfriends on Valentines Day you will experience endless amounts of joy. pinky promise. 

From my blog to you: Happy Valentines Day, I love you 🙂 xo

Rosewater Cheesecake2
Rosewater Cheesecake with Winter Citrus
Yield: one 9inch cake
Benefits: anti-viral, antioxidant loaded, aids in digestion

Crust Layer:
½ cup almonds
½ cup shelled pistachios
¼ cup dates- pitted
3 tbsp raw cacao powder
½ tsp orange zest
1 small orange- peeled, seeded, sectioned
1 tbsp coconut oil- melted
Pinch salt
Shredded coconut

Rosewater Cheesecake Mousse:
2 cups raw cashews- soaked
2 lemons- peeled, seeded, sectioned
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup melted cacao or coconut butter
½ cup dates
¼ tsp rosewater or rose essence
Pinch of salt
Big pinch of cardamom
½ tsp beet juice (to make cake pink)

Garnish
Orange and lemon zest
Edible flowers
Coconut

Method:
To make the crust: pulse the nuts in the processor until it resembles a fine meal. Add the remaining ingredients and process until a sticky dough forms. Press into the bottom of a spring form pan that is sprinkled with shredded unsweetened coconut. Place in fridge.
To make the cheesecake put everything in the food processor and blend until thick and creamy. Pour into the spring foam pan and place in freezer overnight. This is even better after two days.
Decorate the cake to your liking. I used edible flowers, orange and lemon zest and coconut. Get creative!
Thaw 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy.

XO
-C

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Christmas in Mexico: Playa Del Carmen, Tulum 2014- Part One!

Morning in Tulum

“Traveling feeds in so many ways” became the tag line for this trip. Originally inspired by the crazy amounts of foods I was eating and later because of how full the trip made me feel; mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. 

Travelling allows you to see how other people live their lives which opens up a whole new realm of possibility. You get to see that there are so many different ways to exist and that you don’t have to choose the life that was given to you, rather you can create the life that you want. Traveling gives you perspective, an opportunity to see all that you have and to cherish it. 

In the states we get two weeks of vacation and for many it is an oppotunity for a break from their hectic life, a job they dislike, a life they don’t love. My 2 weeks is not a vacation from my life, it is always an adventure into the world. I hope to never get to a place where the purpose of my travel is to escape. My purpose is to grow, to explore, to have fun, to share new experiences, eat new food, and to step outside my comfort zone. Bon Voyage. 

friends ruins

We started our trip in Playa Del Carmen, a fun city south of Cancun and used AirBnB to find a super stylish condo right near 5th street, the main strip in Playa, for an amazing price. It was owned by a young New York guy so it was decorated with a masculan undertone, accented with bright red rugs and pillows, but balanced with nutral grey and black couches and counter tops. Sure enough, the fridge was stocked with ice cold Tecate upon arrival. Way to set the mood. 

The first day we cliff jumped into a Cenote, which is a natural swimming pool of sorts. The water was cool and it was an extremely beautiful setting. Next, we snorkled at Turtle Bay, and I am still suprised at how many turtles are hanging out that close to shore. We had a dinner there on the beach and the resturant was playing the best music that I heard on the entire trip. Instrumental house, and I was blissed.

Turtles

The next day was easily my most favorite part of the trip! I met a Squirrel Monkey named John Travolta. He melted my heart and I really got present to how much I love animals. I’ll be honest, animal cruelty was a very small part of why I transistioned to a prodominetly plant based diet. It was mostly for the enviornment, my health and taking a stand against big agri-business. But on this trip, I enteracted with so many different animals and I was really moved.

John Travolta

After a few nights in Carmen we made our way to Tulum, again another destination further south. We took a guided tour at the Tulum Mayan Ruins, and one of the pieces of information that stuck out was the Mayans use of psilocybin for spiritual, mental and emotion growth. It was a ritual experience for them and yet it is illegal in present day. There are so many ancient civilizations who use these substances not in an abusive way but as a way to open themselves up to a different realm of exsistence, and thought.

 

Mayan Ruins

Curious, curious, curious.  Maybe Steve Jobs was on to something.

Tulum was breathtakingly beautiful, filled with eco-resorts, organic vegan spots and yoga studios on the beach. I mean, what more could a girl from SoCal ask for?

Our hotel, Sanara Tulum, which was opened by a friend of a friend, was easily the most picture-esq and stylish hotel I’ve ever been too (see picture below). I am remodeling my apartment and using it for inspiration. The staff was friendly, the coffee was hot and vibe was comfortably laid back. I highly reccommend it.

Sanara Hotel Tulum Sanara

The only draw back to Tulum is the price. Granted, we went during peak season, also known as high season, when prices are a little higher due to demand. Everything from food, lodging, to shopping was as if I was still in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills specifically. Polyester dresses, although beautful were $500+. Beers were $7-$8, wine $10-$12, cocktails $14-$16. Thats pretty standard at a mid-range resturant in LA. However, you can find more affordable options in the city, away from the main strip of beach front real estate.

In Tulum, we ate at a resturant called Simple, where the services was painfully slow (I MEAN PAINFULLY S-L-O-W) but the food was fantastic. I had Yellow Fin Tuna Tostadas. If you followed me on Instagram, I shared about a new word I learned on the trip… “Flexitarian.” I fully embraced that flexible lifestyle on this trip and I am ok with it. I’ve learned you should never beat yourself up about food, it results in an unhealthy relationship and bad habits. Having the mindset of being present and thankful really made a difference and allowed for new space in my relationship to food so I was able to eat things enjoyably. I can confidently say my eating disorder is a thing of the past.   Other resturants we tried: Casa Banana, Ahau Tulum, Casa Violeta We thought about waiting in the crazy line for the popular Hartwood, but decided to pass even though I read so many raving reviews about it. Next time.

fancy sandwhich - Copy chips and guac - Copy Pina Colodas

Speaking of things of the past, I am so happy the overnight ADO bus ride from Tulum, Mexico to Belize City, Belize is over. ADO is the premiere bus line in this part of the world, and the busses are nice, but the AC was blasting (something I read online about from other travelers too), there are speed bumps the entire way so its unlikely you will sleep and when 4am rolls around you make a 1.5 hour pit stop at the border to go through customs and immigration. We all had to get off the bus and wait in line. We were ushered into a room in groups of 2-4, the door than closes and you are questioned by Mexican officials with guns. Remember its 4:00am?

SCARY!

We paid at $25 USD tax exit fee and made our way to the Belize office to have a new stamp stamped in our passports (the best part)!

Belize was beautiul, playful, and bustling. Truly a place in the Caribbean worth visitng. Stay tuned for Part Two of my trip in Belize, where I spent time in Caye Caulker, San Pedro, Placentia, and Belize City… coming to a blog near you. 

xoxox,
Cara

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Soothing Winter Veggie Soup with Lentils and Beans- Vegan, Gluten Free,

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This cooler weather in Southern California has been such a refreshing change and its resulted in constant cravings for soup. I am not complaining. I really love soup and the endless ways you can make it. My boyfriend Jaime is a master in the kitchen and he has been whipping up so many delicious dishes this winter like this chili! I am really excited to share this veggie soup recipe with you because it represents the style of soup I love the most: broth based and loaded with veggies! Additionally, it is super high in plantbased protien from the beans and lentils. Wel rounded and hearty in deed. This recipe is a large batch and perfect for eating throughout the week for freezing some. It really is delicious, Thanks, Jaime (kisses)!

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What you need:
Olive Oil for sauteeing
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
10 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 teaspoons thyme, dried
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano, dried
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cups cut green beans, fresh or frozen
1 medium zucchini, sliced and quartered
3/4 cups lentils – I used Bob’s Red Mill
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
1 cup mushrooms, slice
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled, quartered, and sliced
1 teaspoon Sriracha
Fresh parsley for garnish

Method:
Heat a large pot over medium-high heat with enough oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Once hot, add the onions and garlic and cook until fragrant and traslucent.
Add herbs and saute for a couple minutes.
Add stock, vegetables, salt and pepper, and sriracha. Bring to a boil and then add lentils.
Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until lentils and potatoes are thoroughly cooked
Adjust for seasoning and serve hot with fresh parsley

Recipe by Jaime Craten @pastry_guy_jaime

XX
-Cara

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Spiced Vegan Chili- Holiday Party Style

Vegan chili 2

Chili has always been a favorite comfort food of mine. Growing up my mom would make big batches of it and we would eat it for the entire week following. She would make it with ground beef, of course, as she has never been a vegetarian or vegan, but I know that my plant based recipe is inspired by hers. There is something so well rounded about a bowl of chili that it has the ability to stand alone even without the addition of an artisinal loaf of bread that is required by a tomato or minestone soup. 

The recipe I am sharing with you today comes from my boyfriend, Jaime, who is a talented pastry chef here in Los Angeles. He crafted this dish for the Holiday version of Los Angeles Vegan Potluck, hosted by some of my favorite vegan instagramers and bloggers this past weekend, (see incriminating photo below). I loved meeting Jasmine and Yvonne who I have been long time fans of, along with so many fun foodies. We talk about heath, our favorite foods, documentaries and books as well as played games and won prizes. I ate so many delicious dishes and I believe our chili was a hit as we didn’t go home with much left over! The recipe has been scaled down so it is for 4-5 people instead of 15! I hope you guys enjoy!  

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Vegan Raw Pumpkin Pie – Happy Thanksgiving

pumpkin pie 3

When someone says “Thanksgiving” to me, the first thing that comes to mind is food. Then specifically pumpkin pie and then mashed potatoes. Growing up I remember pumpkin pie being my older brothers favorite dessert so we always had it around from November to December, not just on the actual holidays each month but all month long. Last year, i was going home for Thanksgiving and I really wanted to make a raw, vegan version of the pie for my family. I shot a YouTube Video, which didnt turn out as good as it could have but hey, I am a beginner! I wanted to share the recipe again with you all incase you are looking for an excellent one for this years festivities! I adjusted it slightly from what is presented in the video and it is a real improvment in texture and flavor! Enjoy!

pumpkin pie2

Pretty Pumpkin Pie Serves: 6 to 8

What you need:
Spring form pan 6 to 8 inches
Crust:
1 cup almonds- soaked 1 hr
1/2 cup walnuts- soaked 1 hr
1 cup dates- pitted
1/4 cup raisin
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut- optional
1-2 tsp vanilla or water

Pumpkin Pie Filling:
3 cups diced pie pumpkin or sugar pumpkin- soaked 1 hour
1 cup dates, raison or combo of both- be sure to remove pit from dates
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
4 Tbs melted coconut oil
2 Tbs maple syrup

Method:
To make the crust add the nuts to the process and grind until a fine meal forms. Add the dates and process until a sticky dough is formed. Add in the coconut and vanilla, process until combined. Press into the bottom of an 6-8 inch spring foam pan. place in fridge.

To make the filling add the pumpkin, vanilla and spices to the process and process until well pureed. Add the dates and blend until well incorporated and combined. next add the coconut oil, almond milk and maple syrup then process well. Taste it and adjust if necessary to your preference.

Spread filling into the crust and chill for 6 hours in the fridge or freezer. If you put in the freezer let defrost for 1 hour in the fridge before serving. The longer you let it set the better it will taste as the flavors have more time to combine into pumpkin pie bliss.
Enjoy!

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Raw Vegan Pumpkin Pie

-Pumpkin is high in Carotenoids and Beta-Carotene great for fighting cancer and keeping wrinkles at bay
High in fiber – great for digestion and helps keep you full
great source of Vitamin C – boosts the immune system

-Walnuts- high in vitamin E for healthy skin, is linked to slowing cognitive decline and rich in alpha-linolenic acid and is thought to be heart protective in times of stress.

Coconut Oil- anti-fungal, anti-bacterial- helps reduce risk of getting sick. It also helps regulate our hormones for proper thyroid function and metabolism.

– Cinnamon helps regulate your blood sugar level

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Homemade Vegan Pho Broth

pho broth 2

Vegan Pho is Pho-king amazing but traditional Vietnamese Pho is not vegan at all. It is, in its essence, a beef broth made from the bones of cows and a whole bunch of other wonderful spices. Yes, thats right guys, bones. The tought of cooking with bones really weirds me out but growing up my mom used to make homemade chicken, pork, or beef stock with the left over bones from the meaty dinners we would have. The one thing that I can appreciate about stocks is that they give use to ingredients that you might otherwise throw away, including vegetable bits for veggie broth, and not letting things go to waste is ideal (animal or not). 

This Pho broth is extremely soothing and medicinal. My boyfriend created the recipe using alkalizing and immunity boosting garlic, ginger, and jalepeno. With the addition of shiitake mushroms, lemon grass and cinnamon sticks this broth is full of flavor and nutrients certain to help you combat the colder season. This is the first time in my adult life that I have ever made homemade broth and I will say that it is worth the effort and it truly is the star in any Pho recipe. I really hope you all love this recipe as much as I do.

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Autumn Peanut Butter Pumpkin Brownies- Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free

Autumn Pumpkin

Fall in LA is sort of like Spring (or summer) in LA. The mornings start out with partly cloudy skies, and cool crisp air that burns off into a 75f+ and sunny day. Although, there are some leaves on the ground, for the most part I would have no idea what time of year it was except for the fact that the sun starts to set around 5:00pm (which is such a drainer). Nonetheless, I am finding it very easy to make an abundance of seasonally appropiate dishes that are making it feel like fall in my kitchen. The recipe for these Autumn Peanut Butter Pumpkin Brownies can be found in my Disguising Superfoods as Cake dessert ebook along with 24 other recipes that are all raw and vegan. As I flipped through my ebook to find this recipe, a very nastalgic feeling came over me, realizing that I created something I loved for the sole purpose of creating. Much of our lives we create things because they are required of us, like a homework assingment for school or for a project at work. Finding this passion on the side of recipe development, food photography and a huge community of foodies via social media has brought an excitement back into my life that I lost after leaving my career in fashion to fight the battle against my eating disorder. Everyday, I look forward to seeing what other creative, healthy foodies are whipping up in the kitchen. It keeps motivated, inspired and connected so if you are reading this and are one of those foodies, thank YOU. From the bottom of my heart and always hungry tummy. XX -C

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Cinnamon, Banana Steel Cut Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins- Vegan

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Breakfast is hands down my favorite meal. It is without doubt because of my equal love for a cup of joe, the quite-ness of that time of day and my desire to fill a hungry belly that has been waiting all night. Sometimes, however my mornings do not allow enough time to indulge in a cooked breakfast at home and that’s where these incrediable little muffins really come into play. Long gone are the days where I skip breakfast so a little planning ahead ensures I am fed with nutritious and delicious “will travel” types of breakfast. Make these on a lazy Sunday morning and they will keep well for the whole week. These guys are full of fiber, protien, and potassium to ensure your day is off to a great start!

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Slightly Sweet Almond Loaf- Small Change, Big Impact – Gluten Free, Paleo

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This is almost the same exact bread I posted last week but I adjusted the ratios and 2 ingredients and now it tastes just right. Sometimes the smallest change can have a very big impact, not only when it comes to baking.

I have a confession to make. Recently, I have stopped working out, almost entirely. Like not even once a week am I breaking a sweat. This is so unlike the Cara I thought I knew myself to be. I mean even if it was after a night of intense drinking I would still manage to get my ass on a hike or at the very least, a walk. Not anymore. I literally have lost the desire to do anything workout related and I do not feel guilty about it all at. 

My old self would have agonized constantly over making sure I worked out enough. If I missed more than a day I would really beat myself up about it and not only restrict food but push myself extra hard once I finally got back to yoga, or the stairs or whatever. However, the slightest change in my attitude has made this no longer an issue for me. You see, I used to be obbsessed with having the perfect body and I would work out so much that I had constant pain in my legs and it was my normal. The shift in my attitude to knowing that I am worth more than just my physical body let me be ok with this lifestyle adjustment. I value myself for more than the number on the tag in my jeans, but as a young woman who is smart, hardworking, quick witted and full of big dreams. 

Although, a slight change in my attitude towards myself is a huge accomplishment, all I did was start to think differently and it has had a huge impact on my overall self acceptance. But, slow your roll! I am by no means saying that working out is not important. I know that for overall vitality begin active and moving your body is a key component. But I now know that when I am finally ready to put back on my lululemon pants, I will be doing it for the right reasons: happiness and health.   

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Gluten Free Almond Cranberry Bread -Paleo

cranberry loaf2

Recently, I have been doing a lot of gluten free baking and find that I like the healthy alternatives as much if not more as their less healthy counterparts. This loaf of bread is dense and satisfying a consists of mostly almonds and eggs making it nutrient and protien rich. It would be ideal for a cup of tea, to use as toast or the two ends to a perfect sandwich. It is not overly sweet, and I used a minimal amount of cranberry sauce to minimize the dessert aspect and to add a slight seasonal touch. You can use more or less or none at all if you want a straight forward savory bread.

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