Sugar Saturday – I’m missing all the fun!

Apparently the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival is “recognized by the Guinness Book of Records” as “the World’s Largest Single Day Maple Syrup Festival” according to their website.

Release the sap!

It is around this time every year that the maple trees in eastern Canada are tapped for their watery liquid which then gets turned into maple syrup in a sugar shack or cabane au sucre. For more on this process, check out the following link:

While I didn’t make it to Elmira today, I’ve decided to have my own festival of maple syrup this week. Here are just some of the desserts that benefit from the addition of maple syrup:

scones, cookies, crepe cake, parfait, granola, chocolate truffles, butter tarts, pumpkin pie, hot chocolate, cheesecake, ice cream, fudge, candied walnuts, icing, caramel

Though popularly poured on pancakes (and snow) maple syrup is not just for breakfast anymore.

Because life is a little sweeter with some maple syrup in it. Indulge sensibly. 

And there are health benefits to maple syrup?!

Sugar Saturday – Let me eat cake!

I’m giving up Lent for cake.
Into everyone’s life a little cake must fall; especially on one’s birthday weekend. With my birthright of self-indulgence coming up soon I have decided to forgo my ‘Lent’ challenge for the weekend and bring back the sugar!

Because life is a little sweeter with some sugar in it. Indulge sensibly.

The cake gluttony starts with a chocolate cupcake with Irish cream icing and sugar shamrock on top. It continues tomorrow with a vanilla cupcake and pistachio icing and then culminates in my homemade chocolate stout cake with Irish cream icing and matcha white chocolate shamrock to be eaten on my actual birthday.

Cupcakes are amongst the perfect indulgence food. They can be bite-size or large while still remaining an individual portion. Some portions, though, are excessively large with an extraordinary amount of buttercream icing. I would argue that these are actually two servings of one serving for two people.

Cupcakes allow for a lot of creativity in flavours, are quick and easy to make and loved by just about everyone. Here are some healthy cupcake tips:

  • It takes less than one hour to make cupcakes from scratch. Allow around 15 minutes to measure and mix ingredients and about 20 minutes to bake. Let cupcakes cool at least 5 minutes in the baking pan before removing them to cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Buttercream icing can be made while cupcakes are baking. Make sure the butter/vegan buttery spread is soft when you are ready to mix with the icing sugar,  flavouring (eg. vanilla; citrus zest; peppermint extract) and liquid (eg. milk-dairy/non-dairy; alcohol; orange juice). Before icing the cupcakes, make sure they are completely cooled.
  • Mix wet and dry ingredients separately. When combining, mix until batter is uniform. Be careful not to over mix as it will cause the cupcake to be dense and bread-like.
  • Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature so they will combine better.
  • You can usually reduce the sugar amount by one-third for a lower sugar cupcake. Texture and taste-wise the cupcakes still turn out fine.
  • Use whole wheat pastry flour for a little extra fibre. Anything that helps slow down the blood sugar spike is a welcome thing. And speaking of fibre…
  • Balance the sugar with a generous serving of greens and beans. As always indulging sensibly means treating yourself occasionally with small portions and counter balancing with a healthy diet.

For cupcake fanatics in Toronto, check out Prairie Girl bakery.

I dream of Crave! What started it all for me was Crave cupcakes. So popular they have branched out from their originating city of Calgary. People in Edmonton, Alberta and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan can also satisfy their cupcake ‘Cravings’ locally.

And my go-to cookbook for vegan cupcakes: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

What’s your favourite cupcake flavour, shop or recipe?


Sugar Saturday – Not just for dessert anymore

Apparently the first Saturday in February is eat ice cream for breakfast day! Supposedly there are health benefits in having this sweet creamy treat to start the day.

The base of ice cream is custard (egg yolks and cream) sweetened with granulated sugar and often flavoured with vanilla. Many versions abound: chocolate, neopolitan, wasabi, etc. Vegan versions of ice cream are often made with coconut milk and some type of starch (eg arrowroot, corn) for thickening. While the jury is out on whether ice cream for breakfast truly is healthy, one can take the idea and make an ice cream for breakfast inspired morning snack.

  • A perfect parfait: Layer in clear ice cream bowl oat-based granola, low-sugar jam and ice cream impersonator (ie whipped cream mixed with thick unsweetened yogurt and sweetened with maple syrup and a dash of Tahitian vanilla. If using coconut whip, omit the maple syrup and mix with coconut yogurt.)
  • The banana boat: Fill a sliced banana with avocado chocolate mousse, vanilla coconut cream and sliced strawberries. Sprinkle chia and hemp seeds on top.

Should you choose to have ice cream for breakfast, serve small scoops on top of a whole grain pancake/waffle and sprinkle with nuts.