Re: Dark Chocolate + Peanut Butter Icing Cake Truffles

IMG_7288_edited.pngI’m not entirely sure what it is about peanut butter but I love that stuff! Crunchy, smooth, with chocolate, EVERYTHING! So of course I planned on making a peanut butter lover inspired recipe :). Coincidentally, my uncle made some tasty dark chocolate cake. Why not put them together? The dark chocolate compliments a subtle sweet taste from the peanut butter icing, while adding some ground cinnamon and a splash of vanilla extract make these cake truffles a cohesive indulgent treat! Excuse the unusually large portions of these cake truffles. I love chocolate AND peanut butter…maybe a little too much haha

Ingredients:

  • chocolate cake
  • 1 cup peanut butter (I used unsweetened organic but you can use whatever you have at home)
  • 3 tbsp. milk
  • 6 tbsp. icing powder
  • 1 ½ bars (~15-20 oz.) dark chocolate
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • splash of vanilla extract (~1/4 tsp.)
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter

Procedure:

  1. Using the chocolate cake my uncle previously made, in a bowl I used my hand to crumble the cake; you can use a food processor by pulsing it gradually
  2. I combined the peanut butter with the salt, ground cinnamon and vanilla before adding 2 tablespoons of sifted icing powder
  3. Alternating between the icing powder and milk, I mixed the peanut butter well with a rubber spatula (or you can use a hand mixer); make sure that there are no icing sugar lumps!
  4. Once you’ve made your peanut butter icing, add the icing into the bowl that the crumbled cake is in
  5. Gently mix the peanut butter icing with the cake crumbs
  6. Then melt the dark chocolate using a small sauce pan or in the microwave (for 1-2 minutes, medium-high power) with 1 tablespoon of butter
  7. Once the chocolate is melted, set it aside. You can start making small ball with the peanut butter and chocolate cake crumble mixture
  8. When you’ve made all of the cake-peanut butter icing into balls, place them in a cookie sheet lines with parchment paper
  9. Using a spoon pour in some of the melted chocolate on top of the cake-peanut butter icing balls until there are coated. Do the same for all of the balls
  10. Chill the chocolate cake truffles in the fridge for at least 2 hours before eating; the dark chocolate coating should be hardened by then
  11. Enjoy!

The thin chocolate outer layer adds a nice texture contrast from the soft chocolate and peanut butter center. A seductively rich treat for Peanut Butter Lovers Day!

Give this recipe a try and let me know how it goes! I’m always open to suggestions and improvements. Feel free to leave a comment below 🙂

 

Always,

K

 

Coco Bananaz: Organic, Dairy Free, Delicious!

Coco BananazI had some extra time before attending my pottery class this afternoon so I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood. I’m not too familiar in the area. In fact, I have only been around Runnymede Station before hopping on to a bus further west. While walking around the neighborhood across the street from the pottery studio, I came across the Coco Bananaz E.L.F. (electric, light and fun).

This awesome new alternative to your ordinary ice cream truck is exactly what the slogan says-“Organic, Dairy Free, Delicious!” Coco Bananaz are essentially, frozen banana treats dipped in chocolate. Cindy Stanleigh, owner and CEO of Coco Bananaz, was inspired to start Coco Bananaz after going on a family vacation and spotting a frozen banana vendor. A vegan herself, Stanleigh wanted to bring this idea to the streets of Toronto as a healthy, vegan and gluten free alternative to other commercial frozen treats in the market. Also, Stanleigh truly believes in eating organic and transferred this passion to her frozen treats. She is even using biodegradable plastic packaging for her treats!

Now let me just talk about this E.L.F. It is one cool and sustainable ice cream bike! Stanleigh converted a two-seater E.L.F designed by Organic Transit and replaced the back seat with a freezer unit to store the Coco Bananaz. The freezer runs on a powerful lithium battery that is recharged using the solar panels on the roof of the vehicle. The E.LF. does not have an engine but actually runs on man power aka Stanleigh’s pedaling. Each Coco Bananaz treat is $4 taxes included and Stanleigh is available for booking on special occasion and group parties (e.g. children’s birthday parties, etc.)

For more info please click on her website: www.cocobananaz.com or find Coco Bananaz on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Say hi to Cindy when you see her riding around the city and don’t forget to try her Coco Bananaz!

Always,

-K

Frozen Banana Ice Cream

Two of my guilty pleasures are chocolates and ice cream, but of course staying healthy and eating well is a priority. Dark choclates are awesome alternatives for milk chocolates because they have less sugar and more antioxidants. It’s totally understandable that dark chocolates can be a little too bitter. If you’re not a fan of bitter dark chocolate, try 60-65% dark chocolate. It’s not as bitter and as delicious!

IMG_4836Now, this is not a new trick or recipe but it’s definitely one of my go-to substitutes for ice cream. It’s easy, affordable and doesn’t have as much sugar as store bought ice creams. You only need 3 ingredients: banana, Greek yogurt (or any kind of yogurt) and milk. You can also add cinnamon, honey, or other frozen fruits for variety.

It’s much harder to freeze the banana with the peel so I froze the banana by peeling it and wrapping the banana with plastic wrap or you can also cut the banana in chunks and put it in a plastic bag and freeze it overnight. Either method works well as long as you peel the banana first. After taking out the frozen banana and placing it in the blender, I added a 1/3 of a cup of Greek yogurt (you can use any kind of yogurt, I just prefer mine to be a little tart) then added 2 tablespoons of skim milk (again you can use any kind od milk, I just had skim milk). Once you have all of the ingredients together, blend away! If you are adding more frozen fruits, add a little bit more yogurt and milk to have a smoother consistency. Then transfer the mixture in a bowl and let it freeze for an hour or two. You can eat the mixture right out of the blender if you like, but I find that it can be a little runny and it melts a lot quicker.

Do you have healthier ice cream alternatives? Tell me about them by commenting below! I’d love to hear from you!

Always,

K

Belize 2014

IMG_3090

This was quite a unique experience. My visit to Belize challenged me intellectually, emotionally, spiritually and physically. I can honestly say that I left this rising nation a different person. I learned the value of having confidence and conviction about knowing your cultural heritage and your identity as a whole. In so many ways, we can be easily swayed by what people and other socializing forces envision us to be. When did it become so hard to just be you? Do the things you want to do, go to places you want to go and live a life that satisfies you. At the end of the day, the only face you’ll be seeing in the mirror is yourself, so why does other people’s opinion matter more than your own?

IMG_2929About 10 students including myself were given the opportunity to participate in this international internship program with I.S.I.S. Belize (Institute of Sustainable and International Studies) in partnership with New College at the University of Toronto. The purpose of this particular internship was to gain a better understanding of indigeneity with an emphasis of food sustainability/security. We engaged with some indigenous people/groups living at the Southern part of Belize along side our professors. Contrary to popular belief the Maya people still reside on these lands/established villages and are persistently fighting for their rights to be recognized to obtain land rights in Belize. Similarly, meeting the Garifuna people emphasized the importance and relevance of preserving their rich culture for future generations. Each of these indigenous groups are distinct yet possess such a powerful common characteristic-resilience. Learning and reflecting from their stories and how much food plays a prevalent role has been a privilege.

Making connections to my academic and personal discoveries during this educational tour only invigorated my desire to further understand my own culture and how continuous migration and colonialism [and its repercussions] has helped shape it. With food as my avenue of exploration, I can say with great conviction that my journey will not only be academically, professionally or culturally fulfilling but tasty as well.

 

Below are a couple of places we stayed at as well as some additional contact information of the people/organizations we met during this tour:

IMG_2913Toucan Ridge Ecology & Education Society (T.R.E.E.S.): Initially only seeing the abbreviation on my itinerary had me thinking that of course our first night will be spent in a tree house or you know, suspended from some trees with a sleeping bag. You could imagine my disappointment when I saw that there were beds, complimentary towels and (brace yourself) a powerful electric fan to combat the heat! Coming out of that long Canadian winter season the hot climate of Belize definitely brought the heat as soon as we landed. So seeing that fan was a gift.

Now let me talk about the food. This was our first meal at Belize and boy was it a good way to start. The banana bread pudding for dessert was simply immaculate. Creamy banana pudding and its crunchy, chewy crust, I’m salivating just thinking of it!

You may also contact Vanessa Kilburn at vkilburn@treesociety.org

 

IMG_3080Our next destination was at Hopkins Village on the coast of Stann Creek District. We stayed at the All Seasons Guesthouse, walking distance from the beach and a few restaurants in the area. The first time we were here I stayed at one of their cabanas equipped with a small kitchen, 2 bedrooms with queen size beds in each room and a shared 3-piece bathroom. If you want this space can easily fit at least 4 people comfortably and up to 6 using 2 foldable beds. Having its own kitchen, it came with a stove, refrigerator (with 3 complimentary bottled drinks), cutlery, dishes, glasses, towels, dishwasher soap and a flashlight. Which means, again, if you want to you can probably cook your own meals while staying at one of these cabanas. The rates per night at one of these cabanas or suites are definitely affordable. In comparison to other guesthouses and the amenities that they come with their prices are a lot more reasonable than most in the area. They also offer air conditioning in some suites, clotheslines and an outside seating area for each of the cabanas. Click the link below for more information or contact Reva Dark to get a more accurate estimate/prices when planning your stay.

Now, here’s the bad news, due to unfortunate circumstances the original owner of this guesthouse passed, which means that this property has been and still is in the market (real estate market). While business is steady, the previous owner’s good friend/real estate agent is managing this guesthouse. I can only hope that whomever ends up buying this property keeps it the way it is. While not having met the previous owner, the spaces she created exuded her warmth and charm. There was a sense of humble comfort staying at this guesthouse. It almost felt like my second home.

Here’s the contact for All Seasons Guesthouse:

Reva Dark, Stann Creek Realty: stanncreekrealty@gmail.com

 

All of our experiences would not be possible without the university and their global partnership with I.S.I.S. Belize.

IMG_3012I refrained from explaining the organization primarily because I don’t necessarily have all of the information about the organization but only my experience as a participant/intern. Our 8 days at Belize was jam packed with different activities from hiking through the rainforest to reach a cave, meeting a few Maya Alcaldes, engaging with a Garifuna elder at their temple to learning how to make chocolate. Participating at these activities was integral to learning about the indigenous culture at Belize. Yes, we all had very long days and we may have been half awake in some of them but it doesn’t take away from the culminating message that this trip has given. Each of us may have taken away something different from our week-long journey yet I think it’s safe to say that this experience taught all of us that the learning experience extends from classroom-country-borders. Check out I.S.I.S. Belize, where education is an adventure.

 

Here are additional contacts:

Filiberto Pendaos, Ph.D, Engaged Scholarship and Service Learning Director: fpenados@isisbelize.com

Gliss Penados: glisspi@yahoo.com

Cristina Coc, Program Coordinator-Toledo: ccoc@isisbelize.com

Pablo Mis, Program Coordinator, Maya Leaders Alliance: pablomis12@gmail.com or mayaleadersbelize@gmail.com

Ted McKoy, Nituwana Foundation: mr.rinomck@gmail.com

Coming Soon!

I will try to come back for the ‘Swinging Armadillo Bar and Grill’ Grand Opening at Hopkins Village, Belize later in the year or next year!

 

More links on Belize: