On Monday, my friend Juliet (who has appeared in several cooking videos) and I got together to bake Health Starts Here cupcakes! It took us a few weeks of chatting on Facebook and lots of Internet research to finally create a tasty recipe that is free of refined sugars, refined oils, dairy, eggs or refined flours.
To create a recipe for these cupcakes, I went to the Health Starts Here section of the Whole Foods website to see if they had any recipes for cake. I found a recipe there for Banana-Cocoa Snack Cake. I made their recipe at home and it was AMAZING! It was like a cross between banana bread and chocolate cake. It was very dense though. Juliet's and my solution was to cut the amount of oat flour in half so there was 1 cup of whole-wheat pastry flour, 1/2 cup of oat flour and 1/2 cup of brown rice flour. Juliet also isn't the biggest fan of bananas, so we used two bananas instead of four. We added some zucchini and squeezed all the water out of it (although the excess water came in handy when we didn't have enough coconut milk). We added lots of dates and a cup of applesauce to give it some extra sugar. With a few extra modifications, the recipe became our own.
Then there was the frosting. Figuring out what to do for the frosting was quite difficult. We have a lot of vegan cupcake books at my house, but their frostings all use sugar. I was at a loss because there really is no healthy substitution for powdered sugar. I found a frosting recipe from a vegan cookbook (not especially for cupcakes) that is normally used for cake, and it followed the Health Starts Here guidelines! I modified it so that it would become a strawberry frosting and would be sweeter, and it turned out to be delicious. It wasn't quite the consistency of a normal frosting, but when you're working with cashew cream and dates, there's nothing else you can do.
I was pretty worried about these cupcakes being too bitter or just plain disgusting, but they were AMAZING! I normally get freaked out by vegan baked goods - I've tried lots of them and baking with dairy and eggs always tastes better - but these actually tasted normal.
|While the frosting has an interesting mauve color, it tasted great!|
|My dad trying the cupcake|
|Juliet and a cupcake|
Now that the 28-Day Challenge is nearing its close, I've been thinking about how the ideals of Health Starts Here will stick with me. I will be adding dairy, eggs, refined oils, refined sugars and refined flours back into my diet, but in very small quantities. I won't eat Greek yogurt every day anymore like I used to, and my snacks will always be smoothies, whole-grain crackers, fruits and vegetables from here on out. I'll be very cautious about how much oil I'm consuming every day and make sure that I never cook a cream sauce (except for the alfredo made with pureed cauliflower, but that's different) for my family again! I've also decided that I will treat myself to organic ice cream only once a month and a homemade cookie once a month as well. I'll try to incorporate whole grains into my diet whenever I can, but I will allow myself a slice of white artisan bread every once in a while. Everything in moderation, right?
As a kid, what can you do at home to improve your diet? I know I've said lots of things already and you're probably still confused as to what you should do. To start off, pick one thing that you want to change and find a way that you will be successful in changing it. For example, you might want to start eating a better breakfast. This might mean that every Friday you have oatmeal with fruit (or another whole grain option) and that the rest of the days of the week you have what you were used to eating. This might also mean that you completely forget about how you used to eat breakfast and have a healthy option every morning from here on out. You might also decide that you want to start cooking dinner. You could cook three times a week, once a week, once a month, or whatever is the right pace for you. Once you've accomplished your goal, then move onto another thing. Maybe you don't want to change the actual meals you eat, but instead you'd like to buy more high quality products and understand the source of your food. There are so many things you can do to become a more knowledgable consumer. Read through all of my posts and other bloggers' posts about healthy eating and find out what speaks to you based on what you read.
A few readers voted on whether I should change my email address or not. I've decided that after summer is over, I will be changing my email address to "teenchef" instead of "tweenchef', which has been quite the inaccurate label of my age.
Follow this blog, subscribe to my YouTube channel (http://youtube.com/user/tweenchef123), follow me on Twitter (@MDchef_123), email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, go to www.wholefoodsmarket.com\healthstartshere to learn more abotu he 28-Day Challenge and tell your friends and family about Teens Can Cook, Too! Stay healthy!