A Healthier Carrot Cake Cookie Sandwich

I am not really one to sit down and make resolutions, but the New Year feels like the perfect time to hit reset and get back on track with what is important to me. Lately my health has been front and centre and while I’m already healthy, there is always room for improvement! My intentions are to begin to learn about whole foods in a deeper way by really understanding their individual health benefits. I also want to experiment more with my cooking by using natural ingredients in new and exciting ways! But my main goal right now is to reduce how much refined sugar I eat, because I won’t lie, I really LOVE sugar! Being a big believer in balance I let myself indulge in the sweet stuff since I know I’m healthy the rest of the time, but with a history of diabetes in my family, my sugar cravings are beginning to worry me and I want to be more aware and careful. While I’m no where near wanting to quit sugar all together, I do want to try and eat more natural sugars so that when I have a craving for sweets, I can indulge in a little less harmful way! This sweet recipe is a great start!

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These cookies are a healthier twist on a version I attempted to make a while ago. I got a great shot for instagram out of it, see here, but tried making them while I had a friend over and ended up making chocolate cupcakes… I know, kind of ridiculous, but I was mindlessly looking at two recipes while chatting away…I pulled a Rachel Green from Friends! Remember her meat and whipped cream trifle?? At least mine ended up being delicious chocolate cupcakes which I was able to share with colleagues and friends. Let’s just say I’ve been very mindful while baking since.

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This weekend I finally got around to making my own version of these cookies. I swapped out the brown and white sugar for raw honey, maple syrup and a dash of molasses, adding natural sweetness. I also swapped out the butter for coconut oil, and omitted the egg for flaxseeds which when mixed with water creates an egg like substance, and has a ton of health benefits including being high in phytochemical’s, omega 3 and fiber! I was not sure how they would turn out, but was pleasantly surprised with the results! My original plan was to pair them with a vegan frosting, but I think I pushed it too far. The icing came out weird and didn’t really compliment the flavours of the cookies, so I went back to tradition and made a cream cheese frosting but without the butter. Match made in heaven! Not as “healthy” as I wanted but having only used 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, I figured, it’s not THAT bad right?

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Warm spices, sweet carrots and plump raisins make these cookies so comforting! I left out the rolled oats, but would love to add them in the next time I make these! If you like walnuts, those would be perfect in here as well, I just didn’t have any on hand. These cookies are soft and fluffy with a traditional carrot cake flavour and when paired with the cream cheese frosting sandwiched in between, it’s clear that these two flavours belong together (sorry vegan icing).

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Carrot Cake Cookies (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Makes about 12 sandwiches

1/4 cup raw honey
2 tbsp Molasses
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 tbsp flaxseed meal (which you can make yourself by grinding flaxseeds in a food processor)
3 tbsp warm water
1 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cups finely grated carrots, (about 1.5-2 large carrots)
1/2 cup raisins

Heres what you need to do:

1. In a small bowl, whisk the flaxseed meal and warm water with a whisk or fork and let sit for 5-10 min so it develops a gelatinous texture similar to a raw egg.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine honey, maple syrup, molasses and coconut oil; beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add flaxseed egg and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until well combined.

3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger; stir to combine. Gradually add flour to wet mixture; mix on a low speed until just blended. With a spatula, mix in carrots, and raisins. Chill dough in refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.

4. Meanwhile near the end of the cooling process, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside. Prepare cream cheese frosting (see below)

5. When the mixture has cooled completely, Using a 1/2-ounce ice-cream scoop, or a tablespoon scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Transfer to oven, and bake until browned and crisped, rotating pan halfway through baking to ensure even color, 8-10 minutes. Make sure not to let them burn.

6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat baking process with remaining dough. Once cooled completely, use an offset spatula to spread about 2 teaspoons of cream-cheese filling (see below) onto a cookie. Sandwich together with a second cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Cream Cheese Frosting

3/4 cups of cream cheese
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Here’s what you need to do:

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine all the ingredients on med- high speed until fluffy and well combined. You may have to scrape down the sides a couple of time. 2-4 minutes.

Snapshots of Life Lately

I take a lot of photos to say the least. I am a very visual person and while I love looking back at photos throughout my life, I really do it because I love the art of photography itself. I am self taught and learning more and more each and every day. I will be honest though, on a day to day basis I shoot with my iPhone and then post to Instagram. I do this because it’s so simple and instantly rewarding. The iphone takes beautiful photos, it fits in your pocket, you can edit them right there on the spot and then upload them without having to do much more… pretty easy! That being said I also really appreciate photography that takes a little more time, with a little more thought behind it. I have a DSLR camera that I love very much, and while I mostly use it to take photos of food for the blog (you can check them out here), I try and take it out with me every so often so that I can mix it up a bit and get creative. I always learn something new when I do that! It’s a little more work than using my good old iPhone, but it’s much more rewarding. I thought it would be fun to start sharing some of them on the blog! Here are a few shots I snapped recently!

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This is my baby Winslow – If you follow me on Instagram, you know he’s one of my best posers!

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This is my cousin Shira at NYFW. Portrait Photography practice

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I love the way the water acts as a mirror after a storm.

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Shadow Play

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Survival of the fittest

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Another one of my cousin Shira. Portrait photography practice, but without reflectors or lights it’s hard to not have harsh shadows.

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What do you love photographing most?

In the Mood to Sit by the Fire

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1. JCrew Lodge Moccasins in Pale Thistle to keep our feet cozy.

2. Zara Home Cashmere Knit Pillow to rest our heads on.

3. Top Shop’s Diamond Knit Snood to stay extra warm and cozy inside.

4. William Sonoma’s Snowman Mugs to sip a delicious tea in, like this one or this one!

5. A House in The Sky by: Amanda Lindhout to curl up with.

6. Faribault for Target Wool Throw in Ely Plaid, to cover up with.

7. Thymes Fraiser Fir Candle to fill the room with the smells of the holidays. (This is by far my favourite candle right now)

What better way to get cozy than by a warm crackling fire?

Happy Holidays!

 

Let’s Play: The Worlds Cutest Cardboard Coffee Shop

I’ve always been a fan of kids, they just have this energy that brightens your day. Having a bad day? Hang out with a cute kid. Seriously, they will remind you what life is really about without even realizing it. They know how to live in the moment, laugh, be themselves, speak the honest truth and play. That’s the key, they know how play, and have a good time. Pretend play is so important for kids. Give them a cardboard box with a door cut out and a whole new world will emerge from their minds right before your eyes. It’s something I wish we didn’t lose as we got older, because it’s the purest form of creativity.

The other day while pinteresting (is that even a word?) I stumbled across the worlds cutest cardboard coffee shop Millz Coffee, named after an adorable little barista; Emilia. I was blown away to say the least!

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Photos from 45wall design.

Millz Coffee isn’t your average coffee shop. Traci at 45Wall Design created it completely out of cardboard for her daughter. What started out as a joke, stemming from Emilia’s love of a wooden play coffee maker, turned into a reality that is so well done, even an adult could get imaginative in there.

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How delicious do those baked goods and that caramel Latte look? Photos from 45wall design.

Everything right down to the last detail was thought of and then made by hand. From the logo and menu to the cardboard counter, display and espresso machine, to the felt coffee bags, coffees and desserts this play coffee shop is a kids dream come true! I just had to share it with you!

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Photos from 45wall design.

Be sure to check out the whole project here! Wouldn’t you have loved one of these as a kid? A little creativity really goes a long way.

10 Reasons Why I Love Figs

I love figs for many reasons, here are 10 of them.

1. They taste amazing

2. They are rich in minerals that contribute to health and wellness.

3. They are super versatile and can go well in sweet or savoury dishes.

4. They are beautiful to look at.

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Photo Sources {Left to Right} Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4, Middle Image, Image 5, Image 6

5. If you can’t find them fresh, dried figs are just as delicious.

6. They make a pretty centrepiece for your table.

7. They are super easy going and can be eaten raw, dried, baked, sautéed or pureed.

8. They are sweet but only from natural sugars (Candy you have met your match)

9. They are fun to photograph

10. They make me happy

So there you have it! Now I’m curious, What do you love about figs?

6 Beautiful Product Packagings That You Will Love

I’m guilty… I tend to judge a book by its cover! I do… and not just with books. I’m aware that it’s unfair to ugly products that are actually amazing, but I am a very visual person and I can’t help that I am inherently drawn to things that are pleasing to the eye. What can I say? If I see something that has amazing packaging, I’m sold before I even try it. You had me at hello pretty candle or book or soap. I strongly believe (and I know I am not alone) that a well packaged item is already well above the rest, and I get so excited when I buy something that is not only a great product but a visually pleasing one as well that will look good even when I’m not using it. I decided to put together my favourite product packaging designs. These brands got it so right and I am in love with each and every one of them! packaging-luxe-and-honey

1. Fleur: I can’t figure out if this was ever used for a real store, since the website isn’t working, but this one is more than just packaging, it’s branding and it is perfection! I love the sophisticated feminine feel of it. If I had a choice of florists in my neighbourhood and this was one of them, I would definitely go here first. The whole look really leads me to believe that they are the best florist in town. Let’s just hope they are!
2. Siggi’s is a dairy company based in upstate New York. This all natural product has no additives or preservatives and is filled with simple ingredients and not a lot of sugar. The packaging portrays this beautifully with it’s very simple, clean look. I also love the drawings for each flavour. I’ll be honest, whenever I am looking at yogurts in the grocery store this one pops out right away. You just know it’s a good product from looking at it.
3. Brooklyn Candle Studio is a small business located in Red Hook. They sell handcrafted, hand-poured scented candles and they are beautiful! I love the simplicity of the label on the mason jar. The font and layout is perfect!
4. Martino Group is actually a property developer that has taken a holistic approach. These bottles have an old apothecary feel to them and I love the dark colour of the actual bottle, but the labels are modern and clean and really give the product an upscale, lavish feel.
5. Herbivore botanicals is an all natural skin care and beauty company. Their products have a fresh feel to them. Clean, simple layouts with nice fonts and graphics. Not only are their products great for you, they would look great in your bathroom.
6. Hopscotch Candle: I saw this on pinterest a little while ago and wanted one right away. I love their logo, it really isn’t anything outrageous, but it works so well and the gold lid is a beautiful touch. Who said less is more? Well, they were right.

I Hope you enjoyed the items I picked out. Are you like me? Do you sometimes find yourself buying products based on their packaging? What are some of your favourite designs?

DIY Inspiration: Holiday Cards

I am big on making my own cards, and have been for as long as I can remember. There is something really special about spending time creating something from scratch rather than running to the nearest store to buy a card that everyone and their grandmother is going to get.
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This year I have been falling more and more in love with typography and the art of lettering. I bought some calligraphy supplies and have been slowly trying to teach myself how to use them properly to create beautiful script. It is a true art, and a lot harder than I ever imagined, but I am enjoying the process. I also bought myself a little watercolor kit for kids. I haven’t done watercolor in some time, but it is so therapeutic and fun! It’s also really inexpensive, I got some brushes, a water-colour tablet and the paints for under 10$.

I decided that this holiday season, I wanted to create a card that felt holiday, but wasn’t just about Christmas or Hannukah, and I wanted it to have beautiful lettering and water-colour graphics. Here are some beautiful cards that I am drawing inspiration from, most of which are from Etsy!

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1. Happy Holidays Card by Shannon Kirsten on Etsy

2. Give Thanks free download by Jenn of Ruffled Sunshine

3. Illustrated Menorah by Rifle Paper Co.

4. A Very Merry Christmas to you by 1 Canoe 2 on Etsy

5. Happy Holidays Illustration by Lily and Val on Etsy

6. Cones and Acorns Card by Small Adventure on Etsy

This year there is a big emphasis on shopping local, it’s a great way to keep small businesses thriving, and It makes gift giving a little more personalized. Check out Etsy for some amazing handmade cards that you can purchase (if you are too busy or not the crafty type), it’s the next best thing! There are also some great free printouts from freelance graphic designers that you can find on pinterest, like these!

Happy crafting!