Spiced Rum Walnut Coffee Cake

I haven’t baked in a while and, in my slight delirium while being sick with a nasty cold, I decided that I would bake a cake!

Spiced Rum Walnut Coffee Cake

I’m not the greatest baker by any means and this has nothing to do with New Year’s Resolutions, but I can at least follow directions pretty easily, so it can come out pretty good.

I wanted to make something with the Kraken Spiced Black Rum that I have, so I went to search for a rummy coffee cake recipe!

I found this Mocha Rum Cake recipe by Epicurious, but I modified it slightly to fit the needs of my pantry. (In other words, I had less solid chocolate than I thought so I substituted some chocolate with organic spiced hot chocolate powder with some consultation by Christine.)

Spiced Rum Walnut Coffee Cake

Takes: 2 hours (Prep: 15 minutes, Bake: 1 hour 45 minutes)
Makes: 10-12 servings

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 oz. chocolate, chopped
1 cup butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup hot chocolate powder (optionally spiced)
1/3 cup spiced rum
1 1/2 cup strong coffee
1 1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Grease a 4 1/2-inch-deep (12-cup) Kugelhupf or bundt pan and dust with flour. (This will help keep the cake from sticking to the pan.)
  3. In a bowl whisk or sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Melt the chocolate.
    (I microwaved the chocolate for 30 seconds, then in 10 second intervals with mixing because this recipe doesn’t need to temper the chocolate. If you like, you can use the traditional way of melting the chocolate in a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water.)
  5. Remove chocolate from heat and stir in rum, coffee, and granulated sugar until well mixed and fully dissolved. (It will be really runny!)
  6. Pour chocolate mixture into a large mixing bowl bowl. With an electric mixer, beat in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down side, and beat in eggs and vanilla until batter is combined well. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  7. Bake cake in middle of oven for 1 hour 45 minutes or until the tester (toothpick or otherwise) comes out clean.
  8. Let cake cool completely in pan on a rack and turn it out onto rack. Cake may be made 3 days in advance and kept wrapped well and chilled.

The spiced component of the hot chocolate really gives it an unexpected kick! This would go deliciously with some vanilla ice cream.

If you want to try it but you don’t have spiced hot chocolate mix, I’d recommend adding in about 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper powder and a pinch of ground cinnamon or ground clove into the hot chocolate part to spice it up.

Happy baking!

xoxo,

B.elle

Vega Sport’s Vegan Protein Bar – Chocolate Peanut Butter

I tried another energy bar after parkour and this time, it’s Vega Sport’s Vegan Protein Bar in Chocolate Peanut Butter!

 

Vega Sport’s Vegan Protein Bar – Chocolate Peanut Butter – $3.69 (60g per bar)

Ingredients:

Complete protein blend (organic sprouted whole grain brown rice protein, pea protein), dark chocolate coating (organic cane sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sunflower lecithin), organic tapioca syrup, organic brown rice syrup, organic peanut butter, organic peanuts, Vega saviseed (sacha inchi) oil, inulin (from chicory root), brown rice crisps, organic peanut flour, organic agave syrup, sea salt, organic peanut extract, sunflower lecithin.

The Vega brand (@VegaTeam on Twitter and just Vega on Facebook) claims that there’s 15g of complete, plant-based protein in each bar, 2.5g of BCAAs (branched chain amino acids; think of simple and complex carbohydrate chains but with amino acids), 2g of glutamine for quicker muscle and immune system recovery, and 1g of omega-3 proteins.

What’s even better is that the bar’s entirely vegan!

Sweet, but aren’t most bars vegan? I haven’t seen a bar with milk products in a while, but I’m guessing the production line they have doesn’t come into contact with animal products at all!

The Vega Sport Protein Bar is specifically marketed under their Recovery line with their powdered proteins, so it’s good that I remembered to bring it along to my training session!

The chocolate covering on this bar wasn’t so much of a surprise for me since it actually has a picture of the bar on the wrapper. I’m blind, but I’m not THAT blind to miss that little fact. The chocolate was a touch more bitter than the SoLo bar, which is kind of surprising since they only use chocolate liquor in their coating.

The texture was really similar to the SoLo bar, but it was a little bit more crunchy due to the brown rice crisps and because they used sprouted brown rice and pea proteins instead of soy proteins.

The peanut butter flavour was absolutely decadent when paired up with the dark chocolate coating and it really took away most of my fatigue within half an hour of eating it!

But, even though it’s a slightly larger bar than the others, it costs $3.69 per 60g bar. Compared to SoLo’s $2.50 for 50g bar, it’s a bit of an issue!

Verdict: 4/5 Vega’s vegan recipe really works well, the taste is absolutely delicious and it’s much more readily available than lesser known brands like SoLo, but the extra dollar per bar would add up and get out of control really quickly.

xoxo,

B.elle

SoLo Energy Bars – Peanut Power

I’ll get it out of the way right now: I’m using pictures from the company websites for these energy bar reviews. They’re sharper, they’re prettier and I’ve actually thrown out my wrappers after eating the bars! Oops!

The first energy bar that I tried was SoLo Energy Bar in Peanut Power.

SoLo Gi Peanut Power

 

SoLo Energy Bar in Peanut Power – $2.50 (50g per bar)

Ingredients:

Solo GI® protein blend [whey protein isolate, soy protein isolate, soy crisps (soy protein isolate, rice flour, salt)], chocolate flavoured coating (sugar, palm kernel oil, cocoa powder, whey powder, skim milk powder, soy lecithin, natural flavours), peanut butter (dry roasted peanuts, sea salt), brown rice syrup, fructose, fruit puree (white grape juice concentrate, prunes, dates, fructose), soy nuts, honey, Solo GI® fibre blend (inulin, oat beta glucan), peanut oil.

I’m not 100% sure what the official name of the company is because it seems like it goes by several different handles on social media. On Facebook, it’s SoLo Smart Energy Bar; on Twitter, it’s SoLo GI Nutrition (@SoLo_energybar); and its website calls itself SoLo Energy Bar. So, for your sanity and mine, I’m going to refer to it as SoLo Energy Bar as a whole!

SoLo Energy Bar provides long-lasting and steady energy for endurance and high-intensity workouts, all without the sugar crashes and cravings that come from bars that contain refined sugars like fructose-glucose and even honey. SoLo Energy Bars have been thoroughly tested to confidently claim low glycemic index ratings between 23-29.

As a reference, glucose has a glycemic index of 100 and quickly raises blood sugar levels because it’s very easily absorbed into the bloodstream and activates insulin production very quickly. It takes a while for your body to react to changing levels of sugar, so insulin production is always a step behind, sometimes leading to that ever-familiar “sugar crash” and “craving” sensation when there’s too much insulin in your bloodstream and not enough sugar.

It’s great to see that an energy bar company went through all the trouble to really make sure that the bar’s actually low GI using real ingredients, no preservatives AND it’s also gluten-free! I’m not a celiac or gluten-intolerant in any sense, but it’s good to know!

I ate this when I was feeling really faint one day and it probably wasn’t a good idea to try and cook something in the state. (Generally, low blood sugar and cooking isn’t good for your health.)

I obviously didn’t read the ingredients or look at the packaging too closely because I was honestly surprised to see that it’s completely covered in some good quality chocolate!

The bar itself reminded me completely of a chocolate peanut butter cup that was nowhere as sweet but in a really good way. The flavours were all there that perfectly mimics fresh, gooey peanut butter that melts in your mouth with the bittersweet chocolate coating. It’s so delicious!

It has this amazing gooey-crunchy texture that’s almost like fresh rice crispy squares, but still dense enough for your palate to realize that it’s packed with good, slow-releasing energy!

After I ate this bar at around 8:30pm, I didn’t feel hungry at all until after I woke up the next morning and I usually go to bed close to midnight, so that’s one effective energy bar!

Verdict: 5/5 This bar is absolutely delicious and it completely satisfied my hunger without making me crash or crave more sugar! The price point is great and they’re available to be ordered online as well.

xoxo,

B.elle

Energy Bars

I usually end up doing some ridiculously high-intensity workout at the Monkey Vault that involves acrobatics, leaping and climbing, but I also usually end up not eating too much afterwards. That lead me to consider taking up energy bars! But, I have a secret…

I don’t know which ones are good!

I know, it’s crazy! I think this is probably because I once tried energy/protein bars about 6 years ago and they were bland and gritty. Then, I did some product testing a couple years after on another brand and it was blindingly sweet and still gritty! So, I don’t have a very good opinion of energy bars based on my experiences.

But, I recently did some demos at Whole Foods and I discovered their vast selection of energy bars and took a look.

I ended up buying 5 peanut butter energy bars from different brands to see which one I liked best. Why the peanut flavour? Because I love peanuts!

(Note: I know that peanuts contain some protein in them, but I also know that smart companies will use a “base formula/component” in a product line. In the case of energy bars, the majority of them rely on the protein supplements in their bases to try to meet their health claims, not the peanuts.)

I’ll be trying and reviewing these bars in no particular order:

  • Vega Sport Protein Bar – Chocolate Peanut Butter
  • Bounce Energy Balls – Peanut Protein Blast
  • LARABAR ALT Bar – Peanut Butter
  • Clif Bar – Crunchy Peanut Butter
  • SoLo GI Bar – Peanut Power

Stay tuned and see what happens!

xoxo,

B.elle

Little Life Box – May 2014

My first Little Life Box! Yay!

Little Life Box

What Is It?

Also known as Petite Boîte à Vie, the Little Life Box is a monthly healthy lifestyle subscription box that ships from Quebec, Canada. Each box starts at $19.99 and ships anywhere in Canada for $3.75! Each box will feature healthy and natural products for you to try and Little Life Box will feature some brands on their site to purchase full size products.

I had heard of Le Petite Boîte à Vie before the holidays, but I wasn’t exactly in good financial shape to buy another subscription box at that time! (Holiday shopping, amirite?)

As the reviews started coming in each month about it, I saw that it’s very well curated and packed full of healthy goodies! The price is pretty good for the value of the contents and they do offer prepaid 3, 6, and 12 month subscriptions.

It’s also frickin’ adorable, don’t you think?

Little Life Box May 2014

Look how much stuff I got! I felt like I was digging through Hermione’s infinite bag because it was packed layer upon layer!

It didn’t come with a product card, so I’m not sure what the full size retail prices are for some of the samples they’ve sent out. I’m also far too lazy to investigate thoroughly, so you’ll definitely see some with prices and others without.

Little Life Box May 2014Ener-C Effervescent Powdered Drink Mix in Lemon Lime, Orange and Cranberry (1 packet each) – $22.99 MSRP for 30 packets

I’ve seen these packets around, but I’m actually at a loss of where I’ve seen them! I want to say somewhere like Bulk Barn or the GNC health food stores, but don’t quote me on that. I’m sure that fitness related places would carry them.

One packet contains 1,000mg of vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid! The great thing about vitamin C is that you literally can’t overdose on it and ascorbic acid is the fancy science name for it. Once your body’s absorbed enough of the stuff, it comes right out in your urine! Can’t wait to try it and fight this cold that’s creeping up on me!

OneCoffee Sumantran K-Cups (2 pods)

So it took me about 3 days to figure out that these things are K-Cup pods. I don’t own a Keurig or any sort of those single-serve coffee machines because I don’t like the waste that those things generate. Not to mention, I make a hell of a good cup of coffee on my own.

However, OneCoffee is trying to promote a greener lifestyle with the Keurig machines by making 90% biodegradable pods! The grinds are even fair-trade and organic certified, so that means I’ll probably end up ripping them open and using the grinds in my espresso machine!

Brad King’s Ultimate Calorie Burn (90 capsules) – $39.95 Full Size

I never really felt the need for fitness pills because I’m very active, lean and I still eat like a pig. So, this product is pretty much useless to me even though it claims to temporarily boost concentration.

I checked the back and the main active ingredients that Mr. King contributes to faster calorie burning are 80% cocoa extract with 8% caffeine, some capsicum extract, and some black pepper extract. All of these things do one thing: they increase heart rate and induce a faint “flight-or-fight” response, which does temporarily heighten mental acuity and memory.

… But, I get the feeling that the same could be achieved with a cup of coffee and some spicy noodles.

(I’d rather have the coffee and noodles.)

Little Life Box May 2014

Natur-a Organic Soy Beverage in Cappucino – 200mL Lunchbox Mini

I love this drink! I’ve had their almond milk a lot, but I’d never tried their organic soy milk yet and I was not disappointed at all!

I’m not too sure what they’re priced at, but I’ve seen the Natur-a brand in all the major supermarkets!

GoGo Quinoa’s Quinoa Choco-Puffs (cocoa) (1 bowl sample) – $8 special for 450g

I haven’t tried this yet, but it looks really delicious. I’m starting to prefer puffed cereals and granola snacks over some heavier things, but I’m a bit worried that it’s too bitter for my liking since quinoa can be a little bitter and it uses cocoa powder.

Bonus points: it’s all organic ingredients!

Maison Orphée’s Unrefined Toasted Sesame Oil (50mL sample) – $9.99 for 500mL

I’ve never even thought about unrefined sesame oil until I opened the box and took a look at it!

Sesame oil has a much lower smoke point than other oils like canola and sunflower oils and it’s much more flavourful as well. That’s why you usually use sesame oil as a finisher or in salad dressing.

I am so planning on using this in a summery but spicy avocado and noodle salad dish!

Deep River Snacks’ Kettle Cooked Potato Chips in Original Salted (not in picture above, 28g bag) – $34.99USD for 80 small bags

These are made in the US in small batches to preserve quality and flavour.

It’s hard to mess up 3 ingredients, I’ll just say that! They’re absolutely delicious, but I don’t think I’m going to be buying that much anytime soon!

Little Life Box May 2014

IT JUST NEVER ENDS!

Mighty Leaf Tea’s Tea Pouches in Organic Spring Jasmine, Organic Breakfast and Organic African Nectar

Okay, there’s 3 little pouches inside that little pillow box and it’s absolutely adorable. I opened the pillow box way after this picture was taken and it’s far too dark for me to get a decent photo now!

Each of the pouches comes with its own brew time and the majority of the ingredients are organic as well! The pouches themselves are so soft and silken that it’s so luxurious to use.

I wish I could go into more detail, but their website has a great deal more information than I can fit into one post!

Camino Fine Chocolates – 12 assorted chocolates (full sized) $14.99

Camino’s a Canadian company dedicated to fair trade and organic products. They’re also pretty high end without having to go into a specialty chocolate shop! I’ve had their chocolates before and they’re really good and not too sweet.

This particular box has four flavours:

  1. Sea salt & caramel
  2. Espresso
  3. Orange & caramel
  4. Mint cream

I have no idea how this box is still unopened at the time of writing this blog post.

Sow Good’s 2-in-1 Natural Face & Body Polish (10mL sample) – $17.99 for 500mL

Not gonna lie… This both intrigues and confuses me. How does one polish your face and body?

It turns out that this is a gentle face and body exfoliator! Ohhhhhhhhh!

Even though it’s got a bunch of ingredients that I really have no idea what the hell they are, it’s been approved by the Natural Products Association. It apparently has a bunch of bamboo fibres inside to help exfoliate for better moisturizer retention.

It does work pretty well, too! I’m tempted to try and find it in Toronto for this Quebecois brand, but I may be too lazy to go searching… Or, I could ask the Monsieur to find me some the next time he visits his family in Quebec…

Palmetto Derma Coupon Code

Palmetto Derma is a skin care company that’s certified organic, paraben and sulfate free, 97.5% or more natural, tested only on humans and FDA approved! It offers a range of anti-aging products.

The coupon code is “LLB1” for 40% of the entire purchase!

Little Life Box May 2014Unfortunately, these two products came broken during transit!

Efffi gold Exclusive – $74.99 full sized

Its active ingredient is apparently made from synthetic snake venom, which I’m still not sure if I’ll ever be comfortable slathering on my face even if it’s enriched with jojoba oil, avocado oil and whatever hyaluronic acid is.

It originally comes from the Czech Republic, but if you’re interested, check out http://www.ecoton.ca for Canadian orders.

Pure-Le Liquid Greens in Mint (45mL sample)

The Pure-Le website is a terror to try and navigate, so I can’t tell how big the full sized product is or how much it costs! Since it warns me not to use it if the seal is broken, I’m not going to try it.

Little Life Box May 2014The bottle doesn’t actually tell me what it’s good for besides as a deodorant, even though it tells me to add 1tbsp of this chlorophyll to water 2 times daily.

Does it make my insides smell nice or something? I’m thoroughly confused…

~~

I contacted Little Life Box about the broken products and Joseph replied very quickly with a personal promo code for me to use for a monthly subscription! I’m definitely going to be using it!

Verdict: 4.5/5!   I’m really impressed with this box! The value is definitely there and I know I’m going to be eating most of it! Of course, I’m a little sad that a couple of the products broke in the mail, but the great customer service more than made up for it. This may very well turn into my go-to subscription box soon!

Did you get a Little Life Box? What did you think of it this month?

xoxo,

B.elle

February 2014 Tasting Box by Foodie Pages

I got my Tasting Box today! What I love about the Tasting Box is that it features Canadian small business artisans that I normally wouldn’t know about! All of the products are available on the Foodie Pages e-marketplace for easy shopping.

Tasting Box February 2014

Here’s what’s inside!

Cocolico’s Salted Butter Caramels – Vancouver, BC (sample of 4 – approx. $3.60)

Cost: $9 for 100g/3.5oz

I’m not sure how many are in a full size, but the picture they used on Foodie Pages looks like there’s 10 in a 100g box, so I took a calculated guess from there.

I used to work for a salted caramel company for a summer and I have to admit that I missed them a lot! Unlike the ones I worked with, Cocolico mixed the salt into the caramel so you get that delicious sweet/savoury taste through the whole candy. It’s so decadently soft that I may have to hide these for a treat before someone else steals them…

Bonus: All natural ingredients AND the cream’s from local BC farmers!

Tasting Box February 2014

Bix Bakery’s Lemon Pizzelle Cookies – Toronto, ON (Full size)

Cost: $17.95 for 3 full sized cookies

It’s allergen free! Woo! I’m not allergic to anything food-wise, but it’s great to see more products that try to accommodate those with food allergies or sensitivities.

But $17.95 for 3 cookies seems a bit steep for me, especially since said cookies have to come to me by mail in various sized pieces, like they did now. Thank god Bix Bakery’s in Toronto so I can make a visit there!

For the cookie itself, it’s really light, fluffy and airy with a great lemony taste to it. It’s just a tiny bit grainy to the chew from the rice flour, but I don’t mind it.

Dave’s Roasted Garlic Hot Pepper Jelly – Invermere, BC (45mL – approx. $1.65)

Cost: $7 for 190mL / $42 for 6-pack

This stuff smells great! It actually reminds me of a really good salsa with a ton of garlic and jalapeno. Too bad I don’t have any tortilla chips in the pantry…

Even though it’s a sweet jelly, the savoury notes from the roasted garlic comes in right after the sweetness and the spicy peppers just jump on your tastebuds right after that! The card says that it makes a great glaze for barbecued ribs, so that’s a great excuse for me to roast off some ribs soon.

Tasting Box February 2014

Full of Beans’ Deluxe Kitchen Sink Soup Mix – Bornholm, ON (250g – $2.50)

Cost: $5 for 500g

This generous sample alone makes makes 7 servings of 8oz., so I can only imagine how much soup the regular size makes! I’ll be making some baked bean stew tomorrow to see how this turns out.

Tasting Box February 2014

Urge Chocolates’ Oranji Dark Chocolate Bar – Burnaby, BC (60g – Full Size)

Cost: $5 for 60g

I usually don’t like flavoured chocolate. For me, if I’m craving chocolate, I want it to be dark, simple and preferably in fudge form.

But this chocolate? Oh. My. God.

The orange flavour is so fresh and inviting, like that first scrape of orange zest in the summer, and it pairs up so beautifully with the goji berries embedded right in the dark chocolate, which is already sooooo silky and just bitter enough for all the flavours to have a party. I will definitely be buying more of this once I finish this pocket bar!

PS – I love the packaging!

Verdict: I love, love, LOVE this box! My favourite has to be Urge Chocolate’s Oranji Dark Chocolate Bar, but everything that I could taste so far is so delicious that it’s well worth the cost. I paid $25 and got $30 worth of products, so that’s always a bonus!

Did you get one? What did you think of the box?

Want to subscribe? Only 50 boxes are available each month on the 1st, starting at noon, right here (with my referral) on Foodie Pages! Act fast or you’ll miss a box of the best of Canadian artisan cuisine!

xoxo,

B.elle

Note: I am not paid by Foodie Pages or any of the companies mentioned in this post for this review. All opinions and views are mine.