muddy footsteps

Chocolate Quinoa Cake

Posted in Dessert, gluten-free, Health/Nutrition, Photography, Uncategorized by nicolejanaye on February 8, 2014

IMG_5244Something about this rich, dark chocoalte has got my head spinning. I’ve been craving for a deccadent chocolate recipe lately. Whether it’s a brownie, cake, or even chocolate mouse; I want it. I happen to be working one day on the register at Whole Foods and an interesting selection of ingredients came through. I’m constantly exchanging ideas and recipes with customers. This particular customer happen to tell me that she found a new chocolate cake recipe that looked “so delicious” and “incredibly simple to make”. For the majority of customers coming through Whole Foods, many of them are aware and practice gluten-free methods in their kitchen. As soon as she mentioned that it was gluten-free, I was hooked.

As customers were piling up at the line behind her, I was somewhat frantic at the fact that I would not be able to attempt this recipe or even see it for that matter. She kindly grabbed her groceries, folded away her dollar bills, and stepped aside to a vacant check-out stand. There she pulled out her phone and an empty piece a paper, and scribbled away some seriously important information. We exchanged a few words and then she was off. Only two more hours and then I could do my digging on this chocolately goodness of a recipe.



IMG_5243After a few short minutes of getting home and unpacking the laptop, I had the Chocolate Quinoa Cake recipe up and running on my computer. Sarah from ‘Making Thyme for Health” is the creater of this delicious cake. Not only is this beautiful lady the one who designed this dark and rich perfection, but her other recipes and photos are all uniquely inspiring.

I followed her recipe, but added sliced blackberries in the center as well as on top. I whipped up some coconut cream and put a dallop on the top of my slice. My dad has always complained to me that I never ‘follow’ recipes. I’m always trying to re-due them in my own way without testing out the original recipe first. My reason for this is because I want to adjust the ingredients to my diet as well as taste. However, I’m slowly learning that trying out the original recipe isn’t such a bad idea after all. My next attempt at this chocolate cake will be to replace the white sugar with a healthier version. I’ve researched into xylitol and to be honest, I’m not a fan. For me, I’ll stick with ‘all natural’ sweeteners like honey, agave, maple syrup, bananas, and dates. Now it’s just a matter of balancing out the sweetness as well as the getting the texture just right.

But in the meantime, head over to Sarah’s blog, Making Thyme for Health, and make this chocolate cake for yourself!


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Orange Julius

Posted in Dessert, drink, Food & Recipes, gluten-free, Paleo by nicolejanaye on November 25, 2012

…but most of all, I’m thankful for the jumbo bag of freshly picked oranges that arrived at my house Thanksgiving day. Okay, maybe not entirely true, but I’m sure happy that I have them.

Let’s eat.

Orange Julius

  • 8 oz orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups ice
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 raw eggs
  • 1 TB raw honey
  • 1 TB vanilla extract

Blend all of the ingredients together, except for the ice. The combination of eggs, milk, and orange juice will blend together into a creamy, frothy drink. Add the ice and blend until completely crushed. Stick in a straw and suck down. This classic drink is perfect for any kind of day, especially while living in Southern California on a 80 degree day in the middle of November. Rough life on the west coast.

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Triple Chocolate Cake Truffles

Posted in Dessert, Food & Recipes, gluten-free, Paleo by nicolejanaye on November 14, 2012

I’m still sitting here at my table, slightly shocked on the outcome of these truffles. I mean, I expected them to taste good, but I didn’t realize the potential these puppies had and how good they really turned out.

I found this recipe while scrolling through the blog of Civilized Caveman . If you haven’t checked out George’s blog yet, make sure to do so because not only does he feature some mouth-watering treats and dishes, but they’re fairly easy to replicate and the quality of ingredients he showcases are incredible. He posts a large spectrum of recipes from sweet treats to smoked meats so you’ll definitely be able to find something on his site that you’ll want to make yourself.

Jenni from The Urban Poser made a guest appearance on George’s blog, and I’m so happy that she did. Just from the quick glance it took me to look at the photos of these triple chocolate truffles,I was instantly hooked! She took a unique spin with her recipe and added a little kick of chipotle. I love mixing up the flavor combinations to give the original recipe more flare. Today I decided to stick with the basics and take her recipe and make triple chocolate truffles with a variety of toppings.

Definitely make sure to check out both of their blogs and test out some of their delicious recipes. In the meantime, head to your kitchen and whip up a batch of these truffles. You won’t regret it.

Triple Chocolate Cake Truffles

(recipe from The Urban Poser)


Chocolate Cake

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup enjoy life chocolate chips (set aside for later)
Chocolate Ganache
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, liquefied
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk

Dipping Chocolate


 Chocolate Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients together.
  3. In a larger bowl, combine the wet ingredients.
  4. Using a mixer on medium-speed, mix the dry ingredients into the wet. Mix until completely combined and no lumps remain.
  5. Pour into a greased, 7 x 10 (or 8 in. squared) pan.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 min or till the cake springs back when gently pressed.
  7. Cool slightly. Break the cake into crumbs and cool completely before adding the ganache.
Chocolate Ganache
  1. In a small bowl, combine the oil, cocoa and honey.
  2. Using a whisk or a mixer, beat the ingredients till well combined and there are no lumps of cocoa left.
  3. Add the coconut milk and continue beating till the ganache becomes thick, smooth and glossy.
  1. Mix the ganache and chocolate chips into the cake crumbs. Combine well.
  2. Using your hands or a rounded tablespoon, scoop out dough and form into 1-1½ inch round balls.
  3. Set on a parchment covered cookie sheet and place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to firm up..
  4. Prepare the Dipping Chocolate while the cake balls are chilling. *Instructions below
  5. Once the truffles have been cooled and firmed, drop them into your dipping chocolate, completely coating all parts of the truffle.
  6. Remove the truffles from the chocolate sauce with a fork, holding and lightly tapping the fork against the bowl to remove excess chocolate.
  7. Dip, sprinkle, coat, or roll your coated truffles into a variety of toppings. I used crushed walnuts, chia seeds, cocoa powder, and sea salt.
  8. Stick back into the freezer for 10-15 minutes then dig in!
Dipping Chocolate
  1. Add chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Remove, stir, and replace back into the microwave for an additional 20 seconds. Repeat until the chocolate chips are just about melted.
  2. Add coconut oil to the chocolate chips and mix until completely combined, glossy, and smooth texture has been achieved.

Thanks again to Jenni for this amazing recipe. It’s much simpler to make then the long list of ingredients and directions seems to show. I’ve already had a few requests for these to be christmas presents. How does a peppermint truffle with crushed candy canes sound?! But before I jump into such holiday spirits, I’m going to try Banana Walnut truffles with a salted caramel coating. Sound like you might be interested in this future recipe?

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Protein Thin Mint Cookies & Froyo

Posted in Dessert, Food & Recipes, gluten-free, Protein by nicolejanaye on October 2, 2012

The lovely ladies from Purelytwins came up with this sweet, rich cookie that satisfies any chocolate craving and packs a punch of protein. They have a few variations of the thin mint cookie on their blog, but this recipe sounded best to me. I paired a few cookies with some frozen yogurt for my pre-workout meal. This combination could really be eaten at anytime of the day, it just so happened that my sweet tooth kicked in right before I was heading to the gym.

For the frozen yogurt all I did was take a single serving sized container of Greek yogurt and stuck it in the freezer for at least 20 minutes. While that’s freezing, start making your thin mints.

Servings: 4 thin mints
-1/3 cup chocolate protein powder
-1/4 cup + 1 TBS cocoa
-2 TBS water
-1 TBS coconut oil
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 tsp peppermint extract
-2 packets of stevia

1. Mix all the ingredients together until it’s one cohesive mixture.
2. Scoop cookies onto a parchment covered plate and flatten out.
3. Freeze for 10+ minutes.

It’s as simple as that! Try scooping some froyo in between two cookies and make yourself an ice cream sandwich!

Hope you enjoy 🙂

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Hate it or Love it

Posted in Breakfast, Dessert, Food & Recipes, Uncategorized by nicolejanaye on July 16, 2012

..or possibly neither are an option for you. I’m talking about rice cakes. For some strange reason, I’ve developed a liking to them and my palate for rice cakes are enjoying them. They have a minimal amount of ingredients and they are a great vehicle for sauces, spreads, and well..practically anything.

They’re not the first thing I reach for when I make a meal, but they suit my fancy when I’m craving some carbs and want something with a bit more substance. For breakfast, try spreading almond butter, sliced bananas and flax seeds on top. For a treat you can spread melted dark chocolate, a little greek yogurt, sliced strawberries, and a sprinkle of chia seeds on a cake. For a small meal I like to add homemade smashed black beans, hummus, red onion, and any other vegetable that I find in the fridge.

Honestly the variety of meals, dishes and treats you can come up with are endless. Rice cakes don’t have to be bland. Add a little zing, flavor, and spread and you can turn them into something great. They’re cheap, easy to carry and you can find them at practically any supermarket.

This cake was somewhat of a last minute idea. I was at Mother’s Market in Costa Mesa and I put together my own mix of veggies from the salad bar. I topped it on a tamari and seaweed rice cake and wallah!

This was the same tamari & seaweed rice cake but it was topped with an olive and tomato tapenade, avocado, fresh basil and a sprinkle of sea salt.

What meals and treats can you come up with a rice cake? Do you hate it or love it?

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Salted Peanut Chocolate Protein Pudding

Posted in Dessert, Uncategorized by nicolejanaye on July 10, 2012


Well that was a mouthful. I’ve been hooked on this pudding the past month and have been playing around with ingredients to completely change the flavor of the pudding. I’ve tried espresso, chocolate cherry, and salted pecan. The basic recipe is very simple and it just takes a little bit of creativity to come up with new flavors. I’ve also been rearranging the sweeter ingredients so that I can have it anytime of the day without feeling a little guilty. If you crave some rich chocolate dessert near the end of the night, try omitting the chocolate chips and add more protein powder and cocoa.



  • 1 cup  soy/almond/coconut milk
  • 16oz. firm tofu (drained)
  • 2 scoops chocolate protein powder (I use Rainbow Light)
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 stevia packets
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (melted)
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Simply combine all of the ingredients (except the peanuts) in a food processor. Fold in the peanuts after the mixture has been thoroughly combined. Pour into a mug, mason jar or any type of ceramic bowl and refrigerate. You can eat the pudding right away but I recommend waiting at least a few hours for the pudding to thicken up. It’s best eaten the next day!

Chocolate Fudge Pie

Posted in Dessert, exercise, Food & Recipes, Health/Nutrition by nicolejanaye on November 20, 2011

The holidays are creeping around the corner. This means time spent with the family, memories to be photojournalisticaly documented, and forks digging into all the rich, decadent food. The nipply, bone-chilling weather tends to push the crowds indoors huddled against a fire with repeated comforting movies on the tv. A mug of coffee or hot chocolate for the kiddos isn’t rare to find during these winter months.

My family during our reunion last weekend.

This is all so wonderful and a favorite time spent for many people, however, it also goes hand in hand with the freshmen 15 gained during the first year of college. The weather gets too chilly for people to run outdoors, the food is peaked at its highest caloric density, and exercise and health seem to drop in priorities. This isn’t to say that you can’t spend quality time with family during the holidays or even dig in to some delicious treats, but there is a more efficient way of doing it that will keep you fit and fierce throughout the holidays.

First things first, a reachable goal is best to keep you motivated and healthy during these tough months. Recently, I read an article on Runner’s World about a Holiday Running Streak. What better way to stay motivated than set a goal of running every-single day from Thanksgiving to New Years. It can be indoors, outdoors, 8 miles or even 1. It’s something to keep you motivated and determined to stay healthy through the holidays. For me, when I’m feeling tired, lazy, or craving some guilty treats I try to head outside for a run to help push aside those negative cravings. 9 times out of 10 I come back ditching my original thoughts and head for something healthy. If I still crave something sweet, then heck, I’ll give myself a treat. But making a goal with the Holiday Running Streak is a commitment to myself that I will stay healthy and in shape during the holidays. Who’s with me?! If you’re in the twitter loop, #RWRunStreak is the hashtag to keep your followers updated and motivated to get out and get healthy.

One big hurdle for most people during the holidays are the desserts. They’re hard to resist, tend to be homemade from relatives (guilt trip to caving in) and so rich and chocolately. I understand that the holidays aren’t year round (wouldn’t that be nice) , so most people like to dig in and enjoy, normally wiping out all the calories burnt in your morning workout plus adding an additional 300. Well what if I said you could fill your sweet tooth and keep your slim figure? Your ears perked yet?

Let me introduce you to this mouth-watering, delicious dessert.

Chocolate Fudge Pie. It’s thick, fudgey, rich and sweet in oh so many ways. Best thing about it, it’s so much healthier than any chocolate fudge pie you can find at the market or most recipes online. This recipe is filled with fiber, antioxidants, and plenty of protein. What’s more not to like?



  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/3 cup water; ice-cold
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup vanilla soy yogurt
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 4 packets stevia*
  • 1 tablespoon flax-seed meal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


  • 1 package of firm tofu
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
  • 2 packets stevia
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

*I’ve been switching up original sugar with stevia lately. I’ve heard some people don’t care for the flavor but it works for me and I feel happier with my sweeter decision. I find that I can use much less stevia than traditional sugar. I found a wonderful website  that has a conversion chart for sugar to stevia. If you decide to switch up your sweetener, I would recommend checking this site out.


Pre-heat at 395.


  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Add wet ingredients and process until fully combined.
  3. Take half the dough and mold into a smooth ball with your hands.
  4. Take a long sheet of plastic wrap and spread across a smooth surface.
  5. Place the dough ball in the center of the plastic wrap and top with an additional, equal-sized plastic wrap sheet.
  6. Press the ball gently down with your hands and form into a small circle. Take a rolling-pin and gently roll out the dough until you have a desired crust size. I like to do mine fairly thin. The plastic wrap is a trick my dad learned when taking a cooking class. It makes the process so much easier and uses no excess flour to roll out the dough.
  7. Place the dough into your pie mold and press against the bottom and sides making sure not to tear the dough.
  8. Add parchment paper and ceramic pie weights or dried beans on top of the pie.
  9. Cook crust covered for 10-12 minutes
  10. Uncover and cook for 5-10 minutes until you achieve a golden crust.
  11. Let cool.


  1. Melt the chocolate chips on the stove top or in the microwave.
  2. Combine melted chocolate with the remaining ingredients in a food processor.
  3. Process until smooth.
  4. Pour into pie crust and let chill in the fridge for an hour. It can be eaten within an hour or so, but I recommend letting it sit overnight. It firms up into a wonderful chocolate fudge consistency.

I can’t take credit of this pie without the incredible influence of Katie from Chocolate Covered Katie and Kathy from Lunch Box Bunch. Not only are these two women incredible in the culinary field, but they are making meals, digging into them and sharing recipes in the kindest manner; being vegan. Katie’s website is truly what it says; chocolate covered. It’s a dessert blog with a healthy twist. She shares a plethora of recipes that you can bet are all incredible. I tried out her chocolate fudge pie and was instantly hooked. If you are looking for desserts and want to keep them on the healthier side, head over her way. Kathy shares an endless amount of vegan meals, inspiring interviews as well as ideas for meatless-mondays. The photographs posted on her website kick your taste buds into hyper gear. If you’re hungry, bored, or need a good meal to make, no doubt you can find a great one on her site. I found one of my favorite websites through her blog, Finding Vegan, which coincidentely is creating by Kathy herself. It showcases mouth-watering recipes on the homepage with direct links to the recipe and the blog. I’d recommend giving it a look.

I have to admit that mid-way through writing this post I creeped into the kitchen and ate one or 8 bites of this pie. It is so much better than I thought. It’s been in the fridge since yesterday and has been able to firm up. The flavors are stronger and work so well together. I have to say that this has been my best dessert I’ve made to date. Best because the flavors are incredible, the pie is thick and rich, and the guiltless pleasure you can partake in as you find your way digging in with chocolate and crumbs covering your face.

I had extra dough for one pie so I made one more pie crust and two small tartlets. You can use the extra dough to make a thicker crust, or cut it into fun shapes and add on top of the pie, or make a lattice design on the top of your dessert like an apple pie. Have fun and experiment with ideas. I added raspberries and made a raspberry liquor sauce to drizzle on top. I’ll save that for another post.

What’s your favorite holiday dessert? Write a comment below and I will pick the best one and veganize it with a healthy twist!

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Three sinful bites

Posted in Dessert by nicolejanaye on October 29, 2011

I have to admit, it’s not a common occurrence when I crave sugary candy, creamy desserts, and spoonfuls of melted chocolate. I mean, I’m not chewing on bark all day long,  but I stay pretty satisfied with the meals that I make. However, there are just sometimes when you need to dig into something a little sinful.

With Halloween around the corner, this dessert and my craving seemed to fit right into place. Chocolate was the only thing on my mind and the first thing on my plate. I propped open the fridge and began searching for well fit ingredients. Some type of nut butter sounded right for the job. I didn’t care for the peanut butter in the fridge and it just seemed too typical for this dessert. I needed something a bit more unique. I’m a big fan of almond butter, but I didn’t have any at the moment. I’ve been working my way through a jar of sesame tahini and figured that would suit this dessert just wonderfully.

As many of my readers know, I have this fascination with salted..well..anything. I think a little sprinkle of sea salt can do wonders for a dish. What’s slightly funny is that I use very little salt in most of my dishes, but when I use it, I make it count.

Back to the dessert. A dark chocolate cup was the starting point for this sinful bite. Layering sesame tahini, bananas, and sea salt was the simple works of this dessert. Two layers up and the tahini begins to drool off the sides of the chocolate. As your mind starts going numb, your thoughts becoming blank, I will say all you need to do is grab and bite. Yes. Put the whole shot in your mouth. Close your eyes and savour each and every flavor.

Repeat 3 more times.

Crème Brùlèe Gelato

Posted in Dessert, Food & Recipes by nicolejanaye on August 7, 2011

Uh huh. You read it right. Crème Brùlèe gelato made it on the to-do list for yesterday. This sweet, crunchy, decadent dessert is perfect with a dusting of sea salt, paired with a steamy shot of espresso or spooned straight out of the bowl. This is far from vegan but hey, I’m in Italy. Do as the Romans do.

This recipe calls for few amount of ingredients so it is simple to whip up anytime of day. The hardest part of this dessert is waiting for it to freeze. Cream gelatos sometimes call for corn syrup, but it was difficult to find that in the supermarkets in Turin so we opted for honey instead. It has a similiar consistency without losing the sweetness. I think the honey kicks the sweetness into overdrive. So if you are up for some sugary delights then go for the honey, otherwise stick with the corn syrup.

Crème Brùlèe Gelato


For Gelato:

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 8 large egg yoks
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup (honey)
  • 3 1/2 cups half and half

For Caramel Bites:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda


  1. Combine sugar, egg yolks, and corn syrup in medium bowl to blend.
  2. Bring half and half to a simmer in medium saucepan.
  3. Gradually stir half and half into the yolk mixture. This is in order to temper the mixture so that the eggs do not curdle.
  4. Return mixture to saucepan.
  5. Using wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir mixture over medium-low heat until the custard thickens and leaves a path on the back of the spoon. Do not boil.
  6. Strain custard through a cheesecloth if necessary.
  7. Transfer custard to ice cream mixer and follow the directions of your mixer. If you do not have an ice cream maker then transfer the custard to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until cold.
  8. For the caramel bites you want to line a baking sheet with foil.
  9. Generously butter the foil.
  10. Stir sugar and water in medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves.
  11. Increase heat and boil without stirring until it turns into an amber color; swirling pan occasionally.
  12. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda.
  13. Immediately transfer caramel mixture to buttered baking sheet and allow to cool completely.
  14. Once your custard and caramel are completely cool, transfer the caramel to a plastic bag and break into small pieces using hands or a rolling-pin.
  15. Mix in 3/4 of caramel pieces and freeze until gelato is firm (4 hours-overnight).
  16. Sprinkle remaining caramel bites over gelato and serve.

 I found the recipe from and made the honey adjustments from there. When I get back to the states I am going to experiment with this recipe. I think for creating 5 star vegan desserts, it helps to create the original recipe without the vegan substitutes. This way you know where to start from and you can make further adjustments from there.

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Posted in Dessert, lunch, Uncategorized by nicolejanaye on August 6, 2011

I have tasted good food, great food and food that you possibly want to spoon into the trashcan. While I am in Europe I try to expand my culinary horizons and experience new flavors and meals that I traditionally would not choose to eat. I would not stuff seafood into my folder of “favorites”. However, I am giving it all a green light while I am here. Not to say that this lunch had been anything foreign or extravagant but it would definitely take place in the folder “can I eat this everyday?” It was absolutely mouth-watering, leaving me only to close my eyes and give my palate every opportunity to soak in its goodness. The artisan flavors from the pesto were impeccable. The combination of italian sauces spread out upon a rustic sunflower seed bread from Finland was beautifuly delicious. Not only was I completely satisfied with lunch, but the flavors crawled later into dessert with fresh blueberries in a straccatiela yogurt.


I have tasted pesto before. I make sun-dried tomatoes on the regular. But something about this lunch triggered my appetite. It was remarkable and forever remains in my “favorites”.

If you have been up to date on the blog or talking with me in any other social outlet, you would know that my cousin and I are doing a 20 day gelato challenge. 20 days of pure heaven. 20 days of taking our tastebuds on an international culinary ride. A photograph has been taken on each flavor embarkment and there will be a final post at the end of the journey. We have tried great flavors and are having fun experimenting. We always go for the smallest cup which would be shocking to the frozen yogurt stores in the states. You can imagine 20 straight days of pure gelato to your thighs. We are sticking with the small cup.

For today, however, we decided to change our usual routine of walking the streets in search of the best looking and tasting gelato. We are making our own. I always prefer a salted version, but it seems that nobody else is catching on to this incredible combination of sweet and salty flavors for dessert. More for me, I guess. So salted caramel, espresso salted caramel and any other creation I could think of was out of the question. We went with a flavor that nobody can resist. The sweet flavor of sugar and water cooked and simmered together to create an amber syrup, the thick creaminess of the custard that slides its way down your throat is remarkable. Crème Brùleè is magnificent in all its glory. It is also freezing its way to thick gelato consistency at the moment. Pictures and recipe to follow.