Friday, July 10, 2009

Deliciously moist low-carb chocolate cake with a secret ingredient!

This recipe is taken from Lauren's totally excellent Healthy Indulgences blog. You really need to check it out! Wonderful recipes for those with a sweet tooth - and gluten-free, too! I need to work more on my own photos. She does a much better job on her pics than I do.

I followed the recipe to a "T" and it turned out perfectly. The above photo is from the actualy cake I made. It was absolutely moist and delicious!

Makes a single 9" layer cake, which can be halved and stacked.

Ingredients:

- 1-15 ounce can of unseasoned black beans OR 1 1/4 cup cooked beans, any color
- 5 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted organic butter OR extra virgin coconut oil
- 3/4 cup erythritol plus 1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract OR 1/4-1/3 cup honey plus 1 teaspoon stevia
- 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon water (omit if using honey)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9" cake pan with extra virgin olive oil cooking spray, or just grease it with a thin layer of butter. Dust cocoa all over the inside of the pan, tapping to evenly distribute. Cut a round of parchment paper and line the bottom of the pan, then spray the parchment lightly.

Drain and rinse beans in a strainer or colander. Shake off excess water. Place beans, 3 of the eggs, vanilla, stevia (if using) and salt into blender. Blend on high until beans are completely liquefied. No lumps! Whisk together cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Beat butter with sweetener (erythritol or honey) until light and fluffy. Add remaining two eggs, beating for a minute after each addition. Pour bean batter into egg mixture and mix. Finally, stir in cocoa powder and water (if using), and beat the batter on high for one minute, until smooth. Scrape batter into pan and smooth the top. Grip pan firmly by the edges and rap it on the counter a few times to pop any air bubbles.

Bake for 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Cake is done with the top is rounded and firm to the touch. After 10 minutes, turn out cake from pan, and flip over again on to a cooling rack. Let cool until cake reaches room temperature, then cover in plastic wrap or with cake dome (I use an overturned plastic chip bowl). For BEST flavor, let cake sit over night. I promise this cake will not have a hint of beaniness after letting it sit for eight hours! If you are stacking this cake, level the top with a long serrated knife, shaving off layers until it is flat and even.

Frost immediately before serving

~57.6g net carbs for the whole cake using erythritol/stevia.
~5.7g net carbs per 1/10th
~125.6g net carbs for the whole cake using honey/stevia.
~12.56g net carbs per 1/10th

Healthy Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

Makes enough to thickly cover one layer, or fill and frost a halved stacked layer

Ingredients:

- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted organic butter, softened, OR 7 tablespoons nonhydrogenated shortening
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon erythritol, powdered, OR 1/4 cup xylitol, powdered
- 5-6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons half and half OR coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of sea salt
- Good-tasting pure stevia extract, to taste

Optional addition for a glossy finish: 1 fresh organic egg yolk

Preparation:

Cream the butter in a small bowl until fluffy. Powder erythritol or xylitol in a coffee grinder or Magic Bullet for a minute or two, until extremely fine in texture (reminiscent of powdered sugar). Let sweetener settle in grinder before opening the top. Stir powdered sweetener into butter with a spatula, then beat until smooth. Slowly blend in the cocoa powder (unless you want to redecorate your kitchen), vanilla, and sea salt. Beat in the half and half and egg yolk, if using. Add stevia, starting with 1/16 teaspoon. You'll probably use less than 1/4 teaspoon. Just keep tasting and adjust sweetness to your liking.

~7g net carbs for the frosting, using erythritol

Do you know what a "flash mob" is?

According to Wikipedia, "A flash mob (or flashmob) is a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public places, perform an unusual action for a brief time, then quickly disperse. The term flash mob is generally applied only to gatherings organized via social media or viral emails. The term is generally not applied to events organized by public relations firms or as publicity stunts."

Here are a few examples of flash mob tributes to Michael Jackson:







Thursday, July 09, 2009

Remembering Sean Collins (1994-2007)

Today is the second anniversary of the passing of Sean Collins, a Moncton boy whose valiant struggle with cancer was documented brilliantly by author Martin Latulippe in the book Ten Needles (French title: Dix aiguilles). I was honoured to have worked on the English edition of the book, which has become a Canadian bestseller and has raised more than $100,000 to help sick children.

Sean's favourite quote was "Live each day as if it were your last." It is excellent advice.

Click here for my other blog posts about Sean. Please keep Sean's parents - Chris and Lisette - and the rest of his family and friends in your thoughts today.

"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

To everything there's a season... if it stops raining!

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Editorial Page

What is a person supposed to do during all this rain we're having?

If you're a gardener and like to spend time outside in the summer, this year has so far been quite a bust in that department, eh?

We've pretty much had rain... rain... and more rain. The sun poked its head out as I wrote this column and it poured rain at the same time. Sheesh! It's not letting up.

Arks are being built. Ducks are in ecstasy. Tourists who took their vacations during the past three weeks are shaking their fists in the air and asking, "Why?"

When I was a kid and it rained, my mother took us to a used book store where we exchanged upwards of 40 to 50 comic books at a time for a new batch. My brother, sister and I got a whole variety of them. Luckily, this was one of the few things we didn't fight about since we read them all. My father always asked us to pick up some "spooky comics," which he liked to read. I liked them, too, so I was always eager to pick up copies of Tales from the Crypt, Tales of the Unexpected, and Ghost.

Every summer we'd go camping for two weeks at Mactaquac Provincial Park near Fredericton.

We'd get up at 3 a.m., get ready and then drive to the park entrance to be in line early. Reservations weren't possible, so admission to the park was on a first-come, first-served basis. We always asked for campsite number 208 and were happy to land there several times over the years.

Rainy days while you're camping can be painful. Our old tent trailer was waterproof as long as it didn't rain too much and as long as you didn't touch the canvas.

If you touched the canvas, well then it was game over and it would leak. The paper-thin mattresses would end up damp, too. Oh it was just a pleasure, I tell ya. It didn't exactly make a camper out of me. To this day, my definition of roughing it is staying in a five-star hotel room with outdated curtains.

Luckily, the campground also had great activities, so we'd end up in the recreation centre playing checkers, cards or a variety of board games. At night, there'd be bingo if it rained. Not much else to do when it got dark and you couldn't be outside due to rain.

Our campsite didn't have electricity, so unless we made friends with some kids whose parents had a fancy travel trailer with a television set, we were out of luck!

It's no secret that I like gardening as much as I like pulling out my own teeth with rusty pliers, however even I am getting sick of this rain. Sure, the view out of my front living room window of all that now-lush greenery is quite nice, but it would be nice to see the sun before the end of July rather than torrential rain bouncing off the street.

Even going to the mall offers no solace because you're just reminded that retailers are insanely impatient for the next shopping season to start, be it back-to-school, Halloween or Christmas.

I went to the mall the other day to look around and walked in through a department store that had all the school supplies out at the front entrance already for some sadistic parents to start buying before their kids have barely taken their backpacks off from this past school year.

Can you imagine being so obsessively organized that you buy your school supplies during the first week of July?

Seriously! The only thing around the school supplies that day was the sound of crickets chirping. The aisles were full of binders and paper but certainly bare of shoppers. You'd think the more seasonal stuff like outdoor games, bubble-making stuff (sorry for the technical scientific terminology) and other summertime toys would be better sellers in July rather than school supplies.

Sure, bring out the school supplies as of Aug. 1, but parents aren't buying before then unless they want their kids to throw them into a nursing home the first time they stub their toe after they turn 65.

So, while I was still reeling from seeing school supplies already on sale, I went to a gift shop to buy a card for an upcoming family birthday. I glanced over to one corner of the store where large red drapes covered a display. "Coming soon!" a sign said. Then I heard the clerks discuss how the collectible Christmas ornaments were arriving this Saturday.

Again, I ask, who buys Christmas ornaments in July? The same people who are out buying school supplies, I bet.

I was talking to a friend in Toronto about this and he said that he was in a dollar store the other day and saw a large display of black and orange supplies and decorations. You guessed it! They're already dolling themselves up for Halloween. It's enough to make a person snap a candy cane in half!

On Sunday, I was cooking up a storm and threw on a CD of Bing Crosby's greatest hits. Music by the old crooners is great and I love listening to the likes of Bing, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Little did I know, however, that the CD contained all of Bing's hits, including White Christmas. I just let it play, although looking outside at the summer rain fall on green lawns didn't exactly match up with the lyrics.

There'll be a time for back-to-school sales, Christmas and Halloween. To everything, there is a season. Now just isn't the season for those things. Enjoy summer and everything it brings. The flowers. The greenery. The smell of freshly cut grass. The sound of kids playing outside. Vacations. And hopefully... some day... the sun!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Today's Hump Day column...

... is about all the rainy weather we've been having lately! (And, of course, the sun is shining the day it's published, eh? Go figure!)

With all the rain we'd been having, I checked out the mall, only to find the school supplies already on sale and a display announcing that collectible Christmas ornaments would be available as of this Saturday! *screams*

Hump Day has appeared on the editorial page of the Moncton Times & Transcript every Wednesday since December 2005. Pick up your copy today or return here tomorrow when it will be posted online.

And remember... if it's Wednesday, it's Hump Day!

Check this out!

I'm mentioned in today's Times & Transcript City Views column written by Eric Lewis. Click here to check it out!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Monday, July 06, 2009

Amazing Australia police chase...

This guy really wanted to get away!