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The Best Carrot Bread Ever

          With all the running around of the holiday season, comes stress, lack of sleep, and in my case, heart palpitations. (I’m actually not joking about that one!)  It’s difficult to find a way to relax sometimes.  I usually have a cup of something hot to relax in the winter, either tea or soup or…hot chocolate!  I also like to indulge in delicious baked goods around the holidays.  It’s sort of a family tradition.  I’m a baker at heart and the only exposure to scratch baking I had when I was little was Christmas baking.  That was the one time of year my mom would let my sister and I mess up the kitchen to make cookies.  I loved it.  I loved it so much that I made a living out of it!  (I bake at work AND at home.  It’s a little insane.)
           Since I spend all my time baking and cake decorating, I find that I have lost a taste for sugary baked goods.  As I get older, the weaker my sweet tooth becomes.  My mom experienced this too.  When she was my age, she also decorated cakes at a mom and pop owned bakery.  She liked it.  A lot.  She said she taste tested a little too much.  =P  After that, it seems that her sweet tooth has decayed away.  She doesn’t like anything to taste sweet, minus things like fruit.  I fear that the same thing is happening to me.  
             Although my childhood sugar addiction is waning, I still love to eat baked goods.  I think it’s a texture thing.  I love the dense, crumby softness of muffins and quickbreads.  I also am in love with spices!!!  I’m automatically drawn to anything spiced be it curry, gingerbread, chai, or carrot cake!  Carrot cake is my all time favorite thing to have in December.  My birthday is right after Christmas and every year (for the most part) I have a carrot cake.  These past few years since turning vegan, I’ve made my own cake.  I think the first year I got one from Whole Foods.  It was delicious, but again, a little too sweet for me.  
               Since I have been so busy lately and unable to ground myself, I decided to jump the gun and make something carrot cake-esque for noshing during the busy weeks before Christmas.  I had some bags of pre-shredded carrots on hand and I thought, I can make carrot bread…WITHOUT SHREDDING!  If anyone has ever had to finely shred root vegetables by hand, they know how exciting this notion is.  Shredding is like the most repetitive one-armed workout in the world.  And it takes FOREVER.  Luckily, my carrots decided to work with me this time.  It’s like I was meant to have carrot bread!
               Since I am on a gluten free baking quest, this recipe is modified to be free of wheat flour as well as lower in fat and cane sugar free.  Like I said, I have really lost my taste for sugar.  I do, however, love coconut sugar.  It’s much more mild of a sweetener and has more flavor.  It’s very aromatic and makes my whole kitchen smell like earthy caramel.  Mmmmm!  This is a bread that I do not feel guilty about eating whatsoever.  Of course, that doesn’t mean you can eat the whole loaf.  Though I have been tempted…  ^_^   If you need some more sweetness, you can add a 1/4 c vegan sugar to the batter and sprinkle the top with more sugar.  It will form a lovely crust on top that looks like ice crystals!  So festive!  ❤

              For optimum enjoyment, serve with your favorite hot beverage!  I’ve included a quick little recipe for Chia Protein Hot Cocoa.  If you pair this cocoa with the carrot breat for breakfast, you are going to have the best day ever.  Merry Carrotmas! 

 Ginger Carrot Bread with Walnuts
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
Yield: 1 9×5 Loaf (Can also make muffins)
Serves: 16

Ingredients

    • 2 cups GF all-purpose flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
    • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
    • 2 cups shredded carrot
    • 2 flax eggs
    • 1/2 cup non dairy milk + 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar/lemon juice
    • 3 tablespoons molasses
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons melted coconut oil/vegan butter
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
    • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, opt.
    • 1/4 cup raisins, opt.
  • Garnish with vegan sugar, chopped walnuts, or raisins, opt.

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the loaf pan with oil or line a muffin tin with papers.
    2. In a bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, spices, soda, xanthan gum and salt. In another bowl combine carrot, flax eggs, milk, vinegar/lemon juice, oil and applesauce; add to dry ingredients stirring just until moistened. Fold in nuts and raisins if using.
    3. Pour batter into prepared pan/tins. Bake for 55 to 60 for the loaf pan or 25 to 30 minutes for the muffin tins or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean (check the loaf 10 to 15 minutes before the end of baking time. If it is browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil). Cool in pan completely before slicing.  Store up to 3 days at room temperature or freeze up to 3 months.  I also store mine in the fridge. Top with coconut butter, nut butter, jam, frosting, or anything!  Makes 16 servings.

Picture

          Here’s a great morning drink when it’s too cold to down a smoothie for breakfast.  I love hot breakfasts and this can act as a meal on its own.  This hot cocoa is packed with protein and is quite filling.  The taste will depend on what protein powder you use and if it is sweetened or not.  Mine has some stevia in it but it is not overly sweet.  I upped the cocoa flavor by adding in some cocao powder.  I also added a pinch more stevia to make this taste more indulgent.  You can also add maple syrup, agave, or sugar to taste.  If you really want to take this to the next level, melt some chocolate chips into the non-dairy milk on the stove and prepare for an amazing chocolate experience!  
         This is very easy to prepare if you have a high speed blender like a Vitamix.  If you don’t have one, and you know your chia seeds will not blend into the liquid completely, you can always leave them out so you preserve this drink’s creamy texture.  If you can blend them all the way though, it makes this recipe unbelievably thick and rich!

Chia Protein Hot Cocoa
Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients

    • 1 c non-dairy milk
    • 3 Tb water
    • 1 Tb chia seeds
    • 1/2 scoop chocolate protein (about a Tb)
    • 1/2 Tb cocao powder (or to taste)
    • pinch stevia/sweetener of choice, opt.

Instructions

    1. Blend all ingredients very well in a blender. Make sure the chia seeds are completely pulverized. If the consistency is too thick, add some more water or non-dairy milk. Heat on stove or in microwave until warmed through, if desired. Sip slowly and then hit the gym!

    Notes
     
    This comes out almost like a chocolate banana milkshake in texture, minus the banana flavor. If you want banana in your hot chocolate, that would be a great substitution for the chia! I would probably add 1 small or 1/2 a medium banana to the blender.


              If all goes well, I will update this weekend as my baking frenzy begins!  I will also throw in some non-Christmas recipes to force myself away from eating cookies for dinner!  Until next time!  ^_^


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