Category: diy

Our Classic Vanilla Cake \\ Sweet Laurel

I love sharing cake recipes with you because cake is my thing! At Sweet Laurel, we like to keep it simple, and not to mention, deliciously gluten-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free and dairy free!

I shared this recipe with our friends at The Chalkboard Mag last month and had to share with you as well. I opened up to the gals over there about my healing journey, and what brought me to start Sweet Laurel. Enjoy the read and our delicious yet simple Classic Vanilla Cake! xo, Laurel

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Two years after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s), I decided to do something about it. When I was diagnosed in 2012, my doctor immediately put me on synthetic thyroid hormones to stand in for the hormones my body was not creating. Every morning I popped my pill and went on with my day-to-day activities, all while ignoring my body’s screams for help.

Two years later, I was suffering from extreme IBS, a myriad of digestive issues and secondary amenorrhea. I came face to face with the reality that I could not put my health off another year; I needed to take action. I met up with a family friend who practices functional medicine and she introduced me to the concept of healing through food.

She suggested I remove inflammatory foods from my body/diet: grains, dairy, refined sugar, soy, and legumes. Hashimoto’s disease has a long-standing negative relationship with gluten, which mimics the thyroid hormone in some cases. Removing gluten as well as other inflammatory foods was the first step in taming my thyroid, as well as healing my gut.

I removed foods causing inflammation, as well as processed foods and educated myself in a whole-food approach to eating. I started by eating whole vegetables, fruit, and organic and pasture-raised protein. I quickly learned if I wanted certain foods, like crackers or cookies, I had to make them myself. This was when Sweet Laurel became more than just a thought. I started to work with foods I could eat, like almond flour and coconut oil, as opposed to flour and butter. I fell in love with Himalayan pink salt for balance of flavor in my cooking and baking, and instead of table sugar, I sweetened my baked goods with maple syrup. In most recipes, I used organic and pastured eggs or found they weren’t needed at all! I kept it simple. I discovered the beautiful reality that a whole-food approach to eating doesn’t have to be complicated. In 2015, using these five core ingredients, I launched Sweet Laurel with the goal of sharing this approach to eating with as many people as possible. Here is a simple yet beautiful recipe I love to share with friends on late summer nights. The elegant topping of whipped cream and berries is a classic.

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Recipe Note: Make sure to let the coconut milk set in the refrigerator at least 8 hours, or overnight, before making the coconut whipped cream topping. I always keep multiple cans of coconut milk in the back of my fridge so I can whip up this quick and delicious dessert!

VANILLA CAKE WITH COCONUT WHIPPED CREAM AND BERRIES

Yields one 8-inch round cake

INGREDIENTS:

For the vanilla cake:
2 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt
2 eggs *
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted, plus extra for greasing
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
organic seasonal berries, for topping

* Vegan option – egg replacement:
1 Tbsp freshly ground chia seeds
1 Tbsp freshly ground flax seeds
4 Tbsp water

For the coconut whipped cream:
1 13.5 oz can full-fat coconut milk (I like Let’s Do Organic brand)
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

For the vanilla cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare your 8-inch pan by cutting a circular round of parchment paper to fit the base of your pan. Place the circular parchment round inside the cake pan, then grease the sides of the pan with melted coconut oil.

Place eggs*, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a bowl. Whisk until well incorporated. Add almond flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix until batter is formed, then pour into prepared pan.

Bake about 25 minutes (or 35 minutes, if using egg replacement), until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool, then flip cake out of pan onto a cake plate.

For the egg replacement:

Place the freshly ground chia and flax seeds in a bowl, then add water. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes, then add to the batter. This cake will need to bake for 10 additional minutes.

For the coconut whipped cream:

Place can of coconut milk in refrigerator the night before you make your cake.

Before you plan to serve your cake, open the can of refrigerated coconut milk. The fat will have risen to the top of the can, with the liquid at the bottom; scoop out only the solids to your mixing bowl, then add the maple syrup and vanilla extract. Whisk together, then refrigerate whipped cream to keep it firm until you are ready to top your cake.

To frost your cake, place cooled cake on serving plate and top with prepared coconut whipped cream, followed by organic seasonal berries.

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What’s In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

I love this interview I did with The Chalkboard Mag! They took a look in my fridge and I got to share a little about my love of all things Sweet Laurel! One thing that’s apparent here, is that I’m a veggie lover! Yes, I know Sweet Laurel is all about sweets, but let me introduce you to savory Laurel! I sure eat my fair share of veggies. If you have any questions about some of my go – to’s, leave them in the comments! xo, Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

FOOD PHILOSOPHY IN ONE SENTENCE:

Eat wholesome yet delicious food every day.


 

ALWAYS IN MY FRIDGE:

Kale, coconut, chocolate, and crudité.


 

7 RECIPE STAPLES ALWAYS ON HAND:

For my recipes, pretty much any of them can be made if you have almond flour, coconut oil, Himalayan pink salt, 100% maple syrup, organic eggs, coconut milk, and cacao.


 

MUST-HAVE MUNCHIES:

I am into accessible veggies: half an avocado, cut up celery, cucumber, carrots and cooked sweet potatoes. I am not a big snacker, but I am a big vegetable eater!


 

FAVE CONDIMENTS:

Our all-time favorite condiment is Sweet Laurel vegan caramel! Other condiments on the savory side I enjoy are Primal Kitchen Foods mayo and Kerrygold butter. Yes, butter. I developed a strong craving for it during my pregnancy, and I’ve been tolerating it well, so I enjoy it in moderation.


 

INGREDIENT THAT MAKES EVERYTHING TASTE BETTER:

When I cook, I love to use some delicious savory staples like garlic, Himalayan pink salt, apple cider vinegar and fun things like cayenne pepper. When I bake, a balance of moisture enriching, yet nutrient-dense ingredients make everything taste better. I work with five core ingredients at Sweet Laurel: almond flour, coconut oil, 100% maple syrup, organic eggs, and Himalayan pink salt. These are my star ingredients and the secret to a delicious grain-free, refined sugar-free and dairy-free treat that tastes delicious!


 

GO-TO PROTEINS:

Organic eggs, wild-caught fish, organic chicken, turkey, and beef.


 

BEST BARGAIN:

I buy in bulk whenever I can through health food stores and co-ops. This is great for spices, organic nuts and other frequently used items and pricier items.


 

BEST LABEL-READING TIP:

I always check for whole-food ingredients. If the foods originate from earth and are used in their natural form, I’m good with them.


 

FAVE VEGGIE + WHAT YOU MAKE WITH IT:

This changes, but currently I’m obsessed with making kale chips in the oven. It takes just a few minutes, and my salty, crunchy craving is usually taken care of shortly thereafter.


 

MUST-HAVE PANTRY STAPLES:

Sweet Laurel vanilla extract. We make our own, grain- and gluten-free, with tequila!


 

CRAZIEST THING I BUY:

The $30 coconut yogurt. Jam packed with probiotics, a little goes a long way. I’m definitely addicted.


 

SWEETS AND OTHER INDULGENCES:

I indulge in 100% cacao from Chocovivo every day. It is not a sweet per se, but an indulgence for sure. Made from cacao beans and stone ground into chocolate right here in Los Angeles.


 

DAIRY OR NON-DAIRY FAVES:

Like I said, hooked on coconut yogurt.


 

SKIP LABELS THAT READ:

‘High-fructose corn syrup,’ ‘cane sugar,’ etc.


 

FAVORITE SPLURGE:

I love supporting small food businesses. From time to time I will go to natural food stores and just pick up a few random food products, just to try them out!


 

FOR LAST MINUTE ENTERTAINING:

I whip up my snickerdoodles! Just five ingredients and delicious.


 

FAVORITE PLACES TO SHOP:

Erewhon Natural Foods, Rainbow Acres.


 

SIMPLE GO-TO RECIPE:

My brownies. Topped with our vegan caramel, you’re instantly in dessert heaven.


 

BEST FOOD MEMORY:

Making banana bread with my mom when I was five or six. I remember tasting the batter and being instantly hooked!

 

(Photo credit: Elsie Dardon)

Avocado Toast 6 ways \\ Sweet Laurel

It’s almost silly to have a series of recipes dedicated to Avocado Toast. It’s so pervasive out here. It’s on every cafe menu, pops up on everyone’s social media, it’s practically omnipotent. Simple things hardly ever go out of style, and avocado toast is equivalent to a little black dress. Always the right decision. We suggest making your toast on top of our grain-free Turmeric Bread, however, any bread will work just fine.

When something is so simple, you can get playful with the flavor combinations. Below are some of our favorites.

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Avocado Toast 6 Ways \\ Sweet Laurel

Avocado Toast 6 Ways \\ Sweet Laurel

Avocado Toast 6 Ways \\ Sweet Laurel

Avocado Toast 6 Ways \\ Sweet Laurel

Avocado Toast 6 Ways \\ Sweet Laurel

Avocado Toast 6 Ways


 

The Classic


 

Ingredients:

1 half-inch slice grain-free bread, toasted

1/3 avocado, smashed

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 pinch dried chili flakes

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Smash the avocado with the lemon juice, and spread over the toast. Top with a bit of chili flake, salt, and pepper.


 

Thai Inspired


 

Ingredients:

1 half-inch slice grain-free bread, toasted

1/3 avocado, sliced

1 tablespoon coconut cream

1 tablespoon cilantro leaves

1 pinch cayenne

1 teaspoon lime juice

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Place the avocado on the toast, and drizzle with coconut cream. Top with cilantro and cayenne, and finish with a bit of lime juice. Finish with salt and pepper.


 

Breakfast


 

Ingredients:

1 half-inch slice grain-free bread, toasted

1/3 avocado, sliced

1 egg

1 teaspoon finely chopped chives

1 teaspoon olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

For a perfectly hard boiled egg, place an egg in a small pot of room temperature water over medium heat. Once the water is boiling, turn it off, and let the egg sit in it for 8 minutes, less time for a slightly looser yolk. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and run with cold water until you can handle it. Peel the egg and slice.

Place the avocado on the toast, top with sliced egg and finish with chives, salt, and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.


 

The Purist


 

Ingredients:

1 half-inch slice grain-free bread, toasted

1/3 avocado, sliced

1 slice of heirloom tomato

1 teaspoon hot sauce

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Place the avocado on the toast, top with tomato, and drizzle with hot sauce. Finish with salt and pepper.


 

The Fattoush


 

Ingredients:

1 half-inch slice grain-free bread, toasted

1/3 avocado, chunked

1 tablespoon tahini

1 radish, thinly sliced

2 slices cucumber

1 teaspoon dill

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Spread the toast with tahini. Place the avocado on the toast, and drizzle with lemon juice. Top with cucumber and radish, and finish with a bit of dill. Finish with salt and pepper.


 

The Nori


 

Ingredients:

1 half-inch slice grain-free bread, toasted

1/3 avocado, sliced

1 tablespoon nori, chiffonade

1 pinch black sesame seeds

1 tablespoon mint, chiffonade

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Place the avocado on the toast. Top with nori, sesame seeds, and mint, and finish with salt and pepper.

Acai Bowls \\ Sweet Laurel

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Acai Bowls for Two

Everyone loves a good acai bowl. Unfortunately, I’m usually quite disappointed when I order acai at restaurants because they’re usually WAY TOO SWEET for me, and loaded with  added sugar. I love making my own, because I get to control the sweet factor. These beautiful bowls are sweetened with frozen banana, and optional raw honey. Top your bowls with favorite fruits. Get creative, they are fun to make!

Serves 2

100 gram packet unsweetened acai

1 frozen banana (make sure your banana is unpeeled before you freeze it)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional: 1 tablespoon raw honey

Garnish:

Berries

Mango slices

Peach Slices

Shredded coconut or fresh cut coconut

Almonds

Blend acai, frozen banana, vanilla extract and optional honey together on high in a blender. Top with fruit of choice. For garnish, I like to cut my mango slices into fun shapes. You can also freeze or fresh berries for a few moments to add a nice frozen glow to your bowl!

Vegan Banana Split \\ Sweet Laurel

One of our favorite ice cream shops is Kippy’s in Venice. Every flavor is created on the foundation of two simple ingredients: organic, raw coconut cream and organic, raw honey. If ice cream could be good for you, this is humanity’s best chance.  The flavors are delicious, and the raw coconut cream and honey are filled with fantastic enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, basically anyone can enjoy it, it’s gluten free, vegan, and raw. The flavor of the coconut cream and honey is so simple and pure, and the perfect canvas for a classic ice cream sundae. Here’s our version, but if you find yourself in Los Angeles or Tokyo this summer, be sure to check them out!

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Vegan Banana Split \\ Sweet Laurel

Vegan Banana Split

Vegan Banana Split


 

Ingredients:

1 pint coconut cream (Lets do Organic or Nature Value brand is what I like best), at room temperature

2 to 4 tablespoons raw honey, at room temperature (depending on desired taste)

Directions:

The night before you plan to make your ice cream, place your ice cream maker in the freezer. The next day, combine the coconut cream and honey by whisking together. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill completely in the fridge.  Then run the mixture through your ice cream machine. Freeze until firm.

Note: if you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can try a variety of methods to make ice cream without one. My favorite is to pour the chilled mixture into a shallow dish, place it in the freezer, and every 30 minutes to stir it with electric beaters or a whisk. It will take about 2 hours for it to get the right consistency. 


 

To build the sundae


 

Ingredients:

1 banana, split

Vegan Caramel

Chopped nuts, to taste

Coconut whipped cream

Fresh Cherries

Directions:

Place the banana on a plate, add ice cream, and top with a drizzle of caramel, nuts, and a scoop of whipped cream. Finish with a cherry on top, of course.

Rosebud Bath Soak for Mom \\ Sweet Laurel

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, so here’s a fun DIY gift you can give to the mommas you love! This soak includes two of our favorite ingredients at Sweet Laurel: coconut and pink salt. Both are beneficial to your body inside and out! Pink salt and coconut have benefits once digested, and several topical benefits as well. While the coconut milk powder in the recipe works to moisturize the skin, the pink salt acts at a detoxifier. Roses are used for their gratifying and soothing effect to the senses. This bath soak is a simple, yet beautiful little gift! Enjoy.

Rosebud Bath Soak for Mom \\ Sweet Laurel

Rosebud Bath Soak for Mom \\ Sweet Laurel

Rosebud Bath Soak for Mom \\ Sweet Laurel

Rosebud Bath Soak DIY Gift


 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Himalayan pink salt (I like to use the coarsely ground salt)

1/2 cup coconut milk powder

3 tablespoons dried rosebuds

1-2 drops essential rose oil

1 8 oz glass jar


 

Directions:

Grind a few of the rosebuds in a mortar and pestle until slightly broken. Combine all the other ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Spoon into a jar and seal. Keep in a cool. dry place until use.

Easter Cookies \\ Sweet Laurel x Jenni Kayne

Last Easter, I had the privilege of working with Jenni Kayne on her annual Easter party.  As always, everything about it was beautiful. Jenni is such a talented lady. I shared a super fun recipe, and I thought you all would like it as well. These are simple yet delicious Easter cookies. They are easy to whip up with kids and beautiful to look at on the table.

Easter Cookies \\ Sweet Laurel

Easter Cookies \\ Sweet Laurel

Easter Cookies \\ Sweet Laurel

Easter Cookies

Yields 2 dozen cookies


 

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups almond flour

1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)

1/4 cup 100% maple syrup or honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon vanilla extract


 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Either by hand or in a food processor, combine the ingredients into a dough. The dough will be slightly clumpy, so do not fret if the dough doesn’t look like traditional cookie dough. If the dough is a bit dry, add a little more melted coconut oil.

Between two pieces of parchment paper, roll out the dough. During this stage, the dough will join together and be much more uniform. Place parchment paper with rolled out dough in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm up. Remove from refrigerator and cut into shapes. Carefully transfer cut outs to cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until barely golden brown at the edges. Cool completely, and decorate with icing.


 

Coconut Butter Icing


 

Ingredients:

1/3 cup coconut butter

2 teaspoons 100% maple syrup or honey

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup coconut milk


 

Directions:

Mix all ingredients over very low heat. The coconut butter can easily burn, and turn a brownish color, so be careful during this step. Color with a pinch of turmeric for yellow, beet juice for pink, matcha powder for light green or other natural food colorings if you like. We sprinkled these cookies with a bit of gold dust to make them extra fancy!

DIY Hair Masks \\ Sweet Laurel

When it comes to a bit of pampering, our face tends to get the most love. And for good reason, it’s our source of expression, connection, and communication. But, every so often it’s nice to give our body’s supporting players some attention, so today I’m sharing three of my favorite at home hair masks (these double as face masks, too). They’re all three easy to find ingredients or less, and each serves a different purpose. I hope you enjoy these luxurious at-home treatments as much I do!

DIY Hair Masks \\ Sweet Laurel

DIY Hair Masks \\ Sweet Laurel

DIY Hair Masks \\ Sweet Laurel

DIY Hair Masks \\ Sweet Laurel

DIY Hair Masks \\ Sweet Laurel

DIY Hair Masks \\ Sweet Laurel

DIY Hair Masks \\ Sweet Laurel

DIY Hair Masks \\ Sweet Laurel

DIY Hair Masks \\ Sweet Laurel

Clay + Essential Oils

For clarifying + volume


 

The idea of removing toxins has been growing trend over the last few years, and when something becomes a trend, that usually means there’s a lot of confusion about what it actually does. In the case of benotite clay, a clay composed of volcanic ash, it produces a strong negative charge when in contact with water, which supposedly bonds to the positive charge in many toxins. So when contacts a toxin, chemical, or heavy metal, the clay absorbs the toxins and release it’s minerals, like a giant sponge. Bentonite clay isn’t a cure-all, but it’s a great way to clarify your skin, and especially your hair – which soaks up environmental toxins throughout the day (like how your hair can reek of cigarettes hours after you sat at a bar).

For this simple mask, I added rosemary and lavender oil, mostly because of their beautiful scent, but also because of they are believed to help stimulate hair growth from the scalp.


 

2 tablespoons Benotite Clay

8 tablespoons water

3 drops organic rosemary essential oil

3 drops organic lavender essential oil


 

In a non-metal bowl (the clay reacts to metal), mix together the ingredients, adding more water if needed, to get a thick yogurt textured paste.

Section your hair  and apply the clay from root to dip, massaging into the scalp.  Let the clay sit on your hair for 20 to 25 minutes, but do not let it harden (hard clay is harder to remove). Rinse out all of the clay with warm water. Shampoo and condition as you normally would.


 

Avocado and Egg

For Hydrating and Softening


 

Avocado is a powerhouse of phytochemicals, antioxidants such as vitamin A, E, D, and B6, amino acids, and minerals like potassium, copper, iron, and magnesium. Combined with avocado’s luxurious texture, its moisturizing properties are fantastic for frizyy, dry hair that needs a shine.  The egg yolk also packs a multitude of nutrients, including B-vitamins, vitamin A, zinc, protein, and sulphur, which means in addition to moisture, you’re also soothing your itchy scalp and possibly promoting hair growth. These two ingredients have so many amazing qualities, and can transform your hair into princess level tresses.


 

1/2 avocado, pulp removed

1 organic egg yolk


 

Blend the avocado and egg yolk until you have a lump free paste (small lumps will get caught in your hair, and you’ll have to comb it out).

Section your hair and apply the mask from root to dip, massaging into the ends. Let the mask sit on your hair for 20 to 25 minutes. Rinse out all of the mask with cool water (hot water will cook the egg). Shampoo and condition as you normally would.


 

Coconut Yogurt and Honey

For moisturizing oily hair


 

Packed with anti-oxidants, vitamins, calcium, and protein, coconut yogurt has moisturizing properties that help control oily, greasy hair by washing away excess oil in the scalp and hair. Honey is a key ingredient in this mask, enlivening dry, dull hair. Combining them creates a powerful hair mask that is perfect for someone with an oily scalp.


 

1/4 cup Coconut Yogurt (recipe below)

2 tablespoons honey


 

Section your hair  and apply the mask from root to dip, massaging into the ends.  Let the mask sit on your hair for 20 to 25 minutes. Rinse out all of the mask with hot water. Shampoo and condition as you normally would.


 

Coconut Yogurt


 

2 cup organic coconut milk

1 capsule probiotic


 

Place coconut milk in a pot. Heat to 180 degrees. Allow to cool completely. Add probiotic.

Place in dehydrator for 5 hours at 110, or place in yogurt maker for 5 hours.  Place in fridge for 5-10 hours.