Grown ups have this silly habit of guessing kids’ trajectories. “Oh, he is kicking in the womb. I bet he’ll be an Olympic swimmer!” or “She loves to pull the dog’s tail. She is destined to be a veterinarian!” These projections are entertaining and optimistic, and at the root, is a wealth of good intention- a wish for a future filled with health, happiness and success. Who wouldn’t want their kid or their nephew to claim the gold in the butterfly?
Watching a kid go from a sleeping, eating, crying bundle of spit-up and poop, to a blabbering, gesticulating little person with personality and taste is a fascinating journey. A birthday is a good reminder to stop the college and career planning to simply enjoy that little personality exactly where he or she is because damn, if those years don’t fly!
The Urban Farmer’s nephew, Knox, was a little bundle when I entered the scene. He had skinny Kermit-the-frog legs that could barely hold up baby socks, big blue eyes and a constant flock of family ready and waiting to hold him. That same family welcomed me with open arms and a new title- “Aunt Q.” They’re good people, and I fell for the whole lot of them like I fell for the Urban Farmer. They’re the best package deal a girl could ask for!
I’ve been along for the ride ever since, watching those little Kermie legs transition to an impressively swift army crawl, a teetering balancing act and now, an exaggerated run with arms swinging and chubby legs doing their best.
Somehow, all those transitions have added up to two years! For two years, I’ve watched this little bundle develop a love, nay, a LOVE!!!! for food, and not the expected rotation of fruit snacks and brightly colored “fruit drinks.” This kid LOVES avocados, peas, sweet potatoes, eggs, power-green smoothies and QUINOA! He’s proof that kids will eat well if you train them well. He is happy and healthy and if you so much as try to take away his veggies, so help you, you will hear about it!
Second only to his love of food, is his unwavering love for “pappy,” both the person, and his grandfather’s vehicle. The kid is obsessed with Jeeps (though not obsessed enough to identify the vehicles by their make… words kind of bore him, but “pappy” is a more endearing name than Jeep anyway)!
So here we are, two years old, passionate for food and jeeps, or food and “pappies,” accompanied by “woof woofs” and trailed by a “sissy,” surrounded by a family who couldn’t be more in love with those cheeks or more concerned with his wellbeing. I had the extreme privilege of baking the kiddo’s birthday cake (for the second time)! I had another chance to prove that a kid can be healthy and have his cake too because birthdays are worth celebrating!
Kudos to these parents, Jena and Alex because not enough parents prioritize their kids the way these two do, and beyond that, they’re just selfless folks. They make one beautiful family inside and out…
While I’m trying hard to appreciate the here and now of Knox, Remi June and life in general, I’m secretly hoping Knox’s passion for food continues to flourish. Once he has words, we’ll have so much to talk about, and I could use an assistant!
For now, at least, we both agree, life without cake be like…
Happy Birthday Lil’ Knox. Your birthday is one of my favorite cake assignments each year, and I’m grateful to be along for the ride!
aka, “Aunt Q.”
Dark Chocolate Quinoa Cake (gluten-free) w/ Whipped Chocolate Coconut Frosting
Adapted from Making Thyme for Health
About this Recipe: No one will know there is quinoa in each bite until you tell them. You can make the quinoa ahead of time. The recipe yields a 9×13 rectangular cake or (2) 8-inch round layers. To create the Jeep themed cake, I doubled the recipe and baked larger sheet cakes and sculpted them together with the frosting. The larger sheet cakes bake for less time, 20-25 minutes. The coconut milk for the frosting should ideally be chilled overnight. I recommend So Delicious brand culinary milk because it has more of the cream.
1/3 cup organic whole milk
4 whole eggs (organic/pasture-raised)
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups cooked quinoa (approximately 3/4 cup dry quinoa)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled (recommended: Kerry Gold grass-fed butter)
1/4 cup melted organic coconut oil
1 cup organic maple syrup
1 cup pure unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Quinoa:
Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add the 3/4 cup dry quinoa, and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, until soft and fluffy. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool.
For the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350°F, and then line two round cake pans (or a 9×13” pan) with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the milk, eggs and vanilla extract until combined.
Add the cooked and cooled quinoa, butter, coconut oil and maple syrup, then blend until completely smooth, about 30-60 seconds.
Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl (cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt).
Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix together until well-combined.
Divide the batter between the two pans, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool.
Whipped Chocolate Coconut Cream Frosting
22 oz (2 containers) organic full-fat culinary coconut milk, chilled (recommended: So Delicious)
1 (10 ounce) bag dark chocolate chips
Once chilled, open the coconut milk container. Separate the liquid from the cream, and set the cream aside.
Note: Save the coconut milk liquid for smoothies or granola. If not using the culinary milk, use 2 cans of full-fat coconut milk
Melt the chocolate and coconut cream in a sauce pan over low-medium heat, stirring frequently to avoid burning, then transfer to a large bowl of a stand mixer.
Allow to cool on the counter, then cover and refrigerate for several hours, until thickened.
Note: If you’re in a hurry, you can chill the mixture for ~15-20 minutes in the freezer.
Once the chocolate mixture has thickened, remove from the refrigerator and beat on high for thirty seconds to one minute, until a fluffy icing has formed.
Frost the cake(s) and refrigerate until ready to serve. The icing will melt in really warm conditions but should be fine for a few hours in cooler settings.