Today I am celebrating another trip around the sun! 37 glorious trips around, to be exact. Birthdays, for me, are always a really wonderful reminder of my ongoing health journey. It was on this day 7 years ago, after my surprise 30th birthday party, that I made the choice for quite possibly the very first time, to put ME and my health first. (You can read a little bit more about that in this post from 2013) While this choice initially stemmed mostly from an ego-driven place, being unhappy with my appearance, I also made the choice at 30 to no longer be OK with feeling OK! I deserved so much more than that. Every year, as this day marks another year gone and as my healing journey continues, so does my commitment to myself and my self care. This day provides an incredible opportunity to check in with how I am feeling, to compare to years past and to be reminded that my hard work is not for nothing. And while this body may be aging, it is always apparent to me that it is more than possible to continue feeling better and better with each passing year, as I continue to prioritize my vitality and my wellness.
If you ask me, birthdays are just as much a cause for major celebration as any other major holiday and what better way to celebrate than with a grain-free sweet treat! But, not just any sweet, this year I’m celebrating with Grain-Free Churro Cupcakes! These beautiful, spicy and sweet cupcakes are adapted from the Vanilla Cake recipe from Danielle Walker’s brand new cookbook: Celebrations! A Year of Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes for Every Occasion.
Celebrations! is a collection of recipes and menus for twelve special occasions throughout the year, bringing back all of the joy that cooking that these momentous times can bring. This book is unlike any other grain-free or paleo cookbook before it. Danielle has transformed her most cherished family traditions into trustworthy recipes you can feel confident serving, whether you’re hosting a special guest with food allergies, or cooking for a crowd of regular grain-eatin’ folks. Thumbing through this book for the first time, I found myself choked up. For so many reasons, but mostly in thinking about the many people who will be touched by these recipes. Holidays can be an especially challenging time, stress runs high, there is so much pressure put on the food and the people making it and having food allergies, intolerances or other reasons for restricted eating compounds all of those feelings, that much more.
We can all agree to the struggles of showing up at times of celebration, when everyone else can just eat without thinking, grabbing a bite of this or a bite of that, while the enjoy the company of their loved ones – meanwhile you simply can’t just relax and mingle. Instead you have to ask what’s safe, inquiring about every ingredient in every dish, you have to hope that one misstep won’t ruin the rest of the holiday(s) or what is usually the case for me, I spent most of my time ahead preparing my own food and working to create foods that can hopefully be shared with everyone. Hardly something I mind doing, but the challenge is usually in making foods that will please everyone, whether they are gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free or not. Celebrations! is going to make all of that so much easier! Tried and true, classic recipes for every occasion.
Featuring a variety of birthday cakes, finger foods to serve at a baby or bridal shower, and re-creations of backyard barbecue standards like peach cobbler and corn bread, Danielle includes all of the classics. There’s a full Thanksgiving spread–complete with turkey and stuffing, creamy green bean casserole, and pies–and menus for Christmas dinner; a New Year’s Eve cocktail party and Easter brunch are covered, along with suggestions for beverages and cocktails and the all-important desserts. Recipes can be mixed and matched among the various occasions, and many of the dishes are simple enough for everyday cooking. Stunning full-color photographs of every dish make browsing the pages as delightful as cooking the recipes, and beautiful party images provide approachable and creative entertaining ideas.
As someone that is hardly a baker and definitely struggles to recreate baked goods that match the memories I have of the originals, I am so excited that for my own birthday this year I had the best grain-free cupcakes I have ever made at home. Using Danielle’s recipe for her vanilla cake, I made a few subtle tweaks to bring on the flavors of a churro, something I have been craving since a pregnant friend made this very request to me several weeks back! I tried my hand at an original grain-free churro cupcake recipe and it was good, but the recipe still needed some work, in hindsight it paled in comparison to these! To finish off these perfect little cupcakes used the Vanilla Buttercream recipe from Celebrations! and added ground cinnamon, then topped the tiny cakes with a sugar and spice blend, highly reminiscent of those classic sugar dusted fried-dough treats.
To get the recipe for Danielle’s brilliant buttercream (easily THE best paleo-friendly buttercream I have EVER had) you’re gonna have to get Celebrations! I know, I know! Sorry for the tease, but the frosting is a cookbook exclusive and we have to leave a little something to entice you with. I will tell you though, the book might be worth it alone, just for the frosting. With a unique addition to this paleo-friendly frosting, it is unreal how solid a recipe it is. I have tried many paleo frosting recipes and most leave a lot to be desired, they lack flavor and they definitely don’t hold up without being refrigerated. This frosting holds up at room temperature, it can be piped (if you know what you are doing) and it’s just the right amount of sweet.
These cupcakes are light and fluffy, with just a kiss of spicy, aromatic cinnamon throughout the cake and the frosting and a perfect little sweet and spicy sprinkle on top. This recipe can be used to make a layer cake using two 6 by 3-inch pans, simply bake for 30 minutes.
Grab a copy of Danielle Walker’s Celebrations! A Year of Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes for Every Occasion and head into this year’s holiday season with confidence, armed with over 125 delicious, vibrant recipes, spanning 12 special occasions and know that you are covered for every bit of celebrating that comes your way!
- 5 egg whites, at room temperature
- ¼ cup full fat coconut milk
- ¼ cup palm shortening, softened
- ¼ cup light-colored raw honey
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1½ cups blanched almond flour
- 3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
- 3 tablespoons coconut flour
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- Your favorite buttercream recipe (I love the one in Celebrations)
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar, maple sugar or date sugar (or other granulated sugar)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven 325ºF. Line a 12-cavity muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or using an electric handheld mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minute, until they have tripled in volume and form soft peaks when the whisk is pulled out. Scoop the whites into a bowl and set aside.
- Return the bowl to the mixer and switch to the beater attachment. Beat together the coconut milk, palm shortening, honey, maple syrup, vanilla and lemon juice on medium-high speed for 30 seconds.
- Add the almond flour, arrowroot, coconut flour, cinnamon and baking soda and beat again for 30 seconds, or until well incorporated.
- Gently fold in the beaten egg whites with a rubber spatula until they are full incorporated and there are no visible ribbons of whites throughout the batter.
- Divide the batter between the cupcake tins. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
- Mix together the sugar, cinnamon and vanilla extract and sprinkle on top of the frosted cupcakes, just before serving.