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Easy Red Velvet Cheesecake for Valentine’s Day

Easy Red Velvet Cheesecake

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A Clean Start and a Pear Cake

pear cakeClean Start: Inspiring You to Eat Clean and Live Well is Terry Walters’ follow up to her first cookbook, Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source with More Than 200 Recipes for a Healthy and Sustainable You.

Even though I’m not a vegan, having to avoid milk and wheat products has caused me to seek out vegan and gluten free blogs and cookbooks like Terry’s latest. Working around food sensitivities and allergies is all about cooking with clean ingredients and making dishes from scratch. Clean Start fits this need by sticking to straightforward recipes and using local, seasonal ingredients. She does use some exotic ingredients like tahini and tempeh, but those should be familiar to vegans and anyone who shops at a well stocked health food store.

How to Eat Clean

Her cookbook starts with an explanation of eating clean, such as eating the rainbow and skipping packaged foods. She then addresses the benefits of a clean start and how to set up. Then she goes over the basics like her favorite ingredients such as almond meal, arrowroot, rice milk, tofu and vegetable stock. Then there’s a primer on basic grains, legumes and greens. Finally, she gives you tips on making a clean start work for you.

Then she goes into more than 230 recipes, each one fitting on a single page (love that!) The recipes are organized into spring, summer, fall and winter chapters. There’s typical vegan fare like seitan bourguignon, scrambled tofu, and curry and avocado dips. Still, there are many recipes that will appeal to all, vegan or not, like Butternut Squash with Quinoa, Apricot and Sage stuffing or Warm Beet Salad with Red Onion, Mint and Pistachio.

My only complaint with the cookbook is that there weren’t more gorgeous photographs by Andrea Gentl and Marty Hyers!

Pear Cake

Terry says the inspiration for this recipe came from her friend, Vicki, “…who is hands-down the best baker I know. Her super-moist apple cake is just the right combination of light and sweet. And, while I’ve still not been able to convince her to share her recipe, this gluten-free pear version satisfied my craving with ease. I would like to think that someday Vicki might actually ask me for this recipe, but I guess that’s unnecessary now!”

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 cup finely grated peeled D’Anjou pear (or pear sauce)
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated peeled D’Anjou pears
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana (about 1 large banana)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 D’Anjou pears


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. In large mixing bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients until blended.
  3. In separate bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients until blended.
  4. Peel pears for topping and cut into halves. Scoop out cores and slice halves into thin slices and set aside.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix as briefly as possible to combine.
  6. Pour into prepared pan. Arrange pear slices as desired on top of cake and bake 45 minutes or until cake is lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven
  7. and cool on rack before removing pan.
  8. Makes one 9-inch round cake

Tip: This recipe will require 5 or 6 whole pears, depending on the size of your pears – 2 for finely grating, 2 for coarsely grating and 1 to 2 for decorating the top of your cake.

Serving suggestion: For an extra-special presentation, melt dark chocolate with a small amount of virgin coconut oil and drizzle back and forth across each serving.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of Clean Start: Inspiring You to Eat Clean and Live Well.