Sunny winter mornings are far and few between in Milan, but thankfully Italy is abundant in orange citrus fruits this time of year, adding a little sunshine to our lives even on grey cloudy days. It’s no wonder I’ve been using them a lot lately, so look for a few orange recipes in the next few weeks.
Speaking of sunshine, I want to take a minute to talk about the importance of it. Unless you live in a southern climate, chances are you’re not getting enough sun and therefore not enough vitamin D from the sun, during the winter months. I’ve recently taken interest in this topic and I have uncovered some things that I’d like to share with you. Please note, this information is general in nature and is not intended to replace medical advice.
Vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin is produced by our skin when we get exposure to sunlight by reacting with the cholesterol in our bodies. Winter climates, northern climates with limited sunshine hours, smog, and clouds all reduce our ability to get enough sun and inhibits our body’s ability to produce the sunshine vitamin.
There are two forms of Vitamin D, D2 and D3. D2, a plant based source of vitamin D is considered to be less bioavailable than D3 which is derived from the cholesterol in animal sources. Vitamin D3 is not produced by plants as they do not contain any cholesterol. As such, most people on a plant based diet, and specifically vegans, who don’t get enough exposure to the sun, may be lacking in Vitamin D. A simple blood test will show whether or not you have a deficiency and need to supplement.
I haven’t been tested for vitamin D in a while, but the last time I was tested, I was borderline, so I’ve personally taken the habit of supplementing with 400 IU of vitamin D3 daily, especially in the winter months. While my brand claims to be “veg friendly”, I’m not quite sure how that is possible as all the research I’ve read about Vitamin D3 supplements indicate that they are derived from lanolin (sheep’s wool) or fish oil. Seems like sketchy marketing to me. I have however very recently come across a brand called Nordic Naturals, in my research for this post, made from Lichen which is derived from algae. It’s very interesting and while I don’t know much about this yet, it certainly is worth looking into.
For now, let’s move on to the bright Orange Loaf Cake, to add some sunshine to your day.
Orange Whole Spelt Loaf Cake & Orange Coconut Cream Frosting
Recipe & Photography by Nissrine @ Harmony à la Carte.
This Orange Spelt Loaf is vegan and refined sugar free and covered in bright Orange Coconut Cream Frosting adding sunshine to a dull winter day.
Orange Spelt Loaf Cake
- 1 3/4 C Whole Spelt Flour
- 1 1/2 Tsp Aluminum Free Baking Powder
- 3/4 Tsp Baking Soda
- 3/4 Tsp Pure Bourbon Vanilla Powder
- 1/4 Tsp Fine Sea Salt
- 1/2 C Orange Juice (fresh squeezed, 1 medium orange)
- 1/4 C + 1 Tbsp Pure Canadian Maple Syrup
- 1/3 C Unsweetened Apple sauce
- Zest of One Orange
- 2 Tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- Coconut Oil to grease the loaf pan
- Preheat oven to 180 C and place loaf pan inside to warm it up.
- Sift all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Combine wet ingredients, except for apple cider vinegar, to a small bowl and whisk together.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and gently mix to combine really well. Don’t overwork the batter.
- Remove loaf pan from the oven and grease bottom and all sides with cold coconut oil. The oil will melt on contact.
- Fold apple cider vinegar into the batter and pour into the loaf pan.
- Bake on center rack for about 30 minutes, rotating the pan after about 20 minutes. The loaf cake will be ready when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let cool before removing it from the pan.
- Remove from pan and let cool completely before frosting (see recipe below).
Orange Coconut Cream Frosting
(inspired by Amy Chaplin’s Citrus Frosting from At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen)
- 200 ml Full Fat Coconut milk
- 1 Tbsp Pure Canadian Maple Syrup
- 1/2 Tsp Agar Agar Powder
- 1/4 Tsp Pure Bourbon Vanilla Powder
- Zest of One Orange
- 1/4 C Orange Juice (freshly squeezed, 1/2 a medium orange)
- Place all ingredients, except for orange zest and orange juice, in a small pot and whisk together.
- Place pot over medium heat for about 20 minutes, whisking frequently, until the agar agar is well dissolved.
- Remove from heat, stir in orange zest and orange juice and transfer to n 11×17 pyrex dish. Let cool completely and then refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until the mixture has firmed up completely, slightly harder than jello.
- Remove from the refrigerator, scoop out the mixture into a food processor or blender and blend on high speed until completely smooth.
- Transfer to an airtight container and return it to the fridge to cool and set. The consistency at first is like a thick yogurt, but the longer you leave it in the fridge, the more it will set and become like a frosting.
- The frosting can be made 1 day ahead.