My most favorite thing about blogging is the incredible people I have been meeting along the way. Some of which I have met in person; others I have not but still feel as if I have. Kristy from Keepin’ It Kind is someone that I have actually been lucky enough to meet–and she is like a bright light in the city of L.A. Beautiful (like, you have to do a double-take at how gorgeous she is), creative (her Tofu Chevre recipe!), a great conversationalist and unbelievably generous–the perfect combo every man dreams about. Sorry gentlemen, she’s married.
I need to start by telling you how surreal it feels to be writing this post Cara. Let’s rewind to last August, when I began giving veganism a shot. I was adjusting to reading labels on everything, learning new techniques of cookings, and coming to terms that there were certain things I was not going to include in my diet anymore. Whenever I would realize one of these things, I would go straight to the Internet and search for vegan versions of my non-vegan favorites. One of these searches, for vegan Nutter Butters (I have cravings, ok!!!), led me to Fork and Beans. I was awe-struck. “Is there no end to this girl’s creativity?” I wondered. Fast forward to several months later, after discovering we were neighbors (in LA terms), when I found myself meeting Cara for lunch. When I started Keepin’ It Kind, I never even fathomd that I would be here today, let alonge that I would have found a true friend in Cara. I am so blessed to have met this warm, peaceful, friendly, incredibly creative soul.
I am not good at keeping track of when certain fruits and vegetables are in season. Cauliflower? No clue as to when they flourish. Rhubarb? I just recentaly realized that it arrives in late spring (Note to self–don’t buy rhubarb in December, no matter how lovely it looks). Cherries, on the other hand, I know they come in mid-to late May. In northern California, where I grew up, that is when all the roadside cherry stands would pop up. My mother could never pass one without buying a case. For a good month or so, our trashcan would be filled with cherry pits. Appetites for dinner would be ruined on a regular basis due to this fruit. For me, May=Cherries.
Using cherries for anything other than eating straight (or in cocktails, as I practiced in my twenties) is fairly new t o me. They just don’t make it that far. I did, however, manage to save some from our first cherries‐of‐the‐season purchase to make these lovely muffins. To be perfectly honest, one of my past personal‐training clients made a full fat, non–‐vegan version of these for a Memorial Day party at her house about 7 years ago. She gave me the recipe because I liked them so much
it, but I never made them until now. I’ve toyed with it, making a few different versions to make sure I had worked the perfect low fat, refined sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan replacement. This is it.
Every bite is filled with the taste of tangy cherries, rich cheesecake, and graham cracker crust. You cannot even tell that they are low in fat! I used coconut sugar because it is a really delicious sugar replacement and read recently that it is one of the sustainable sweeteners on the planet (Go Earth!) I added small 1/4 teaspoon dollops of vegan cream cheese to the top of each muffin and swirled it in with a toothpick to give it a “marbled” look, but they would be perfect without it. I made these before we left on a trip and I took a few for my husband and I to eat on the place (we become
irritable jerks unpleasantly crabby on long flights with no vegan food) and not only were they a totally scrumptious life-saver, I think they made a few people (the ones stuck with pretzels and salty peanuts) jealous, although me loudly going, “Mmmmmm! Mmmmmmmm! Mmmm!” after every bite probably didn’t help.
Just a note–these muffins are good with other berries if you don’t have cherries and if you’re feeling particularly indulgent, perhaps some chocolate chips are in order as well!
CHERRY CHEESECAKE MUFFINS
Makes 10-12 muffins
2 c. all-purpose gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c. coconut sugar
1/3 c. vegan cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. plain vegan yogurt
1 flax egg (1 T flax meal mixed with 3 T water)
1/4 c. agave syrup
1/4 c. canola oil
1/4 c. cherry or orange juice
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c. fresh cherries, pitted and quartered
2-3 T vegan cream cheese for swirling into tops of muffins (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Line a 12-cup muffin tim with cupcake liners or spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, flax egg, yogurt, juice, oil and vanilla with an electric mixer.
Add flour mix to wet cheese mix and use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to stil until incorporated. Fold in cherries. Spoon batter into muffin pan, almost to the rim. You should have 10-12 muffins.
Optional Step: Using a ¼ teaspoon, spoon tiny dollops onto the tops of each muffin. Use a toothpick to make a few “swirling motions” to marble the cream cheese into the top.
Bake for roughly 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Turn muffins out onto wire rack to cool. Enjoy!
Take advantage of cherry season and make these muffins–perhaps for your own Memorial Day celebration. Thank you again, Cara, for this wonderful, fun opportunity, and thank you to all of you Fork and Beans fans for taking the time to read this! I am a super happy girl right now!
All photos taken by Chris Miller
Don’t have gluten free flour cam I use we? I don’t have gluten allergy
Oh my these look incredible – ….although everything that Kristy makes always looks SO GOOD! The photos are grogeous too!
You are so sweet, Heather! I feel pretty much the same way every time I go to your site. I’m passing the photo compliment on to Chris since he did the photos on this one. 🙂
Oh, wow! Why have I not seen cherries yet!? Come on, cherries! These look incredible – thanks for sharing another wonderful guest post, Cara! 🙂
Thank you so much Kristy! I am also from N. Cal. (but living in central KY). I LOVE cherries- especially Bings! My mom used to make a recipe similar to this when I was growing up & I recently had her send it to me. I haven’t done any converting of recipes and am so glad to have found wonderfully creative foodlovers like you & Cara to do the work for me. : )
Thank you, Aileen! I’m so glad to hear that there are more cherry fanatics out there!
Kristy is just fantastic, in every way…as are you. Thank you for this dreamy collaboration!!
Gena, you’re making me blush! You are too sweet- Thank you!
These sound so phenomenal!
You are phenomenal! Thank you, Shannon!
Yay! I love discovering these new groovy blogs to read – great recipe 🙂 It gets YUMMO from me 😉
Yay! A YUMMO! Thank you!
These muffins sound amazing! I’ve got to try these!
Thanks! I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!
Gabby @ the veggie nook
These are just gorgeous Kristy! They look so homey! I looove fresh cherries and combining that with cheesecake AND a muffin- well let’s just say you’ve combined three of my favourite things into one awesome thing! And I’m sure the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts 🙂
Awesome guest post! And gorgeous photos as usual!
I love your comments, Gabby- You are just the sweetest! I’m glad you like it, and I will pass the photo comment onto Chris (he did the photos on this one). 🙂
Isn’t Gabby the best? Her comments always leave me with the biggest smile on my face 🙂
I so agree with this! Gabby IS the best! 🙂
ooooooh,,, you guys are neighbors.. jealous here!
those muffins look incredible! and with the cheese marbled in. yumm! i am a really bad traveler too.. with the air sickness and if i get no food, you better be ready for choice words. hubbs checkin bag is one large food load filled with portions of all possible tastes and combinations of things, coz my taste preferences get really unpredictable in the air.
we are waiting for some fresh cherries, but theres a bunch other fresh berries right now..i love Kristy’s pictures.. there is this colorful pop to each one of of them!
wow Kristy, you just recently hopped onto the train.. hard to believe with that amazing tofu chevre! sending both of you tons of hugs from sunny seattle!( it is going to rain on sunday and monday.. so i better get some garden work done today)
I am laughing so hard right now, imagining your big bag of food, because you sound just like me! My (very large) purse is always overflowing with various snacks, and road trips- we have more coolers and large bags of food than we do suitcases. Both of us get pretty snarky when we’re hungry, especially while traveling!
I hope you got all your gardening done before the rain! Big hugs right back to you, my friend!
An Unrefined Vegan
As usual, a stellar recipe from Kristy! Looks as if I’ll be adding another one of her recipes to my list! Delish!
I hope you like it, Annie! I’ll be enjoying your pesto cashew cheese very soon, I’m sure!
Incredible Kristy! These look and sound wonderful…and my your photos are always just out of this world gorgeous! Loving this…..and cherries have a very soft spot with me too. They are the best!
Thank you, Shira! That is a huge compliment coming from you, as your photos are breath-taking! I will pass the compliment onto Chris, my husband, who did the photography on this post. 🙂
What a treat to see two of my favorite bloggers in one space! This feels like when cartoon Don Knotts visited Scooby Doo! (You can decide between the two of you which one gets to be Shaggy and which one gets to be Don Knotts.) One of the highlights of my next California trip will definitely be hanging out with you two lovelies! In the meantime, I’m going to start holding vigil at my local co-op and protest for the cherries to go down to a reasonable price, so that I can make these gems! (Right now they’re $10.99/pound. Maybe I’ll be making them in a month or so? Who can wait that long?!)
I am ALL OVER being Don Knotts! I was obsessed with Three’s Company as a kid, and I was probably the only 7 year old who would’ve told you that her favorite actor was Don Knotts (such a weird kid, I know). By the time I was 9, it had switched to Dave Coulier from Full House. But I digress… I call Don Knotts!
I can’t wait for your next trip to LA. Getting to hang with you and Cara AND vegan reuben tastings- it will be my favorite part of your trip, for sure. 😉
This BETTER happen!!!
Oh, man, this one is zooming to the top of my “tasty things to make” list (which is quite long!). And I love your pic with the piggie, Kristy! 🙂
Awww, thanks Lizzie! I hope you like it! And I love that pic too- he was such a big sweetie!
i love cherries too! those muffins look so rustically fabulous! i love the chunks of cherries poking through! and how fun that you and Cara are LA neighbors! it is truly amazing how the internet brings people together! thanks for sharing!
Rustically Fabulous! You officially win my “favorite phrase of the day” award (I just invented it)! I love that term. Thank you so much! It is amazing how many kindred spirits you meet via the internet- now I can say I’ve met you too! 🙂
aw thanks! that just made my day 🙂
Brooke (Crackers on the Couch)
Despite my raging jealousy at your proximity to Cara at any given moment, I must say these look gorgeous! I generally don’t buy California cherries since Washington has such a plethora later in the year. But that’s the thing isn’t it? It’s later in the year. I couldn’t help myself this week and bought a pack of CA cherries. They are sooo good! If I manage to wrest a few from my boys, I think I’ll put them in these!
About what month, approximately, do I need to be in Washington to take advantage of fresh Washington cherries? I would love to visit Washington and I think cherry season would be the perfect time (i.e. I want to have a several-month-long cherry binge-fest).
If you manage to wrestle a few away, I hope you enjoy these muffins!
I think it’s a June/July peak up here usually. We took the cherries to the park today. My sons shared them with all the kids in the park! They were a hit. Unfortunately, that left none for muffins. But we finished this batch so fast they’re still on sale!
These look lovely. How long do I bake them for?
Sorry! Copy and Paste error on my behalf! I’ve sent the remaining steps of the recipe to Cara, but they are as follows:
5. Optional Step: Using a ¼ teaspoon, spoon tiny dollops onto the tops of each muffin. Use a toothpick to make a few “swirling motions” to marble the cream cheese into the top.
6. Bake for roughly 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Turn muffins out onto wire rack to cool. Enjoy!
Thank you so much for pointing it out, Nina! 🙂
Thanks so much for responding so promptly. I’m pretty keen to make these. Perhaps even today! 🙂
Lovely muffins. I adore hearing stories of solid blogging friendships. Great work to both of you!
Thank you, Connie!
I’m so jealous that you have met Cara in person, as I share in your admiration and mutual respect of her talents and her spirit. I’ve recently found her blog and was instantly hooked for all the reasons you mentioned, but also because she introduces me to so many other wonderful vegan/mindful bloggers such as yourself. Thank you for posting!
Brooke (Crackers on the Couch)
My, too. I think we need a “We’re Jealous You’ve Met Cara” support group.
Okay, you guys are really getting ridiculous now. Seriously. I’m starting a “I have THE most amazing friends that I have never met yet but will someday soon because they are so fabulous how could I *not* travel the country to finally connect with them?!” support group. Meetings start next Tuesday.
I will be there, Cara- I have serious issues with this. 😉
Brooke and Abby- thank you so much for your kind words and I’m so happy to have “met” you both!
Cara, vegan threesome? What time is the meeting?
Dammit, I’m jealous again…
We could make it a foursome…. 😉
Love it, Somer. Totally love it! 🙂
I would absolutely love to make these, but how long should they be baked for?
I am so sorry about that- total Copy and Paste error on my behalf. The steps are there now (Thank you, Cara!!!). If you make them, I hope you enjoy them! 🙂
aww man, i’m so jealous of both of you for meeting each other! grr…i really need to take a trip out to cali so i can hang out with BOTH of you 😉
i loved reading your story about transitioning into veganism, kristy! you are doing so well with the change considering all of the delicious food you make. these muffins are no exception. they look absolutely delicious!
Thank you Caitlin! I think you are on to something, though- you really need to make a trip out to LA so we can all hang out. I hear summer is a lovely time to visit… 🙂
Those are absolutely gorgeous – yet another great entry in the series :D. Who knows, Cara, perhaps you’ll be lucky (unlucky) enough to meet me one day :D.
I think if we met, we would destroy each other with our words. Wait a minute, kind of like what we already do! In that case, it would be YOU who would be the lucky one because then you would be able to fully understand what a well-developed sense of humor is like in person 😉
Haha – whatever! I’m actually pretty chilled :D, we both know you compete with me on my banterous level.
Why is it ME who competes with YOU???!! Grrrrrr. And you are chilled? As in cold-hearted?
You guys are both dirtbags! Blogging frenemies. I love it.
We are complete and total dirtbags, in the most refined sense but of course.
Refined? and butterflies fly out my butt! Hehe! xoxo
Aww shucks! Thank you!
How fantastic that you two have met up 🙂 and yummy this recipe looks fab and I love your photography Kristy everything looks so vibrant and fun!
Thank you Becky, though I have to give my husband credit for the photography on this one. I will pass the compliment along!