Celebrating love with cupcakes and cuddles

July 19th, 2012 · Lisa · Fun with Friends, gluten-free, nut-free, Recipes, Savory · Comments

“How do you spell ‘love’?” – Piglet
“You don’t spell love, you feel it” – Pooh
~ A. A. Milne

Last Saturday, in a sunny backyard north of the city, there was a party absolutely saturated with love. You could feel it at every turn, lots of hearty hugs and big toothy grins.

My brother, Dan, the one I write about most often on this blog (because he’s been vegan for almost 8 years and gets recruited to join me at lots of veg events) is getting married in the fall. He met his bride-to-be while working at Walt Disney World (which makes that Winnie the Pooh quote even more appropriate). With the wedding just a couple of months away, we had a rare opportunity to celebrate with both Dan and his bride. Ali, my soon-to-be-sister-in-law (STBSIL?) is living in Florida at the moment, so when we found out she’d be flying in for a brief visit the whole family rallied together for a surprise summer shower in her honour.

 We decorated the backyard with palm trees, lanterns and leis. Luckily the Toronto weather felt quite tropical last week, a big mahalo to mother nature!

When I think back to my time in Hawai’i last February, the two strongest memories are the beautiful vistas and the incredible fruit. Since we couldn’t transplant the volcanic landscape we opted for a glorious spread of fresh fruit.

This is what happens when my Mom and I are in charge of the buffet!

Given the large vegan contingent at this gathering (including both Dan & Ali) I wanted to make sure there was a hearty main course for us all to enjoy. I made a tropical quinoa salad with a ginger-lime dressing (recipe below) that received raves from the crowd. My mom also made fantastic skewers of marinated tofu and veggies for the BBQ. Even though there were lots of diverse options for the omni guests – the vegan fare disappeared quickly, enjoyed by all.

That sentiment is especially true of the dessert.

I made 48 vegan cupcakes for the celebration using the trusted Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Combinations included: Macadamia Nut Cupcakes with Lemon Frosting, Mocha Agave Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting, Chocolate Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting and Chocolate Cupcakes with Lemon Frosting. I coloured some vegan fondant (supplied by the lovely Nicole) to construct tiny leis on top of toasted coconut for the tropical effect and added a cocktail umbrella to the cupcakes with swirled frosting just for fun.
I’ve always been a believer in the power of baketivism and Saturday solidified my stance. I had lots of people request the recipes, one woman who enjoyed four cupcakes said “if vegan food tasted like this I could definitely go vegan”. I was happy to respond “it does”.

The afternoon, involved laughter over silly games, heart swelling stories of love and an opportunity for me to spend a little time with my newest sweetheart – the beautiful, Mackenzie. She has stolen my heart.

I got home feeling tired from all the revelry but also all a glow from the generous affection of my growing family.

Plus…I had quinoa salad leftovers for dinner. Bliss!

Tropical Quinoa Salad


  • 2 1/2 cups quinoa
  • 5 cups water
  • 6 TBSP lime juice
  • 1 medjool date, pitted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 TBSP grated ginger
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 cups chickpeas
  • 2 cups diced pineapple
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
  • toasted and lightly salted almonds (optional)


  1. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear.
  2. In a large sauce pan bring the water to a boil. Add the quinoa, reduce the heat to low, mostly cover with the pot lid and allow to simmer for 15-17 minutes.
  3. Fluff the quinoa with a fork (all of the liquid should have been absorbed) and allow to cool completely in the fridge.
  4. In a blender combine the lime juice, date, salt, ginger, garlic and cumin. Blend until smooth.
  5. In a large bowl toss the quinoa with the dressing. Stir in the remaining ingredients and stir until well distributed.
  6. Makes 12 cups of salad - perfect for a potluck or a party. It will keep well for a couple of days if it lasts that long



  1. Posted July 19, 2012 at 11:14 am

    This is the perfect summer recipe, it looks delicious –  I can’t wait to try this!

    • theveganlisa
      Posted July 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm


      • Heather
        Posted August 12, 2012 at 7:02 pm

        I came across your post and would love to try the salad.  In the photo, it looks like it contains red pepper, but the recipe reads “red onion”.  Which is correct?  Thanks!!

        • veganlisa
          Posted August 12, 2012 at 7:05 pm

          You’re right – red pepper is correct. I hope you enjoy the salad!

  2. Christa
    Posted July 19, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Gorgeous pictures Lisa! They put any of mine to absolute shame… isn’t food amazing?!! So colorful…

    Loving the ingredients in the salad, must make it soon!

    • theveganlisa
      Posted July 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm

      Thank you Christa! I hope you do make the quinoa salad. It was pretty delicious.

  3. Nicole
    Posted July 19, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    I absolutely love the quote you used! I’m glad everyone enjoyed the spread — it all looks so beautiful!

    • theveganlisa
      Posted July 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm

      Thanks Nicole, I was relieved that everyone loved the food. 

  4. Raeanne Perry
    Posted July 19, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    I have a potluck at a park/beach to attend on Saturday! This will definitely be my contribution! Looks divine! – raeanne

    • theveganlisa
      Posted July 21, 2012 at 8:22 pm

      I hope it was a success Raeanne!

  5. Posted July 21, 2012 at 6:40 am

    ‘We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet.
    Even longer,’ Pooh answered.


    • theveganlisa
      Posted July 21, 2012 at 8:22 pm


  6. Posted July 22, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    What a lovely day!  I’m sure your brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law were moved by how much energy and love you put into this party for them.  I love the little leis on the cupcakes!  So adorable!  It looks like it was an amazing spread – baketivism, indeed!   

  7. Dan Pitman
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    All the omni’s were still talking about the cupcakes and the salad and skewers for days after the party.  Ali and I were very moved by all the hard work everybody put into this for us.  We can’t thank you enough.  It was such a great time, wish we could do it every weekend!

  8. Posted July 27, 2012 at 6:08 am

    It seems you are very good writer. Very affectionate and vividly drawn picture of Love party…  and on the top of it, a delicious recipe… Thanks for useful information…

    • veganlisa
      Posted August 12, 2012 at 7:06 pm

      Thank you 🙂

  9. Posted July 31, 2012 at 6:54 am

    I really love this post! Most for the photo of you looking so brightly happy, but also because any embrace of baketivism resonates with me. Sharing beautiful food is one of the surest ways to show people that veganism is within their reach. Thank you for always being such a great activist (baketivist), Lisa!

    • veganlisa
      Posted August 12, 2012 at 7:07 pm

      Thank you Gena…I wish I could stop by your backyard this summer with some mocktails and big beautiful salad we can enjoy while we catch up on life. Until then…sending you love.

  10. vj
    Posted September 7, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Hope to see you at the Vegetarian Fall Fair. Can this recipe be reduced for 2-4 servings? thanks,

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