Cocoa-nana Cream Cheese Swirl Muffins (gf)

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I just created these as a handy snack for those of us trying to really keep processed sugar out of our diets. They turned out really well. I wrap them individually and freeze – just grab and go. Enjoy. (if not freezing, keep in fridge).

Cocoa-nana Cream Cheese Swirl Muffins

makes 12 regular sized muffins

Ingredients:

3 medium sized ripe bananas

1/3 cup coconut oil or butter, melted and cooled

1/4 cup real maple syrup

2 large eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup finely ground almonds (or almond meal or flour)

1/2 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (I use PC )

1/3 cup dutch-process cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

Cream Cheese Swirl Mixture:

4 oz cream cheese, softened (1/2 of a regular sized block)

1 tbsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a 12 cup muffin pan with muffin liners. Set aside.

In food processor pulse bananas until pureed.  Add coconut oil or butter, maple syrup, eggs and vanilla. Blend well.

In separate bowl, mix ground almonds, cocoa, flour,  baking powder and salt and when combined, add wet ingredient to this dry mixture and combine until well incorporated.  Fold in chocolate chips, if using.

Cream Cheese Mixture: Mix up cream cheese, maple syrup and vanilla.

In each muffin cup, place a heaping tablespoon of chocolate batter.  Using a small scoop or teaspoon, place about about a tbsp of cream cheese mixtue on top of chocolate batter.  Then place another blob of chocolate batter on top of the cream cheese and use a little spatula to spread over cream cheese mixture. (see photos for more insight).

Place into oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool. Serve.  Will keep for 3-4 days, covered in fridge. Wrapped individually in plastic wrap and frozen, will keep for 2 weeks.

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Homemade Hummus

 

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Homemade Hummus

Some simple ingredients are all you need to whip up this basic recipe for hummus.  You can adjust the flavour by adding more lemon juice, cumin, olive oil, smoked paprika…It’s delicious and healthy as a dip with veggies or pita, as a spread on a sandwich or wrap,  or even spread on a plate and topped with salad or curry.  Super versatile – don’t just think ‘dip’.

Hummus

adapted from the book Jerusualem

makes 4 cups

3 cups chickpeas (cooked or canned)

1 cup tahini

4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

4 cloves garlic

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup ice cold water

Method:

Drain chickpeas and place into food processor, blend until it forms a thick paste. Add tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Continue to blend, scraping down sides until mixed. Pour ice water through feed tube while leaving the processor to run for 5 minutes. Let hummus rest for 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Will keep for approx. 4 days in fridge.

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Homemade Hummus

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Homemade Hummus

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Fruity Breakfast Pilaf (made with steel-cut oats)

Fruity Breakfast Pilaf with pecans (optional)

Fruity Breakfast Pilaf with pecans (optional)

fruity breakfast pilaf

fruity breakfast pilaf

I love this recipe, not only because it’s delicious, but because of it’s make-ahead ability, ensuring you have a healthy, low-glycemic breakfast that really sticks to your ribs.  Steel-cut oats are used, making this recipe a lower glycemic option to flaked oats or instant oats. Remember, the more processed oats are (or grains in general),  the quicker they convert to sugar in your body. So, it takes some extra time to cook these oats (30 minutes), but when you make a batch large enough for 4 or 5 days, it’s not really that much of a time investment. Just reheat in the microwave and Bob’s yer uncle, as they say.  Feel free to change up the fruit and nut component to your liking. You can find steel-cut oats in every grocery store in the cereal aisle.  ***You can use any grain in this recipe (rice, millet, quinoa – just adjust the water amount and cooking time according to package directions).***

Fruity Breakfast Pilaf

adapted from VB6 by Mark Bittman

serves 6 

Ingredients:

1.5 tbsp cooking oil (I used coconut oil)

I 1/3 cups steel-cut oats

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp each nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger

2 tbsp real maple syrup

1/2 cup chopped pecans

2 cups berries, fresh or frozen (divided – 1 cup added at end of cooking)

4 cups water

Directions:

Put the oil in a large non-stick pan or medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.  When it’s hot, add the steel cut oats. Cook and stir for approximately 4 minutes until kernels are starting to colour and are well covered in oil. Add salt and spices, stirring until fragrant.  Add 4 cups of water, maple syrup and 1 cup of fruit. (I used blueberries). Stir, bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and let cook, stirring occasionally for about 25-30 minutes, until most of the water is absorbed and oat kernels are tender.

Uncover, and stir in remaining cup of fruit (I used raspberries) and serve with milk product of choice (very nice tasting with nut milk or coconut milk beverage) and additional nuts, if desired.  You can eat these without any milk product if you prefer.

If making ahead, let cool (covered) then place in a container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.  Reheat individual portions in microwave.

steel cut oats

steel cut oats

Saute oats in oil, add spices

Saute oats in oil, add spices

add water, syrup, nuts and fruit

add water, syrup, nuts and fruit

simmer, covered (stirring occasionally) for 25-30 mins

simmer, covered (stirring occasionally) for 25-30 mins

serve with milk product of choice and nuts (optional)

serve with milk product of choice and nuts (optional)

Walnut-Date Chews (gluten free)

Walnut Date Chews

Walnut Date Chews

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These are the best cookies if you want to avoid too many carbs, refined sugar, gluten, egg and dairy! Even if you aren’t avoiding these things, they are the best cookies. You know how after dinner you just want a little sweet? This fits the bill with absolutely no guilt and all pleasure.  It’s based on ‘bliss ball’ recipe but I’ve refined and adapted it to be even more blissful. I sometimes even crumble one on my yogurt in the morning.  They are a snap to make,  so get going.

Walnut-Date Chews

makes 16-20 cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups walnuts

1/3 cup dates, diced (make sure they are soft – reconstitute them with boiling water if they are hard )

2 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F.  Prepare baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper. Set aside.

Place walnuts in bowl of food processor and pulse 5 or 6 times until roughly chopped.  Sprinkle dates over top and pulse 5 or 6 more times.  Add vanilla, maple syrup, coconut oil and salt.  Continue to pulse until walnuts and dates are finely minced and a nutty ‘dough’ has formed.  You may have to take the top of and move the mixture around, pressing it down, then pulse a few times, then repeat until it’s evenly processed.

Using a 1 tbsp scoop,  scoop balls of nut mixture onto cookie sheet.  Shape into flat-topped circles.  If using, place 2 chocolate chips on each cookie. (just for fun and a little hit of chocolate–so good).  Cookies only need to be about an inch apart, you can fit them all on one sheet.

Place in preheated oven for 9 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Enjoy! Store in airtight container for 1 week, or freeze for up to a month.

process until fairly fine

process until fairly fine

these are the best dates

these are the best dates

1 tbsp of dough

1 tbsp of dough

bake at 350 for 9 mins

bake at 350 for 9 mins

 

YUM

YUM

 

 

 

 

Cranberry Lemon Ricotta Cake

Cranberry-Lemon Ricotta Cake

I couldn’t resist a basket of freshly harvested organic cranberries at the farmer”s market this morning.  Since I was making this ricotta cake today, I simply topped it with some of these tart little jewels. Check it out – this recipe is adapted from a traditional Italian recipe and I’ve modiified it so that it contains less sugar, spelt flour (which is a non-gmo ancient wheat grain), and  added a bit of vanilla.  So, the cake maintains it’s moist lemony goodness, but is Canadianized with cranberry and pear.   This will be really good for Thanksgiving dinner or  If you want an everyday cake to have on the counter for the weekend, or a birthday cake for a loved one or an excellent dessert for a dinner party – it’s really versatile because it’s just damn good.  The gluten-free version can be found here: GF Ricotta Cake,  You can also find a pictorial tutorial at that link if you have questions or need direction. Continue reading

Healthy Nutty Balls

Heathy Nutty Balls

Heathy Nutty Balls

 

I’m a confirmed cookie addict and since cookies make me fat, I was thrilled when my friend, Marleen, made these nutty balls at a luncheon at her house.  Since then, I’ve been experimenting with the recipe ratios and making various flavours of nutty balls.  They are a delicious yet healthy snack (and gluten free), and even if you eat three of them a day, you won’t gain weight! I know this from experience.  Also, I love how I can eat this and not feel guilty–it’s got lots of omega-3’s and fibre.   So, play around with different types of nuts, flavourings  and coatings.  Try adding dried fruit and or cocoa.  I don’t stray from the maple syrup as a sweetener– I just think it’s so much healthier for you than sugar.  So. If you want or love a sweet treat after dinner or at midnight, make a batch of these and keep them in the freezer– they are best served very cold. Cheers. 🙂 Continue reading

Salami & Cheese in Puff Pastry

Salami and Cheese in Puff Pastry

This is an easy and delicious snack you can make in no time with a few ingredients. What can be better than that? We ate ours with soup, but I can see this as a party snack or as a midnight munchie.  Thaw out your puff pastry in the fridge overnight (which you purchase in the  freezer section).  The sky’s the limit when it comes to the filling – but using spicy salami with a mild cheese and some dijon was well received when I made it.  The puff pastry really puffs up, so it’s very visually appealing as well.  Give this a try,  it’s great. Continue reading