Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Baking Round-up


It's been a few years since I did any serious Christmas baking. The main reason being that most of the treats are just not good for you. There's a lot of butter and sugar involved.

This year I took some vacation days the week before Christmas, and I was in the baking mood. I chose a few of my favourite recipes to make, and then packaged most of it up to give to family and friends. 

Here's my 2016 round-up.

Small Batch Brown Sugar Cookies (I added chocolate chips)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Melomakarona - Greek Christmas Cookies With Honey & Walnuts

It's been awhile since I had a christmas cookie baking fest. I have a few things planned for this year including these Greek Christmas cookies. These are not healthy at all, but they are very delicious. I made them 3 times last year because they were such a hit. For a vegan version, you may be able to use maple syrup in place of honey, but I haven't tried it.

Aren't they beautiful? The indents I made with the fork help the syrup absorb.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Dairy Free Ranch Dressing

I'm not crazy about green salads unless they're smothered in a creamy dressing. Creamy dressing doesn't have to be unhealthy! It doesn't have to have any dairy in it either.

You can adjust the amount of herbs and garlic to suit your tastes. I have also made this using parsley and dill. You could use chives or cilantro too. If you have a garden, let it inspire you.

I use it on salad or as a sauce for other things like falafel.

Chocolate Muffins with Banana and Sweet Potato

Here's an easy recipe for chocolate muffins. They make a quick breakfast for those mornings when you're running behind schedule. My kids LOVED these. I used a combination of sweet potato and bananas. If you don't have one, use the other, or mix them like I did. I had 2 small sweet potatoes leftover, and when I mashed them, it came to 1/4 cup. When I added a mashed banana, it was about 1 cup of mash total.

For the apple sauce, I like to buy those little snack cups that you might send to school with your kids. If I bought a jar of sauce, I'd never be able to use it up before it went bad.

I used Enjoy Life chocolate chips because they are dairy free and delicious. They're the only kind I buy now. They also sell chunks.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Raw Apple Crumble (gluten-free, refined sugar free, vegan)

Hello Friends!

This is my new favourite breakfast! It's easy to prepare, and it's delicious! It's also refined sugar free, gluten-free, and vegan. I made 2 servings last night. One for this morning and one for tomorrow morning.

I got the idea for this from my favourite juice place. I would love to stop by and buy breakfast every morning, but it's just not affordable. I decided to make my own instead.

You can play with the recipe a bit to see how sweet you want it to be. You can add more/less raisins or dates to suit your taste.

I used Sayer dates in this recipe. They are dry compared to Medjool dates, so they aren't as sticky when you add them to the food processor. I prefer Medjool dates for snacking and making raw energy balls. If yours have pits, you want to remove them. But you already knew that.

You can use any type of nut that you like. I prefer walnuts, almonds, or a mixture of both. Any nut should work. You could probably make it without nuts too.

Pair this up with cashew milk mixed with a bit of coffee, maple syrup and cacao, and you've got the perfect breakfast! Regular coffee also goes well with this recipe! I like cashew milk best because you don't have to strain it like you do with other nut milks. You just soak your cashews while you sleep, and blend them up with some fresh filtered water in the morning.

I use all organic ingredients when possible. At the very least, make sure the apples are organic. If not, you should peel them first.  Apples are one of the top items on the dirtydozen list. If you can't afford to buy everything organic, at least have a look at this list and prioritize your purchases.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Quick Avocado and Mango Salad

I put this together in just a few minutes. I always prefer salads like this over ones that have lettuce as the base. I'm not a huge fan of lettuce salads unless they're smothered in creamy dressing, and that kind of defeats the purpose of eating salad for the health benefits.

You could add black beans to this too.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Lazy Woman's Cottage Pie

We haven't seen any beef on this blog in a while. How about a little lazy woman's cottage pie?

Apparently there's a difference between cottage pie and shepherd's pie. One is made with beef, and the other with lamb. Normally I would call mine a shepherd's pie, but now that I know the truth, I have to call it what it is. It's cottage pie.

The good thing about this recipe is that you don't have to make mashed potatoes. That means you can eliminate butter and milk or cream from the recipe. You also don't need to make gravy. Normally I'd add some broth and then thicken it up with a flour mixture.

The only thing this recipe was missing is corn (organic of course). You could also add some organic mixed veggies. Frozen is easy. Get the mix with carrots, peas and corn. Always buy organic, especially for corn. Corn, soy and wheat are some of the GMO crops that are heavily sprayed with pesticides. It's very important to try and limit your pesticide exposure as much as possible.

The Environmental Working Group just came out with this year's Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists. If you feel that you can't afford to buy all organic, use these lists to prioritize your organic purchases.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Butter Chickpeas (Vegan)

Butter chicken was my favourite Indian dish. There's one place near me that serves theirs swimming in a glorious pool of tomato cream sauce. It's SO unhealthy, but SO delicious.

So I figured, if you can make butter chicken, then why not butter chickpeas? The fenugreek is optional, but it adds a special flavour. We can find it easily in Toronto. You can use a hot or mild chili powder, and cayenne depending on your tastes. If you don't have Earth Balance, you could use avocado oil (or real butter if you wish).

I just realized I don't actually know what's in my tandoori spice blend. I should probably find out before I continue using it. I may have to switch brands or make my own.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Dr Axe's Banana Bread (Gluten Free / Refined Sugar Free / Oil Free)

It's the perfect day for me to post this delicious gluten free and refined sugar free banana bread recipe from Dr. Axe. My husband was surprised when I told him there was no flour, sugar, or oil in this recipe. It's really that delicious! It's not vegan since it uses honey and eggs, but if you go to Dr. Axe's original recipe and read the comments, people offer some great suggestions for substitutions.

I divided the batter between 2 loaf pans, but if you want a taller loaf, just use one pan and cook it longer.

And just for fun, here's a link to a foodie holiday calendar so you can keep track.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Homemade Lotion (with coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter and essential oils)

In an effort to reduce my family's toxic load, I started using natural products around the home and for hygiene/beauty. If I can make something, I will try. This is my favourite recipe for home-made lotion. It's very easy to make and all the ingredients are natural. Essential oils have so many health benefits. If you have specific issues that you wish to address, do a little research and find out which oils would be beneficial for you to add to your lotion.

I love the smell of the frankincense oil. It's a little spicy and goes very well with the other oils I used. It took me awhile to add this one to my collection because it was on the pricier side (about $30), and it appears to be a popular one. I had to visit a few stores before I found a bottle. I ordered my butters from Canwax. It's a good source for Canadians to order supplies to make their own bath and beauty products. 

You can add whichever essential oils you like, just make sure they are pure oils. Essential oils can be expensive, but they are worth the investment. They last a long time depending on what you're using them for. I use Aura Caciaoils most of the time. They are available at the health store (Healthy Planet in Toronto), and on Amazon.

For this recipe I used the following essential oils.

anticancer, immune booster, good for pain and inflammation.
antioxidant, antibacterial, antidepressant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory.
antiseptic, anesthetic, antitumor, antiparasitic, antioxidant, wound healing.
antimicrobial, antioxidant, neurological health, manage diabetes.
antibacterial, antidiabetic, antifungal, gut health protection, cancer fighting.

Dr. Eric Zielinski knows all about essential oils. Visit his website to learn about the health benefits of each oil, and how to use them.  

I have a bowl, whisk and spoon specifically for making lotions and potions. You can purchase measuring tools if you wish, but I usually just eyeball the ingredients.

Friday, January 22, 2016

One Pot Pasta Alla Puttanesca

I'm playing catch-up here with all these pasta recipes. At this point, you may be thinking that I eat pasta every day. I don't!

This one is pretty awesome, especially since it's a one pot meal. Shannon suggested that we use whole wheat pasta since it thickens the sauce.

Be sure any canned products you use come in BPA free cans. If you can find these items in glass jars that would be better.

One Pot Pasta with Mushrooms & Eggplant (Vegan)

The Minimalist Baker is a pretty awesome place to visit if you're looking for plant based recipes.

This dish is so quick and easy that it could turn out to be one of your favourite week-night meals. You can use whatever kind of mushroom you have laying around. I had a lonely portabella that was begging to be eaten, so that's what I used.

The recipe called for ½ a small eggplant and 2 cups of sliced mushrooms, but since I didn't have enough mushrooms to make 2 cups, I used more eggplant. You can use whatever you've got.

My pasta was not as saucy as Dana's because I made the mistake of leaving the vegetables in the pot instead of removing them as her recipe suggested. It was very delicious though! If you want saucy pasta, remove the eggplant and mushrooms and set them aside once they're golden.

Vegan Mac & Cheese (made with potatoes and carrots)

The original recipe for this was posted on Buzzfeed back in September. Emily from This Rawsome Vegan Life made the recipe (with a few twists) and posted it on Facebook. I saw it and decided that I had to give it a try too. I only had 1 potato left though (the recipe called for 2), so I used a small sweet potato instead. It added a bit of sweetness to the recipe, which is fine with me! The second time I used all yellow potatoes. The flavour was slightly different, but equally delicious!

This does not taste like traditional mac & cheese, but it is very creamy and delicious! My 8 year old loved this dish!  My 5 year old did not.

Here's the one with all yellow potatoes.

Here's the one with sweet potato.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Roasted Red Pepper Mac & Cheese ( Vegan )

I used to love making macaroni and cheese back when I was eating dairy. Now I'm on the hunt for the best vegan mac & cheese recipes. None of them taste like traditional macaroni and cheese, but they are creamy and delicious, which gives you that feeling of comfort that you get from regular mac & cheese.

Here's a recipe I found on Kris Carr's website. It almost has a pizza taste to it. I like it! It's really creamy, and leftovers make a nice lunch the next day. I mixed the whole thing together and then just re-heated the rest the next day, but you could store the pasta and sauce separately if you wish.

You can start soaking your cashews in the morning so they're ready when you return home from work. I left out the garlic, but the original recipe has 2 cloves. Up to you. I also made my own little spice blend because I have no idea where to buy pizza spice mix.

I like to use kamut or brown rice pasta instead of the regular stuff, but any pasta would work. I also like to choose a shape that will hold the sauce, nothing too flat. Choose something with grooves or something twirly.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Lentil, Sweet Potato & Coconut Curry (Vegan)

This was one of the most delicious vegan recipes I've made so far. And it's too easy! It doesn't take long to put this together. I prefer the dried lentils over the canned ones, but I suppose you could use canned if you wanted to. Just skip the part where you boil the lentils for 20 minutes.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Avocado Toasts

Most mornings I eat an avocado on toast, topped with other good things. That's my favourite breakfast. The avocado takes the place of the boiled eggs that I used to love.

Avocados are very good for you. I love it when people tell me how avocados have too much fat in them, and then they go out and eat fries or a burger. Trust me, you're better off eating an entire avocado.

Avocados may have fat in them, but it's the good kind, and unlike fries, avocados also provide you with other nutrients that your body needs to function. Eat avocados!

Maple Cinnamon Chickpeas

Chickpeas make a great little snack for plant based humans, but dogs like them too. My dogs stuck their tongues in the bowl before I had the chance to really enjoy them. I only got a small handful. I was going to sit down with them and enjoy a nice movie, but it didn't happen. Never leave food unattended for even 3 seconds, when there are animals in the house.

**Do not throw away your canned chickpea liquid (aka aquafaba). You'll want to use it to make chocolate chip cookies later!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies II (Vegan)

I made my favourite cookies again last night, but I was out of all-purpose flour and aquafaba. I didn't want to open a can of chickpeas just to get 3 tablespoons of aquafaba, so I tried the recipe with a flax egg.

I managed to come up with a cup of flour by scraping the bottom of a few jars. Now I'm also out of whole wheat pastry flour and oat flour. Luckily I still had a bit of spelt flour. Anyway, the combination was equally as delicious as the original recipe, plus, oat and spelt flours are a bit better for you than all-purpose flour.

The cookies were still chewy and crispy, they just looked slightly different. 

Lentil & Kale Stew (Vegan)

Since I'm not eating meat anymore, you're going to see a lot of lentils and chickpeas around here. I eat salmon sometimes, but it's usually when I go out to restaurants.

I kept the flavours in this stew simple by using just salt, pepper and a pinch of rosemary.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Chickpeas & Greens (Vegan)

Every 2 weeks I get a box of organic produce delivered to my door by Organics Live. I put this little recipe together after receiving a box with leeks, kale, spinach and scallions.

There's a Persian dish called Kuku Sabzi, and that's where I took the inspiration for this dish. Kuku Sabzi is kind of like a frittata, and it's really delicious! It's basically eggs loaded up with all kinds of greens, walnuts and barberries. I made this without the eggs, and added chickpeas instead.

I didn't have any cilantro, but it would have been awesome in here too. if you have cilantro, add a handful to the recipe.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies (Vegan)

Friends, have you heard about aquafaba yet? It's the brine from a can of chickpeas (other beans work too apparently but I haven't tried). This brine is amazing! Whenever you eat chickpeas, save this incredible liquid in a little jar in your fridge. I only keep it for a few days, a week max. I don't know how long it's supposed to be good for, but so far I haven't died after using it up to a week later.

It's a fantastic egg re-placer and can even be whipped into a meringue for pies or cookies! Aquafaba is the egg re-placer in these cookies. There's a group on Facebook called "Aquafaba Everything". People post pictures of the wonderful things they've made, and there's also a section with recipes.

These are THE BEST cookies ever! And they are vegan! They're crispy, chewy and disappear within 24 hours. Definitely not something to make every day (vegan or not, sugar is sugar), but a nice treat once in a while.

You can do an all-purpose, whole wheat pastry flour mix if you don't mind the taste of whole wheat flour. I've made this recipe with each of them, and a mix of both. Always delicious! I haven't tried with other flours, but spelt seems to be a great one for baking. I like it in muffins and quick-breads anyway.

Whenever I'm trying a new recipe, I always like to make half of it to see how it goes. Some of the ingredients I use are a little more expensive than your conventional ones, and I don't want to have to throw them away if the recipe doesn't taste good. We shouldn't be throwing anything away anyway, but it hurts just a little more when you've paid more for vegan or organic ingredients.

You can use chocolate chips or raisins in this recipe. I do half and half because my husband likes his with raisins. These cookies turn out perfectly every time! The number of cookies will depend on the size of your cookie scoop. If you don't have a scoop, a teaspoon amount of dough should be a good size.

* You may also want to check out a different version of this recipe here. I used different flours and flax egg in that one.

Blueberry & Chocolate Chip Muffins (Vegan)

Hello friends! Merry Belated Christmas and Happy New Year!

I have been busy and haven't had time to blog, but I will try a bit harder this year.

I ate a few things over the holidays that I shouldn't have, but I survived.

My 5 year old was bugging me for 3 days to let her bake. I felt like having a blueberry muffin anyway, so we made some easy muffins.

I split the batter in half so we could make half blueberry and half chocolate chip.  I used frozen blueberries which made the batter thicken a bit (the coconut oil probably started to firm up), so I added a splash  more milk to that bowl at the end. If you use fresh blueberries this may not happen, so use your judgement to decide if you need a little extra milk or not. You should also make sure your milk isn't too cold. Cold milk will cause your coconut oil to harden. The batter shouldn't be too thick, it should be the same consistency you'd get from a boxed cake mix batter.

You could probably use all-purpose flour in this recipe, but spelt and oat flours both make delicious muffins and are better for you.

This is a great base muffin recipe. You could really add anything you want. How about some nuts, or cranberry and lemon zest?

I apologize for the terrible photos.

Blueberry Muffin. 
The kids mixed the batter and it turned purple.