Category Archives: Cooking/Recipes

Fudgy, Gluten-Free, Honey-Sweetened, Brownies

Gluten-Free Brownie

Ever since I started eating chocolate again, I have been on the search for a healthy brownie option.  Not that I don’t love traditional brownies, because I certainly do!  But I know all of that white sugar and white flour is not the best thing for my body, so I began to do some recipe searching and experimenting.

In the last several years I have made black bean brownies (yum!) chick pea brownies (not so good) and numerous variations with multiple flours and natural sweeteners.

But these are, hands-down, the BEST brownie I have tried.

Gluten-free, they get their fudgie texture from avacados.  Not that you would know they are in there!  The original recipe called for one cup of white sugar, which I quickly subbed for honey and after a few trials came up with these yummy treats.

Ready to begin?

Fudgy Avacado Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs (or 3 egg whites and one full egg)
  • 1/2  - 2/3 cup honey  (1/2 cup is mildly sweet,  2/3 is as sweet as you would expect a brownie to be)
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup almond meal (or whole almonds and a food processor or high-powered blender)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe avocados

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease an 8×8 pan.

If you don’t have almond meal, it’s really easy to make your own in a food processor or high-powered blender.  Simply place whole, natural, almonds in and whiz until they turn to fine crumbs.

Almond Meal

Beat the eggs well.  Mix with the honey until very well combined.  I mixed mine in my new Vitamix (I LOVE that thing!) but it’s just as easy to do with a mixer or a strong arm. :)

Eggs in the Vitamix Add Honey

Using the Vitamix as a mixer

Melt the chocolate chips and add to the egg mixture.

Melted Chocolate

Stir in everything else but the avocados.  If you are using your blender, this is a good time to pour out the ingredients into a bowl.  Once the avocados are added things get really thick and it’s a bit of a job to get everything to mix and then scrape everything out of a blender.  (Speaking from experience!)

Gluten Free Brownies

Mash the avocados well until there are absolutely no lumps.  (I ran them through the Vitamix with a little of the batter to keep things moving until they were really smooth.  A food processor would work well too.)

Avocados

Fold the avocado into the chocolate mixture.  Pour into the pan.  Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Eat, and enjoy!

Fudgy Avacado Brownies
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16
 
Ingredients
  • 3 eggs (or 3 whites and one full egg)
  • ½ – ⅔ cup honey
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe avocados
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8×8 pan.
  2. If you don’t have almond meal, it’s really easy to make your own in a food processor or high-powered blender. Simply place whole, natural, almonds in and whiz until they turn to fine crumbs.
  3. Beat the eggs well. Mix with the honey until very well combined. I mixed mine in my new Vitamix (I LOVE that thing!) but it’s just as easy to do with a mixer or a strong arm. :)
  4. Melt the chocolate chips and add to the egg mixture.
  5. Stir in everything else but the avocados. If you are using your blender, this is a good time to pour out the ingredients into a bowl. Once the avocados are added things get really thick and it’s a bit of a job to get everything to mix and then scrape everything out of a blender. (Speaking from experience!)
  6. Mash the avocados well until there are absolutely no lumps. (I ran them through the Vitamix with a little of the batter to keep things moving until they were really smooth. A food processor would work well too.)
  7. Fold the avocado into the chocolate mixture. Pour into the pan. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

What recipes have you been experimenting with lately?

Parsnip and Apple Muffins – Yum!

This is a picture I took late one frosty November evening after I completed the final fall harvest.  Carrots, parsnip and salsify.  And yes, that is quite a bit of parsnip.  And yes, some of them seem to be monstrous in size. (I couldn’t wrap my hand around a few of them!)  And no, hubby does not like parsnip and with its distinctive flavour it is a hard vegetable to hide.  Trust me.  I’ve tried.

So I gave some away to some parsnip-loving friends, and still my fridge drawer is full.  I love them roasted in the oven with a little olive oil, garlic and spices.  But there is only so much parsnip a girl can roast!

Enter parsnip muffins.  I found a great recipe through Whole Foods, and then, of course, I changed it.  My version is made with a mix of whole wheat and spelt flours, uses butter instead of oil, and honey instead of sugar.  And they are yummy.  Spiced like carrot cake, moist, but not too moist, with the sweetness of raisins and the heartiness of nuts.  If you don’t have parsnips, I am sure you could substitute carrot and still have stellar results.

 

Parsnip and Apple Muffins  

Makes 18 muffins

  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1 cup whole white flour
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup almond milk (or any milk)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 parsnips, peeled and grated
  • 1 large apple, peeled and grated (without the core, of course!)
Roast nuts at 350 until browned and fragrant, about 8 minutes.  Let cool and chop.

Grease muffin pans or line with paper liners.  Combine flours with baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.  Stir in raisins and nuts.  In separate bowl combine eggs, melted butter, milk, honey and vanilla.  Add into flour mixture along with parsnip and apple.  Stir until just mixed.

Fill muffin tins and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

What vegetables do you have to find creative uses for?

 

Dark Chocolate Pudding made with Coconut Milk and Honey

One of the benefits of all of the crazy things that have been going on with my health lately is that I have discovered  that I no longer have an allergy (or at least a reaction) to chocolate.

This is one thing that has been fun to add back to my diet (in small amounts of course) and I am enjoying being able to try out some new recipes that I would have had to pass by only a few short months ago.

But I am still eating mostly dairy-free, and now that I have managed to go several months without refined sugar I am reluctant to fall back on baking or cooking with it.

Enter Dark Chocolate Pudding made with coconut milk and honey.  Dairy free, and free of refined sugar.

This is a very rich pudding, slightly bitter, and full of dark chocolate flavour.  The original recipe called for just 2 tablespoons of honey, but I added a couple more for a slightly sweet dessert.  Hubby added spoonfuls of sugar and a drizzling of chocolate sauce to his bowl and it still wasn’t to his liking, so this might be one for dark chocolate fans only!

Dark Chocolate Pudding made with Coconut Milk and Honey

The original recipe comes from this cookbook .

  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate (I used an organic dark chocolate bar)
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 2 large egg yolks
Combine the first three ingredients with a few tablespoons of coconut milk and whisk together.  Heat the rest of the coconut milk over medium heat until simmering.  Stir in the chocolate until melted, then whisk in the cocoa powder mixture.  

Whisk egg yolks.  Pour in a small amount of the hot coconut milk mixture, whisking continuously, then pour the eggs into the pot and continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth and it coats the back of a spoon.  (I use a candy thermometer to make sure the pudding has reached at least 160 degrees to kill any bacteria that might be hiding in the egg yolks.)

Pour into ramekins or small bowls, place a piece of plastic wrap against the surface so it doesn’t form a skin, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Enjoy!


 

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies

I LOVE these cookies. I love what they don’t have in them (no oils, no refined sugar, no dairy, wheat) and I love what they do have in them (oats and spelt and honey and peanut butter), but most of all I just love them because they taste good. And Hubby gives them the thumbs up too, which is saying a lot for a generally healthy cookie.

They are based on this recipe, but adapted to exclude wheat and dairy.   The original recipe calls them “breakfast cookies” but I think they make a yummy dessert or snack too.  And change up the nut butter, the dried fruit, and the liquid and the possible variations are endless! (How about cashew apple raisin?  Or almond orange cranberry?)

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1/2 cup mashed banana
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1  tbsp almond milk (or other liquid)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour (or other flour)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup raisins (or other dried fruit)

Combine the banana, peanut butter, honey, vanilla, and almond milk until smooth.  In a small bowl, stir together oats, flour, cinnamon and baking soda and then combine with the peanut butter banana mixture.  Fold in raisins.

Drop spoonfuls onto greased or parchment-lined pans, and flatten with a wet spatula.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Cool on wire racks.

Enjoy!

 

 

Applesauce Muffins – Gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and honey-sweetened

 

I am slowly getting the hang of this new way of eating.  One of my friends said to me the other day that watching me do this has made her more aware of just how much wheat she eats.  All I can say is, me too.  Bread, muffins, biscuits, cookies, fruit crisp, cake, oh how I miss my baking!

I have also discovered that there is definitely a learning curve to baking without wheat.  Especially when you also aren’t eating eggs.  But…ta-da!  Some moist, delicious, yummy, muffins!  The inspiration came from here.  I used ground flax instead of eggs and after reading a lot about guar gum and xanthan gum I have decided they aren’t something I want to add into my diet.  But chia seeds to the rescue!  I read here that you can substitute chia (or ground flax) for gums – hooray!  And so, muffins are back into my life!  I made this batch with raisins and almonds, but think I might experiment with some fresh fruit for the next batch.

Applesauce Muffins

  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 water
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of ground flax seed mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons of water
  • 1/2 tsp chia seed mixed with 1 1/2 tsp hot water
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 cup nuts or seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit
Combine oil, applesauce, honey, water, flax and chia mixtures (this is very easy to do in a measuring cup!)  In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients.  Stir the wet mixture into the flour mixture until moistened.  Fill 6 greased muffin cups with batter and bake at 350 for 20 – 25 minutes, or until done.  Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack.  
Enjoy a happy snack!

Make Your Own Baked Tortilla Chips

As I am working at adjusting to this new way of eating, there are certain foods I crave more than others.  Nachos is one of them.  Crispy tortilla chips, topped with spicy beans, salsa, veggies, laden with cheese and baked in the oven until it becomes a hot, melty mess.  Yum.

But nacho chips are not on my list of acceptable foods at the moment.  (and please, let’s not even talk about cheese, ok?)

So imagine my excitement when I learned I could make my own, healthier, baked version of this favourite food!  (Insert dance of joy!)

This is so easy to do, and unlike some “healthier” substitutes, it does not taste like a poor version of the real thing, but has the same great corn crunch as the orginal.

Ready to see how easy this is?

Baked Tortilla Chips

First, you need corn tortillas.  If you are lucky, you can buy these at your local supermarket.  If you are even luckier, you can buy sprouted corn tortillas at your supermarket or health food store, which are even better for you.  Not being able to find either, I, of course, learned how to make my own.  (This is also ridiculously simple – I promise I’ll share the recipe later, but if you can’t wait to make your own I found the recipe on my bag of Maseca – the flour the tortillas are made from)

Heat your oven to 375.  Use a pizza cutter to cut your tortillas into quarters.

Toss with olive oil and herbs or spices of your choice. (I used chipotle chili, garlic, and a sprinkle of salt.)

Lay out the tortillas in a single layer on a baking pan.

Bake for about ten minutes, or until crispy.  (Thicker tortillas may take longer.)

Done!  Cover with your favourite nacho toppings and enjoy!

That bright orange processed-looking cheese is actually a sauce made from cashews and roasted red peppers and it is delicious.  You can find the recipe here (this was my inspiration for baked tortilla chips, too!)

Any other nacho fans out there?  What are your favourite toppings?

 

Adventures in Allergy-Free Eating

Ever been sick and not known why?

Ever have a doctor tell you that since your blood work came back normal, you must be feeling fine?

Ever try to keep yourself really busy as a way to cope with constant pain that people in the medical field try to tell you doesn’t really exist?

This has been my life, on and off, since I was ten years old and caught my first “mystery illness.”  I still remember being awake late at night, with my stomach in knots and the room dipping and swaying as if I were on a boat in the ocean instead of in my bedroom.  And my mother read “Little Women” to me until I could finally escape into sleep.  No doctor we went to had any answers for us and we “waited it out” until months later the stomach cramps stopped and my bed was no longer a dipping and swaying yacht.

Fast forward 6 years and once again I was plagued by tummy troubles, insomnia, and nausea.  I missed a lot of school that year.  I saw a lot of doctors that year.  I read books on IBS.  I cut out dairy, then eggs, then red meat.  I learned how to stay really busy as a way to work through pain.  I learned to function on less sleep.  I finally cut out all meat and ate as a vegan vegetarian for many years.  I have experienced the easing of some symptoms, and then new ones appear.

It’s a roller coaster I don’t want to ride any more.

So I have taken matters into my own hands, and switched my MD for an ND (naturopathic doctor).  Although not covered by my health plan, it was worth every penny to have someone actually listen to what I had to say, look at all my symptoms together, and come up with a plan of action.

Which brings me to why I am posting about this here.  Because one of the action steps was to change drastically how I eat.  No more dairy.  No more wheat.  No more eggs.  No more refined sugars.  No processed foods.  No oils from nuts or seeds. And although at the moment this is a “for now” diet, and not a “forever” diet, it has certainly dictated the kinds of recipes I have been trying out lately and the kinds of foods coming out of my kitchen.  And I have been spending A LOT of time in the kitchen.

Spicy Bean and Quinoa Burger on a lettuce “bun.”

 

But it is not all a “no” diet.  It means yes to whole foods.  Yes to grains like rice and millet and quinoa.  Yes to fruits and veggies.  Yes to nuts and seeds and legumes.  Yes to coconut and olive oils.  Yes to honey and maple syrup.  Yes to trying fish, and grass-fed lamb, and duck, maybe even bison.  And although I do still sometimes stare at the fridge and wonder what I am possibly going to eat, for the most part there have been more cooking successes then failures, and, of course, I will be sharing my new culinary adventures with you.

For all those times I wanted to go sugar-free and failed, for years of trying to eat only whole, real foods, this has been trial by fire.  No easing in.  But it’ll be worth it.

So…are you ready to get creative in the kitchen this summer?  Here’s to healthy eating!

Fresh Thai Green Curry with vegetables and almonds over rice noodles

More Yummy Pinterest Recipes

As we are coming to the end of my Pinterest experiment I found I still had a lot of random photos of recipes I have tried, but that do not necessarily lump together well as I have done in other Pinterest posts.  So, in no particular order, here is some more Pinterest recipe love:

Skillet Lasagna

Considering how labour intensive lasagna making can be, this was quite easy.  I used cottage cheese instead of the Ricotta, and regular cheeses instead of the skim versions, but other than that made the recipe as written. It cooked quickly enough to be a week-might meal, and will definitely grace our dinner table again!

Pinned Here              Blogged Here

Taco Seasoning

The taco seasoning we used to buy at the grocery store was full of ingredients I could not pronounce (always a sign that something isn’t quite “real” food.)  So when it comes to seasoning meat or tofu for our favourite Mexican meals, I always make my own seasoning.  But having lost the recipe I was using (I am sure I put it somewhere “safe”) I quickly turned to Pinterest for a new one.  I liked this mix and will use it again!

Pinned Here            Blogged Here

Sourdough Burger Buns

I have been wanting to make my own burger buns for a while.  And I am always looking for uses for my sourdough starter.  In comes this recipe.  I actually have made this one twice.  The first time the buns were absolutely perfect. The second time they were a little crumbly.  But both times they tasted good – even Hubby ate them!

Pinned Here             Blogged Here

Raspberry Oatmeal Smoothie

I have become an oatmeal smoothie convert.  And the raspberry flavour is wonderful in this version.  I made mine with almond milk in place of the coconut water.  And I’ve been making variations on this recipe ever since….

Pinned Here            Blogged Here

Pineapple Coconut Popsicles

This was a bit of a vague recipe (how large a can of coconut or pineapple chunks?) but I just kind of threw things together and poured them in popsicle molds (and the leftover mix I put into a smoothie – yum!).  Both Hubby and I have been enjoying them on the hot sunny days we have been having.

Pinned Here             Blogged Here (scroll down to find the recipe for the popsicles)

Grain Free Brownies

Although I do not eat chocolate, Hubby does and loves it.  So a while back I started testing out some healthier versions for him.  This was the winner.  The base is black beans, but with all of the chocolaty goodness in there, you would never know. They are definitely better the second day (otherwise Hubby says they taste a bit “eggy”) and Hubby prefers them cold from the fridge.

Pinned Here             Blogged Here

That’s it!  I am going to reorganize my pin boards so that the recipes I have tried have their own boards, which will hopefully make them easier to find.  And then I will know what I still have yet to try…..

For the next three weeks, in the interest of improving my health,  I am going to be eating meat-free, dairy-free and wheat-free.  Anyone know of some great vegan and wheat-less recipes I should try?

 

“Pinterest”ing Sauces and Beverages

I am having so much fun working my way through my Pinterest boards.  The only problem is, just when I think I’ve made it through a whole bunch of them, I pin more!

Today I am going to share with you some of the sauces and drinks I have been experimenting with lately.  And this time – not one pin to remove from my pin boards!  That’s right, every single sauce and drink recipe I have tried so far is a keeper!  Go to love it when that happens! :)

Strawberry Lemonade

Sweetened with Stevia, this is a healthy, sugar-free drink for a hot summer day.  Both hubby and I loved it.  It was a little on the sour side after following the recipe (my frozen berries are a little bitter) but an extra bit of Stevia solved the problem.  I will be making this all summer long!

Pinned Here       Blogged Here

Sore Throat Tea

I often make a honey and lemon “tea” to soothe a sore throat, but had never thought to add cinnamon, ginger and mint.  I actually didn’t have any cinnamon on hand, but even the addition of the fresh ginger and a handful of mint from the garden added a little extra dimension to this already soothing drink.

Pinned Here      Blogged Here

Awesome Sauce

OK…that’s not its real name.  But hubby and I renamed it as its given name includes a word we try not to use in daily conversation.  Whatever you call it, it’s good.  There are two versions, the original and a chipotle.  I am partial to the heat and smokiness of the chipotle, hubby prefers the original.  Either is beautiful over a bowl of rice and veggies, or as a topping for a quinoa burger.

Original Pinned Here      Original Blogged Here          Chipotle Pinned Here      Chipotle Blogged Here

Peanut Sauce 

Many of you already know that my beloved hubby is not a big fan of vegetables.  I am discovering, though, that if I can find the right sauce, it makes a lot of the veggies I love to eat more palatable to him.  This thick, nutty, and slightly spicy peanut sauce had him eating rice, kale and green beans and loving it!  I would say it is a winner!    I found it took quite a bit more water than the recipe stated, and it was still a little thick, but I know I will be making this again and again.

Pinned Here      Blogged Here

Catalina Dressing

We enjoy a good taco salad around here.  And our recipe calls for Catalina dressing.  So when I saw this recipe for Catalina dressing, created by someone trying to please her husband’s fondness for a traditional taco salad, I knew I wanted to give it a try.  The photos I took were fuzzy, but the dressing (and salad) were a hit!

Pinned Here      Blogged Here

 

What have you been cooking (or pinning) lately?


Want to learn more about healthy eating? Count me in!

For those of you who have been around this blog for a while, you will know how passionate I am about eating healthy.

 

You will also know that I am always learning more.

And if you’ve known me even longer than that you will know that I was a strict vegan vegetarian for many years, both as a way to stay healthy and to avoid some debilitating food sensitivities.

But it is easy to get off track.  Easy to get back into bad habits.  Easy to let convenience or speed take precedence over health.  (But when we are sick all the time, or our bodies are tired and run down, have we really saved ourselves any time?)

I have been in the downward spiral of health before, the one where we take pills and antibiotics that help at the moment, but the root causes still remain and wellness eludes us.

So I recognize when it starts to happen.  And I know I need to get back on track.

Isn’t it amazing when you have decided something for yourself, and all of a sudden things come into your life to confirm and help you in your goals?

This morning, reading through my favourite blogs on Google reader, I find this post on why it is important to listen to your body on a blog I only recently discovered.

Then I learn that Meghan Telpner is finally going to be offering an e-course!  Meghan is a holistic nutritionist and her blog is full of healthy tips and recipes.  She is the reason I started drinking green smoothies, and her recipe page is full of healthful recipes – even for yummy (but healthy) treats!  Her course offerings have often made me wish that I still lived close to Toronto, where they are held.

But her e-course launches on Monday! A course devoted to healthy eating made easy.  And you can even enter to win a spot on her blog!

And then, in following a link from that blog, I discovered another one, with another treasure trove of recipes and I am now like a kid at Christmas.  Because I get excited about things like healthy recipes!  And I know that excitement will help me to make the changes and adjustments I need to be healthy again.  And to add icing to the cake (make that yogurt icing sweetened with a hint of maple syrup) she is also hosting a giveaway for a chance to win a spot in Meghan’s class.

And so it seems I have no more excuses!  And with fresh veggies starting to grow in the garden, what better time to find new and exciting (and hopefully tasty!) ways to use them?

How about you?  How do you keep on track with eating and living healthfully?

 

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