Sunday, December 29, 2013

your (chocolate) - and eat it too



We all know the adage about having cake - that one cannot have the best of everything, or at least everything one wants. Most of the time that is sadly all too true but every once in a while, maybe only one time out of a million, you get to have your cake and eat it too. This is one of those times.

I wasn't planning to blog this up today. Someday because it is certainly something to share but not Today because (as the photos attest) I just wasn't prepared. But as I was enjoying my snack of apple and chocolate, reading and relaxing for the first time in many days, I realized I simply couldn't not. Something so fast, delicious, and healthy demands some press. Now.

I must give credit where credit is due and it is due here - this is an invention of Eden's. She is currently adhering to a very strict diet in an attempt to right a few health wrongs she has been suffering. Sugar of any variety - natural, unrefined or otherwise (except what occurs naturally in fruit) - is definitely not on the plan. She is for sure my daughter though and no treats make a very sad girl, especially during this festive season when we are all eating our heads off. She was craving a treat one day, looked at what was 'allowed' and what was in her cupboard and this concoction was born. Made of coconut oil, raw cacao, a little sea salt and some spice there is nothing in here that is not plain awesomely healthy. I will add here that I was sceptical about how delicious it could be without even a drop of sweetener; after one taste I was converted.

We love this exactly as is but we are big fans of richly deep dark chocolate. If you find it is not sweet enough to qualify as a treat just add a little honey or maple syrup to taste. I would start with a teaspoon of either - if I was going to mess with what I figure is pretty perfect :)

Coconut oil is incredibly 'responsive' to room temperature. Today room temperature is a little on the cool side so what remains of my chocolate 'dip' is more like fudge than a dip. No matter, it works for me. I could have warmed it in a little bowl of warm water for a minute but I just wanted my apple slices and some chocolate asap.

We have tried two flavour options thus far - vanilla, cinnamon, and sea salt or cayenne pepper, ginger, and sea salt. Can't say which I prefer. A slice of apple, an orange section, a strawberry or pear, all those have accompanied a smear of coconut oil and cacao on the slide to my tummy.

eden's coconut-cacao dip

3/4 cup virgin coconut oil
3/4 cup raw cacao
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp grey sea salt
1 tsp true ground cinnamon

Using a spoon blend the ingredients together into a smooth paste.

Store in a covered jar. (But it won't need to store long. Promise.)

Eden makes her 'treat' in individual size batches but being the lazy cook I am and knowing that I/we would want a very ready treat I made a larger batch. Even at that, we might have enough for the rest of the day. It was certainly nice to pull it out for a snack with my read this afternoon.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

banana chocolate supermuffins




I am revisiting one of the very first recipes I posted when I started this blog. Seems fair enough to me - I receive constant notifications of updates to apps and software. The reason for the revisit is valid and not simple laziness. I have learned a lot about what is good and what is not (the pendulum will keep swinging) in terms of nutrition and have accordingly made changes to the original recipe. I didn't realize how changed it had become until I was making them with someone and they pointed out that what I was doing was not what I had written and why had I not told them!? The changes are small but add up to a much better muffin - in fact these muffins are so loaded with incredible power morsels as well as being extra-ordinarily delicious that the name simple begged to be upgraded to 'supermuffin' (power muffin being over-used and sadly inadequate).

These muffins are not cupcakes masquerading as a healthy snack. They are moist and thickly studded with chia, hemp and flax seeds snuggled up right next to rich dark chocolate and chopped pecans - more dense than light but a long way from being a dry and tasteless doorstop.

If gluten-free is important for you it is easy and successful to replace the spelt flour with your favourite gluten-free mix. When doing that I prefer a whole grain gluten-free flour* mix because just substituting an empty of nutrition gf mix for a nutritionally superior (even if it is not tolerated) sprouted whole wheat or spelt flour seems like a bad deal to me. 

Let your bananas get nice and freckled before baking them into supermuffins - or anything else for that matter - the taste is so much sweeter and richer.


banana chocolate supermuffins

1 1/4 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup sprouted whole grain spelt flour (substitute gluten-free flour here if you wish)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup chia seed
1/4 cup hemp seed hearts
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup agave syrup (or honey)
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 cups good quality dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F. Whisk together oatmeal, flour, flaxseed, chia seed, hemps seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and pecans. Combine eggs, yogurt, bananas, oil, and syrup. Fold into dry ingredients and add chocolate chips. Bake in greased muffin tin at 375 F for 22 minutes. Makes 12 large muffins.

Update: we have found we love these baked as mini-muffins. The recipe as written makes 48 mini-muffins. They freeze beautifully and are actually super good frozen. (Maybe a little odd? Give 'em a try before you judge.) The mini size is often just the perfect bite for when you want something to feel a gap or need a bit of energy. Also perfect for tiny hands.

Note: I make my own blend of flours. This is the mix I use. It can be substituted cup for cup for all purpose flour.

whole grain gluten-free flour mixture
200 gm brown rice flour
150 gm sorghum flour
50 gm almond flour
50 gm potato flour
250 gm sweet rice flour
150 gm arrowroot
150 gm potato  starch

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

a breakfast bowl passion




Unless you are totally new to this blog you are by now well aware of how I feel about the first meal of the day. I am pretty passionate about it - because I am really ready to eat after a long night, it is nutritionally critical, and I just like the things I eat for breakfast. I tend to be a creature of habit (at least first thing in the morning) and love the comfort of familiar favourites for breakfast, so to add a new item to the lineup is tough. It means bumping an old friend or at least not enjoying it as often. One can only eat so much for breakfast!

Last month when I was in Vancouver helping with setting up LITCHFIELD I did not have the leisure to cook the old standbys. I was not in my own kitchen with my well stocked pantry right at hand and I didn't have much time to cook anyway but I still wanted/needed to eat a healthy and sustaining breakfast. This pretty breakfast bowl was born of that desire. It has quickly become a frontrunner in the favourites race. Fast and easy to put together and ultra adaptable it is the perfect breakfast for this (or any other) particularly busy time of year. It is loaded with superfoods and wise nutrition choices, tastes great, and is pretty enough to sit and gaze at …. if you have the time.

I like to use a combination of berries and another fruit (whatever is in season or on sale). Berries can be costly out of season but frozen berries work very well here and are almost always affordable. Sometimes I add chopped nuts but other times not. I like a half teaspoon of ground cinnamon most mornings but it is equally good without. The amounts suggested are what I use when I make a bowl for myself - you may like more or less of any one thing. Just to note: I do eat a hearty portion at breakfast time.

a pretty breakfast bowl

1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup blueberries
1/3 cup pomegranate arils (or half a pear chopped … )
3 Tbsp hemp hearts
1 tsp fresh bee pollen
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp cacao nibs
handful of broken pecan pieces

Layer the ingredients in a bowl, stir to combine, and enjoy.