Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Quinoa For Breakfast...Yes Quinoa

I keep reading healthy recipes and meal plans that use quinoa as the breakfast main. If you are like me, you picture quinoa as a substitute for rice or potatoes... with dinner. I have previously tried it as a breakfast 'cereal' but just didn't enjoy it until I decided to top it just like I would oatmeal.

After years and years of eating oatmeal this is a nice change. Oatmeal is amazing for you, but quinoa is a bit better. It is a balanced grain that contains a good amount of protein. If you don't know all the benefits take a look here for some no nonsense quinoa facts.

So I tried a recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow's new cook book and it turned out amazing. I will post that recipe tomorrow, but in the meantime you can cook it as you usually did. (Basically same way you cook rice.) I cook extra to last a few mornings. You can totally put any toppings on this and make it your own!

Walnut Banana Quinoa

Walnut Banana Quinoa

  • 3/4 cup perfect quinoa 
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 banana, cut into slices
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • drizzle of honey
* warm up quinoa with almond milk for about 1 minute (skip this step if making fresh)
* layer on the rest of the toppings and drizzle with honey

Ta-da!!! Yes it is that easy...and good!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Banana Muffins

Yes...I made banana muffins again! It seems to be a reoccurring theme around here. The reason why I make them so frequently is the kids devour them, there are so many variations (that make them taste totally different) and they can be made totally healthy and vegan or totally indulgent.

The following recipe is how I made them and everyone loved them. I have included in the brackets how you adjust the ingredients to yield a slightly more decadent cafe style banana muffin/cake. I always make my muffins in the mini cupcake pan so they are perfect for little hands, but you could easily make regular sized muffins or even a cake with this recipe. In addition to the mini muffins (you can see one in the picture below) I also made heart shaped muffins as well.

Banana Muffins

  • 4 large bananas (could use three for a milder taste)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar (1 cup for a sweeter muffin)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup margarine or bitter (1/3 cup for a richer taste)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
* Preheat oven to 350, grease muffin pan or line with liners
* Mash bananas then cream with butter, egg and sugar
* Add in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir till well combined
* Pour into tins and bake. Approx 15-17 mins for mini size, 20-22mins for regular and about 25-30mins for a cake. (as oven temps may very make sure to insert knife or toothpick if it comes out clean then this will ensure it is cooked all the way through) 

Shaped Pizza

Valentine's is usually a time when people go all out with dinner. Some people who never cook are suddenly inspired and attempt a 5 course meal or at the very least a fancy dessert. The other option is the over crowded restaurant. Seeing as I make dinner every single night of the week, from scratch, I thought Valentine's was the perfect day to make something a little different and get into the spirit of things.

This recipe is really more of a guide. Just like ordering a pizza you can put what ever toppings you enjoy on the pizza. A store bought crust is the perfect base for this dinner along with some salad and a dessert. Any shape pizza could be cut out of the crust but the large heart wastes the least crust and the mini ones maximize the crust as well.

Shaped Pizza
  • 1 store bought crust, cut into a large heart or into mini ones using a cookie cutter
  • tomato sauce, usually provided with crust
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • veggies of your choice
  • olives (optional)
  • meat choice (optional)
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove garlic
  • oregano to taste
*  Spread sauce in a thin even layer on the crust, we only use half the package
* Finely chop all vegetables and put in microwave safe bowl with butter and garlic, cook for 1-2 minutes, veggies should be slightly softened and dried (this prevents the crust from getting soggy, since when fresh veggies cook the release water)
* Put veggies on crust, with olives or any other toppings you choose, top with cheese. Alternatively you could put the veggies on top of the cheese, I just find the cheese on top prevents anyone from picking any veggies off and I think it tastes better
* Sprinkle with oregano 
* Bake in oven as package directs, usually 425 for 12 minutes

Friday, February 1, 2013

"Fresh" Dried Herbs

If you are like me you are always trying to infuse your meals with extra flavour but without extra salt, sugar and sauces laden with preservatives. Herbs are a great way of doing so. Although I prefer fresh herbs I find they always spoil before I can use the whole package. I do buy dried herbs from the local bulk store but sometimes they have a bland taste. I also wonder how long they have been sitting in the bins or jars.

Previous to making dried herbs the way I am going to share with you I always pictured having plates of herbs out drying for days or hanging from various spots in the kitchen. This is an easy way to get fresh dried herbs and know exactly what is in them. Best thing is there is no extra baking or time involved...just do the following steps next time you are already using your oven! I make my herbs after we have made muffins or cookies.

Dried Herbs
  • fresh herbs (mint, sage, rosemary, etc.), washed if needed and dried
  • spread out evenly on cookie sheet - I make aluminum foil dividers so I can put more than one herb on a sheet
  • place the sheets in heated oven - after shutting it off from your previous baking/cooking
  • leave overnight in the morning remove and place in Ziploc bag
  • gently shake in bag to crumble the leaves and for the leaves to follow off the stems, remove stems from bag
 That is can store your herbs in spice jars or leave in the bags. Now you know how to have fresh herbs that didn't involve extra electricity, time or weeks of waiting. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Egg "Muffins"

Kids seem to like anything they can pop into their mouth or eat with their hands. The below recipe is for easy eggs that taste great, are portable and are healthy. Swap any of the veggies listed for leftovers you have in the fridge. I always make a few extra and store them in an airtight container in the fridge, perfect for snacking or a quick protein source with toast or soup. This could easily be an appetizer for adults by adding smoked salmon!

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 c milk (sub in soy/almond etc.)
  • 1/4 c broccoli
  • 1/4 c mushrooms
  • 1/4 c shredded cheese (optional)
  • 5 olives diced
  • s & p to taste
* Preheat oven to 425F
* Whisk together eggs, milk and s & p
* You can saute the veggies in a little oil if you have time or nuke them for about 1 minute in the microwave. I find this makes them less liquidity when cooking in the oven. This step is unnecessary but one that I do recommend
* Add veggies to eggs, pour into greased or lined muffin pan and top with shredded cheese
* Cook for approx. 20 minutes for the mini muffins or 25 for the regular size. Prick with a knife when it comes out clean they are done


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Canada Day Weekend!

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians! Whether you are here or abroad I hope you enjoy the benefits of the long weekend!

With the holiday weekend it means fireworks and treats! Here are two that I know we will be enjoying whether it is while watching the fireworks or just relaxing with friends...who really needs an excuse! For the first one the boys and I made Homemade Caramel Corn (recipe here) and put it into cute little popcorn containers, that we picked up at Party Packagers.

Delicious Homemade Caramel Corn

Cute Red and White Maple Leaf Gummy Candies

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Granola Bars #2

If you tried the recipe we made here, you probably found them to be a cake like texture and quite moist. They were a hit with children and adults a like, but I wanted to created something a little more granola-bar like but with some nutritional value.

The best part about this recipe is instead of flour or any pre-bought flour substitute I ground oatmeal in the Magic Bullet. This is such a wallet friendly way of being able to use wheat free flour, if you are Gluten intolerant make sure your oatmeal says 'Gluten Free' right on the packaging. (If it doesn't, quite often it has been made in a facility that also makes wheat products.) You can use regular flour or one of your choosing as well.

You can put any dried fruit you desire in. We added diced dates and apricots, for extra fiber.
Yummy Granola Bars
  • 2 c. regular oatmeal
  • 1 c.  oatmeal, ground into flour
  • 1 pkg grits (or 1/4c. wheat germ + 1/4c. ground flax)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. diced apricots
  • 1/4 c. diced dates
  • 1/2 c. sweetened coconut
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1 egg, beaten (use egg replacement if you are vegan or allergic)
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 individual apple sauce (if you don't have this on hand use 1/2 c. oil)
* Preheat oven to 350
* Grease 9 x 13 pan
* Mix together oatmeal(s), grits, cinnamon, salt, stir well then add coconut, apricots and dates, stir well
* Add in honey, egg, oil and apple sauce, stir till all moist and press into pan, packing them down
* Cook for 30 minutes until slightly browned, remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes then cut. Don't let over cool or they may crumble when cutting

Monday, June 25, 2012

Protein Granola Squares

The following recipe was an attempt to find something similar to a granola bar, but a little bit more filling and healthier than the fructose ones that the stores sell. I find that by adding a little protein powder it makes the squares more filling and that much more healthy. It can be omitted though and the recipe would be equally as good. I used the vanilla one sold by Arbonne. 

I used Teff flour instead of all purpose flour to make it Gluten Free, but you could use regular flour if consuming wheat is not a concern. These were a hit so next time I will double the below recipe, as shown it made about 16 squares.
I made these thick so they are like squares
Protein Granola Squares
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup grits (or 1/4c wheatgerm + 1/4c ground flax)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Teff flour (or all purpose, whole wheat flour, etc.)
  • 1/3c raisins
  • 8 apricots, cut into raisin size pieces
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 c honey or maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp oil (I used olive oil, but any type would work)
  • 1/3 c apple sauce unsweetened (or one individual one)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 scoops Arbonne vanilla mineral powder (optional)
* Preheat oven to 350
* Grease 9x13 pan if you want thin, slightly crisper bars or a 9x9 if you want them with a more cake-like consistency
* Mix everything together adding liquids last (honey, vanilla, egg, apple sauce)
* Pat evenly into pan
* Bake for approx. 25 minutes until golden brown and cooked but still slightly soft. They will firm up when after cooling so you don't want them to be over cooked or they will become crispy
* Cool for 5 minutes then cut, make sure to cut them before they completely cool for greater ease