Sunday, 12 January 2014

Saucy Quinoa-Squash Wraps for the New Year

Ever since I returned from my three week long winter holidays overseas, I have been craving fresh vegetables like crazy. 

On vacation (like most people), I ate a ton more starch than normal with a diet heavy on delicious gluten-free perogies and potato dumplings, but quite low on green vegetables. As a result, my body is now crying out for a reset and a return to lush veggies and simple, but satisfying meals.
Its been hard to fit in experimentation in the first week back to work (I tend to subsist more on hearty salads than anything else) so I had to wait until the weekend to make these.

I have to say that they are worth the wait.

These wraps are filled with flavours: sweet cranberries and roasted squash, toasty sunflower seeds, and sultry sundried tomatoes all in one pretty package.

I was planning on using collard greens in place of wraps but had surprise company last minute and decided on serving something more substantial instead. I tried these (to the right) coconut wraps for the first time and they were pretty awesome (they did not toast well however - so if you go this route forgo toasting your wrap)! 

In the new year, I will be focusing on eating fresh, simple foods.  Real food tastes amazing and doesn't have to be complicated :)

Happy New Year Everyone!  
Saucy Quinoa-Squash Wraps

Wraps of choice

Sundried Tomato, Sunflower Sauce:
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes (dried, soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes)
3 tbsp water reserved from soaking sundried tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp ginger grated
1 tbsp sunflower seed butter

To make sauce:
  1. Blend all ingredients in a mini food processor until smooth.
  2. Add more water if needed.

1 cup quinoa (soaked in water for at least 30 minutes)
1/2 cup coconut milk (canned)
1 1/2 cup butternut squash, diced in 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup Kale, shredded
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
olive oil 

To make filling:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cook quinoa according to package directions, replacing 1/2 a cup of required water with coconut milk (I usually use a 2:1 ratio of liquid to quinoa and cook covered for an initial 15-20 minutes before turning off heat and letting stand covered for an additional 15 minutes).
  3. Toss butternut squash in 1 tsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
  4. Spread evenly on a baking tray and bake an initial 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, massage shredded kale with 1/2 tsp olive oil and 1/4 tsp salt.
  6. Remove squash from oven and turn cubes over so they bake on both sides. Add kale to baking tray and bake for an additional 8 minutes.
  7. Mix all filling ingredients together.
 To assemble:
  1. Toast wrap if desired
  2. Spread sauce over middle portion of wrap
  3. Add filling over sauce
  4. Roll up and serve

Sunday, 22 December 2013

A long awaited update and some banana bread

In between starting a new job and life in general there hasn't been a whole lot of time for blogging. There has indeed been experimentation in the kitchen, some holiday baking and delicious recipes all around, but I admit that I haven't found the time to snap the right shots or take proper notes to share with you.

On vacation now in Poland and things have slowed down considerably. It is a lot harder to find the flours I'm used to and so I have had to do a ton more experimentation. Today I made a tasty banana loaf filled with pistachio nuts and chunks of chocolate. I admit that I have been cheating and added eggs back in to my diet while here in Poland. So far, I haven't experienced any ill effects, but I will try this with a flax seed egg when back in Canada and see how it holds together.

I didn't have measuring cups available to me so these measurements are eyeballed, but the results were so good I had to share right away. I will try to test this again and update with any changes when I am back in Canada.

Buckwheat-Amaranth Banana Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix together dry ingredients:
1/2 cup amaranth flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix together wet ingredients in the following order:
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup olive oil
2 bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla

Mix wet ingredients thoroughly with dry

add in:
~1/4 cup chopped pistachios
50 grams of dark chocolate (or more to taste), chopped coarsely

Bake for 35-40 minutes

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Protein Packed Peanut Butter Squares!

Since learning I can no longer eat almonds, I have been forced to give up my favourite protein bars of all time - the Elevate Me Bar. I used to take these bars tucked in my purse whenever I left the house. Vacations in places where Gluten Free options are less available usually meant I took a case or two whenever I traveled.  

Unfortunately, I've since discovered that most protein bar options are either gluten-free or almond-free but not both (or they just taste awful ha). One exception has been the Quest Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein bar, which upon me finding it, promptly disappeared from stores nearby.

To top it all off, this week I ran out of my Vega protein powder and was unable to restock as it seems there has been a recall on the product.

This all must be a sign for me to stop procrastinating and begin developing my very own protein bars. The day I share protein bars with you will not be today however.

Sadly, after making these (my first attempt), I discovered that the protein content was probably too low to qualify as a protein bar. They do however make a delicious protein packed square.

The picture is not that great, but they are awesome so I urge you to try them!

Protein Packed Peanut Butter Squares

10 medjool dates, pitted
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup coconut milk
1 chia egg (I used 1 tbsp hulled to 3 tbsp water simply because I couldn't find my whole seeds)
1/2 cup whey protein powder (I used New Zealand Whey)
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
60 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. mix dates in food processor until smooth
  3. In stovetop over medium heat, add dates, peanut butter and coconut milk and whisk until blended
  4. Remove from heat and mix in all remaining ingredients (waiting to add the chocolate until last)
  5. Pour into tart
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes
  7. Cool thoroughly
  8. Cut into squares
  9. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Zuch-agna Rolls and A Warm Slice of Apple Pie

Today was a day for experimentation! I have been playing around with substitutes for pasta (my comfort food) for a while now, but had yet to tackle lasagna. 

I initially intended to make a zucchini noodle lasagna, but decided to use up some of the ingredients in my fridge and ended up with these gorgeous little black-bean roll-ups instead. 

These rolls use zucchini in place of noodles for what I feel is a pretty light meal. I filled mine with black beans, apples, apricots, a pepper and brussel sprouts for a good mix of sweet, hot and salty flavours.

Because dinner was so light, and also because I found a bag of Spy apples (my fave for baking) at the grocery store across the street, I decided to make an Apple Pie for dessert. 

Hahaha - don't laugh! I almost published this without typing up my recipes. Was sitting here wondering why the post was looking so short and then something clicked. It might help to actually add my recipes!

I hope you enjoy - let me know what you think of the pie! Gluten free crust is always a challenge. This one had a great texture in my opinion :) Nothing tastes exactly the same as gluten-full pie sadly! I used millet flour in this attempt which was quite distinctive but tasty nonetheless. Next time I will try something milder (and make a raspberry pie - my favourite, but the Monk prefers apples) :)

Zuch-agna Rolls

Filling Ingredients:
1/4 cup apricots (preferably unsulphered), rehydrated in boiling water for 15 mins 
zest of one lemon
1 hot pepper, chopped finely (I used a habanero pepper)
handful mint, choped
2 cups black beans (cooked)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 apple, chopped finely (I used a Spy apple)
1 1/2 cup brussels sprouts, chopped
1/4 cup feta, chopped
1/2 tsp paprika
salt to taste

Zucchini Noodles:
2 Zucchinis peeled into noodle slices with the vegetable peeler (I got about 30 usable slices)

Ricotta cheese (preferably fresh) - I used about half of a 500g container

Salsa to serve

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix together filling ingredients
  3. Spread thin layer of ricotta cheese on zucchini noodles
  4. Spread filling over the ricotta cheese
  5. roll up tightly (as shown below)
  6. Bake  for 30 minutes
  7. Serve with Salsa drizzled on top
Apple Pie

2/3 cup millet flour
2/3 cup amaranth flour
2/3 cup brown rice flour
1 1/2 tsp xantham gum
1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup butter

3-4tbsp cold water

6 cups Spy Apples, peeled and cut into slices (about 12 per apple)

1/4 cup coconut sugar (or more to taste depending on how sweet you like your pie)
juice of one lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp cornstarch

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix together all filling ingredients in a bowl
  3. Mix together flours, xantham gum and salt
  4. Cut in butter and coconut oil until crumbs are formed (I do this by rubbing the butter into the flour gently with my hands, but you can use a pastry blender
  5. add just enough cold water that the dough forms into a ball
  6. Separate dough into two balls (1 slightly larger than the other - this will be your bottom crust)
  7. Roll out larger ball of dough and line pie tin (I like to roll on plastic wrap for easy transfer - and best of all no sticking)
  8. Fill with apple filling
  9. Roll out smaller dough and cover pie, pinching crust edges together
  10. Bake in oven for ~45 minutes until golden 

Monday, 11 November 2013

Chewy Zucchini Cakes

I've been entirely uninspired in the kitchen lately. I've been struggling to make some decisions about what to do next with my life and have sadly been doing very little cooking experimentation as a result. 

I've also been trying to cut back on my baked goods, I admit, possibly the bigger factor here!

This weekend, I decided I wanted some cookies and set out to make something interesting and new. I started throwing ingredients I liked into a bowl haphazardly and ended up with these cakes instead. They are nowhere close to cookies, but they hit my craving for something sweet and the Monk requests that I make them again soon.

I made these cakes in muffin tins but the consistency is more like brownies (minus the chocolate) than muffins. I might try them in tea cake moulds next time :)


Chewy Zucchini Cakes

Dry Ingredients:
1/3 cup Sorghum flour
1/3 cup amaranth flour
1/3 cup quinoa flour
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
dash salt

Wet ingredients:
1/3 cup finely grated zucchini (I used a zester)
3 medjool dates, chopped finely
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 chia egg (1 tbsp chia seeds whisked in 3 tbsp of water until jelly like)
1/4 cup coconut nectar
1/4 cup olive oil

Add ins:
1/3 cup cocoa nibs

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees
  2. Mix dry ingredients
  3. Mix wet ingredients
  4. Mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients
  5. bake for 30 minutes
  6. let cool thoroughly

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Cat Approved Kale Chips and Celeriac Noodles

Everyone in our family loves Kale - even the cat it seems. Guess he's trying to make a statement that I'm not giving him enough greens, because I turned my back for all of 30 seconds and came back to find him chowing down happily on the kale. 

This is no aberration for him - I used to buy these nice containers of sprouts fairly frequently. Sadly, I have yet to taste even one sprout from the lot- I would leave the plants sitting on the counter and within an hour all sprouts were residing in his happy belly.

 I could not let that happen to my kale (at least not all of it) as it was destined for these awesome looking kale chips from Hallie's fabulous Daily Bites Blog.

I fully intended to make them exactly as written, but to my horror discovered that my tahini jar was covered in mould! Has this ever happened to you? It was a first for me and the jar is only a couple months old - bizarre! At the last minute, I ended up subbing sunflower seed butter for the tahini.

They were delicious anyway and I will definitely make them again (perhaps when I actually have tahini). Next time, however, I will reduce the salt a little and add a pinch of chili powder or cayenne. We used 3/4 tsp but it was a little salty for our tastes (this is 100% preference here as we aren't really used to very salty things). Next time I will try 1/2 a tsp instead. 

I love, love, love Hallie's recipes! Every one is sure to be a hit :-)

For dinner, I was inspired by Sarah's My New Roots blog and her recipe for Celeriac Pasta With Puttanesca Sauce. I have seen posts for zucchini noodles, butternut squash noodles and more, but never celeriac noodles before. How could I not try it (especially with pictures as pretty as Sarah's to entice me)?

I made the recipe pretty much exactly as written, adding in an extra tsp of crushed chili flakes as I was craving some heat. The recipe is simple, but oh so good :) Celeriac noodles are pretty awesome and I will most certainly be trying them again, although next time with a mandoline. This time I used my julienne peeler, which was a huge pain (very time consuming and I also managed to peel my fingers).

I was surprised that even my gluten eating family were a fan of the celeriac noodles, noting that they liked the texture and taste. These are definitely something I'd like to experiment with more :-).

Yum! Pasta without the heaviness - what could be better?


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

An Amazing Getaway to Portland

Enjoying a meal at Prasad
Being back from our amazing trip to Idaho and Portland doesn't seem quite real. We had a week-long getaway filled with friends, fab food and TONS of hiking. In just a week, we were able to fit in 4 full day hikes. I almost feel like I need a vacation from vacation (as I always do).
Juniper Gulch

We started our trip visiting friends in Idaho for a couple of days. We had a great visit complete with chamber music and a hike to Juniper Gulch (the hike actually ended up being in Oregon). I've never been to a desert state before so I was dazzled by some of the breathtaking terrain.

Our hosts, Laurie and Marv, were incredible going out of their way to provide healthy gluten free and vegetarian food! I have never eaten so well on a vacation before - what a treat!!!

Views from our hike to Cape Lookout
We then headed to Portland for the rest of our trip. Too short as always!!

We took a roadtrip to squeeze in some hiking on the coast, in the Columbia Gorge and near Mount Hood. 

Starfishes Galore at Pacific City
After hiking on the coast, we drove to Pacific City where it was low tide. We had fun scouring the tide pools for signs of life, finding crabs, fish and starfish in abundance!

From Pacific City, we headed back to Portland for the night before setting out for the Table Mountain Loop Hike the next morning in the Hood River area! After our hike, we rushed to the Naked
Descending after our hike to the Table Mountain
Winery for some last minute tasting. I'm still very sad that this winery does not ship to Canada. I really love their wines. After tasting 16 different varieties, we checked into the Hood River Hotel - our second stay with them and dined at a great local restaurant that starts with a C (I sadly can't recall the name at the moment).

Next we headed to the Lolo Pass to hike to Bald Mountain for some incredible views. 

This year, we were lucky enough to stay at the Timberline Lodge - simply gorgeous both inside and out! I highly recommend a stay there if you have the opportunity.

Amazing to see that the top of Mount Hood was still covered in snow. Last time we visited in July we were hoping to do some hiking at higher elevations. Unfortunately, at that time, the weather was such that there were still skiers out on the slopes making hiking less than ideal!!!!

This year in Portland, we discovered a wonderful gluten free vegetarian restaurant called Prasad, nestled inside a Yoga studio in the Pearl district. I admit that we managed to eat there 4 or 5 times on this trip.  How many times do I get to experience a place where I can eat almost everything on the menu!

I am slightly ashamed to confess that I took over 1,000 pictures on our vacation, which made parring down the shots for this post incredibly hard.  

Here are some of my favourites!
Views from our Hike to Cape Lookout
Views from our Table Mountain Trek
Wine Tasting at the Naked Winery
Beautiful Mount Hood
The Timberline Lodge
Mount Hood from the Timberline Lodge