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breakfast, healthy treats, recipes

Naturally Sweet Grain Free Muffins

Last week, I wrote about my attempt to prepare a satisfying grain-free breakfast and I ended up with these delicious coconut pancakes. What I didn’t mention was that I was completely obsessed with them and proceeded to make them every day for the rest of the week.

Why you ask? Pretty simple. That high fibre, high protein, grain free meal left me totally satisfied…maybe more satisfied…than my typical overflowing bowl of oats. Gasp. Unfortunately pancakes just aren’t that practical for every day fare and by the end of the week I was pretty over all those dirty dishes. It was time for a change. I busted out the muffin tin and whipped up these equally if not more delicious (and much more convenient) breakfast beauties…

Naturally Sweet Grain-Free Coconut Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of sweet potato or buttercup squash puree (I haven’t tried other varieties of squash but my guess is they wouldn’t contain enough starch to hold these babies together)*
  • 1/2 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 3/4 cup egg whites
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds, ground
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • OPTIONAL Stevia (2 packets/a few drops) OR 2 tbsp honey/agave**
  • shredded coconut (for garnish) 

*To make this from scratch, puree a little over a cup of of cooked sweet potato or squash flesh in a blender/food processor along with just enough hot water get it smooth but still thick (usually 3-4 tbsp). Or use this to save time.
**This recipe is naturally sweet but a little extra sweetener will help to enhance those flavours.

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl add potato or squash puree along with eggs, egg whites, banana and coconut extract. Mash and stir well until thoroughly combined. If using, add sweetener now also.
  2. In separate small bowl add your ground chia seeds and slowly pour in 3/4 cups of boiling water. Stir vigorously with a fork to remove clumps then set aside.
  3. Stir together dry ingredients.
  4. Add chia gel which will have set by now and dry ingredients to the wet mix. Stir until just combined.
  5. Use 1/4 cup measure to scoop batter into lined or well greased muffin tins. Top with shredded coconut if desired
  6. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes. Allow to sit about 5 minutes in the pan then place on a rack to cool completely.

Yield: about 9 medium sized muffins.
Serving size is about 3 for a meal or 1.5 for a snack.  

healthy treats, recipes

Holiday Lace Cookies (Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free & Vegan)

I am blissfully happy with this recipe so I’m not going to muss around with a lot of explanation. These cookies are sweet and crisp with the signature toasted caramel flavour of a lace cookie, but with a flaxseed base and no refined sugar they are also incredibly wholesome. Since they cook up quickly and easily you can make loads of them for any holiday party, and their unique golden brown, speckled appearance makes them welcome addition to your run-of-the-mill cookie platter.

Wholesome Lace Cookies
(Gluten-Free & Vegan)
Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup gluten-free oat flour (I just ground rolled oats in my coffee grinder)
  • 1/4 cup almond flour (Again I used whole unroasted almonds, ground in my coffee grinder)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup whole flaxseed
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp turbinado sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup earth balance (or butter)
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax mixed with 1/4 cup water)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flours, coconut, flax, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Prepare flax egg by mixing 1 tbsp ground flax with 1/4 cup water, set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar, maple syrup and earth balance. Beat in the flax egg and vanilla.
  5. Add the wet and dry mixes together and stir well to combine. (Note: it will seem like there is way too much flour but don’t worry, it will all blend together nicely!)
  6. Shape the dough into balls and using a rounded teaspoon dough for each.
  7. Place on an parchment paper lined cookie sheet, leaving 2 inches between cookies.
  8. Flatten each cookie with the bottom of a glass that has been lined with plastic wrap to prevent sticking.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Remove from oven and cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet. Remove from the sheet and cool on a rack. **Make sure you allow to cool COMPLETELY as these cookies are most delicious after they crisp up.

Yields about 60 adorable little cookies.

While I don’t think a cookie needs to be “healthy” or “wholesome” to enjoy it, I assume that holiday parties will be loaded with the typical shortbreads and gingerbread, so I am happy to offer up a cookie that contains whole grains, a limited amount of nutrient-dense/unrefined sugar as well as some good heart-healthy fat from the flax, almond and coconut. This balanced combination will keep your blood sugar from spiking (even if when you snack on a whole handful!)

Are you knee-deep in holiday baking?

Do you bother making wholesome baked goods or is it traditional all-the-way?

breakfast, healthy treats, recipes

Overnight French Toast: A Sweet Start to Friday Morning


Think French toast is just for weekends? This recipe whips up super quickly, even on the busiest weekday morning. Just make sure you learn from my mistake and brush your teeth after you flip the toast…unless you want to end up with extra crispy  version like mine 😉 Still tasted great though!

Overnight French Toast

  • 2 pieces of whole grain bread (I like Food For Life Ezekiel & GF Brown Rice breads)
  • 1 whole egg + 2 egg whites **See note for a vegan option
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup or agave (sometimes I make a sugar-free version with a few drops of stevia)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp  nutmeg
**For a vegan version omit eggs entirely and replace with an extra tbsp of chia seeds, 1/2 mashed banana and an additional 1/4 cup of almond milk 
  1. Whisk all ingredients together and pour into a shallow baking dish.
  2. Add toast and allow to sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Flip once and then soak overnight.
  3. In the morning simply transfer to a griddle or pan coated with a thin layer of coconut oil (a teaspoon or so) and fry on medium heat for about 3-4 mins/side or until egg is cooked through in the centre.

I topped one half of mine with mashed banana and peanut butter and the other half with fresh raspberries and a sample pack of Justin’s Chocolate Almond Butter I had been saving for just such an occasion.

Now that’s the way to start a Friday.

diy, healthy treats, recipes

Peanut Butter & Banana Brulee Brownies

Its pouring rain. I spent my whole weekend being ridiculously productive and working like a maniac. And it’s my best friend’s birthday. So simply put:  it is a baking day here in the Healthy Hipster kitchen.

After spending way more time than I’d like to admit trying to think of just the right recipe for her birthday treat (carrot cake? banana bread? classic chocolate chip cookies?) I was hit by a stroke of pure genius. Why not take her favourite peanut butter, chocolate & banana breakfast smoothie and turn it into a freakin’ BROWNIE?? YES YES YES. 

And no this is not the healthiest recipe I’ll ever post. But we’re talking dessert here. And it is still free of refined sugar, dairy and the eggs can easily be swapped for vegan replacer or flax eggs (1 tbsp ground flax: 3 tbsp water/egg). Y’all ready for this?

The “Carly” Brownie
(Aka. Peanut Butter Banana Brulee Brownies)
Inspired by this & this 

Ingredients

  • 2 large very ripe bananas
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or earth balance/butter)
  • 1 tbsp honey (or agave/brown sugar)
  • 1/3 cup earth balance or butter 
  • 1/3 cup crunchy natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp instant coffee or espresso
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Directions:
For the Banana Brulee
  1. Slice bananas and toss together with 1 tbsp melted coconut oil or butter and 1 tbsp of honey or agave.
  2. Arrange coated banana slices along the bottom of an 8 x 8 inch pan. Note: You will flip the brownies at the end so the bananas will end up on top!
For the Brownies
  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine the earth balance, peanut butter, turbinado sugar, molasses, coffee powder, cocoa, almond milk and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl over some simmering water so that everything melts and combines (you can also do this by heating ingredients in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, stirring, heating again, etc. until combined).
  3. Remove mixture from heat and stir in the vanilla and eggs, stirring vigorously. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer.
  4. Spread brownie mix evenly over bananas but don’t worry about making it too pretty, since you will flip them at the end anyways.
  5. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, mine took about 40 minutes.
  6. Allow the brownies to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan and then FLIP them onto a rack or baking sheet to cool completely before cutting.
  7. Optional: After flipping, return brownies to a hot oven and BROIL for an additional 5 minutes or so until the topping starts to brown and they take on that caramel “brulee” colour.  
The end result is a very dense brownie (not at all cakey) that maintains a crisp chewy bottom because you’ve flipped it. The peanuts and bananas are subtle in flavour, with the dark rich chocolate taking centre stage…which…let’s be honest is pretty much the point of a brownie right? All in all I am very pleased with this experiment and look forward to many more baking adventures throughout the holiday season.
What’s your favourite birthday treat? Are you a birthday cake purist or do you opt for a little adventure?
P.S. How amazing is it that this recipe is coming immediately after my “I love salad” post? What was I just saying about how much I heart balance? Too good.
brown baggin it, diy, healthy treats, recipes, snacks

Lunch Trio with Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Earlier this week I was visiting a friend, a busy mom with two young and ridiculously adorable children, and she was kind enough to offer me a bowl of the creamy roasted red pepper and tomato soup she was preparing for lunch.  As I ate my first spoonful of that rich and comforting bowl I was reminded of 2 things:

1) I used to eat these prepackaged soups all the time and I still freaking love them. Apparently even my healthy-food savvy taste buds aren’t immune to that familiar combination of sugar, salt and modified milk products. Mmm…mmm…good.

2) While there may have been a time in my life when a bowl of tomato soup would have been a perfectly lovely lunch, that is definitely not the case for me anymore. (See this post for more info on how I eat to fuel my active lifestyle) This fact became all too apparent to me when I got hungry for dinner at abut 2:15 that afternoon…

With both of those things in mind I decided that I must a) recreate this soup immediately and b) ensure that I enjoy it as a delicious addition to my typical lunch fare. Thus I got home and began cooking up this delicious dairy-free version. And it quickly turned my standard wrap/salad combo into a hearty, restaurant-style lunch trio.

Sauteed veggie and tuna wrap in a toasted brown rice tortilla, mixed green salad with carrots, apples, pumpkin seeds and flax oil/balsamic dressing and (of course)…

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup (Dairy-Free)

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped roughly
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped roughly
  • 1 can of whole tomatoes
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 roasted red peppers, seeded and chopped (See instructions below)
  • 1/2 package silken tofu  
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional, could sub Parmesan cheese for a dairy option)
  • pepper to taste
Roasted Bell Peppers: Easy as 1-2-3
  1. Place whole bell peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil in the oven until the skins have blackened (peppers may start to look “deflated”). It usually takes around 15-20 minutes and typically I flip them about half way through. 
  2. Once the peppers are blackened place them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. As they cool this will create a vaccuum seal that will make the skins very easy to peel off.  
  3. Use your fingers to tear the skins away from the flesh of the peppers and remove the tops and seeds. Voila!

Directions: 

  1. In a large pot, sautee onions, garlic and celery over medium heat until soft and fragrant.
  2. Add tomatoes, broth and peppers and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for around 15 minutes.
  4. Using a regular or infusion blender, puree mixture until smooth.
  5. Add silken tofu, nutritional yeast and a little pepper. Puree until tofu is completely combined (not grainy).
  6. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if desired.

Garnish with parsley, fresh pepper slices and a drizzle of your favourite milk. 

breakfast, budgeting, dinner, healthy treats, recipes

Comfort Food: Wild Salmon & Brown Rice Casserole

Its a chilly morning here on the island so a bowl of piping hot oats for breakfast seemed like a no brainer.

20111109-081910.jpg
1/2 cup rolled oats with almond milk, chopped banana and egg whites cooked in at the end. Topped with a scoop of peanut butter, jam, a small handful of frozen raspberries, toasted almonds and a buncha cinnamon.

That is pure breakfast comfort food right there.

Now when I think of suppertime comfort food I usually think of the cheap, filling, one pot meals my grandma made for us growing up.

My favourite of these meals: Tuna Helper. Don’t ask me why but I was crazy for the stuff…like…for years. Tonight as I looked through my grandmother’s cupboards – full to the brim with all of the pre-packaged food items I grew up loving, I got it in my head that I could make better tasting and better for you version using the whole foods we had in the house.

I swapped the tuna for omega-3 packed wild salmon, the noodles for brown rice and the laundry list of preservatives and sodium for spices and sea salt. Feelin pretty pleased with myself indeed.



Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2-3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped roughly
  • 3/4 cup dry brown and wild rice blend
  • 2 cups chicken or veggie broth (if using water, you’ll need to add boullion)
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 1.5 cups chopped asparagus or broccoli
  • 1 can of wild salmon (I used one large can, maybe add 2 if using small ones)
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper

20111108-195626.jpgDirections

  1. Heat a medium-large sized pot over medium heat
  2. Add a drizzle of olive oil along with onion and celery and sautee for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
  3. Add the peppers and mushrooms and cook for another few minutes until softened.
  4. Add all seasonings, liquid and rice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to very low.
  5. Cover and simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until rice is cooked through.
  6. If there is some liquid left in the pot, simply raise the heat again and add in chopped asparagus or broccoli. Cover and allow greens to steam in the rice liquid for 2-3 minutes. If rice has absorbed all the cooking liquid, just add an extra 1/2-3/4 cup water/broth/milk and then do the same.
  7. Stir in canned salmon and dijon and stir until heated. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve with a side of steamed veggies or salad and eat tucked under some kind of large fluffy blanket…preferably with something trashy on TV.

    What’s your favourite grandma style comfort food?

diy, healthy treats, recipes, snacks

High Protein Brownie Bar (Vegan, Low Sugar)

Okay so I’ve been working on this little recipe for a while now and I feel like even though I haven’t worked out all the kinks I’ve been snacking on them WAY too often not to share. And who knows, maybe you’ll have your own tips and tricks to make them even better!

My standard recipe is as follows:

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee
  • pinch of cinnamon (if desired)
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar/agave/maple syrup OR 1.5 tbsp spoonable stevia
  • ½ cup milk of choice
  • 3 scoops (20grams) plain brown rice protein powder** I use a raw variety that is cheap, vegan and allergy-free!
  • 2 tsp light tasting vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 1.5 cups dark berries
  • ¾ cup oats
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp pepitas (or sub for sunflower seeds), toasted
  • ¼ cup almonds, toasted and crushed
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
Directions:

  1. Mash banana until the consistency is soft and runny. Then mix in protein powder, almond milk, cocoa powder, coffee, oil, sugar or stevia and cinnamon if using. Stir well until protein powder is dissolved and ingredients are completely blended.
  2. Grind flax seeds in a coffee grinder (or use preground) and add these to the mix along with an extra 1/3 cup water. Stir and set mixture aside for at least 5 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients: toasted nuts and seeds, flour, oats, baking powder, salt.
  4. Add dry mix to wet mix and blend until you reach a batter-like consistency.
  5. Mix in berries and stir to combine.
  6. Bake in a foil lined 8 x 8 pan (this is important as it will help you remove and cut the bars later) at 350 degrees for around 30-35 minutes or until the centre is cooked through.
  7. Allow the bars to cool for 5 minutes then lift out foil and place in the freezer for around a half hour. After this amount of time the bars should be firm enough to slice with a knife. I usually keep half in the fridge and freeze the second half to take with me as an on-the-go snack.
Keep in mind these bars are soft at room temperature and a little crumbly, so you’ll need to wrap them up. But they’re delicious and loaded with protein, healthy fat, whole grains and fiber to keep you going way longer than your standard sugar-laden granola bar.
Enjoy!
cities, community, culture, healthy treats, inspiration, photojournal, snacks

EAT/ART/REPEAT

Today was one of those Saturdays when I left the house with no plan at all, but by the end of the day I realized I spent it doing just what I wanted.

Grabbed lunch at one of my favourite West end haunts, Cafe Bernate.

My standard order...Bernate Salad with chicken and a side of crusty bread

Dark roast coffee + steamed almond milk + REFILLS. Bad news.

Then I made my way further west to Trinity Bellwoods Park to check out the events of the day which just happened to be the…

Lucky me!

The park served as the perfect canvas for all the lovely art pieces on display, with a bright blue sky and autumn leaves as far as the eye could see.

Everyone was lying around being stupidly adorable…And there were babies and puppies galore!

I didn’t want to be that guy taking photos of all the art, but I couldn’t help snapping a shot of these adorable little terrariums by local artist Jessie Trott.

Stopped in for some more caffeine and sustenance at a little organic food stand school bus.

munched on one of these baseball-sized banana apricot oat cookies. Wholesome sugar free nommm...

Sometimes nothing beats an adventure in your very own neighborhood to start the weekend off right!

breakfast, healthy treats, recipes, snacks

Espresso Berry Antioxidant Muffins (Vegan, Low Sugar, Oil-Free)

I know I’m being pretty bold using the word “antioxidant” in the title of these muffins. The whole concept seems so trendy and overhyped its practically lost all meaning. Next thing you know I’ll be using goji berries, extolling the virtues of royal jelly or pronouncing cocoa cacao (hehe, portlandia anyone?)
But after teaching several nutrition courses centred around the connection between food and health it became pretty obvious to me that unlike other “food trends” antioxidants are actually..well…pretty important. They protect your bod from cell damage caused by a 1980’s New Wave Band err…group of molecules…called Free Radicals. This cell damage has been linked to loads of diseases including heart disease, some forms of cancer, Alzheimer’s and arthritis.
In sum… Antioxidants: Good. Free Radicals: Bad. Doctor Oz: Handsome.
In the search to create a delicious muffin with whatever I happened to have on hand I created this vegan, low sugar, oil-free antioxidant-packed muffingasm. Its deliciously moist and has a lightly sweet, rich flavour that works great on its own, topped with nut butter or crumbled over a hot bowl of oats. Enjoy!
Espresso Berry Muffins
Dry Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee
  • 2 tbsp carob
Wet Ingredients
  • 2 tsp ground flax seeds
  • 1 tsp ground chia seeds
  • 6 tbsp non-dairy milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup soy yogurt
  • 1 ripe pear, cored and chopped
  • 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses

Add-Ins

  • 3/4 cup mixed berries
  • 1.5 tbsp raisins
  • 3 tbsp nuts & seeds (I used almonds and pepitas, chopped)
  • 3 squares dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Place dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl an stir to combine.
  3. In separate medium sized bowl combine ground flax seeds, chia seeds & non-dairy milk then set aside for about 5 minutes (this will create a gel that will help bind your muffins together)
  4. While your seeds and liquid sit, add the remainder of your wet ingredients (including chopped pear) to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  5. Transfer blended wet mix back to the bowl with flax and milk, stir to combine.
  6. Pour blended wet mixture back into dry bowl and stir very well to combine and form your batter.
  7. Add mix-ins.
  8. Scoop batter into lined or greased muffin tins, fill about 3/4 of the way. The recipe should yield about 9 medium sized muffins.
  9. Bake for about 18-20 minutes.
Berries, Carob, Molasses, Cocoa, Coffee AND Raisins are all jam packed with antioxidant goodness. Take that boring old bran muffin!
Do you believe the hype around anti-oxidants? How do you get your daily dose?
blogs, dinner, healthy treats, recipes, snacks

Gloriously Gluten-Free Goodies

The older I get the more I appreciate my family of choice. You know the folks I mean? The friends who adopted you with open arms when you were all alone in a new city. The ones you have thanksgiving with when you’re too broke to afford a bus ride home. Who help you carry your obnoxiously large book collection when you decide to move in with your significant other…then help you move them out again 6 months later. Those friends.

So when one of the most incredible ladies in my own FOC has a birthday…a 65th birthday to be exact…I don’t just show up with a bottle of wine. I show up with a basket of goodies tailored specifically to her gluten-free, dairy-free, low sugar dietary needs.

And for a bit of a change up I’m going to do a little link love since these recipes were taken more or less directly from other blogs I love!

Recipe 1: Elena’s Almond Flour filled Cupcakes

You can find the exact recipe in her cookbook which is available for purchase here (I just added apricots  to the filling and swapped eggs for a mix of chia seeds and water to make them vegan) OR you can find a very similar cake recipe here which I’m sure would work very nicely in cupcake form.

Recipe 2: Mama Pea’s Tempeh Tamale Pie

This recipe was delicious and a total crowd pleaser, but be forewarned that its a little more like cornbread and chili than a traditional tamale…Stay tuned for my adventures with masa flour later this week!

And here’s some more photos of the whole spread which included burgers (veggie, beef, bison and turkey) as well as a SERIOUS array of salads (its like they knew I was coming).

 

cutest heirloom tomatoes i ever did see

The only fail of the day was this butterball turkey burger.

Sorry butterball...watch me feign excitement for possibly the saddest looking patty of all time.

 I’d take Sol veggie burgers over THAT nonsense any day of the week, flexitarian or no. 

Back to the deliciousness…what birthday would be complete without made to order…CREME BRULEE!!!

the best part is the moment right before the sugar cracks

or maybe right after...

Look at that sassy redhead enjoying her birthday serenade! She looks absolutely  miserable;) 

What have you done for your FOC lately?