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!

Green Goddess Tofu Bowl (Or: How I Let My Freak Flag Fly)

Some days I can’t help but embrace my inner hippie. 

I haven’t talked about it much on the blog, but I grew up on a farm. An organic farm. And if we’re gonna get real specific, it was a commune.

Now before you get yourself all riled up, the commune wasn’t anything cultish or creepy. It was just a buncha earth lovin’ folks who had common goals about sustainability (long before that word was all trendy and on oprah). So they decided to live their lives together – growing vegetables, raising livestock and sharing large family-style (mostly vegetarian, always organic) meals.

And sure we’d occasionally frollick around a May pole and yes we would celebrate a solstice or two. I mean it wasn’t creepy, but it was definitely eccentric.

Anyhow after a lovely trip to the Brickworks Market this afternoon (more on that tomorrow), I ended up with an arm load of organic veggies, some herbed tofu and a hankering for some seriously granola grub. So I whipped up a meal that was totally inspired by my days as a flower child.

Green Goddess Tofu Bowl

Don’t be scared by all the steps: this bowl is really just a mix of a whole grain cous cous base, some roasted tofu and veggies and a light tofu sauce. All toppings are optional, feel free to mix and match based on what’s in your kitchen. 


Protein – Roasted Tofu and Summer Squash

  1. Dice 1/2 block (or 1 full block, but reserve half for another recipe) of herbed tofu in equal parts balsamic and soy sauce – I used about 2 tbsp each. Toss together with salt-free herb mix (Spike, Mrs. Dash, etc.), garlic powder, pepper and nutritional yeast if desired.
  2. Spread out tofu blocks on a foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet, leaving a little space on one side.
  3. Toss 1 diced zucchini in the leftover tofu marinade and spread it out on the empty half of the baking sheet.
  4. Roast tofu and zucchini at 425 for around 20-30 minutes.
Grain Base – Whole Wheat Cous Cous 
  1. In a medium saucepan sautee 1/4 diced onion, 1 tbsp minced garlic, 1 diced yellow pepper and 1/2 cup diced cauliflower in a little oil until fragrant and just softened.
  2. Add 2/3 cup water and heat until boiling.
  3. Add 1/2 cup whole wheat cous cous, remove from heat and cover. Allow to stand for 5 minutes.

Green Goddess Dressing 

  1. Puree 1/2 package silken tofu, 1 green onion, 1 clove of garlic, small handful of fresh basil, 1 tsp dijon, juice of half a lemon, 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.
  2. Thin with water, I used about 1/2 cup for a lighter consistency.
Additional Toppings:
  • Steamed Greens (I used black kale)
  • Dollop of hummus
  • Toasted nuts and seeds
  • Hot sauce (obviously)
LAYER UP AND ENJOY!
When was the last time you ditched the too-cool ‘tude to let your freak flag fly?

Work Out, Eat Up: How I Fuel My Active Lifestyle

Hey folks,

So I mentioned recently that after years of hesitation I finally upped and joined a gym. In the past my biggest problems with the gym have been equal parts too expensive, too focused on physical appearance (rather than overall health), too competitive and just plain boringTo mitigate most of these issues I joined my local YMCA and so far I have found it to has exceeded my expectations on all fronts. It certainly reflects my own values by promoting an affordable, supportive and holistic space for physical activity. Love the Y!

As far as my workouts go I have been sticking closely to my trifecta workout plan of HIIT-style cardio (short bursts of high intensity running/elliptical/cycling followed by quick cooldowns, repeated) for heart health and overall fitness, weight training for strength & yoga for flexibility. My workout schedule this week has looked a little like this:

  • Monday: Weights/HIIT Cardio (50 min)
  • Tuesday: Power Yoga, Weights/Light Cardio in the PM (1 hr AM/50 min PM)
  • Wednesday: Off.
  • Thursday: Weights/HIIT Cardio (60 min)
  • Friday: Cardio LIFE (aka. walking around the city doing errands + heavy duty household chores like cleaning and moving boxes)
  • Saturday: Power Yoga
  • Sunday: Off.
This schedule was somewhat typical for me (minus Tuesday which was a little cray cray. I have my good friend Ryan to thank for convincing me to hit the gym a second time…ouch!)
Obviously all that activity requires a whole lotta fuel which for me is looking like:
Whole Grains:
Oatmeal
Sprouted grain or whole wheat bread
Brown rice tortillas (I’m obsessed)
Cooked grains like rice, barley, amaranth, polenta, whole wheat cous cous
oats for breakfast. no brainer. 
Protein:
eggs and egg whites
fish (tuna and tuna steak, wild pacific salmon, swordfish steak, sardines – yeah i said it I love sardines)
tofu and tempeh
protein powder – usually raw vegan brown rice protein like sun warrior or garden of life
local and organic chicken breast, when available
Fat:
Flax oil (I usually use it for salad dressing)
Avocado
Nuts and seeds
Almond butter
Sauteed kale, onion and radish topped with avocado and a poached egg
Veggies
Green: Kale, Broccoli, Chard, Bok Choy, Spinach, Zucchini, Cucumber, Celery, Parsley
White: Cauliflower, Onion, Garlic, Radish
Orange: Sweet Potato, Squash, Carrot
Red: Tomato, Chilis
Yellow: Bell Peppers (my FAVE kind)
On-the-go whole grain sesame bagel sandwich with Tomatoes, Lettuce & Cucumber – Tofutti Cream Cheese filled in nicely for the Swiss. Uhmmmyeah. 
Fruit
Staples: Apples, Bananas & Frozen Berries
Seasonal: Peaches, Pears, Yellow Plums, Cherries & Fresh Berries
Seared tuna steak on sauteed kale with whole wheat morroccan style cous cous
1/2 roasted squash, kale, broccoli, sauteed mushrooms and a pan seared organic chicken breast
Feeling inspired (or just hungry)? What are some of the changes you make in the kitchen to fuel your workouts or just keep your energy levels high when you need it most? 
Wanna see any of these recipes on the blog? Lemme know!

Minimalist Tom Yum (Coconut Lemon) Soup

While I have loads to share from my Ottawa trip, I feel like its been far too long since I’ve shared a piece of my kitchen with you. Today’s recipe can be prepared with chicken or tofu depending on your dietary preferences. I think of it as minimalist not because it lacks ingredients (in fact I added some veggies to the dish as I’m known to do) but because it lacks some of the key ingredients of Thai cooking such as Thai basil, green onions, lime leaves and fresh chili peppers. While these items are all readily available and quite affordable in my city, I recognize that this isn’t the case for everyone. So rather than popping out to my local Asian grocery store, I made due with what I had on hand and whipped up a satisfying and simple Tom Yum-esque soup.

Ingredients

  • coconut or other high heat oil for frying
  • 1/4 large yellow onion, sliced into thin strips then halved
  • 1 carrot, sliced into thin circles
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp siracha
  • 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts, diced OR 1/2-3/4 block silken tofu, cut into cubes.
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 green pepper, sliced into thin strips an halved
  • 1/4 zucchini (I used yellow) sliced into thin circles then halved
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 lemon, zested & squeezed for juice.
Directions
  1. Begin with a medium-large pot set on medium heat. Sautee onion, carrot and garlic in a little oil until fragrant. Add siracha and stir till combined.
  2. Add chicken pieces (if using) and cook until slightly brown on all sides, about 4-5 minutes. If using silken tofu, skip this step.
  3. Add mushrooms, peppers and zucchini to the mix along with lemon zest, 2 tbsp fish sauce and 2 tbsp water. Stir frequently for about 2 min or until vegetables have softened.
  4. Add the broth, lemon juice and coconut milk then heat until just boiling. If using silken tofu, add it now.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes to combine flavours. Taste an adjust seasonings as needed.
Optional: serve topped with raw vegetables such as spinach, sprouts an sliced cherry tomatoes. 
What’s your favourite Thai dish? Do you ever attempt to make it for yourself?
Hope you’re making the most of your day! I’m off to a hot date with my book, a treestump and this sunny afternoon. 

Guest Post: Meg’s DIY Grain-Free Vegan Sandwich Bread

Today I will boarding a plane to Chicago as part of my August vacay, so as a special treat to you here is another guest post from my magical gluten-free baking bestie Meg! As I mentioned back in Meg’s first guest post, she is the master of cooking for special diets. Plural. Gluten-free, dairy free and diabetic friendly if you’re keeping score! Despite my gluten-free bread skepticism but I am absolutely enamoured with Meg’s version. Obviously it is great for those on low glycemic, low sugar or gluten-free diets but most importantly its absolutely delicious, has no hard-to-pronounce additives and has a texture that is truly…magical! Enjoy!

Hey everyone, Meg here!

This bread is technically a loaf rather than a true yeasted bread but you would never know it from the way it makes my house smell. It bakes up perfectly with a nice golden brown crust and a hearty center.  It is completely grain free (so by default gluten free), egg free, soy free, and sugar free. And more than that it packs a good wallop of protein, healthy fats and fibre. 

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 7 tablespoons chia seeds 

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup natural apple sauce 
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup ground flaxseed
  • 2 cups blanched almond flour (NOT almond meal!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt 

Directions: 


  1. In a large bowl combine 1/2 cup apple sauce and 1/2 cup coconut flour with a fork, allow to sit for 10 minutes then ‘fluff’ again with fork
  2. Measure 7 tablespoons chia seeds into a coffee grinder (if you don’t have a coffee grinder give up on life now) and grind until the chia seeds look like a flour. In a medium sized bowl and whisk ground chia seeds vigorously while slowly pouring in 1 cup of boiling water. The end result should strongly resemble snot.  Pahaha! See why I love this woman?
  3. Add 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar to chia seed snot and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  4. To the large coconut flour bowl add 2 cups almond flour, 1 cup ground flaxseed (I grind them myself in the coffee grinder, but you can also buy them ground in most health food stores), 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda and 1 teaspoon sea salt, beat with electric beaters until well combined and uniform. 
  5. Knead chia snot mixture into the dry ingredients. I like to get me hands in the bowl to make sure the mixture is even and binding well. 
  6. Form into a log/loaf and place in a bread pan or on a cookie sheet (whatever you have) 
  7. Bake at 325-350 for 55-65 mins, until golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Ovens vary greatly, luckily it is almost impossible to burn  or overcook this bread. Low and slow will make a nice crunchy crust and fully cook the insides. If you have a browned outside rather quickly, simple lower the oven temp slightly for the remainder of the time. If you don’t let it bake long enough you will get a soggy middle.
  8. Allow to cool and cut into slices. Freeze sliced loaf in an airtight container for freshness(but make sure you try a warm straight from the oven slice before you do!)

Serve toasted for best results. Tastes delicious as sandwich bread or on its own topped with a little honey.

Does anyone in your life live on a gluten free or low glycemic diet? What are your thoughts about the products on the market today? 

Sneaky Vegan Pesto Mayonnaise

Today’s recipe is a sneaky one. It looks and tastes eerily like the real live mayo but sneaks a whole buncha whackadoodle ingredients into the mix to make it suitable for loads of special dietary needs.

I love this kind of recipe because as far as I’m concerned its universal design (teacher-speak for good planning). Food that doesn’t discriminate, doesn’t make anyone sweat or freak out. It just tastes good and pleases everyone from your eco-feminist chakra-sensing aunt to your perma-scowling meat n’ potatoes grandad.

Personally, I love to use this as a sandwich or burger spread as well as a dip for crackers, pita or veggies. Its packed with protein, low in most things bad, high in most things good and most importantly tastes delish.

Vegan Pesto Mayonnaise

Dairy-Free/Egg-Free/High-Protein

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 package silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup cooked white beans
  • 1 tsp almond butter
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp almond milk
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt (I used herbamare)
  • freshly ground pepper
Directions: Blend or process ingredients until smooth. Keeps in the fridge for around 5 days. Note – if you use a blender the final product will appear smoother, without the flecks of green pictured above. Its a matter of personal preference or (in my case) which appliance happened to be clean and sitting on the counter.
Yields about 8 servings.
And for those of you who give a hoot I am also including the nutritional breakdown of this recipe after the jump. This isn’t standard practice for me but I can’t resist since this one is SO incredibly awesome!
How do you feel about vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc. recipes that attempt to recreate  the “real thing”. Love it or leave it? (more…)

Ruffles-Style All Dressed Kale Chips

In the Great Chip Flavour Debate I have always come down hard in favour of all dressed. You see folks, I’m a libra. Which for those of you currently snickering into your coffee cups at my casual mention of astrology, means I have a hard time making decisions. Does this impact me in other parts of my life as well? You betcha. But we’ll save that for another day.

All dressed chips were basically designed for indecisive folks like myself because they just take every seasoning and mix it together into one epic mix of hard-to-distinguish flavours. So as my own personal homage to the glory of All Dressed Ruffles (or Crispers, omg) I have created an delicious recipe for All Dressed Kale Chips that I swear tastes eerily similar to the real thing.

And yes, for your information my favourite pop when I was a kid was also swamp water (aka. the brown liquid that results after mixing together fountain coke, sprite, iced tea, dr. pepper, etc.)

If you’re a newb, I’m sure the idea of Kale Chips sounds strange. But if you’ve ever tried them you know that by following a few easy steps that boring bunch of kale can become something really special.

With toasty flavour & a satisfying crunch, Kale Chips may never serve as a replacement for regular all dressed chips, but they’re definitely worth a DIY try!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 medium sized bunch of kale
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp dried onion flakes
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 dashes liquid smoke (mine is hickory flavoured)
  • 2 dashes soy sauce
  • 2 dashes hot sauce
  • a good coating of salt and pepper
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Tear kale leaves from stems in large chunks and place in a large mixing bowl. Add all ingredients to the bowl and massage (I instantly apologize for using that word) together until the leaves are well coated.
  3. Spread out leaves on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
  4. Bake for around 20-30 min or until dry and crispy. If some chips finish earlier than others just remove and let the other ones stay at it for a bit. TRY to let cool before eating to enhance the crisp factor…it’ll be a challenge ;)
Magical Bowl of Crrrrrunchhhhh. 
**Note: This is a healthy recipe in the nutritional sense, but it is FAR from low sodium. In fact this may fulfill your sodium requirement for the year. So dig in at your discretion.

Lunchbox Lifesaver: Sunday Meal Prep!

Tomorrow morning marks the beginning of my new job which means so long takeout, hello brown bags! And to be honest, I don’t mind one bit. I tend to get pretty creative with my lunches when I’m workin a 9 to 5, cuz there’s nothin I like more than having a truly spectacular lunch to look forward to after a morning of hard work.

Of course a wholesome healthy lunchbox isn’t always easy to throw together at 6 in the morning while you’re still in a pre-coffee stupor, so in order to make your life (and my own) a little easier I am including some tips for how to get your Monday-Friday eats sorted out well in advance!

What my lunches will look like this week...

Food Prep Plan of Attack (July 4-8th): 

What my lunches look like today...

Step 1) Protein: Marinated Tofu (4 servings).

Place all ingredients in a ziploc bag and SHAKE!

  • 1 block of tofu, diced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp hummus
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 small piece of fresh ginger, minced
Step 2) Veggies: Carrot & Kale Salad
Process each ingredient individually until fine but not totally pulverized. Place in a large ziploc freezer bag. SHAKE!
  • 1/2  a very large bunch of kale (or 1 normal sized bunch)
  • 4 large carrots
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 1 sweet apple

Step 3) Whole Grains: Quinoa

Cook 3/4 cup of dry quinoa according to package instructions. Store in a tupperware. 

Step 4) Starchy Veggie: Roasted Buttercup Squash

Dice 1 whole squash into pieces and place in a roasting pan along with 1/2 cup of water. Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour or until soft and slightly browned.

Step 4) Fruit: Banana (optional)

Slice 3 bananas into large chunks and freeze. Great for morning smoothies!

Mussels of a Different Sort

The first time I ever ate a mussel I was at a Movenpick restaurant with my parents. I was a pretty adventurous eater for a 10 year old, but even I was skeptical at first of the dark shelled, black tounged, revolting looking creatures in front of me. But once I tasted one, I was absolutely hooked (not a pun cuz technically mussels aren’t hooked, come on now). I must have eaten 3 whole bowls of the things…at the cost of my obliging parents. Belated thanks, guys!

The only thing better than the first time I ate a mussel, was the first time I ate a PEI mussel. They are impressive in size alone, but the flavour is what really sets them apart. My favourite preparation is the no frills version they serve at the Lighthouse restaurant near West Point beach. Here’s my interpretation.

PEI Style Steamed Mussels:

1. In a large pot with a tight fitting lid, add 1- 2 cm of water.
2. Discard any broken or open mussels.
3. Bring water to boil along with: 

  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 large tomato, diced

4. Once the broth has reached a boil add mussels immediately.
5. Steam until mussels open, 3-5 minutes.
6. Serve as is, with some bread for dipping. 

Hot Tip: Ditch the fork & use the mussel shell as a utensil. Not at all hip, but totally fun to do. Swearsies.

Am I the only one who has a passion for these bottomfeeders? Give ‘em a try & tell me whatcha think!

hot town, sweat’n in the city

If you live in the Greater Toronto Area you experienced an early taste of summer yesterday. The good parts: short skirts, popsicles & sunshine. But also the not-so-good: smoggyness, muggyness & sweatyness. Oh the sweatyness

So naturally today I’m sharing one of my favourite iced coffee creations with you. This is a somewhat unique preparation that I stumbled upon one day when I was almost out of coffee and almost out of tea…you see where I’m going with this. In the end I loved how it turned out and have made it time and time again to keep cool while satisfying my fiendish caffeine addiction all summer long.

Tea Infused SpICEd Coffee

I used a 6-cup french press & a 1 quart  mason jar for this recipe.

  • 9 scoops of coursely ground coffee (or 1.5 times your usual amount)
  • 1 ginger teabag**
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
  • ice
  • dairy or non-dairy milk of choice
  • sweetener (optional)
Directions:
  1. Add coursely ground coffee, cinnamon & the contents of 1 ginger teabag to the bottom of your french press and stir to combine. Add water as usual and brew for at least 5 minutes.
  2. As your coffee is brewing, fill a large mason jar 3/4 of the way with ice.
  3. Once coffee is brewed, pour over ice. Add in your sweetener of choice at this point. If you are using granulated sugar, pour hot coffee directly over individual spoonfuls rather than mixing it all in at once. This will help the sugar to dissolve.
  4. Top off coffee and ice mixture (which will have mostly melted at this point) with your preferred milk.
  5. Pop in the fridge and enjoy with a little extra ice whenever your coffee urge hits.
**I’m sure you could use lots of flavours to infuse your coffee – chai, vanilla rooibus or fruit teas like cherry, pomegranate or blueberry all sound tasty to me. I would avoid anything with notes of citrus.

 

 

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