I would like to preface this recipe by saying that I love real cinnamon buns, in their all their glutenous sugar-laden glory. Those little pillsbury ones that come in a tube and fluff up like marshmallows when you bake them? The giant ones you can smell from half-way across the mall (or from the subway at Eglinton station if you live in Toronto)? Of all the baked goods, cinnamon buns are the most satisfyingly nostalgic and they will always have a special place in my heart.
However, if you crave these tasty treats on the regular, you may wish to find something a little more healthful to indulge in. Hopefully that is where I can be of some help.
These little energy bites are made up of just walnuts, oats, coconut oil and naturally sweet dates but they are absolutely delicious. Perfect for a midday snack or an after-dinner treat. And best of all, you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to get your fix of pillowy cinnamon sugar. Hope you enjoy these as much as I do!
Cinnamon Bun Energy Bites
Yield: about 18-20.
- 2 cups oats
- 1.5 cups dates
- 1 cup toasted walnuts
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- a few tbsp of water
- Add all ingredients except for water into the food processor and blend until the mixture starts to look a little like brown sugar (thick and grainy).
- Add in a little water to the mix, 1 tbsp at the time until it begins to clump up and forms a big doughy ball. I used about 2-3 tbsp.
- Use a tbsp scoop to roll the mixture into balls.
I love smoothies. But I’m not in love with them.
I think of smoothies like casual dates. They’re fun, sweet and they satisfy my immediate need for sustenance, but they’re not substantial. An hour or two after I drink one, I’m hungry again. Totally different than my long-term relationship with oatmeal.
That said, after years of perfecting my blending game, I’ve learned a thing or two about transforming a light little smoothie into a hearty, satisfying breakfast.
- Use frozen fruit: It just maintains its texture better and keeps things nice and thick.
- Add fibrous veggies: I put spinach or kale most of my smoothies but I also use fibrous veggies like celery, zucchini, beets, carrots or even broccoli stems. You barely taste them alongside all the fruit and they keep you feeling energized and full all morning long.
- Add healthy fats: I always throw some chia seeds into my smoothies when I have them around, a scoop of nut butter or even 1/2 an avocado. It dramatically improves the texture of your drink and helps you absorb the nutrients in any fruit or veggies you’ve put in.
- Add protein: I like to use natural protein powder like sun warrior blend but you can also use hemp protein or hemp hearts, yogurt, silken tofu, whatever your prefer. It will definitely amp up the staying power of your morning blend
- Add toppings: Sometimes I like to add some crunch to my smoothies by adding toppings like pumpkin seeds, goji berries, granola or coconut. It helps me savour my breakfast rather chugging it back in one gulp.
- Not too much ice: This is a big mistake I made in my early smoothie days – I would always add a full tray of ice. The problem with this is that when the ice melts, it makes the smoothie runny and thin. Try to bulk up your smoothies with the ingredients above, and just a few ice cubes to keep things cool and fresh tasting.
Using these basic tips, I whip together all sorts of creations, today’s being a bright green matcha explosion.
Creamy Matcha Green Smoothie
- 1 ripe frozen banana
- 1 heaping tbsp cashew butter
- 1-2 tsp matcha green tea powder
- 1 scoop sun warrior vanilla protein powder (optional)
- 2 cups kale
- 1-2 cups almond milk
- 4 ice cubes
- Place all fruit in blender first followed by nut butter, protein powder if using, ice, then place your greens on top. Cover with almond milk until your ingredients are about 1/2 way covered.
- Blend. Add more milk if needed.
I look forward to Sunday mornings the way other people look forward to Friday nights. It combines all of my favourite things: breakfast, coffee, pajamas, blankets, family skype dates, reading and Coronation Street.
Here’s a little of what I’m enjoying this morning…
And of course a tasty breakfast.
These panacakes are wholesome, whole-grain and unlike your average boxed mixes will actually leave you feeling energized (not ready for a nap). They are full of protein, healthy fats, fibre…and chocolate chips 😉
Satisfying Oatmeal Pancakes
yields 1 generous serving
- coconut oil (for frying)
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup oat flour
- 1 tbsp coconut flour
- 1/2 ripe banana
- optional toppings – berries, nut butter, mini-chocolate chips and a drizzle of honey.
- Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Mash banana in a mixing bowl. Add 2 eggs and whip with a fork.
- Add oat and coconut flours and stir until well-combined.
- Pour batter onto frying pan and cook until each pancake is browned and lifts easily with spatula (3-4 minutes). Cook an extra 1-2 minutes.
- Serve hot with berries, chocolate chips, nut butter, etc.
Despite my predilection for highly involved projects and recipes, I spend very very little time actually preparing my meals. This is for the best because usually by the time I’m home from work and the gym, I’m voracious. No vegetable scrap or handful of granola is safe in my path. For this reason, I tend to do a lot of “food prep” over the weekends. This way, I have a variety of ingredient staples on hand. For example: there is rarely a day when I don’t have a tupperware full of roasted sweet potatoes, a bowl of brown rice and a ziploc full of hard boiled eggs in my fridge. In case of snack-mergencies. Of course having these kinds of staples ready-to-go also helps me whip together Monday-Friday dinners in under 15 minutes.
This sweet potato and egg skillet is the kind of creation I’ll pull together when I am 90% hunger and 10% rational thought. It’s fast and easy but still healthy and satiating.
Sweet Potato and Egg Skillet
- coconut oil
- 1 roasted sweet potato, cubed*
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 head of broccoli, chopped
- handful of kale
- sprinkle of goat cheese (optional)
- salt and pepper
- Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add broccoli and sautee until bright green.
- Add sweet potato and smash pieces lightly with the back of a spatula.
- Add kale and stir in until wilted.
- Crack 2 eggs on top. Poke yolks with a fork and tilt skillet until egg is evenly spread around the pan.
- Add salt and pepper and a sprinkle of goat cheese (if using).
*If you don’t have these prepared in advance. Just preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly coat cubed sweet potato with coconut oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping once half way through baking, until brown and tender.
When it comes to weeknight cooking, I tend to have one of two very different approaches: maximum efficiency or maximum effort. On a maximum efficiency day, I eat out of a giant
mixing salad bowl that is usually layered with greens (arugula, kale, spinach), sweet potatoes or brown rice and some kind of quick and cheap protein (chickpeas, tuna, tempeh, etc). On a maximum effort day, I do things like make my own pizza crust from hand-ground almond flour or whip up 7 layer vegan mousakka. Usually on these days I usually end up snacking so much by the time dinner finally hits the table that I’m too full and tired to enjoy my meal, let alone clean up after myself.
This evening I tried my hand at some kind of middle ground, and the results were fairly tasty.
Masala Chicken, Green Beans and Lentils
- 2 large chicken breasts
- 1.5-2 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tsp salt
- coconut oil
- 1 lb bag of green beans
- 2 cloves fresh garlic
- 2 tbsp tamari
- 1.5 cups cooked lentils
For the chicken
- Preheat the oven to 425
- Heat coconut oil on a large frying pan on med-high heat.
- Massage chicken breasts with salt and garam masala.
- Add chicken to fry pan and cook about 4-5 minutes or until browned, then flip to the other side and repeat.
- Place browned chicken on a lined baking sheet and place into the hot oven. You can also use an oven-safe pan and place it directly into the oven.
- Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until cooked through but still tender.
- Allow to sit for a few minutes, then slice.
For the green beans and lentils
- Cook lentils according to package instructions (i usually use a bit over a 2:1 ratio)
- Melt coconut oil in a large pan or wok.
- Add green beans and garlic and stir fry for about 3-4 minutes.
- Add tamari and a small amount of water (1/4 cup max). Simmer and allow to reduce by half.
- Add cooked lentils to the mix and stir well to combine.
Serve sliced chicken on top of lentils and green beans. Serves 2-4.
I can’t place exactly when black bean brownies came on the scene. Maybe it was something cooked up by Jerry Seinfeld’s wife – you know, the one notorious for her putting vegetables in all sorts of inappropriate places? Or maybe it was The Happy Herbivore, the first place I ever saw them. Either way, they have become a staple of the “tricked-you-this-is-actually-healthy” dessert genre.
While I enjoy healthy desserts as much as the next healthy living blog addict, but my philosophy on healthy desserts is to keep them to yourself. For two main reasons.
1) You made them for yourself. You took the time to shop at the health food store, dropped a bunch of cash on chia seeds and maca powder then spent all afternoon in the kitchen so that you could enjoy a delicious baked good without feeling like garbage afterwards. Keep half the batch in the freezer if you need to but you deserve to enjoy the fruits of your labour.
2) When you push a bite of a “healthified” treat on a friend or a co-worker and then surprise them with its secretly beet-infused contents, you’re not sharing you’re looking for validation. If they don’t enjoy the treat, it will probably make you feel self-conscious and judged. If they do enjoy it, you’ll feel proud and like you beat the system. Either way, who cares what they think? Wasn’t it supposed to be a treat for you in the first place? Obviously you should offer a bite to a pal if they ask, but maybe just let them try it and spare them the ingredient list?
ON THAT NOTE….
Here is a recipe that’s just for you. These are nice, dense chocolatey brownies that – no secrets here – are made without any sugar and are loaded with fibre. I have a feeling you’re exactly the kind of person who will appreciate them.
Black Bean Brownies
- 1.5 cups cooked black beans
- 1 cup soft dates or raisins*
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
*If your dried fruit is too firm, simply place it in a bowl and add some boiling water. Let it sit for 5 minutes then drain.
- Place dried fruit, cocoa, beans and almond milk into your blender and blend on high until smooth.
- Pour wet batter into a large mixing bowl and mix in 1/2 your chocolate chips
- Finally add coconut flour and allow the batter to sit for 3-5 minutes or until it thickens up a bit
- Pour mixture into a greased or lined 8×8 baking pan
- Top with remaining chocolate chips
- Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until the centre is firm
- Remove and allow to cool completely before cutting, otherwise the brownies will crumble
- Cut, refrigerate and enjoy
I’m already nostalgic for fall.
I’ve always said October is the greatest (my birthday, pumpkin pie AND halloween all in one month? no competition!) and this year was no exception. So far I’ve traveled to rural Pennsylvania to catch my first college football game (y’all are crazy), spent some time in the wilderness hiking through the changing leaves and even flew to NYC for a weekend of art, food and moderate debauchery…more on that soon.
Anyhow in honour of my tender feelings towards my very favourite month I thought I would post a recipe starring the official ingredient of autumn…PUMPKIN!
This simple recipe is perfect to whip up on a Sunday afternoon and enjoy for lunches or quick dinners throughout week.
Turkey, white bean and pumpkin stew
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium diced white onion
- 2-3 cloves minced garlic
- 2 diced celery stalks
- 1 package lean ground turkey (could sub for 1 block of tempeh, grated)
- 1.5 cups cooked white beans
- 1 cup pureed pumpkin
- 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- sage and thyme
- salt and pepper
- Sautee onions, garlic and celery in olive oil on medium heat until just soft.
- Add ground turkey and cook until just brown, draining if necessary.
- Add in beans, pumpkin, spices and veggie broth. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmering.
- Simmer everything together for about 30 minutes or until the broth is thick.
- Taste and adjust seasonings.
In my opinion, the ideal Sunday is spent wasted entirely.
Today was almost perfectly that. It was a sleep in, watch Coronation Street, wear wooly socks for the first time all season, drink 3 cups of green tea, chat with my grandmother, listen to Sarah McLachlan, read my own tarot and make my own chickpea-spread kind of day. The dream, no? And while I can’t share with you the joys of my day…I can share the fruits of my labour.
Seedy Sunflower Hummus
- 1 small clove garlic
- 2 cups garbanzo beans, cooked from scratch
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 fresh lemon, juiced
- 2 tbsp tamari
- 1 tbsp olive or flax oil
- Process all ingredients in a food processor til smooth and creamy.
- Add water if you need to until you reach the right consistency.
- Eat it with a spoon. Repeat all week.
Oh…and in case your wondering…the chariot signifies mastery and triumph which i choose to interpret as my success in hummus and in life.
It’s been a cold and rainy (dare I even say…snowy) April here in Toronto. So as much as I’d like to be transitioning to fresh spring salads come lunchtime, the thought of something warm and satisfying is far more appealing.
This not-quite a salad, not-quite a casserole is reminiscent of a classic creamy tuna noodle casserole minus the white pasta and soup-in-a-can sauce. Plus its beyond simple to whip together and can be served hot, cold or somewhere in between.
No-Cook Tuna “Casserole”
(Gluten and Dairy Free)
- 1-2 cans tuna
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas
- 1.5 cups cooked millet
- 2 big handfuls of spinach, coursely chopped
- 1/2 jar capers, chopped (about a palmful)
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1/2 tbsp yellow mustard
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- pinch of garlic powder
- salt and pepper
1. Mix together millet, chickpeas and tuna in a large bowl.
2. Add in 1 tbsp tahini, nutritional yeast and mustard.
3. Mix in the fresh chopped spinach and capers and the other tablespoon of tahini. Use your hands to mix the salad, ensuring all the leaves are separated and coated in dressing.
4. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of garlic powder. Stir again to combine.
On the hunt for a gluten free treat that doesn’t require 8 kinds of overpriced cement flour to stay together? Well look no further.
These cookies are tasty, cheap & ready in a snap. Did I mention they only have 5 ingredients? Srsly I’m always lookin out for you guys.
Peanut Butter & Banana Cookies
- 1 cup all natural peanut butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 banana
- pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix peanut butter, sugar and egg until well combined.
- Add coursely mashed banana
- Use a tablespoon to scoop onto wax paper and press down with a fork. Top with extra banana slices if desired.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes. They will still be very soft when they come out of the oven so make sure you allow them to cool completely before serving.
Makes about 16 cookies.
Eat em up!