Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tropical Sweet N' Savoury Wraps

If you asked me what my favourite flavour combo was, I might have to say sweet and savoury. In particular, I love the way sweet fruit pairs so well with sour, salty and spicy flavours. These delicious wraps hit all of those notes, as well as offer a great mix of textures. They are sweet from mango, maple and apple; savoury from red onion, garlic, black pepper, avocado, cucumber, salt and coconut aminos; sour from lime juice; and spicy from chili powder. They are creamy thanks to avocado, but also crunchy thanks to crisp apple pieces, and crunchy red onion and savoy cabbage. They are an exciting, fresh, messy and thoroughly delightful mouthful of happiness.

I have been really into tropical fruit this month. In fact I've more or less eaten mango all January. I love it so much in so many recipes. It may be my favourite fruit! In an effort to expand my fruit for the month I picked up this beautiful pitaya (dragon fruit).

All I can say about this new-to-me fruit is I was a bit let down. I'd heard rumours that the flavour was a tad watery and boring but hoped they were wrong. Unfortunately that's more or less how I felt about it. My husband and I didn't even finish it in the end. Determined to have some tropical flavour I returned to my trusted mango obsession and made these wraps. I'm glad I did. They were my very delicious breakfast. I know I know, weird breakfast choice, but trust me, they really hit the spot!

If you like pitaya, I mean no offense. It's not that I didn't find the taste somewhat pleasing, its more that it didn't blow me away the way the fruit's physical beauty did. Mango however, mango is my fav. It takes center stage in today's recipe. If you enjoy mango too, give my recipe a try!

Tropical Sweet N' Savoury Wraps
  • Savoy cabbage leaves (I used 4-5), washed and dried
  • 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1 apple, green or ambrosia work well, chopped, skin on
  • 1/2-1 mango, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 large avocado
  • pinch pink salt
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp coconut aminos
  • garlic powder (1/2-1 tsp)
  • 1 lime, juice of
  • a few cranks fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2-1 tsp maple syrup
  • chili powder or hot sauce
  • toasted sesame oil (optional)
Place mango pieces, apple pieces, garlic, half the lime juice, red onion, salt, aminos, maple, pepper and as much chili as you like, and sesame oil in a bowl and mix well. In a separate bowl, mash the avocado with 1 tsp of aminos and a tiny pinch of salt and garlic powder until creamy.

Divide the avocado cream among the cabbage leaves. Top each with equal amounts of the mango mixture. Drizzle the juices from the mango mix over everything. Eat like tacos or wraps.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

SuperBread (Yeast-Free Buckwheat Quinoa Bread) AND 4 Recipe Variations

This bread is pretty awesome for lots of reasons. Let's start with the fact that it's easy to make. It comes together in one bowl in minutes and bakes in under an hour! It's yeast free too, so no waiting around for it to rise and no candida issues. Oh, and it also happens to be gluten-free, refined-sugar-free, grain-free, gum-free, legume-free, nut-free, high fibre, high protein, low fat and vegan!

How? How is so much possible from an easy to make healthy quick bread? Buckwheat. Buckwheat is fast becoming my favourite flour for baking. Why? Well it's really REALLY good for you, gluten-free, grain-free and doesn't require eggs to bake into nicely textured baked goods that don't crumble into dust. What's not to love?  

While I thoroughly enjoy buckwheat in many recipes, I find it can make some baked goods almost too dense and bitter without being balanced by another lighter flour. I often use rice flour for this but in a chocolate cake recipe I made recently I decided to use quinoa flakes and wow, they worked out really well in that recipe so I threw them in this one too!

This is a really lovely gluten-free bread. It has a great texture -- dense but soft. It's not crumbly, but solid so it holds up to your toaster, and its not dry tasting like many disappointing gluten-free breads out there. This bread is closer in texture to banana bread but is not as spongy and has a bit of a crust on top. 

The best part about this bread is that it is thoroughly customizable. 

You'll see below I offer add-in suggestions for the basic batter recipe to allow you to easily switch up  this healthy bread flavour-wise. 

You can also always make the basic version of this bread and just add whatever flavourful toppings you like when its ready. I enjoyed three pieces at room temperature with coconut oil and pink salt (my first batch of bread was light on the salt so the topping needed a little). I also made my husband a delicious almond butter and dark chocolate open faced sandwich with a toasted piece of the bread and it was, well, delightful

I hope you enjoy this bread! It's a great recipe to have on hand because it is so versatile.  

Add ins + basic bread recipe = countless gluten-free bread recipes!

SuperBread [base recipe] 
(Yeast-Free Buckwheat Quinoa Bread)
  • 1.5 cups quinoa flakes
  • 2 cups buckwheat flour
  • 2.5 cups water mixed with some mineral drops
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp apple butter (you can use maple syrup or honey or agave, but if you don's use apple butter you will need to add 1 tsp vinegar to the batter to activate the baking soda)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1-1.5 tbsp evoo
  • Big pinch pink salt (don't be shy with the salt, my first batch could have greatly benefited from more than the pinch I used)

Preheat oven to 375F.

Mix dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl of well. Mash in the oils and apple butter with a fork until well incorporated. Add the liquid, 1 cup at a time, gently blending all together using a rubber scraper/spatula.

Grab a standard size bread pan and line it with parchment paper. Scrape batter into lined pan and use spatula to smooth out the batter to the edges.

Glaze Topping [base recipe]:
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp evoo
  • 1 tsp apple butter
  • Pinch pink salt
Add all topping ingredients to a small bowl and mash together with a fork until smooth. Add dollops of it to the top of the bread. Use a knife to slightly marble the top of the bread. Place the bread in the oven centre and bake until lightly brown on top and firm to the touch.


Add 1/4 cup raisins, 1 tbsp maple syrup and 2 tsp cinnamon to the batter before baking. Add 1 tsp maple and 1 tsp cinnamon to the glaze topping recipe.

Add 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds and 1 tbsp whole flax seeds to the basic batter recipe before baking. 
After glazing the bread sprinkle 1/4 cup mixed seeds all over the top of the bread.

Add 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, 1/4 cup chopped pecans, 1 tbsp hemp hearts and 1 tbsp maple syrup to the basic batter recipe before baking.
After glazing the bread sprinkle 1/4 cup chopped mixed nuts all over the top of the bread.

Add 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts, 1/4 cup raisins, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds and 1 tbsp maple syrup to the basic batter recipe before baking.
After glazing the bread sprinkle 1/4 cup chopped mixed nuts and seeds all over the top of the bread.

These variations on the basic bread recipe above will keep things interesting for awhile!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The SuperBowl

I'm not a football person but I can definitely get on board with "buffalo" flavoured everything. I love hot sauce...a little bit too much.

This month has been full of sweet and spicy combos for me. I love it when the two meet. Today's recipe is more on the sweet, spicy and buttery side though.

This spicy, creamy, crunchy and buffalo sauce inspired SuperBowl is loaded with healthy vegetables and turmeric infused quinoa, and kicked up a notch with a "buffalo chickn" topping. Nope, not real chicken, but also NOT fakemeat. Allow me to introduce my new favourite one ingredient chicken substitute -- artichoke bottoms.

I know what you're thinking. Artichoke Bottoms? I must be insane. But I'm not insane, this bowl tastes insane.

I found frozen artichoke bottoms, not to be confused with artichoke hearts, at a Greek Variety store near my house. I tested them out by steaming them one night and noticed immediately that they had a surprisingly dense and almost "meaty" texture. They of course still taste like artichokes but dressed in a spicy and rich buffalo inspired sauce they really work well as a chicken substitute.

Here's why I think using artichoke bottoms instead of chicken is a great idea in this recipe:
  • they're vegan
  • they're GREAT for your liver
  • they're light as a feather
  • they're fat free
  • they're soy free 
  • they're gluten free
And yes, I am aware of how many times I just wrote free, but from an allergic person's perspective this is a great list!

Notice how I mention that artichoke bottoms are great for your liver. I challenge you to find another Superbowl recipe that can make such a claim. Bring it.

This bowl is...well its really delicious. It  definitely will remind you of "buffalo" flavour without giving you a new spare tire.

Actually, the different components of this recipe are all surprisingly healthy making this crazy SuperBowl a meal you can be enjoyed whenever you like, guilt free. It features:
  • Spicy Turmeric Infused Quinoa
  • Steamed Greens and Broccoli
  • Spicy Carrot Slaw
  • Buffalo Artichoke "chickn" bites
  • Avocado Ranch Dressing
Almost every element of this bowl is actually GOOD for your liver -- greens, turmeric, broccoli, avocado, artichokes...its all good! If you are craving buffalo flavoured everything but don't want to indulge in unhealthy traditional snacks, give this recipe a try on Superbowl Sunday!

The SuperBowl 

Quinoa Base
  • 1-2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp evoo
  • 1/2 small white onion, chopped small
  • Garlic powder
  • Turmeric powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Chili powder
  • Pinch salt
Heat the oils together in a large pot with a lid. Saute the onions and spices until the onions are translucent. Add the cooked quinoa and one to two cups water and stir through very well. Cover and cook gently on medium heat until thick and creamy. Reduce heat to low while you prepare the other parts.

Spicy Carrot Slaw: 

-1 large carrot, grated with a cheese grater
-1-2 tsps soy-free vegenaise
-1/4 tsp garlic powder
-1 tsp Frank's Red Hot

Toss all slaw ingredients together in a bowl to coat the shredded carrot. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Bowl Greens:
  • Steamed kale and broccoli (as much as you want)
  • Shredded cucumber (about 1 cup)

Avocado Ranch:

-1 ripe avocado
-1 tsp vegenaise
-garlic powder
-A little Water
-Pink salt
-Lemon juice
-Dried dill
-1/2 tsp maple syrup

Puree all ingredients until super smooth.Refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir before dressing your bowl.

"Buffalo Chickn" (Buffalo Artichoke Bottoms)
  • 6-8 large frozen artichoke bottoms (get at Greek or middle eastern grocery)
  • Franks red hot
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • Garlic powder
  • Squeeze of lemon
  •  1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped small
  • Pinch pink salt

    Steam the artichoke bottoms until warm and not frozen. Chop the steamed bottoms into small bite size pieces. Add to a bowl and stir in 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 3 tsp hot sauce, and maple. Melt the coconut oil in a sauce pan. Add the lemon and another 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the artichoke mixture plus 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce liquid by half and reduce heat to low until ready to serve.

    Once all of your bowl components are ready to eat, grab a large plate or deep bowl and add everything in layers starting with quinoa, then buffalo chickn, then greens, then carrot slaw, then cucumber, then avocado ranch. Add extra Red Hot if you like and serve!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Superfood Granola (gluten-free)

I am not much of a granola eater. My husband on the other hand consumes it multiple times a day. I think it actually may be his favourite thing. He eats it when he's tired and doesn't feel like cooking a real meal. He usually grabs a big bowlful, tops it with some natural peanut butter and some rice milk. He generally buys a particular ready made granola from our local health food store but they've been out of stock for what seems like ages. Rather than watch him suffer without his favorite standby, I offered to make him some from scratch. Enter this recipe for Superfood Granola.

First off this granola is gluten-free but only really suitable for people who eat oats. Oats are a funny thing. When you have celiac disease or severe gluten intolerance, you tend to avoid oats. They are often contaminated with wheat. That's why the market for wheat-free oats has sort of exploded over the past few years. Nonetheless, wheat free does not necessarily mean gluten free and you'll notice than many of these brands do not claim to be free of gluten. I have tried many brands of wheat free oats, and I can honestly say they all leave me feeling a bit ick. I'm not sure if it's psychological or what, but my stomach churns and my energy plummets after eating them so I've pretty much stopped altogether. Its a shame, I used to love eating oatmeal every day. If oats are ok with your body, this recipe is a keeper. If they're not, consider an alternative like rice flakes, or millet flakes, or buckwheat flakes, or quinoa flakes. All of these of course have their own flavour but in terms of an oat alternative, they may be your best bet.

This granola is full of energizing superfoods. Oats, pumpkin seeds, coconut, raisins and coconut oil all take center stage. Maple syrup sweetens the deal and cinnamon spices it up. This is a great recipe to make on a Sunday or Monday night and enjoy all week long for breakfast. 

Superfood Granola:
  • 3 cups wheat free oats
  • 2/3 cup coconut flakes or shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup jumbo thompson raisins
  • 1-2 tbsp virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1-2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch pink salt

Preheat oven to 375F. Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and stir to coat the oats evenly. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the mixture out evenly to the edges. Bake in the oven until you can smell it roasting (not burning) from the next room. Give the mixture a stir from the bottom and respread it across the pan to brown both sides of the oats. Return to the oven a few more minutes, watching to ensure it doesn't burn.

Cool then store in an airtight container. Enjoy with milk or on yogurt all week long.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Vegan Fettuccini Alfredo (soy-free, nut-free, grain-free, gluten-free)

What if I said I could make your vegetables taste like fettuccini alfredo? Would you buy me a coffee? Would you bake me a cake? Well you better preheat the oven...

This fettuccini alfredo recipe is:

  • vegan, paleo, whole 30, primal, ceoliac friendly
  •  gluten free
  • GUILT FREE and
  • nut free
  • soy free
  • grain free
  • full of vegetables
  • a source of good fat
  • seed free
  • high in fibre 
It's pretty much my dream come true. Creamy, buttery tasting, but healthy and light somehow. This might be a magical bowl of vegetables but I try not to put a limit on the possible

I hope you give this recipe a try, its a keeper. 

(grain-free, vegan, paleo, whole30, gluten-free)

For the Noodles:
  • 1 large zucchini, spiralized OR you can use real pasta

For the Sauce:
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • Pinch pink salt (or more)
  • Water
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp evoo
  • 1-2 tbsp virgin coconut oil (or more)
  • Fresh black pepper, a few cranks
  • 1/2-1 tsp or more garlic powder
In a small pot, boil together your pieces of parsnip, cauliflower and raw garlic until everything is very soft. Carefully pour out most of the water leaving about 1/2 an inch or a little more in the pan. Grab a hand blender and puree everything in the pot until silky smooth (or transfer to a blender and puree there). 

Add in remaining ingredients and continue to blend until smooth and creamy. Taste! If not buttery enough add more coconut oil and blend till smooth. If the taste is flat add more garlic powder and a little salt, blending. Once satisfied, heat the mixture over medium heat until simmering. Meanwhile, spiralize a large zucchini or prepare pasta. Top with the warm sauce and a few cranks of black pepper. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Exotic Detox Smoothie Bowl

I have a big problem with fad diets. For starters, most of them limit flavour. Whether its annihilating salt, or just minimizing seasoning all together, the result is bland and boring food that you will grow tired of. For me this is why most diets are not sustainable and can do more damage than good in the long run. Those boring grey meals just leave you unsatisfied and fantasizing about cake. I think of January as a month of anxious resolutions and detoxification attempts. Its all about resetting the body for a fresh start in the New Year. An attempt to cleanse the body of the mistakes of holidays past. I have an issue with this too. Why not just incorporate more healthy foods into the whole year? You wouldn't fuel your car with bad oil and then expect it to run like a dream on one month of primo diesel. Your body's not much different. It needs constant care to perform optimally. 

I don't do diets. I've never followed someone else's plan and made special weight loss recipes. That being said, I have undergone a dramatic body, mind and health transformation. I went from pudgy in highschool (not working out much, overindulging in unhealthy food) to lean and muscular by eating healthy food often and exercising regularly. There's no secret, that's just how it works. I took it too far at one time, over-exercising and undereating to a point where I became anorexic, but I've long since restored my body to a healthy weight and changed my way of thinking. Everything in moderation, listen to your body and enjoy what life has to offer is how I live now. If my body expresses intolerance to a food, I avoid it. If I want some chocolate, I eat it. If I'm full, I don't choke down more food. I try as best as I can to eat intuitively. What I have learned with time is that your body knows best. It knows better than that chick on instagram you worship. It knows what it needs and when, so listen!

Listening to your body aside, in the beginning when starting out on a healthy lifestyle, its nice to get some suggestions from those already on a healthy path. My biggest tip is to eat lots of fruit and fresh vegetables. They are so good for you and the more often you eat them the more you will find you need them in your life...all day, every day. 

Today's recipe is for a simple, healthy breakfast that is full of exotic flavours and is anything but boring diet food. This Mango Chili Lime Maple Detox Smoothie Bowl is full of vitamins and minerals and alkalizing ingredients. To me alkalinity is synonymous with health and wellness. When the body is too acidic, it becomes vulnerable to disease. Enjoying alkalizing foods regularly can help bring your body to a more alkaline state and help prevent illness. I try to make alkalizing foods the bulk of my diet to stay well all year long. 

This smoothie bowl can be enjoyed any day, any time. It reminds me a little of lemon or lime curd but it is totally vegan, fat free and refined sugar free. The flavours of the mango, lime juice, pink salt, chili, and maple compliment each other beautifully, creating a thoroughly addictive harmony of flavours. Though it tastes indulgent, this smoothie bowl is genuinely very good for you and is a totally guilt free treat. Enjoy it for breakfast or a light late night dessert.

Mango Chili Lime Maple Detox Smoothie Bowl:
  • 1 ripe tommy or hayden mango, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 1-1 1/2 frozen bananas, peeled and sliced
  • dash chili powder
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • juice of 1 lime
  • pinch pink salt
Blend the mango and frozen banana, and half the lime juice together until very smooth. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Drizzle with remaining lime juice and dust with the chili powder. Top with a drizzle of maple syrup. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gluten-free grain-free vegan birthday cake!

Last Thursday was my birthday. I didn't celebrate for many reasons. The main reason being that I was, and still am, sick. My husband did the best he could to keep me smiling when he got home from work. Gave me lots of hugs and some rad bowls I'd been admiring at a local shop. He offered endlessly to take me out for dinner, buy me a cake (baking is not his thing), but I just wasn't, and am still not, up to it. It was a nice night in, watching movies and sneezing so much I think I drained all the water from my body...

By Friday I was still quite sick, worse in fact. I was also quite sick of being sick. It had already been more than a week of next to no appetite, sore throat, coughing and now endless sneezing. You may have noticed I haven't baked much for the blog lately. I just haven't been into it. But for whatever bizarre reason I decided to bake myself a cake that morning. Determined to acknowledge the occasion in some way.

Cake is not something I recommend sick people eat but I'm glad I made this cake. It not only cheered me up, it turned out to be the best damn gluten-free vegan cake I've ever made!

This cake features: 
  • two layers of dense chocolate cake
  • incredible texture and flavour
  • spongy
  • moist
  • rich
  • chocolatey
  • fudgy but not mushy
  • firm but springy texture
But there's way more to this cake than just good physical performance. It is actually pretty good for you! This cake offers the following health benefits:
  • vegan protein from quinoa and buckwheat
  • essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids
  • good monounsaturated fats
  • antioxidants
  • beta carotene from sweet potato
  • high fibre content
 This cake is also suitable for health-conscious people and those on special diets. It is:
  • reduced fat
  • reduced sugar
  • vegan
  • gluten free
  • grain free
  • nut free
  • allergy friendly
Did I mention that this cake is the best cake I've ever made?! Make this cake!

Healthy Chocolate Birthday Cake
  • 1/2 medium sweet potato, steamed till tender and pureed with a hand blender
  • Pinch pink salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 tiny can of low fat coconut milk
  • 1.5 cups water or coconut water
  • 2-4 tbsp evoo (the more you add the more moist the cake will be)
  • 4 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flakes
  • 1.5 tbsp apple butter
  • 4-5 tbsp maple syrup 
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Liquid stevia to taste
Preheat oven to 375F.

In a bowl with a flat bottom using a hand blender (or you can use a smoothie blender) puree all ingredients together until very smooth. Taste for sweetness and add as much liquid stevia as you need (blending in little by little) to achieve a sweet chocolate cake batter flavour. Add a little extra salt if the flavour seems flat. 

Grab a 9" round or square cake pan and line it with parchment paper so paper covers the bottom and sides. Pour batter into center of pan and spread to the edges with a spoon. Top with vegan chocolate chips if desired and bake in the center of the oven until risen slightly and a fork inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool on stove top. Make frosting while cake cools.

New Age Chocolate Frosting (sounds weird, tastes great)
  • 2-3 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 cup of new potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • Pinch pink salt
  • 3-4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp evoo
  • 1-2 tsp vegan mayo
  • 2-4 tbsp light coconut milk
  • Stevia to taste
  • 2 tbsp chocolate or chocolate chips
Peel, chop and steam 1 cup of potatoes until very tender and mashable (use a creamy variety, not mealy). Puree with remaining ingredients (EXCEPT CHOCOLATE) until very smooth. Add stevia, little by little while blending until you achieve your desired sweetness. Transfer to a pot over medium low heat, add chocolate, whisking until melted. 

Cake Assembly

Slice cake down the middle and transfer half to a big plate. Trim both halves to have straight edges. Top with 1/3 of the frosting mixture, coating the top evenly with it using a butter knife. Place other half of cake carefully on top. Pour remaining frosting on top and spread to the edges gently with your knife letting some spill down the sides. Spread the drippings over the sides evenly to coat. Transfer the plate to a flat place in your freezer for 1 hour to set the frosting. Leave out for 10 minutes before serving or if serving later in the day or week, transfer to your refrigerator.