Thursday

Healthy, protein-rich breakfast banana bread

I've tweaked this banana bread recipe many times over the years. At different stages I've wanted it to contain much less sugar, then less flour, and I also wanted it to be high in protein since we eat it for breakfast most of the time. 



And I have to say, I think I've found the perfect balance of staying health-conscious, but not being overly restrictive. It still tastes rich and indulgent. But I feel good about my boys starting their day with it.

Sometimes I think I buy bananas just so I'll have an excuse to make this banana bread again. 
I've been making this exact version for the past 6 months and haven't felt the need to change anything else because it is just so good as is. So I figured it was time to share it.

You can make it completely flourless (or gluten-free) by swapping the 1 cup of wheat flour with 1 cup of coconut flour or another cup of almond flour (the bread won't rise/dome quite as high, which is why I use the flour, but it is still very delicious without it). 


Healthy, protein-rich breakfast banana bread

3 very ripe bananas, mashed
4 eggs
1/2 cup melted coconut oil (or butter)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar 
2 cups finely ground whole almonds (or almond flour)
1 cup all-purpose flour (or any whole grain flour)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips or chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
If you are using whole almonds measure about 2 heaping cups of whole almonds and pulse/process them to a fine powder in your food processor. It's ok if it's a bit granular.
In a large bowl, mix the mashed bananas and eggs, then add the melted coconut oil and vanilla.
Then add everything else and mix until well combined.

Pour into a greased bread tin and bake in the centre of a preheated oven for approximately 60 minutes.

Let cool in tin before removing.

Monday

Healthier Almond Linzer Cookies for Valentine's Day (flourless, gluten-free)


Here's a healthier version of classic linzer cookies for Valentin's Day. This version uses ground almonds and ground oats instead of flour. This makes the dough a little soft to work with, but the end results are fantastic!!

Read on for the recipe....

How to cook tofu that is crisp and delicious (the best and easiest way, in my humble opinion)


Tofu, when cooked incorrectly, tends to be dry, bland, rubbery and hopelessly flavourless. But it doesn't have to be that way!

Here is a very simple method for making delicious, intensely flavourful, soft-on-the-inside-and-crisp-on-the-outside stovetop tofu. No pressing, no marinating, no freezing or deep frying necessary.

Here's what you'll need:


Ingredients (see notes below)

1 standard size block of firm* Tofu
1/4 cup oil (scant)**
1 Tablespoon Tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp garlic powder (I like the granulated form over superfine powder)
1-2 Tablespoons honey or maple syrup***
1/2 tsp salt, or to your personal taste
freshly ground black pepper 
1-2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes**** (optional) 

Instructions:
Cut the tofu into approx. 1cm cubes (or whatever shape you like, just not too big or the centre won't get enough flavour).
In a large frying pan (I like to use nonstick) - heat the oil over medium-high heat. 
Toss in the tofu cubes to coat. Then add in the remaining ingredients except the nutritional yeast (which only goes on at the very end). 
Give it all a good mix until all the tofu pieces appear uniformly coated, and ideally all in a single layer.
Now here is the important part: You want those edges to caramelize and get really crispy - so don't stir too often! 
Let the tofu sit in the hot oil without touching it for a good 2-3 minutes before turning it. Once you get nicely browned sides, give it a good toss and flip the tofu pieces around. You don't need to be overly meticulous about it, and you don't need to get all 6 sides of each cube perfectly browned. Keep doing this a few more times until you're satisfied with the browning (you want deep brown spots not black - burnt tofu really doesn't taste good).
Finally, remove the pan from the heat completely. Then sprinkle on the nutritional yeast flakes and toss it all around. You'll notice that the yeast flakes "soak" up the remaining oil and help it adhere to the tofu - which is what you want! Taste and adjust with more salt and pepper if needed.



A few Notes....

*On choosing tofu: I'm not a huge fan of "extra firm" - I find it too dense. I prefer "medium firm" if you can find it. You can also use "extra firm silken tofu" which is much, much softer and breaks apart easier. But if you're careful when turning it in the frying pan, it's absolutely delicious when cooked with this same method.
** Tofu has very little fat in it - and we all know fat = flavour. So you need to be generous with your oil when cooking tofu. This is true for most vegetarian cooking, in my opinion. Choose any oil you like  (I usually use olive) just don't be stingy.
*** Why sweetener you ask? This is the secret to getting super crisp caramelized edges to your tofu. It's not that much but packs a big punch. It turns tofu from ordinary to extraordinary. 
**** Nutritional yeast flakes - this is totally optional but is truly the finishing touch. It adds amazing umami flavour and the je-ne-sais-quoi deliciousness that is too hard to explain. And it's loaded with vitamins.
~  On flavouringyou can adapt this method in so many ways. Use a bit of sesame oil and toss in black sesame seeds at the very end. Use a bit of sriracha or chile paste/flakes, or any kind of heat - always a welcomed addition when cooking tofu. Sprinkle in dried herbs or paprika. But most of the time I use this basic method above, with very few additions. 







Life Hack: Easy cake decorating trick using a cookie cutter and sprinkles


This is such a quick and easy way to decorate the top of a cake. I can't believe it took me 6 years of motherhood to think of it!

Simply choose a cookie cutter shape that you like and gently place it on the top of a cake. It should sit into the icing layer slightly (about 1mm deep) so the sprinkles don't spill out the bottom sides.

Carefully pour the sprinkles into the centre of the cookie cutter, and gently spread them around to fill all the nooks and crannies. You're going for thin layer of sprinkles with complete coverage.

Gently pat them down with the back of a spoon or your finger to secure them in space (being careful not to completely submerge them under the icing). And then remove the cookie cutter.

If by chance a few sprinkles shift, simply push them back in place with a toothpick or pick them off with tweezers.



Also these number sprinkles are just the cutest thing in the world, in my opinion. I used them for both my boy's birthday cakes this year. They're by Wilton, and I found them at Michaels.




Do you have any cake decorating tricks or tips? I'd love to hear if you feel like sharing :)

Friday

Golden Granola with Turmeric & Cardamom


This granola is DELICIOUS! I had this moment of inspiration to add turmeric to my granola recipe to give it a wonderful golden colour, and I'm so glad I did because it is the bomb!
I know turmeric is super trendy and in everything these days, but this one is definitely worth trying.
Go ahead and spice up your morning! You will thank me for it later :)



Easy & Delicious Golden Granola

3 cups whole rolled oats
2 cups slivered almonds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
1/3 cup raw whole flax seeds
1 tsp cinnamon 
2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 brown sugar
3/4 cup pure maple syrup

Mix everything in a large bowl.
Spread on a large baking tray lined with parchment paper (for easy clean up).
Bake at 320 degrees F for 15 minute intervals x3 (total 40-45 minutes) - stirring between each, or until the granola is nice and golden but not too dark. 

Allow to cool completely, then transfer to a jar or container and store at room temperature.

A few notes...

*Oven temperatures vary, so check on your granola intermittently. Turn the temp down to 300 degrees for the final 10-15 minutes if it's browning too quickly, or take it out early - it will still be delicious after only 30minutes of baking. You want the granola golden not burnt at all.

* if you want granola clusters, do not toss the granola when you take it out of the oven for the final time, and let it cool completely in the tray before breaking it up into delicious bite-sized clusters.

*I don't like dried fruit in my granola, but feel free to toss in some dried cranberries/currents/raisins/chopped apricots or chopped candied ginger at the end (after baking).


Simple, warming turmeric latte, because, it's November


Turmeric Latte (Golden Latte)

350 ml milk (almond, dairy, whatever you like)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
scant 1/4 tsp ground ginger
dash black pepper
dash of cardamom powder
2 tsp maple syrup

Blend together on a stovetop pan using either a whisk or a handheld milk further until warm & frothy.
Alternatively if you own a Nespresso Aerochino, you can just throw everything together in there, and simply tap the button and you're done.




Wednesday

Halloween around here: carving the cutest white pumpkin and roasting pumpkin seeds


We've been really getting into the Halloween spirit around here. My boys get spooked pretty easily, so we keep our decorations pretty tame.

Last night we carved pumpkins. I decided to try carving a white pumpkin, which I had never done before. I carved sleepy eyes, and I'm so happy with how it turned out. I think it's absolutely adorable!









And of course, we roasted the pumpkin seeds.
If you're interested, read the recipe after the jump...

Monday

School Safe Chocolate SunButter Cookies

Here's a school-safe (nut-free) adaptation of a classic chocolate peanut-butter cookie. Only they're not made with peanut butter. Instead they're made with healthy protein-packed sunflower seed butter.


I like to pack my boys homemade desserts in their lunches. But I've felt frustrated lately, as most of the desserts I like to make use a lot of nuts (I almost always swap out 1/3 to 1/2 of the flour in any recipe for ground almonds for nutritional purposes). But this means my boys can't bring what I make to school. 

So I was inspired to find a decently healthy cookie that I could make, that didn't contain any nuts at all (our school is very strict on this issue, for good reason).

I won't lie, I don't love the taste of sunflower seed butter on its own. But I do love that it's packed with protein, and rich in iron and vitamin E. So this is where the cocoa powder comes in - it completely masks the  "seedy" flavour.

I am so pleased with these! 




Read on for the recipe.....

Wednesday

Healthy Fruit & Nut Chocolate Power Balls (vegan, gluten-free)

power balls recipe


These little power balls don't take their name lightly - they are literally packed with healthy fats and protein, and they will keep you going when you don't have time to eat a full meal.

Some days when I'm hustling to get the kids ready for school and out the door, and simultaneously trying to get myself ready for work, I'll realize at the last minute that all I've ingested is caffeine. And on those days, I love when I have a container of these power balls in my fridge - they are total life savers. 


vegan gluten-free power balls  recipe

This recipe is quite adaptable. I change it up all the time - varying the types of nuts and dried fruit to match what I have on hand (but keeping the overall ratios approximately the same). They always turn out great.

You'll need a food processor for this recipe, and you'll need to devote a bit of time to roll them into balls. That part is a bit of a labour of love - but I promise you, it's worth it.


vegan gluten-free power balls  recipe

Read on for the recipe....


Best Ever Granola Recipe - with olive oil and maple syrup


Homemade granola is such a wonderful thing to make. It's so simple, and tastes a million times better than any store bought version. And you can make it your own by crafting your own perfect melange of nuts and seeds.

I have perfected my favourite version (in my humble opinion!). The kids and I make a big batch every few weeks and we eat it almost daily for breakfast. It's so hearty and satisfying and utterly delicious.

If you've never made your own granola before, this is a great way to start.


Read on for the recipe...




Best Ever Granola Recipe 
- made with olive oil and maple syrup -


3 cups whole rolled oats
2 cups slivered almonds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut or coconut chips
1/4 cup raw whole flax seeds
1 tsp cinnamon 
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 brown sugar
3/4 cup pure maple syrup

Mix everything in a large bowl.
Spread on a large baking tray (I line mine with parchment paper for easy clean up - but not necessary).
Bake at 320 degrees F for 15 minute intervals x3 (total 40-45 minutes) - stirring in between each, or until the granola is nice and golden but not too dark. 

* if you want granola clusters, do not toss the granola when you take it out of the oven for the final time, and let it cool completely in the tray before breaking it up into delicious bite-sized clusters.

*I don't like dried fruit in my granola, but feel free to toss in some dried cranberries/currents/raisins/chopped apricots at the end (after baking).

* Recipe inspired by the famous New York Times version - I've adapted it to my own personal tastes and preferences over the years.




Store in a large jar at room temperature. It keeps very well for several weeks.
Enjoy!
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