Saturday

Healthy (Black Bean!) Chocolate Cake... Oh and it's gluten-free too

Healthy Chocolate Bean Cake

"This cake would be amazing even if I didn't know it was made out of beans", says my husband, after his second slice.

Meaning, it is truly delicious (and not just delicious for a "healthy dessert"). It tastes as decadent and as indulgent as any "normal" chocolate cake... only it isn't much of an indulgence at all. This cake is mainly made out of highly nutritious black beans - as odd as that sounds. The beans give the cake a wonderfully moist and fudge-y texture.

I was inspired to make this cake for my sweet-toothed toddler - as a way to sneak in some extra protein via the beans. I wasn't expecting to like it very much myself - but I LOVED it!
This cake is gluten-free too, as it contains no flour at all. It's sweetened with pure maple syrup and semi-sweet chocolate. And it's fantastic!

Healthy Chocolate Bean Cake



Read on for the recipe....

Tuesday

Backyard teepees & a recipe for campfire stick bannock


One of the definite perks of living in a northern native community is having lovely Cree neighbours who share their teepee with you. This is our third summer having a teepee in our backyard and we really, really love it!


The boys and I often hang out in there just to be outside and escape the horrendous black flies (for some unknown reason they don't come inside the teepee, even without a fire going).


But our favourite way to use the teepee is definitely for bannock hot-dog nights! 

We invite a bunch of friends over for a pot-luck teepee campfire. Our friends bring all the side salads and desserts, and we make the fresh bannock on sticks (and use them as buns for our roasted hot-dogs). We like to set up a table of all kinds of hot-dog toppings, like hot peppers, homemade quick-pickles, grated cheese, etc etc, and I love watching people build up crazy concoctions of toppings on their bannock-buns.



You don't need a teepee to make stick bannock, of course. You can do it on any old campfire. And you should! It's delicious!

So if you want to try it out, read on for the recipe.....

Raw Blueberry Pie & the world's best all-butter pie crust!

Raw blueberry pie recipe

The next time you come across perfectly plump fresh blueberries, do yourself the biggest favour in the world and buy 2 pints. And then go home and make this pie!
It's a game changer.
Seriously.
Especially when it's paired with this incredibly flaky pie crust.

fresh bluebrries for blueberry pie

What makes this pie so revolutionary, is that the berries aren't baked, which allows them to retain their integrity, their peak freshness and juiciness.

For those keeping score, this is not strictly a "raw" pie. The crust is baked. And a small fraction of the berries are cooked on the stove top to create a jam of sorts that holds the rest of the raw berries together.
It's unbelievably good. And I guarantee that you'll be making it over and over again once you try it.

Read on for the recipe...

Friday

Exile in Momsville & the light at the end of the tunnel


Life has been anything but normal the past few months. We are still very much in the fog of baby-induced sleep deprivation. And with Noah being 4.5 months old now, and still waking every 2 hours at night, well, that's a fairly big sleep debt we've accumulated.
It's pretty much impossible to feel normal under such circumstances.
But! Two nights ago, out of complete and utter desperation, we had an unplanned impromptu sleep training session (more on that below). And last night Noah had his best sleep ever! So things are starting to look up around here. And I am just praying to God that this is a turning point and not just a fluke one-night stand in Sleepsville.


Read more after the jump....

Wednesday

Quick and Easy Homemade Falafel

easy falafel recipe
To make traditional falafel, you need to soak chickpeas overnight and then grind them in a food processor, before mixing in your herbs and spices. This will make epically delicious falafel (so if you have the time, make these ones from Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem cookbook).... but it will also take up a lot of your time, and significant foresight.

And let's say you're a sleep-deprived mother of two, who can barely find time to shower, and suddenly you find yourself starving with 15 minutes to spare (shower or eat? Shower or eat?! That is always the question).... well you should whip up a batch of these super easy falafel and feed yourself already! They're delicious, and they feel kind of special.

They're made with chickpea flour, so there's no need to soak anything 12 hours in advance, and no need to break out the food processor. You should give them a try sometime.

easy falafel recipe

Read on for the recipe...

Friday

Healthier Florentine Cookies

healthy gluten-free almond cookies

I love florentine cookies. Because not only are they delicious, they're actually pretty healthy too... for a cookie, that is.  They're made almost entirely of almonds, plus a little egg white and sugar. That's it. No flour, no butter, no oil.

But I thought I'd try to make them even healthier by swapping out the sugar for less-refined pure maple syrup, and adding in various healthy seeds, like chia, sesame, pumpkin & flax.
It worked wonderfully. They make for a truly guilt-free snack. And they're high in protein, which makes them a great snack for kids too. My 2 year old loved them, so toddler-approved.

healthy gluten-free almond cookies

Read on for the recipe....

Sunday

New Music: The Japanese House


These days, the only music I get to listen to is Raffi and Dora the Explorer.... on repeat. So when evening finally arrives and the day's chaos draws to an end, when both our boys are tucked into bed, and when we finally begin to exhale.... a little adult ambience is just what we need.

And I'm loving this new music from London artist The Japanese House. It's part Imogen Heap, part Postal Service-esque, sort of chilled out alt-pop. And it's lovely.
Have a listen...

Saturday

Baked crispy aubergine fries with lime & honey

Baked crispy aubergine fries with lime & honey

This is my new favourite appetizer/snack, and you absolutely without question NEED to try it! 
On the exterior, they're crispy like french fries (but without all the fat), and inside they're all soft and melty and wonderful. 
Seriously, they're heavenly!

My two and half year old son went bananas for them... as did we.

Baked crispy aubergine fries with lime & honey for toddlers

Read on for the recipe...

Friday

Sneaky Vegetable Spaghetti Sauce for Picky Little Eaters

Healthy Vegetable Spaghetti Sauce for kids

My two and a half year old son (previously the-boy-who-will-eat-anything) is going through a bit of a picky eating phase right now. Read: he only wants to eat buttered noodles.
This can easily be explained by our recent transition to a family of 4, a severe lack of time and energy, and one too many careless short-cut pasta dinners.
Lesson learned: All quick fixes in parenthood will come back to haunt you. Guaranteed.

So. We are working on our table etiquette these days. No more dinner substitutions! We all eat the same thing. And we have to taste everything on our plates at least once before deciding that we don't like it.
(ps: here's a great article on the topic)

This, of course, doesn't mean no more pasta. After all, I love pasta too. So I invented a sneaky little spaghetti sauce consisting mostly of (hidden) blended up vegetables. I think it tastes rather delicious, if I don't say so myself.

Healthy Vegetable Spaghetti Sauce for kids

I served it to my son, pre-mixed with the noodles, so he couldn't pick out only the un-saucy ones (he does that). And at first he protested.... "want yellow noodles!" he kept saying (which is noodles with butter and a little nutritional yeast sprinkled on top). I stayed firm, and told him that this was all there was. He eventually caved. And then he ate 2 bowls full.
Cheeky monkey.

Read on for the sneaky recipe...

Wednesday

The Instagram cookie that made me famous for a day, and other random happenings of late....

salted chocolate chunk cookies

So the other day, I made Smitten Kitchen's uhhh-mazing salted chocolate chunk cookies.
These cookies are seriously amazing - you need to make them - and yes, you do, in fact, need another chocolate chip cookie recipe. Because this one is better than the ones you already have - guaranteed!

So I posted a photo of my freshly baked cookies on Instagram and the mega food blog Food52 re-grammed that photo of mine, and suddenly I was inundated with new followers. It took me completely by surprise. That silly little cookie photo received over ten thousand likes! TEN THOUSAND! I mean, let's be honest, every photo they post gets around that many likes, but still! That's a lot for little old me.

And I became obsessed with checking my instagram feed that day because every time I did, there would be like 15 new followers. And I got a glimpse of how addictive social media can be when you're in the big leagues... and #thanksbutnothanks, it is far too consuming for me. And while my ego certainly enjoyed the 15 minutes of fame, it's good to be back to real life ;)
But the cookies! For real - make the cookies!

pussy willows

Upward and onward. 
Spring feels like it has finally arrived in the north. We still have plenty of snow, but the air is warm, there are buds on the willow bushes, and the snow is slowly melting. Hallelujah! 

We go for walks. Zac splashes in the muddy puddles while Noah sleeps in the stroller. And it is so good to be outside again. It has been far too long. This whole postpartum crap, especially in the winter, is just not for me. Have your babies in the summer, people.

life in Chisasibi

My in-laws flew up north to visit us in Chisasibi for the first time ever. It was so nice to finally be able to show them what our life is like up here. And perhaps justify why we have chosen to live so far away from everyone for the past 4 years? See, it isn't so bad up here, it's actually quite lovely.

And it was really nice to have babysitters around! Adrien and I got to go cross-country skiing just the two of us - something we haven't been able to do since I was pregnant the first time. It reminded me why we initially fell in love with this northern life.

I am always envious of people who live really close to their families, people who have access to their constant support at any given time. I think having kids in general would be a lot less stressful that way. Sigh. The grass is always greener, right?!


And this little munchkin turned 3 months old this week!


I celebrated this pivotal milestone with a big glass of wine (all by myself, as Adrien was on call at the hospital), after I had single-handedly managed to get both boys in bed by 8:30pm without any tears... from any of us.  Hallelujah!

The 3-month mark is a big one, in my opinion... it's the official end of the newborn period, it's when you can start to see the light at the end of that dark and lonely post-partum tunnel, and it's when babies genuinely begin to be fun to be around. Cheers to me! And to all the other parents out there - it sure ain't easy!


Since Zac has been booted out of the stroller by his little brother, I got him this cool little Freerider scooter that attaches to the back (it can also detach and function as an independent scooter - genius right?!). It's pretty much the bomb-dot-com, and Z loves it!

pussy willows

So that's what we've been up to lately. Life is life. And life is good.
Thanks for visiting!
xo
Vanessa.

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