09 November 2014

Banana Bread Cookies

Cooking with kids has always been something I enjoyed.  I loved sharing in food preparation on canoe trips that I led when I worked at summer camp.  Later on in teacher's college I found ways of incorporating cooking and baking into lesson plans and carried this on to my work at our local food co-operative, doing hands on demos.  But I've really found a whole new love of it in baking with Woodrow.

He is always SO eager to work in the kitchen.  Often times it's as simple as making pancakes or oatmeal in the morning (He adores scooping the oats and chia seeds into his bowl and sprinkling cinnamon and nutmeg on top!) and baking has become one of our favourite afternoon projects.  I usually keep things fairly healthy and load the bowl up with fruit or veg - carrot, applesauce, pumpkin, zucchini all make regular appearances, but banana tends to rule to roost.  They're always there on the counter and there are usually a couple that are a little too ripe to eat on their own, making them perfect for adding sweetness to cookies.

These cookies are incredibly easy (proof: my almost 2-year-old can pretty much make them on his own), filling, and healthy as they're filled with fruit, oats and nut butter.  They're free of refined sugars and totally fit the bill for a grab-and-go breakfast when you're heading out the door.  And the kicker?  They taste just like banana bread, especially warm from the oven.

These cookies are perfect to make when you want banana bread but don't want to wait an hour.  15 minutes and then it's eatin' time!  Kid (and husband) approved.

Banana Bread Cookies
makes 18 cookies

2 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 cups quick cook oats*
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt (omit if PB is salted)
dash nutmeg
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350f.  Mash the bananas in a large bowl.  Add the peanut butter and maple syrup and mix well.  Stir in the oats, chia seeds, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix until combined and you have a thick batter.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Scoop about 2 tablespoons for each cookie onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet.  With wet hands, roll into a ball and fatten a bit - the cookies will not spread out while cooking.  Bake for 14-15 minutes.  Enjoy them warm from the oven and store the rest at room temperature for up to 5 days.

*Use certified gluten-free oats if needed

02 November 2014

Pumpkin Cream Pie

I hope you're not sick of pumpkin yet this season, because I've got a doozy of a pie recipe for you today.  It's so good, that we enjoyed it 2 Sunday dinners in a row.  And for the second time there remains only a small piece left for tomorrow.  (If it lasts that long.)

This pumpkin pie is not your usual pumpkin pie.  This one is light, and airy and uber creamy.  It tastes so decadent but it's actually full of protein.  And the best part of all - it's a no bake pie!  With only 5 ingredients, the filling literally takes less than 5 minutes to prepare, and then after it's poured into a pie shell, it needs only to chill and set.

Then, voila! Pumpkin Cream Pie.
Mmmmm.... So good.

I made a quick shortbread crust for my pie, but you could easily make a cookie crumb crust or a pastry if you're feeling adventurous.  You can also save some time and work by using a pre-fab crust from the store.  No shame in that.  In fact, last week's pie was made with a frozen pastry shell I had kicking around my freezer and it was every bit as delicious.

This pie is a breeze to make and a refreshing change up from traditional pumpkin pie.  It's possibly my new favourite.  It's easy, nut free and the crust can easily be made gluten free too.

Pumpkin Cream Pie
makes one 9" pie

For the crust:
1 cup all purpose flour (or use gluten free)
1/3 cup coconut oil or vegan butter, softened but not melted
1/4 powdered sugar, sifted

For the filling:
12oz package of firm silken tofu, drained
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup + 3 tbsp powdered sugar, sifted
2 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup melted coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 350f.  Mix together the shortbread crust ingredients in a medium bowl, using your fingers or a fork to combine them.  Press the mixture into a 9" pie plate, pressing it most of the way up the sides.  Prick with a fork once or twice and bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until it begins to brown lightly.  Remove from the oven and allow to full chill.

Place the tofu, pumpkin, sugar and spice into a food processor or high speed blender and process until smooth, stopping to scrape the sides down if need be.  Once smooth, add the melted coconut oil and blend again.  Pour filling into cooled pie crust and smooth the top with a knife or spatula.  Place in the fridge and allow to chill for at least 6 hours, if not overnight.  This will allow the filling to set - if you try to cut it sooner than this it will be a hot mess.  You can also help the setting process by using the freezer, but be warned - this will make the shortbread crust really hard to cut!  Best to let it thaw a bit on the counter prior to slicing and serving.

28 October 2014

Nourishing Wellness Bowl

As you may have noticed, things have been a little quiet around the blog lately.  I've been out of commission for a couple of weeks after enduring a little health hiccup.  I'm very grateful that it turned out to be a minor issue in the end, but the last 5 weeks or so have been incredibly stressful as had me seeing various doctors, enduring tests and examinations while they tried to figure out what was going on.  Long story short, and without getting into all the details, there was a lump and now there isn't.  And hopefully that will be the end of that.  I'm still taking it easy, but I am really feeling good about being able to move on with healing and focusing on my wellness.


I'm so thankful to be feeling well again and more like myself and actually wanting to be in the kitchen.  I've been eating pretty simple foods lately for a multitude of reasons, but primarily because they're easy and quick and wholesome.  But what my meals may have lacked in creativity and sparkle, they've made up for in simple goodness.  Today's recipe is exactly along those lines.

Warm, chewy, short grain brown rice and hearty, protein-packed lentils cooked together in my rice cooker (my favourite life hack // no-fuss way to prepare them!), with shredded carrots and Brussels sprouts, massaged kale, and a creamy tahini dressing.  Plus some raw kimchi for a little fermented kick too. 

Wholesome, delicious perfection.

Feed your growling tummy and fuel your body with this wholesome, filling, real food.

Nourishing Wellness Bowl
serves 2

1/2 cup short grain brown rice
1/4 cup french lentils
1 1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp sea salt
4 stalks lacinato kale (aka black kale, dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale)
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1-12 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and shredded
1/4 cup raw sauerkraut or kimchi
1 tsp olive oil

Maple Tahini Dressing
makes about 1/2 cup

2 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp Herbamare or sea salt
1/4 cup water

In a small pot, bring the water to a boil.  Add the rice, lentils and salt and stir.  Return to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 45 minutes, or until the water has absorbed and rice and lentils are tender.  Alternatively, add them all to your rice cooker, press the "ON" button and walk away (win!).

Wash and dry the kale.  Strip the leaves from their stems using a sharp knife, stack the leaves and chop them into bite-sized pieces.  Drizzle with the olive oil and massage it into the kale for a minute or two. 

To make the dressing, simply whisk together the tahini, lemon juice and maple syrup.  Thin with as little or as much of the water as you like (this will partially depend on the thickness of the tahini you use and also on your personal preference) and season with the salt.

Once the rice is cooked, assemble everything into 2 bowls and top with the Maple Tahini Dressing.

It feels good to be back in this space.  I've also been testing an amazing new pumpkin pie recipe for you fine folks too... hopefully I will be back later this week (or weekend) with it!

Until then, wishing you all wellness too.  XO

10 October 2014

Greens 24/7

YOU GUYS.  I know I haven't said as much as a peep lately about that book thing I've been working on, but I am ready ( and SO excited!) to share a little sneak peek with you today!  I finished editing the manuscript way back in August and now it's just a matter of waiting for it to arrive on my doorstep.  Eeeeek!  Greens 24/7 is set to be released by The Experiment on January 6th, but if you can't wait until then, you can totally pre-order it here.  And for my friends and readers across the pond, if you order a UK copy it will be published by Apple Press (and there will even be a different cover for you!).

I can barely contain my excitement about this and I know you're going to get excited too once you read a little more about Greens 24/7 and take this sneak peek at a few of the gorgeous, mouth-watering photographs from the book.  I am so, so lucky to have had Jackie working on this with me.

I mean, come on!  And I can tell you that the rest of the book is just as impressive.

Here's more about the book (from my publisher's website):

Greens 24/7 
More Than 100 Quick, Easy, and Delicious Recipes for Eating Leafy Greens and Other Green Veggies at Every Meal, Every Day

Green veggies galore—with all their benefits—made delicious in every meal from breakfast to dessert

Yes, they’re good for you—but who knew greens could be so much fun?
If you’re trying to eat more greens but find yourself in a salad rut, Greens 24/7 is here to bring delicious, healthy veggies to every meal of the day, from breakfast to dessert. Spinach in pancakes? Kale in cornbread? You bet!

The 100+ innovative recipes pack a seriously healthy punch with more than 40 green veggies, featuring classics like broccoli and zucchini, superfoods like chard and Brussels sprouts, and unconventional greens like spirulina and kelp. Recipes include:
  • Chocolate Superfood Smoothie
  • Pesto Polenta Fries with Spicy Aioli
  • Zucchini Noodle Bolognese
  • Samosa Burritos with Peas
  • Lemon and Parsley Olive Oil Cake
  • Chocolate Hazelnut Avocado Torte
With Greens 24/7, you can have your cake—and your kale, too!

There will be events announced in the near future so that you can get your copy in person, so stay tuned for that!  Also, if you are one of my local friends, SAVE THE DATE for November 29th - I'll be hosting the first in a series of cooking workshops and I'll be sharing recipes from the book!  More on that soon :)

For now, have yourselves a wonderful weekend.  And a happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian peeps!  I'll be cooking up a cruelty-free feast on Sunday and you can catch a peek of that via Instagram.


06 October 2014

Crispy Fried Tofu

Do you have that one dish in your repertoire that you always think of when you're stumped for what to make for dinner?  You know the one - it's quick and easy, requires only a handful of ingredients and everyone loves it?  For me this is "that dish".  This is the dish that started my love affair with tofu and it's one that I've made countless times over the years.  It's also the one that I've been asked for the recipe for time and time again.

This dish goes back, all the way back, to my university days.  There was small little gem of a place in Guelph called Cafe Aquarius that we used to eat at.  It was run very casually with counter service and an open kitchen.  The walls were lined with local artists' work, meals were served on mismatched plates from a second hand shop and the food was amazing.  Not that I can actually comment on the entire menu, because I am fairly confident that over the course of my 4 years there I ordered a grand total of - wait for it - ONE menu item.  That's right folks, without fail, every single time I had the Crispy Fried Tofu, served with brown rice and a pseudo Caesar salad.

Near the end of my 4th year when a friend of a friend who once worked there shared the ingredients of the recipe with me, I wrote it to memory and have been making it ever since. (As you'll see, it's so simple this was not a difficult task!)  I must say, this was likely the dish that converted Mark to tofu.  For reals.  This tofu has magic powers.

I've actually been meaning to share this recipe on Cupcakes and Kale since my first months of blogging but it just never happened.  (Seriously, this had been in my draft folder for over 3 years!)  Finally the time has come, and this goodness will be shared!

It's so simple a recipe but I promise you, you will love it.  Really and truly, you will.
THIS is tofu.

Crispy Fried Tofu
serves 2-4

1 350g-400g block extra firm tofu
1/4 cup tamari (use gluten free tamari if needed)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 tsp oil for frying

Optional coating add ins: toasted sesame seeds, hemp hearts, garlic powder, dried herbs, cayenne powder.

Drain the liquid from the tofu, wrap it in a clean tea towel and press it by placing it under a cast iron skillet or a plate that's weighted down with several books.  After several minutes, remove the tofu and slice it into 10-12 pieces.  Place it and the tamari in a shallow dish to marinate.  If you have them time, leave it for 10 minutes to an hour.  In a pinch, I've been known to leave it for only 5 minutes before moving on.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat.  Place the nutritional yeast in a dish and one at a time, coat each tamari-marinated tofu slices before placing them in the hot pan.  Cook for 5-6 minutes a side until golden brown and crispy.  But here's the trick - only flip t he tofu once and resist the urge to shake the pan or lift the pieces to check on them - too much movement and you'll end up losing some of the delicious coating.  And trust me, you want all the crispy, noochy coating.  Serve it any way you like, but my favourite way is a la Cafe Aquarius with brown rice and a fresh, green salad and a little extra tamari on the side.

And for what it's worth, in my opinion, it's best enjoyed with an old university friend.