Flourless Tart Cherry Oatmeal Muffins

So on Sunday I went on a giant meal-prep spree! This included an amazing banana bread baked oatmeal that I’ve been eating all week, hard-boiling some eggs, soaking and cooking chickpeas, roasting veggies, making the rice and ground turkey for last night’s burrito bowls, and baking these muffins. Why don’t I make muffins on Sundays anymore? Why?

There is nothing easier than making these muffins. You make these in the blender! You throw everything except the cherries into the blender, run it until it’s smooth, and then stir in the cherries. For those who haven’t check out this loaf I made, you know that I ended up with about a zillion tart cherries and I pitted them and it took forever. And then I gave up and just chucked some of them in the freezer bags with the pits still in. So then I had to take out all the pits when the cherries were still frozen. I’m also on a mission to use up the hilarious number of bananas that are in the freezer, so bananas went in both this and my baked oatmeal this week.

These muffins are dairy-free, since it uses almond milk. They are peanut-free, and can be gluten-free if you use gluten-free oats. There’s also no oil or butter, the only fat is from the almond butter.

This recipe make 12 muffins, like any reasonable muffin recipe does.

img_1107

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups pitted tart cherries (or your favourite more common normal berry)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line your muffin tin with paper liners or grease it well.
  2. Combine all ingredients, except the cherries in a blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Stir in the cherries. Pour into muffin tin and bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.
Advertisements

A Recipe a Week: Week 5

Someday I will get off my soapbox about easy meals and meal planning and the wonders of meal prep. But today is not that day!!!

20170130_193249

While I wish I had a better picture, I was hungry and forgot until I was almost at the end of my bowl. Which says a lot about this meal. This week I kicked my challenge off early with the Roasted Gnocchi and Brussels Sprouts with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette from Eating Well Magazine‘s November/December 2016 issue.

A key aspect of meal planning is looking at what meals you’ll have lots of time to cook, what meals you’ll have a little bit of time to cook, and what meals you’ll have no time to cook. This one was in the middle, and the prep time was cut down tonight even more because I trimmed all those sprouts up while I waited for things to cook while doing my meal prep for the week yesterday. Meal prep to the rescue!!! I’m also a big advocate of sheet pan dinners because they’re simple. You just throw everything together, throw it on the pan and then throw it on a plate. This takes about 20 minutes to cook, which is about how long I have until I’m totally starving after the gym.

I’m not usually the biggest fan of Brussels sprouts, but the more I roast them, the more I like them. Boiled, still not so much. The sundried tomatoes and the acidity of the lemon really took away from the bitterness that I normally don’t like about the sprouts. The only thing I would change, is that when using normal lemons instead of Meyer lemons, the vinaigrette turns out a bit more sour. Next time I’ll probably skip adding the lemon juice towards the end and just let the lemons on the pan do their thing. But that’s a personal preference and using what’s available.

The vote in our little household is that this Meatless Monday-friendly dish will definitely be making a repeat performance. I have leftovers in the meal plan set for Wednesday night and I can’t wait!

A Recipe a Week: Week 4

Another week, another recipe and we’re still going strong. I feel like this challenge I’ve set for myself is definitely helping me finally cook some of the recipes I’ve flagged in the cookbooks I’ve accumulated, and so far it’s been great as far as prepping things ahead to have for lunch or dinner on busy nights.

IMG_20170126_193031.jpg

This week’s recipe is from Three Times a Day by Marilou and Alexandre Champagne. Even if every recipe in this book was awful, I would still love it for the photography. Everything is so carefully styled and presented. The recipes are just a great, with everything from simple recipes for everyday snacks, up to showstopper desserts and really fun main courses. I’ve only made a handful of thing from the book up until now, including the Eggs Benedict & Express Hollandaise Sauce (you make the sauce in the blender, it’s so simple!), the Coconut, Almond & Dark Chocolate Bars multiple times and the Butter Chicken. I find the recipes simple to follow, I’ve only had to hunt for a few ingredients I didn’t normally buy (garam masala, I’m looking at you), and the ingredients for each recipe are broken down into categories to make assembling everything easier. For the recipe I made tonight, all the salad ingredients were listed, and then the vinaigrette ingredients were under a separate heading. I know lots of cookbooks and recipes do this, it just makes actually cooking it great.

 I expected putting together this Orzo Salad with Roasted Vegetables, Fresh Herbs & Garlic Vinaigrette to take much longer than it did in real life. Once the veggies are all chopped and in the oven, all you ave to do is cook the orzo and throw together the vinaigrette. In the 20 minutes it took the veggies to cook, I had everything else done. My other favourite thing about this recipe is that it uses winter vegetables. So often in pasta salad, you have the standard tomatoes, cucumber and peppers. Those are great, but what if you want to get seasonal veggies? That’s where this recipe comes in. Carrots, squash and celeriac are great options to cook with in the winter months.

I’ve never cooked with celeriac before this recipe. I haven’t been actively avoiding it, I just can’t find it at our local grocery store, and never think to pick it up when I’m somewhere else. Once I figured out how to peel the ugly little bugger, I was away to the races. Did you know that 1 cup of celeriac has 20% of your daily vitamin C and 2.8 g of fibre? Now you do. I have a few pieces left after measuring out what I needed for this recipe, so I’m planning to chop them up and roast them to toss in a quinoa bowl for lunch next week.

In the mean time, I have this orzo salad to keep me going for days! It makes 6-8 servings, and we had it with some leftover chicken tonight.

I feel like the recipes I’ve been making have all been pretty veggie-centered, so maybe for next week I’ll move onto something a little different. I’m sure over the next 48 weeks you’ll see at least one more recipe show up from Three Times a Day.

A Recipe A Week: Week 3

This week for my A Recipe A Week challenge, I made the Spicy Red Lentil Soup from Homegrown, by Mairlyn Smith. Homegrown is a really unique book for a few reasons. For starters, it celebrate Canadian foods. There are so many twists on dishes from around the world, but they are all created with specifically Canadian ingredients in mind. Another reason I love this book is because the recipes have seasons listed at the top when the ingredients will be available. For example, all the asparagus recipes have “spring” listed at the top. It makes it super simple to know what dishes are going to taste the best with what’s available right now. The third reason I love it is because all the recipes were submitted by members of the Ontario Home Economics Association, which is a group I am very proud to be part of. Home Economics is a profession most people aren’t familiar with, and I feel like this book really showcases what we’re all about.

So this recipe…

IMG_1102.JPG

 

As per my own rules for this challenge, I had to make the recipe for this week between Monday and Sunday. This ended up with me making soup on Monday night instead of Sunday, like any normal meal-prepper.

There is something weirdly meditative about setting out all your ingredients and chopping the vegetables and measuring everything out that makes you feel very in control of your own little world. I cook a lot for work (that is my job), and I absolutely love it, but being able to cook for yourself and not worrying about following the recipe to the letter is an entirely different process. For example, I somehow lost the bag of lentils I really needed for this recipe. Like, lentils are in the name, how am I going to make this without lentils? I still haven’t found them, I have no idea where they went. But it’s not the end of the world. No one says I can’t put a can of chickpeas in my soup instead! Yes the lentils would melt into the soup a little better and make a different texture, but chickpeas still have protein and fibre and are tasty. It’s just not the end of the world. Not everything you make has to follow a recipe perfectly. It does have to feed you and make you happy.

And this recipe seriously makes me happy. The spice blend includes black pepper, turmeric, and cinnamon. Combined with the shallots and garlic, the kitchen smelt soooooo good. The spices make the soup spicy in a kind of unexpected way. The other unexpected thing here are the dried apricots. They soften up and add the subtle sweet pieces to the soup. Combined with the cinnamon, it reminds me kinda of Moroccan-inspired dishes. I am so excited to have a big bowl of this in my lunch every day this week! Meal prep doesn’t have to be this big awful chore. Sometimes it can just be you making a big pot of soup on a Monday night to feed you through a drizzly foggy week.

The big lesson here this week: find something that is just really pleasant to make to feed you all week and that you will look forward to eating every day. Calling something “pleasant to make” sounds weird, but what I mean is something simple, something uncomplicated, something that’s not stressful and that is open to your own unique tastes and pantry. Something that isn’t totally wrecked when you manage to lose the main ingredient.

Now I’m off to find something to make for next week!

A Recipe A Week: Week 2

Saturday night is a weird time for me to be posting but I did just make my new recipe for the week, so I figured I should write while I’m thinking about it.

For those who missed the last post, I have set myself a challenge for the year. Each week I’m cooking up a new-to-me recipe in order to break myself out of my food rut. The goal is that by Sunday night each week I will have tried a new recipe and posted about it. Two down, only fifty to go!!!

This week I made Pesto Spaghetti Squash from Thug Kitchen 101. I added the original Thug Kitchen to my shelf two years ago when I was looking for vegan cookbooks, because beans and legumes are cheaper than meat, and I was looking for cheap ways to up my protein and iron intake. I ended up loving how they use different ingredients to create totally unique dishes that everyone will love, vegan or not. When I got Thug Kitchen 101 for Christmas this year, I was so excited to start cooking my way through it.

img_1099

Like kale salad, spaghetti squash is not really outside of my comfort zone. As I have proven in a handful of posts (with meat sauce, as a taco skillet, or in this first post that desperately needs new photos), spaghetti squash is a staple in my cooking and has been for a while. Usually I make it in the microwave because it tends to go a little bit faster. For this recipe, I cooked it in the oven and whipped up the pesto sauce while it was cooking. Pesto is a great way to use up those odds and ends of herbs that can end up hanging around the fridge after you only needed them for a garnish or a tiny amount in a recipe. Things like cilantro, parsley and basil are the obvious choices, but some thyme thrown in would be a nice surprise. Green onions could easily make themselves at home here too. Add your favourite nuts, some olive oil, garlic and lemon juice and you’re away to the races! Any strategy for keeping food from going to waste!

I topped my squash off with some leftover rotisserie chicken for some protein. I do realize that adding meat to a dish from a vegan book kind of defeats the purpose, but this is what was in the fridge and needed to be eaten up. I was super happy with how this recipe turned out and it has definitely been added to the make-again list!

Next week I’m tackling a red lentil soup. The plan is to make it on Monday night and portion it out so I have lunch for the rest of the week. I’m trying to get pack into the habit of meals planning and meal prepping so there is never a scramble to figure out what to take for lunch or what to make for dinner, so this recipe fits in perfectly. I’m also starting to get bored with my lunch salads and I want something warm when I come in from going for my walk at lunch, so this sounds like the perfect fit. Stay tuned!

 

A Recipe a Week: Week 1

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Do you set new year’s resolutions? Most people do. And most people say things like “I want to lose weight” or “I want to eat healthier” or “I want to travel more”. These are awesome goals, but they are not nearly specific enough to be attainable. How much weight do you want to lose? How are you going to do that? Eat healthier how: more veggies? More protein? Track your food? Eat mindfully? And where do you want to travel? When? How are you saving up to be able to do that? Who do you need to bring into the loop about any of these goals?

The point is, a resolution with no kind of plan to it is pretty easy to brush aside, and it’s easy to give up because you don’t know where to start.

My new year’s resolution is to get out of the cooking rut I’ve been in lately. To that end, my more specific plan is that I will cook one new recipe every week. These don’t have to be gourmet, they don’t have to be complicated, and they won’t be my own original recipes. To make this goal achievable, I’ve gone through a bunch of cookbooks and flagged all the recipes I’m interested in with sticky notes, which cuts down a bit on dithering over whether something looks good. I’m also picking each recipe the week before, and putting the ingredients on the grocery list, so I don’t get to the end of the week and need to make a new recipe but don’t have ingredients, or haven’t planned ahead.

I’ve set this goal because I feel like I’m in a food rut. I have changed my eating a bit in the last few months and am eating a much healthier diet than before. However, I don’t know how many dinners I’ve had that consist of a relatively plain protein and plain veggies. I work with food and cook all day. By the time I get home and have to feed myself, there’s so many days I just don’t have the effort left to get creative with my food. I’m hoping that by taking on this challenge, I will find some new fall-back recipes that I will love, and that I’ll be able to try out some new kitchen skills and new techniques and learn lots along the way.

IMG_1082.JPGTo kick things off this week, I can’t say I went too far out of my comfort zone. I made the Kale Caesar Salad with Roast Pistachios from the Whole30 Cookbook by Melissa Hartwig.

While I haven’t followed a Whole30 diet too much since I did mine in the summer, I have stuck with some of the concepts in my every-day healthy eating. Things like filling up on veggies and fruits, incorporating healthy fats, avoiding processed foods, limiting all types of sugar, etc. I love that there’s a whole new book of these recipes, since I do love to cook with as much of a whole-food approach as possible.

This recipe isn’t really branching out for me, since I have my own version of a Garlicky Kale Salad, and we go through a ridiculous amount of kale salad when it’s in season and heaps are coming out of the garden. I love making recipes that are similar to my staple foods, but different, because it gives me a different perspective on how to make the dish, or how to tweak those foods I make constantly so that it keeps getting better, or I can do something different with it. This dressing uses a hard-boiled egg yolk to hold everything in the dressing together, which I love for a few reasons: 1) I don’t love mayo based dressings. 2) There are always hard-boiled eggs in the fridge. 3) I don’t have to worry about raw-egg food safety things when I have leftovers for 4 days. The pistachios are something different, and I didn’t miss croutons or bacon or cheese at all. Since it is kale, the leftovers hold up really well for a few days too! We had the salad with some slow-cooked beef roast and potatoes. I have to say, I’m super happy with how this salad turned out, and I can’t wait to try some other recipes from this book!

Stay tuned for what I decide to make next week!

Turkey Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

In the last few weeks, I’ve really gotten on the meal planning and meal prep bandwagon. If you want to read more about some meal planning strategies I love, check out this post.

The way I’ve started approaching meal prep is what works for me, since I only cook for 2 people, including myself. I don’t do a giant prep session on Sunday, and I don’t have a zillion plastic containers full of food ready for every meal in the week. I do make a full recipe (i.e. 4-6 servings) of anything I’m making. We eat what we want, and then portion the  leftovers into containers for lunch or another dinner. These containers are then added to the meal plan to make sure everything gets used up. Since most leftovers keep for around 3 days, this means you can space out what you’re eating so you don’t have curry 3 times in 48 hours.

Beyond portioning out leftovers, I’ve started just making extra of things I know will come in handy. I’ll cook a couple extra portions of quinoa or brown rice, knowing that they’ll be used to burrito bowls or stir-fry or salad for lunch. Right now I have extra chicken going in the slow cooker. We’ll have some pulled chicken and BBQ sauce with baked sweet potatoes tonight, and then I’m fairly sure it will be coming back on Tuesday night.

The point here, is that meal prep doesn’t have to be a big production and doesn’t have to be super complicated. Just decide what to eat and then make extra. And then make sure you use up all those extras after. If you’re in the kitchen cooking anyway, you may as well save yourself some time later.

This is applicable to this recipe because you can make extras of the entire dish and eat them at another meal. Or you can make the quinoa for another meal ahead of time and use it up in this one (that’s what I did). Or you can make the recipe with extra filling, and use the filling in a taco salad or burrito or served beside some roasted veggies. There’s tons of options to fit all your meal prepping and planning needs.

This recipe makes 4 (2 pepper halves) servings.

IMG_1074.JPG

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb extra-lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (I use tri-colour, use whatever you’ve got)
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 4 red/orange/yellow bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and turkey. Cook until turkey is no longer pink and onion is soft, about 6-8 minutes.
  2. Add quinoa and salsa; cook until everything is heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile, place peppers on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave peppers 1-2 minutes or until slightly softened.
  4. Place pepper halves cut side up on a foil-lined baking sheet. Use small balls of foil to prop up any halves that won’t stay level. Divide turkey mixture evenly between peppers.
  5. Bake 15 minutes or until peppers are soft and top of turkey mixture is starting to brown.
  6. Serve topped with sour cream, cheese, green onions, or more salsa.

Turkey and Veggie Chili

Somehow I have not managed to post anything in October yet! Things have just been really busy around here, but I’m back with a new wonderful recipe!

Since our forecast for the week is chilly and windy at best, I thought this would be a great week to make a huge batch of chili that gives me leftovers for the week. Right now, I’m constantly looking for recipes with a larger amount of carbohydrates and protein, while being moderate in fat, so I opted for extra-lean ground turkey over my usual ground pork and lean ground beef. The black beans help increase both protein and carbs further, while the sweet potato and peppers really bulk it up. Top a nice hearty bowl off with a bit of sour cream, cheese, or avocado. This recipe is also super easy: once you chop everything, all you do is brown the turkey, and then throw everything in and simmer!

Part of my meal planning strategy lately is to make lots of whatever I’m making for dinner, and then incorporate the leftovers into meals for the next few days. This means I’m going through plastic containers like crazy! I couldn’t find one the right size when I was making my lunch today because every single one was in the fridge! But that’s not the point.

The point is, when you’re cooking something anyway, how hard is it to cook a little bit more? Maybe you make a big pot of chili when you’re only feeding two people, but then you have another dinner, and a lunch each! Maybe you only need a few servings of chicken, but it’s not that hard to grill a couple extra and use them for lunch. Steaming veggies? Making rice? Salad? Squash? Make more than you need and stash a serving for later!

If you’re one of those people who can’t stand having the same thing twice so close together, try freezing single-serve portions of meals, well-sealed and labelled. Then, when you’re in a rush, you have a healthy, home-cooked meal that just needs to be defrosted. Future you will thank you.

This recipe makes 6 (1 1/2 cup) servings.

IMG_1066.JPG

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb extra-lean ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 (540 mL) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (796 mL) can diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  1. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and brown turkey until no longer pink. Add onions and garlic and cook until soft, 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour.
  3. Serve with your favourite toppings.

Coconut Apricot Overnight Oats

Overnight oats and I have had an interesting relationship. When I first saw it on Pinterest (where all good ideas come from), I thought it was silly. It doesn’t take that long to make oatmeal, why do we need to make it ahead of time?

And then I made this batch and everything changed. Imagine walking downstairs half asleep in the morning and just grabbing a jar from the fridge, fumbling for a spoon, and knowing that is the only work you have to put into breakfast. Yes you have to prep it the night before, but the prep itself is minimal. Just throw your ingredients together in a jar, shake it all up and chuck it in the fridge for a bit. It really can’t be any simpler than that. I love anything I can eat from a Mason jar with a spoon. And cold oatmeal totally works! If cold oatmeal isn’t your thing, try heating this up a bit in the microwave. Please just remove the metal lid first.

Overnight oats shouldn’t just be limited to breakfast though. Try making a batch to have a lunch, or packing a jar for a quick dinner on the go! I’ve done two variation on the blog, but almost any combination of fruit, nuts and seeds, nut butters, dried fruit, or anything else will work. Or try a savory jar and top it with an egg for a different twist!

This recipe makes 1 serving.

IMG_1053.JPG

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup large flake oats
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut
  • 5 dried apricots, chopped
  1. Combine everything in a clean 500 mL mason jar. Shake to combine and refrigerate overnight. Reheat if you want, or eat cold.

12 Awesome Apple Recipes to Get You Through Fall

12 Awesome Apple Recipes To Get You Through Fall (1).png

Apples are one of those fruits that I always forget I like. If someone asked me my favourite fruit, it would probably be something like apricots or raspberries or peaches. But there are always apples in the crisper drawer in our fridge. They last for ages, they pack in lunches and, judging from this awesome list of recipes, we can use them in all kinds of things! And it’s fall, so if you try to eat locally and in season, there will be tons of apples coming your way soon!

  1. Apple Muffins with Cinnamon Streusel from A Virtual Vegan

Deliciously soft & fluffy apple muffins, loaded with sweet, tender fruit and topped with an irresistibly crumbly, cinnamony, streusel topping.

2. Green Apple and Quinoa Coleslaw from The Leafy Cauldron

Green Apple and Quinoa Coleslaw

3. My Apple Pie Green Smoothie

IMG_0765

4. Skinny Apple Pie Milkshake from Joe and Sue

5. Spiced Apple Breakfast Bowl from I Love Vegan

Spiced Apple Oatmeal Bowl - ilovevegan.com

6. Chai Applesauce, Apple Butter & Apple Leather from Making Healthy Choices

Chai Applesauce, Apple Butter and Apple Leather

7. Apple Carrot Lemon Ginger Juice from Justine Celina

Apple Carrot Lemon Ginger Juice // JustineCelina.com

8. Homemade Oven Baked Apple Chips from She Loves Biscotti

Homemade Oven Baked Apple Chips

9. Raw Apple Pie from The Bewitchin’ Kitchen

Raw Apple Pie

10. Apple Cinnamon Slow Cooker Oatmeal from Savour and Shine

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal // seen on savourandshine.com

11. Super Quick Vegan Oatmeal Breakfast from Eye Candy Popper

Super quick vegan oatmeal breakfast

12. My Spinach-Apple Omelette

IMG_1032.JPG