Thursday, 31 July 2014

Oatmeal Cinnamon Peanut Butter Cookies


These cookies are easy to make and quick to prepare! They were similar to my Oatmeal Peanut Butter Coconut Cookies, but I liked the consistency of these cookies better, because they were chewier.  I used Kraft smooth peanut butter, so I'm not sure how they'd turn out if you were to use natural peanut butter, but I will have to try it sometime!

If you are making a gluten free version of this recipe, be sure to purchase oats labelled "Gluten Free," as regular oats may have cross-contamination.

I used my tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop the cookie dough onto the pan to make them uniform in size and shape.  That made 19 cookies...so 18, since you have to taste one when it comes out of the oven!

Ingredients

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp coconut oil (or canola)
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
Canola spray, for greasing

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease two baking sheets with canola spray.

In a mixing bowl, combine peanut butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and coconut oil and mix well with a fork.  Add the egg and mix to combine.  Add oats and baking soda and mix until uniform.

Using a spoon, scoop cookie dough onto pans two inches apart.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Transfer to cooling rack.

Nutrition (per cookie)

Calories 83
Fat 4.5g
Carbohydrates 8.9g
Fibre 1.1g
Sugars 4.4g
Protein 2.7g

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

A good read and my favourite recipe sites

I'm taking some vacation time next week and, other than having a wedding to attend, I have no plans!  And that makes me very excited.  My goals for vacation:
  • Try a new recipe everyday.
  • Finish the book I started in June.
  • Start doing barbell squats and deadlifts again.  My sprained ankle is almost healed!  Just doing upper body lifts is getting old pretty fast.
That might make it sound like the book is boring, but I promise you, it is not.  I wake up at 5am to go to work, so I find it tough to stay awake long enough before bed to get through more than a few pages at a time.   The book, The Tastemakers: Why We're Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue, by Toronto-based author David Sax, is an examination of how and where food trends develop.  Celebrity chefs, health trends, cultural influences and marketing can all shape what we eat and how we eat it.  I'm about halfway through this book now.  I had a good chuckle at the author's opening bit on health foods and diet trends, and I'm also enjoying the information on how foods are marketed, since it's not an area with which I am familiar.  If you are a foodie, this book is for you!

As for looking for new recipes to try, I'm often asked where I find new recipes, so here are some of my favourite sites:

All-around healthy recipes
Whole Foods Market recipes  These are good for all around healthy recipes, and if you click on advanced search, you can narrow your search down by special diets, course, main ingredient, cuisine, or category.
Wholeliving.com  If you enjoy Martha Stewart's line of Everday Food cookbooks, you'll love wholeliving.com, which is a compilation of healthy recipes.
Skinnytaste.com   This blog includes a wide range of family-friendly recipes.  It is compatible with Weight Watchers points system.
100daysofrealfood.com  More great family-friendly, easy to prepare recipes.

Gluten free/Paleo recipes
Thehealthyfoodie.com  This Quebec-based blog is gluten free and paleo friendly.  It includes a lot of great high protein and veggie packed meals.

Vegetarian/Vegan recipes
Greenkitchenstories.com  This vegetarian blog includes a lot of options for vegetarian and gluten free, so it is allergy/special dietary needs friendly.
Chocolatecoveredkatie.com  Vegan/vegetarian desserts and some savoury dishes, which includes options for substitutions.

All-around favourites
In the Kitchen with Stefano Faita  Recipes from my favourite Canadian celebrity chef.
Averiecooks.com  Some healthy, some not so much, but all delicious!

Do you have favourite recipe sites you'd like to share?  If so, please post in the comments!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Spicy Peanut Sauce


This recipe comes from my favourite celebrity chef, Montreal-based Stefano Faita. I was very sad to hear that his show on CBC was cancelled for next year as a result of CBC losing the Hockey Night in Canada contract (which caused CBC to make many cut backs on other programming).  The good news?  Stefano released his first cookbook in English last year (he also has several in French).  Every recipe I've tried from his cookbook came out perfect on the first attempt, so I highly recommend it!

This sauce was amazing on grilled chicken, but I also tried it drizzled on baked sweet potato, which makes for a great vegetarian option.

Yield:  2 cups

Ingredients

1 cup peanuts (blanched and unsalted)
1 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp lime juice
Optional:  Cilantro, to garnish

Directions

Pour peanuts into food processor and grind into very small chunks.  Transfer to a saucepan.  Add coconut milk, curry paste, brown sugar, and lime juice to saucepan and turn heat to medium.  Whisk to combine and bring mixture to a boil.  Remove from heat and set aside to thicken for about 5 minutes.

Serve over grilled chicken, grilled vegetables, etc.  Top with chopped cilantro, if desired.

Nutrition (per 2 tbsp)

Calories 88
Fat 8.1g
Carbohydrates 2.8g
Fibre 1.1g
Sugars 1.4g
Protein 2.7g

Monday, 21 July 2014

Parmesan Oregano Beer Bread

I had to update the photo of this one! This post is from last year, and my current phone takes much better pictures (plus I use the Fotor app to edit them now). I figured I would leave the old photo there anyway.

Beer bread is a great way to start making homemade bread, since you don't have to learn how to work with yeast or knead the dough. This bread rises right away too! No need to proof the bread before baking! It doesn't get easier than this.

I've made various beer breads that were sweet (my favourite being the Chocolate Cherry Beer Bread), but wanted to try a savoury version.  I used Moosehead for this one, but you can use any beer of your choice.  This bread was amazing with some butter on it when it was fresh from the oven!  I think this was my best bread yet.

Serves 12

Ingredients

2 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 tsp dried garlic, crushed (or garlic powder, or fresh garlic, minced)
3/4 cup grated parmesan
12oz beer
1/2 cup water
Canola spray, for greasing

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a large loaf pan with canola spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients, and mix until uniform.  Add water and beer.  Quickly mix the batter and pour into loaf pan.

Bake for 40 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories 168
Fat 3.4g
Carbohydrates 25.1g
Fibre 1.0g
Sugars 0.8g
Protein 7.7g

Saturday, 19 July 2014

5 Layer Mediterranean Dip

I've been looking for a light summer dip that doesn't use mayo, and found an Eight Layer Mediterranean Dip on the Whole Foods Market site that inspired this recipe.  You can add layers of cherry tomatoes, olives, etc., to suit your taste.  I used tzatziki in this, but you can also use plain Greek Yogurt if you prefer.

Serves 8

Ingredients

260g (1 container) hummus
100g marinated artichoke, chopped
227g (1 container) tzatziki
100g feta, thinly sliced
3 baby cucumbers or 1 English cucumber, sliced
Black pepper, to taste
Bag of pita chips, to dip

Directions

In a glass dish, spread hummus evenly in the bottom.  Next, layer artichokes on top.  Spread tzatziki, followed by cucumbers and feta.  Add black pepper as desired.  Chill before serving.

Nutrition (including pita chips)

Calories 232
Fat 12.7g
Carbohydrates 23.7g
Fibre 3.9g
Sugars 2.1g
Protein 8.4g

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Sausage and Chickpeas

This recipe was a spin on one of my favourite recipes from skinnytaste.com, Roasted Potatoes, Chicken Sausage and Peppers.  I decided to try it with sweet potatoes instead and I used pork sausage, but you can use any type you prefer.  This recipe reheats well, so you can make extra and pack it for lunch the next day.

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite sized chunks
2 shallots, (or 1/2 small onion) diced
225g (3 links) mild Italian sausage
3/4 cup chickpeas, drained
4 cups baby spinach
1 tbsp olive oil
Black pepper, to taste
Canola spray, for greasing pan

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease one large roasting pan (or 2 smaller ones) with canola spray.

Add chopped sweet potatoes and shallots into a large mixing bowl and drizzle olive oil on top.  Add black pepper and toss to coat. Pour potatoes and shallots into roasting pan and spread evenly.  Do not crowd the pan.

While potatoes are cooking, slice sausage links into bite sized chunks and drain chickpeas.  Remove the pan from the oven after 30 minutes, toss the potatoes, and quickly add sausage and chickpeas.  Return to oven for 15 more 15 minutes, then remove. Add spinach on top and return to oven for 15 minutes more (total roasting time is 60 minutes).

Nutrition

Cal 549 
Fat 22.2
Carbs 66.1
Fibre 13.8
Sugars 17.1
Protein 23.2

Monday, 14 July 2014

Slow Cooker Apple Coconut Crumble

I wanted to try a variation of my Slow Cooker Apple Crumble recipe, so I thought coconut would be a great way to change it up.  I actually liked this version even better than the original-I'm a big fan of coconut!

This recipe is gluten free, dairy free and vegan, so it makes a great potluck or dinner party recipe if you need to account for special dietary needs.

Serves 6

Ingredients

5 Royal Gala apples, peeled
1 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp coconut oil
Canola spray (or more coconut oil), for greasing

Directions

Spray canola inside slow cooker pot.  Cut peeled apples into bite sized chunks.  Lay apples inside slow cooker.

In a mixing bowl, combine ground almonds, coconut and sugar.  Add coconut oil and mix until uniform.  Pour mixture over apples evenly.  Cook on high for 2 hours.

Nutrition

Calories 279
Fat 14.7g
Carbohydrates 37.2g
Fibre 6.2g
Sugars 28.6g
Protein 3.6g

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Fudgey Black Bean and Avocado Brownies


This was the first time I tried making black bean brownies, and I was NOT disappointed! This is one of the most fudgey and moist brownie recipes I've ever made. The best part is that they are totally healthy and filled with fibre and healthy fats! 

Ingredients

1 can (approximately 2 cups) black beans
1 egg
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 very ripe avocado
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar (or sweetner of your choice)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt 
1/2 cup dark mini chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Spray a 9x9" baking tray with cooking spray. 
2. In a Magic Bullet (or blender) blend black beans and avocado until very smooth. 
3. In a large bowl mix together black bean and avocado mixture, egg, cocoa powder, vanilla, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until well blended. 
4. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour mixture into baking tray and place in oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes until fully cooked through. 

Nutrition (for 1/12th of recipe)

Calories 138
Fat 4.8 g
Carbohydrate 26.5 g
Fiber 4.5 g
Sugars 15.8 g
Protein 4.1 g



Chickpea and Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies


I know the idea of chickpeas in your cookies is kinda gross, but trust me, you will want to give these cookies a try!!! Once you get the chickpeas blended well and mixed into the batter you can't even taste them! Chickpeas make a wonderful base because their texture allows you to omit the flour and butter, all the while adding plenty of fiber - so you don't have to feel so guilty if you eat more than one! 

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups chickpeas
3/4 cup almond butter 
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 egg
pinch salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar (or agave nectar)
1/2 cup dark mini chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350*
2. Line a baking stone with parchment paper. 
3. In a Magic Bullet (or blender) add chickpeas and blend very well until all lumps are gone.
4. In a large bowl mix together chickpea base, almond butter, vanilla extract, egg, salt, baking soda, and brown sugar and mix well until all ingredients are combined.
5. Stir in chocolate chips.
6. Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment paper. Place in oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. Take out and let cool. 

Nutrition (1 cookie - recipe makes 12 cookies)

Calories 140
Fat 8.4 g
Carbohydrates 14.8 g
Fiber 2.8 g
Sugars 5.4 g
Protein 3.6 g


Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

The slow cooker has come in handy the past couple days.  I sprained my ankle, so standing for long periods of time to cook isn't an option right now, and the slow cooker is a great way for me to just throw everything in quickly.

This soup is thick and chunky, which I love, plus it's packed with protein and fibre.  I used dried yellow split peas, but you could use green split peas or lentils if you prefer.

Serves 8

Ingredients

450g (16oz) dried yellow split peas
350g ham, precooked and diced (about 2 cups)
340g (12oz) baby carrots, chopped
3 shallots, diced (or 1 small onion)
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
Black pepper, to taste
3.5 cups (1 carton) chicken broth ('no salt added' or low-sodium)
2.5 cups water

Directions

Layer ingredients in the slow cooker pot in the order listed, adding the broth and water last.  Do not stir.  Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours until peas are very soft.

Nutrition

Calories 307
Fat 5.3g
Carbohydrates 40.8g
Fibre 16.3g
Sugars 7.1g
Protein 24.6g

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese


I hate to admit it but I have a huge soft spot for Kraft Dinner! In the past I've tried to create lighter homemade versions of mac and cheese, but tonight I thought I'd kick it up a notch! I started with whole wheat noodles to boost the fiber, then chopped up grilled chicken breasts and sautéed it with Franks Buffalo hot sauce, homemade cheese sauce and a sprinkle of blue cheese. Totally hit the spot! 

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
pinch of salt
1/4 cup + 1/2 cup Franks buffalo hot sauce 
1/2 box whole wheat macaroni noodles
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 cups reduced fat cheddar cheese
1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup blue cheese

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350*
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook 6-8 minutes until al dente. Drain in a colander. 
3. Spray a pan with cooking spray and sautéed chicken until cooked. Add garlic until fragrant. Add a pinch of salt and 1/4 cup hot sauce. Mix together. 
4. In a sauce pan over medium heat mix together butter and flour. Add milk and stir until thickened. Add cheese and yogurt. Stir in remaining Franks hot sauce.
5. In a large rectangular baking dish combine noodles, cheese sauce, and chicken. Top with bread crumbs and blue cheese. Cover with tin foil and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Nutrition (1/8th of recipe)

Calories 239
Fat 6.4 g
Carbohydrate 25.1 g
Fiber 2.2 g
Sugars 2.7 g
Protein 21 g

Steak and Chickpea Wok


The best part about this dish?  It takes less than 10 minutes to make!  This dish is high in protein, fibre and potassium, and can be served over brown rice to stretch the number of servings, or on its own.  For the steak spice, you can purchase your favourite blend, or make your own mix of paprika, cayenne and cumin to adjust the level of heat.

Serves 2

Ingredients

250g angus beef, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, julienne
1 shallot, diced (or 1/2 small onion)
2/3 cup chickpeas, drained
2 cups spinach, packed (or more if desired, it will wilt down)
1 tsp steak spice blend (see above)
1 tsp lime juice
Black pepper, to taste
Canola spray, for greasing

Directions

Grease a wok or large skillet and set over medium-high heat.  Add red pepper and shallots to the wok, stirring frequently.  While the peppers and shallot are browning, quickly slice the angus beef into 1 inch wide strips, and toss with steak spice. 

When shallots have browned, add chickpeas, spinach, and lime juice to wok.  Stir continuously for 1 minute, until spinach is starting to wilt.  Add beef to wok and season with black pepper.  Cook for 1-2 more minutes (depending on how you like your steak), stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and serve.

Nutrition

Calories 495
Fat 12.0g
Carbohydrates 44.2g
Fibre 12.9g
Sugars 8.5g
Protein 52.1g

Monday, 7 July 2014

Steak and Pesto Flatbread



To put my Spinach Basil Pesto to use, I made this Steak and Pesto Flatbread.  Since I prefer thin crust, I used half of a frozen pizza dough for this, but you can also make your own whole wheat crust.

You can use chicken as an alternative for this, but I thought steak was a nice change.  Each serving contains 17.3g of heart healthy monounsaturated fats (the remaining fat is saturated from the cheese).

Serves 4

Ingredients

250g angus beef, thinly sliced
4 tbsp pesto
325g pizza dough, thawed
1/3 cup spinach
1/4 cup onions, diced
1/4 cup red peppers, diced
50g feta cheese
Black pepper, to taste
Canola spray, for greasing

Directions

Slice beef into 1 inch wide strips.  Place a skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tbsp pesto and beef.  Stir to coat the beef with pesto and sear the beef so it is cooked rare (about 1 minute, it will cook further in the oven).  Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Grease a large pizza pan and roll out pizza dough as thin as possible.  Add remaining 3 tbsp of pesto on top of dough and spread evenly.  Place slices of beef evenly across the flatbread and add onions, peppers, spinach and feta.  Season with black pepper.

Bake for 15 to 16 minutes, until crust is lightly browned.

Nutrition

Calories 418
Fat 24.6g
Carbohydrates 19.5g
Fibre 1.9g
Sugars 2.1g
Protein 28.3g

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Slow Cooker Spiced Sweet Potatoes with Apple

This side dish is spicy and sweet with no added sugars!  You may not think to use your slow cooker in the summer months, but I recommend pairing this with barbecued pork.  This dish is medium heat, so you can adjust the heat by adjusting the amount of cayenne pepper.

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
1 Royal Gala apple, peeled
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp coconut oil or butter

Directions

Slice sweet potatoes into medallions (about 1/2cm thick) and place a layer on the bottom of the slow cooker pot.  Chop apple into chunks and layer on top of sweet potatoes.

Mix cinnamon, cayenne, cumin and salt together and evenly pour over potatoes and apples, then toss to coat evenly.  Drizzle coconut oil over top, and place lid on slow cooker.  Cook on high for 2.5 hours.

Nutrition

Calories 350
Fat 14.0g
Carbohydrates 55.3g
Fibre 9.6g
Sugars 22.5g
Protein 4.2g

Spinach Basil Pesto

My basil plant was full of leaves, and I had some spinach in the fridge, so another pesto recipe seemed like the perfect way to use them up!

Pesto is a great way to add flavour without adding any sugar (unlike using marinara, pizza sauce or barbecue sauce), and it provides a serving of heart healthy monounsaturated fats from olive oil.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

3 tbsp pine nuts
2 cups baby spinach, packed
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Place pine nuts in a pan over medium heat.  Stirring frequently, toast until fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until uniform, scraping sides of container as needed.

Nutrition (per 2 tbsp)

Calories 75
Fat 7.8g
Carbohydrates 0.8g
Protein 1.6g