Sunday, 29 March 2015

Whole Wheat Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes

This cupcake is rich and fudgey, and has no butter or oil in the cupcake or the icing! The mousse icing can be made in advance and frozen. Same recipe, in cake format (8 inch round pan, 325°F for 25 minutes):

I made these the same day I made gluten free Almond Orange Cupcakes and used the same icing. 

Makes 12


1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 ripe, mashed avocado
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup water


Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Mix until uniform.

In a second bowl, combine mashed avocado, vanilla and brown sugar. Mix well with a fork. Add eggs and whisk together.

Add wet ingredients to dry, then stir and add water in until consistency is brownie batter-like.

Scoop batter into cupcake liners and bake for approximately 18 minutes.

Allow to cool fully before icing

Nutrition (1 cupcake without icing)

Calories 153
Fat 4.4g
Carbohydrates 26.3g
Fibre 2.1g
Sugars 12.0g
Protein 3.2g

Icing Nutrition (makes 24 cupcakes)

Calories 48
Fat 3.4g
Carbohydrates 4.9g
Fibre 1.4g
Sugars 2.7g
Protein 0.5g

Almond Orange Cake or Cupcakes (Gluten Free)

I happened across this recipe in the current issue of Food & Drink magazine (the free magazine you can pick up at the LCBO). I made a few changes from the original recipe: I used coconut flour instead of millet flour, I swapped lemon for orange and honey for pure maple syrup. Millet flour is gluten free, but much harder to find in regular grocery stores than coconut flour. This recipe can be baked as a cake, for 20 minutes at 325°F in a 10 inch round cake pan, or cupcakes for 18 minutes at 325°F. 

The cupcakes didn't rise a lot, but that makes them the perfect vessel for lots of icing! I used Chocolate Avocado Mousse for the icing, which is also gluten free. This cupcake and icing combo is lightly sweet and packed with flavour.  

I made two dozen cupcakes for my boyfriend's birthday, and I expected that the Whole Wheat Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes would be preferred (I assumed everyone would go for chocolate!), but the Almond Orange Cupcakes were voted the winner of the two!

Makes 12


2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour (or millet flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tbsp grated orange zest
Juice from 1 orange


Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix until uniform.

In a medium bowl, add eggs and beat with a handmixer or with a whisk. Eggs should be light and frothy when complete.

In a second medium bowl, combine maple syrup, coconut oil, orange zest and juice, and pour in half of beaten eggs. Whisk wet ingredients to combine.

Pour wet ingredients into dry, then fold batter. Add the remaining eggs and fold in until uniform.

For cake:
Pour batter into 10 inch cake pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until cake is golden brown. Allow to cool in pan for 2-3 minutes. Run a paring knife between the cake and the pan to loosen from sides. Flip cake over onto cooling rack to remove from pan.

For cupcakes:
Scoop batter into cupcake liners. Bake for approximately 18 minutes, until tops are firm. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Allow to cool fully before icing with mousse.

Nutrition (1 slice of cake cut in 12 slices or 1 cupcake, without icing)

Calories 209
Fat 9.2g
Carbohydrates 26.6g
Fibre 8.9g
Sugars 12.1g
Protein 5.3g

Icing Nutrition (per cupcake)

Calories 48
Fat 3.4g
Carbohydrates 4.9g
Fibre 1.4g
Sugars 2.7g
Protein 0.5g

Here is an iced Chocolate Avocado Cupcake with the mousse icing, since I didn't take a photo of the iced Almond Orange Cupcakes:

Friday, 27 March 2015

Turkey Meatloaf

I used to hate meatloaf when I was younger, but now that I'm all grown up, its something I love to make. It is a great weeknight option as the leftovers make great lunches the next day. It is also a great way to sneak in vegetables if you have picky eaters. If you use ground turkey you can cut back on the fat content, and if you substitute quinoa for bread crumbs you get an increased amount of protein and fiber.


1 package ground turkey
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 garlic clove, chopped
pinch salt and pepper
1 Tbsp Franks hot sauce
3-5 dashes Worcester sauce
1 egg
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup water
1 tsp chicken broth powder


1. In a pot combine the water, quinoa, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then turn to low-medium until water is absorbed - approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
2. Preheat oven to 350*. Spray a bread pan with non stick spray.
3. In a large bowl combine the turkey, tomato paste, garlic clove, salt, pepper, Worcester sauce, Franks hot sauce, and egg. Stir until combined. Add cooled quinoa.
4. Place mixture into prepared pan and place in the oven for 25 minutes.

For an added flavour boost top with a mixture of light blue cheese dressing and Franks hot sauce!

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Cinnamon Buns

Cinnamon buns have always reminded me of being a kid (my mom seriously made the most amazing buns!) Unfortunately cinnamon buns, albeit delicious, are not the healthiest treat. However, with a few tweaks, this breakfast favourite can easily become a tasty and more nutritious treat. The bonus is that your house will smell fantastic!


1/3 packed brown sugar
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup cinnamon protein powder (I like to use BSN Lean Dessert)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup melted coconut oil

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup milk


1. Preheat over to 435*
2. In a small bowl mix together the first 6 ingredients.
3. In a large bowl mix together the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter. Add the milk and use a fork to blend the ingredients into a dough.
4. Flour the counter and knead the dough for 1 minute. Roll into a square, approximately 1 cm thick. Spread the cinnamon mixture on top and roll the dough up. Cut into 2 inch pieces and place into a greased pan (I used a cheesecake pan).
5. Bake for 15 minutes.
6. If you want to really go nuts add some icing: 1 cup icing sugar, 1/4 cup milk, tsp vanilla.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Chicken Fried Rice

Who doesn't love Chinese takeout? Making your own fried rice at home means you can control the oil and sodium content. I've seen recipes for cauliflower "fried rice" lately that seemed like a great way to sneak in some extra veggies! For this recipe, I opted for a blend of brown rice and cauliflower. You can use all rice or all cauliflower if you like, but I did half and half (about 2.5 cups each). This recipe can also be made with shrimp or pork, and you can swap peanuts for cashews. Since I ate this as my main dish, I calculated the nutrition information as four servings, but it could be counted as eight servings if you serve it as a side.

Serves 4


120g instant brown rice, cooked and cooled
2 eggs, beaten
350g chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup blanched unsalted peanuts, ground to small chunks
1/2 head cauliflower, ground to rice-sized pieces
3/4 cup frozen peas, defrosted
4 green onions, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp ginger, very finely diced
1 tbsp sriracha sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
Optional: 1 tsp oyster sauce
Black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp sesame oil, divided


In a food processor, grind peanuts. Pour into a small bowl and set aside. Next, add cauliflower to food processor, and grind to rice-sized pieces, and set aside.

In a small frying pan, pour the eggs in and cook like an omelet. Slice the omelet into thin strips. Set aside.

In a large wok, add 1 tsp sesame oil, chicken pieces, and black pepper and cook over medium heat until chicken is cooked through and lightly browned. Set chicken aside.

Pour remaining sesame oil into wok, then increase heat to high and add vegetables. Stir frequently. While vegetables are cooking, mix soy sauce, ginger, sriracha, sugar and oyster sauce in a small bowl. Add cold rice into wok, and cook until rice is heated through. Pour sauce on top, then add ground peanuts and chicken. Stir to coat all ingredients in sauce. Add egg slices in, stir, and serve.


Calories 456
Fat 16.8g
Carbohydrates 37.8g
Fibre 5.6g
Sugars 7.6g
Protein 39.4g

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Slow Cooker Beef & Bell Peppers

Beef and peppers is one of my favourite takeout foods.  While beef and peppers tends to be one of the takeout menu items that is lower in saturated fat and sugars, it can still be very high in sodium.  Using low sodium soy sauce and no salt added beef broth will keep the sodium content to a reasonable amount.  This recipe is packed with vitamins A, B6, B12 and C, and very high in iron.

While the slow cooker isn't the usual way to cook this dish, I love being able to throw the ingredients in and walk away from it for a few hours.  I also love it when I get home from the gym (I'm really hungry) and lunch is ready and waiting for me!  I added instant brown rice directly to the slow cooker, but if you prefer to cook rice separately, leave out the water.

Note:  You can either cut the beef into bite sized pieces before cooking and cook it for 3 hours on high, or you can put the whole cut of beef in for 8 hours on low and then shred it with forks after it is cooked.

Serves 6


800g beef chuck roast, cut into bite sized cubes (see Note above)
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch squares
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 inch squares
1 orange bell pepper, cut into 1 inch squares
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp Sriracha sauce (or chili-garlic sauce)
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
3/4 no salt added beef broth

Optional: 120g (1 1/3 cup) instant brown rice plus 1 1/3 cup water


Place bell pepper pieces in the bottom of the slow cooker pot.  Add beef cubes, then season with salt and pepper.  Add sriracha sauce on top of beef.  Place green onion, red onion and garlic on top of beef.  Pour soy sauce and beef broth in to cover all ingredients.  Cover and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 8 hours.
Optional for instant rice:  Add water to slow cooker with soy sauce and broth.  When there is 30 minutes remaining on the cooking time, pour instant brown rice in to slow cooker and stir to cover rice in liquid.

Nutrition (with rice included)

Calories 369
Fat 10.7g
Carbohydrates 21.6g
Fibre 2.4g
Sugars 3.5g
Protein 43.6g

If you're a fan of beef and peppers, you might also like:  Steak and Chickpea Wok

Monday, 2 March 2015

Jerk Chicken Marinade

A couple weeks ago, I made Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken, which was so tasty, I wanted to try a marinade for roasted chicken legs.  I made a few adjustments to this traditional marinade recipe.  First, I cut the recipe in half to make enough just for one dinner, because I didn't want leftover marinade.  The halved recipe was the perfect amount for the package of 14 chicken drumsticks we had.  Second, I don't drink juice, so I didn't want to buy an entire container of orange juice just to use a small amount in the marinade, so I used lemon juice instead and used molasses to cut the sour flavour.  You can use orange juice, but cut the molasses in half.  Lastly, I used Fresno chili peppers because Scotch Bonnet peppers are hard to find, and I have a Fresno chili plant at home.  Fresno chilis are milder in heat than Scotch Bonnets, so I used three of them.  Fresno chilis are just slightly hotter than jalapenos (and much smaller), so you can adjust the heat to mild by using just one, or medium heat by using two or three.

You can marinate chicken drumsticks or thighs in this sauce for 1 to 2 hours ahead, or you can brush it on to the chicken just before roasting or barbecuing.  The marinade can be used right away, or can be made up to 48 hours ahead and refrigerated.

Makes 1 1/4 cups marinade


2 green onions
1 garlic clove
2-3 Fresno chili peppers
1/2 small red onion
1/2 tsp fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp molasses
2 tbsp white vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce


Place all ingredients into a food processor or high powered blender.  Blend until smooth, scraping down sides of food processor as needed.

For roasted chicken drumsticks

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then grease foil with canola spray.  Place 12-16 chicken drumsticks on foil, evenly spread out.  Brush chicken drumsticks with jerk sauce, then flip drumsticks over to coat other side.  Place in oven, then remove after 25 minutes to flip drumsticks over.  Place back in oven and roast for an additional 15-20 minutes, until chicken is fully cooked and skin is crispy.

Nutrition (per 2 drumsticks, skin on, with jerk sauce)

Calories 274
Fat 14.3g
Carbohydrates 5.0g
Fibre 0.6g
Sugars 2.5g
Protein 29.5g

Like this recipe?  You might also enjoy:

Roasted Sweet & Spicy Chicken Legs
Spicy Coconut Lime Chicken Drumsticks