Another breakfast treat! Clearly I’m living the good life. I’ve been getting into autumnal baking mode lately and craving little sweets with tea. To avoid the dizzying sugar highs and general lethargy associated with constant cake-eating, I try to include at least some whole grain flour and the smallest amount of natural sweetener I can muster. I’ve always found banana bread comforting (with chocolate chips, no substitutes), but I’ve been known to enjoy spiced zucchini bread quite a bit as well.
So I combined the two! And with fantastic results. I just realized that we had about 3 Costco sized bags of quinoa in the pantry, so I figured I would make flour out of some of it (seriously, I don’t know anyone that could eat that much quinoa). The flavour of quinoa flour is quite strong, especially when you make it yourself. It works particularly well here with the banana, chocolate and toasted seeds muting its flavour out a touch. It also ramps up the protein content big time.
Whole spelt makes up the other half of the flour used, while maple syrup fills out the role of sweetener. A little extra virgin coconut oil along with the zucchini makes it moist. In review: fruit, vegetable, wholesome little seeds, natural sweetener and all whole grain flour. Oh and a bit of chocolate. This little loaf cake is health city! Breakfast treats for the win!
banana zucchini bread
notes: Try your best to not over-mix the flour. Whole grain flour can make cakes really tough when it’s roughed around too much. Just be gentle :) Oh, and maybe you don’t want zucchini? Replace it with another cup of mashed banana.
1 cup mashed, ripe banana (about 2-3 bananas)
1/4 cup milk of your choice (I used the So Delicious coconut milk)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp melted extra virgin coconut oil (or canola, grape seed etc) + extra for pan
1/2 cup maple syrup (or agave nectar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup quinoa flour
1 cup whole spelt flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup finely grated zucchini (about 1 small)
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup chocolate chips (you could do any combination of nuts, seeds and what-have-you; up to a cup)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×2 loaf pan with some of the oil. Lay a sheet of parchment paper in with edges hanging over the sides of the pan. Grease the paper and lightly flour the pan, tapping out any excess.
Combine the mashed banana, milk, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla in a medium bowl. Whisk thoroughly, getting out as many banana lumps as you can. Set aside.
Whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Add the banana mixture and shredded zucchini. Stir until everything is just combined. Fold in the pumpkin seeds and chocolate chips gently.
Scrape all of the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake in the center of the oven for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool pan on a wire rack completely.
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I love scones. I actually love breakfast treats in general, but the scone is my absolute favourite one of them all. Croissants or pain au chocolat are a tad indulgent, muffins are fine, good danish or sticky buns are few and far between, but scones! They’re the perfect vehicle for some jam and a most lovely accompaniment to tea. There’s a bake shop near my family’s home that sells really fantastic ones dotted with seasonal fruit. Really delicious every time, but with the usual unhealthy trappings of white flour, white sugar, butter etc.
I’ve been making my own flour lately in the blender. It’s actually sort of fun. You throw the whole grains in, watch them grind up and swirl around. Then when they stop moving towards the blade, you’ve got flour essentially. The homemade stuff is a bit more coarse than what you would buy, but in some baked goods that’s just what I’m after. I wanted to work the creamy sweetness of barley into a scone with some juicy fruit and warming spice.
I roasted some lovely prune plums with maple syrup, cinnamon and a smidgin of cloves, chopped them up rough and folded all of that juiciness into a wholesome, lightly spiced batter. These are a bit heavier than traditional scones, but still a delight. My plums were a teeny bit sour and played off of the creamy, sweet batter just right.
barley scones with roasted plums
adapted from the Babycakes NYC cookbook
serves: makes 6-8
notes: So in the Babycakes cookbook introduction, it advises on measuring everything (including liquids) with dry measures. This is key. Pour that oil and agave into the dry measuring cups!
3 prune plums (or any other type you fancy), pitted and cut into wedges
1 tsp melted coconut oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
1 cup barley flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/3 cup agave nectar (I used half agave, half maple syrup)
1/3 cup melted (liquid form) coconut oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup hot water
3/4-1 cup diced, roasted plums (this will depend on the size of your plums!)
For the plums: preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the plum wedges with the coconut oil, maple syrup and spices. Lay them out on a small parchment lined baking sheet and roast until soft, about 10-15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Chop roughly once you can handle them.
For scones: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
Whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt and spices. Add the agave nectar, coconut oil and vanilla. Stir until a dry batter forms. Add the hot water and stir just until all of the flour is absorbed. Gently fold in the chopped plums.
Place 1/3 cup measurements of batter onto the parchment, rounding the edges slightly with dampened fingers. Brush the tops with coconut oil if you like. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let the scones cool on the tray for 15 minutes before eating.
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We still have so many greens in the gardens! Chard, kale, spinach and lettuces, leaves of plenty. There’s a lot of vitamins and good, healthy things happening in these vegetables. I’ve been trying with all my might to work them into my daily eats somehow, but I’m getting tired of the usual cooked greens or green smoothies. I wanted a salad. With Kale. In my body giving off health glow vibes. Immediately.
But I wanted to enjoy it! I’m not one to eat some buzz food for the sake of being healthy. Not to say that kale is buzz food! It was definitely always cool in my books. Was I eating it before it was cool? Who cares. Anyway, there’s no point in suffering through a sub-par salad if it’s just going to make you crave something deep fried in the end. Thoughtful preparation and enjoyment of healthy things = healthy life.
That’s where this salad comes into play. We enjoyed it the other night with some leftover butternut squash and panzanella and it was the MVP for sure. Just a small addition of some salty parmesan really makes this salad special and it tastes so delicious with the juicy peaches. You kind of have to massage the dressing in to tenderize the tough kale leaves. It makes them a touch less bitter and a thousand times more enjoyable in raw form. Plus! Rigorously massaging kale = healthiest form of exercise possible?
kale salad with peaches & walnuts
notes: Really massage that kale! It’s integral to the enjoyment of this salad. Other stone fruits could fill in for peaches easily. Also, you could use pecorino or any other hard, aged cheese of your choosing. Ontarians!: Monforte’s Toscano cheese would be perfect here.
1 bunch of kale (about 5-6 normal size stems), leaves removed and torn into small pieces
3 sprigs flat leaf parsley, leaves torn off
1/2 small red onion, cut into thin half moons (or 2 green onions sliced thin)
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese + extra for garnish
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 ripe peaches, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup of walnuts, toasted and chopped roughly
Combine the kale, parsley leaves, red onion, parmesan, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Massage all of the ingredients together until the kale leaves feel a bit softer and the leaves taste of lemon, parm, onion etc. Season with salt and pepper again if necessary.
Place the kale mixture onto a serving plate and garnish with the peaches and walnuts. Add another dusting of parmesan for garnish.
You can dress/massage the kale up to an hour before serving. Add garnishes right before.
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So I was perusing the catering menu on Ottolenghi’s website (you’d be surprised how much time I spend doing this sort of thing. What’s the end game? I don’t even know.) and saw this dreamy little concoction under vegetables. Hardy winter squashes have started to pop up here and there. My usual preparation method of choice for butternut squash is roasting, while for corn I typically steam or grill. Despite having never tried corn in the oven, I gave it a go in the name of simplicity.
And I’m so glad I did! It softens up just fine and the husks/silks come off so easily after. While I was at it, I threw a hot cherry pepper in for a zippy dressing contribution. The crunchy little pumpkin seeds and fresh basil make it feel complete. Side note: There is so much basil in the garden, it’s beyond comprehension and reason. I was completely thrilled to find a new application for it that really worked rather than just shoving it into everything to use it up. Salad? Whole leaves of basil in there. Smoothie? Needs basil I guess. Sandwich? Throw basil on it. Grains of any type? Chop it up and put it in already! Are there any extraordinary health benefits unique to this herb? I’m getting them for sure.
This is a great dish to make at the end of summer for little gatherings or maybe as a light lunch with some eggs or crunchy, grainy bread. It has that sweet-spicy-salty thing going on. The squash and toasty seeds are a little fall preview, but the summery corn is still sweet and juicy.
roasted butternut and corn salad with pepitas and feta
notes: The cherry hot pepper that I picked was SO hot! I only used about half of it in the dressing, but yours may vary in degree of heat. If you’re making this ahead of time, toss the vegetables with the dressing and add the feta, pumpkin seeds and basil right before serving. Also, there will be more than enough dressing. Just use the rest on a green salad, some grains or whatever you like.
1 small-medium butternut squash, peeled and diced into small cubes
1/4 cup grape seed oil, divided
1 small chili/hot pepper (I used cherry hot)
3 ears of corn, excess husk/silk trimmed off
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 small or 1/2 regular clove of garlic
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
splash of water
heaped 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted (I just slid them into the oven for about 10 minutes)
scant 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1-2 sprigs basil, leaves finely chopped
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Toss the pieces of squash with 1 tbsp of the oil, salt and pepper. Spread out onto a baking sheet. Place the whole chili on the tray as well. Roast until the edges start to brown a bit and the squash is soft, about 30 minutes. The chili should be crinkly and slightly brown. Remove the seeds and stem from the chili and set aside.
While the squash is roasting, place the cobs of corn directly onto the oven racks. Let them roast and steam in there for about 20 minutes. Peel back husks/silks as soon as you can handle them to prevent further cooking. Cut kernels off the cobs. set aside.
Make the dressing: combine the apple cider vinegar, agave nectar, garlic, roasted chili, dijon mustard, remaining oil, splash of water, salt and pepper in a blender. Blend mixture until creamy and unified. If you don’t have a blender, just finely mince the chili and garlic, combine everything except the oil. Then slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking until the mixture is thoroughly combined.
Toss the squash and corn with half of the dressing, half of the basil and half of the cheese. Taste to see if you would like more dressing. Place the mixture onto your serving plate. Garnish the top with the pumpkin seeds, remaining basil and feta.
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When did the mornings get so cold? As soon as I sleepily clamber out of the sheets, I’m fast tracking to the tea kettle lately. The days are still quite warm, but I’ve been feeling hot breakfasts in the early, brisk hours before the sun peeks out over all of the pretty trees and buildings. I love a big bowl of whole grain porridge once the deep fall sets in, lightly spiced and still a bit chewy with a heavy drizzle of maple syrup. It’s steamy-warm, filling and wholesome.
Truth bomb: I don’t exactly love standing over the stove, endlessly stirring oats for 20 minutes on a work or school day. It makes me stress-y because I know there’s probably a million other things I should be doing besides lingering over the pot. Sunday morning in my jams with some tea and my man? That’s a whole other (wonderful, dreamy, cozy etc) thing. I needed a plan-ahead strategy that could make this healthy porridge work for my every day.
This recipe features raw buckwheat and quinoa in addition to the more typical steel-cut oats. They lighten up the mix and provide a lot of nice texture and flavour variation. I toast the grains in a bit of extra virgin coconut oil and warming spices before adding hot almond milk. It has a bit of an indulgent chai tea and rice pudding effect. The final, teeny addition of some vanilla extract seals the deal. Also, I’ll show you how to make it so that you can have wholesome hot cereal from scratch all week without 20 minutes of stirring and ravenous waiting. Neat, huh?
chai spiced multigrain porridge
notes: Toasting the grains in the warmed spices and oil makes this porridge so delicious. Also feel free to use all oats if you like, the amount of liquid would stay the same. All quinoa or buckwheat? Use double the amount of liquid (ie 1 cup grain: 2 cups liquid).
1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil (or butter, other oil etc) + a bit extra
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 cups steel cut oats
1/2 cup raw buckwheat groats (not kasha, these are light green and not toasted)
1/2 cup quinoa, soaked and rinsed
3 cups boiling water
3 cups milk of your choice (I’ll usually reach for almond or hemp), warmed to a simmer
heaped 1/4 cup dried currants (or other dried fruit)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish with some of the coconut oil. Set aside.
Heat the remaining coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and cloves. Stir the spices around in the oil until fragrant and not so raw-smelling, about 3-4 minutes.
Add the oats, quinoa and buckwheat to the oil and spices. Stir the grains around in the pot, evenly coating all of the grains and toasting them up a bit. You should be able to smell the oats getting a bit nuttier. Keep stirring and toasting for about 4 minutes.
Add the boiling water slowly and give the mix a good stir. Scrape the bottom of the pot if necessary
Once the grains have absorbed a good amount of the water, start adding the hot milk in 3/4-1 cup increments. Once the milk gets to a simmer, I usually just put it on low and leave it to the side of the porridge pot, slowly adding it in as the grains absorb the liquid. Keep stirring the porridge frequently.
Once the porridge has absorbed all of the milk and the grains are cooked to your liking, add the currants and vanilla. Stir to combine. Scrape the mixture into the greased 9 x 13 baking dish and smooth it out. Let cool at room temperature for about an hour. Cover and cool in the refrigerator completely. Once cooled, cut into 10 even portions.
To serve: remove one serving of the porridge from the dish and place in a small sauce pan with a heavy splash of milk or water over medium heat. Start breaking up the porridge with the back of a wooden spoon until it returns to its original consistency. Stir until mix is uniform and hot, about 2 minutes. Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup and fruit/chopped nuts/whatever you like. Alternatively, you could sweeten the actual porridge in the pot as it’s heating up.
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