Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Orange Almond Cakes


Featured Ingredient: Orange + Zulka sugar giveaway

Undeniably, North Americans eat too much sugar. According to conservative USDA estimates, Americans on average consume 22 teaspoons of “added sugars” each day, or 355 additional calories, which is more than double what is recommended by the American Heart Association. Likely us up here in Canada are not far off these numbers.

Still, there are many times when my recipes call for some sort of sweetener such as granulated sugar. When it comes to cooking with sugar, I use a two-prong approach. Firstly, I use much less than what typical baked good recipes call for. I’ve never met a muffin that actually needed 1 cup of sugar. Second, I stick with a little less guilty options such as coconut sugar and honey.

Some recipes such as these moist and fragrant flourless orange cakes adorned with vanilla scented yogurt goodness are best served with a lighter style of sugar. A good candidate is Zulka pure cane sugar. It’s non-GMO, sourced from family farms and is more flavorful than traditional white sugar. You can use as a direct 1-to-1 replacement for regular white sugar in your recipes.



















Though it seems odd, boiling whole oranges reduces the bitterness of their pith and softens the rind so you avoid bitter, chunky cakes. Since you are using the whole orange, it’s preferable to choose organic. Another benefit is you get some of the antioxidant compounds thought to reside in the orange peel.

As is the case on most Wednesday’s, it’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania product giveaway. The kind folks over at Zulka would like to award one of my readers with some of their wonderful cane sugar to work with in the kitchen this holiday season.

To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I’m sweet on Zulka” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials, name or email address and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. I’ll announce the winner next Wednesday November 28th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize.

Congrats to Julie who was randomly selected the winner of her very own Zulka cane sugar. 

Orange Almond Cakes

















2 navel oranges
5 large eggs
2/3 cup natural cane sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/4 cups almond flour
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup plain yogurt, preferably Greek
1 tablespoon honey or cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fresh mint 

Place whole unpeeled oranges in a medium sized saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 45 minutes. Drain water, fill with fresh water and simmer for an additional 45 minutes. Drain oranges, cut into quarters, remove any seeds, and place in a blender or food processor container. Blend into a smooth pulp. Leave to cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar with electric mixer or metal whisk until fluffy and pale, about 2 minutes. Beat in the baking powder. Fold in the orange pulp, almond flour and almond extract. Divide mixture among 12 standard sized greased or paper lined muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cakes comes out clean. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.

In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, honey and vanilla. Serve yogurt sauce over cakes and garnish with fresh mint if desired.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Microwave Wheat Germ Cakes


Featured Ingredient: Wheat Germ + Kretschmer Giveaway  


















Talk about your nutritional overachiever. What germ is a by-product of converting whole wheat into refined wheat and is highly concentrated in a number of vital nutrients including vitamin E, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, selenium and immune-boosting zinc. Plus, it’s a surprisingly good source of protein, with about 7 grams in each quarter cup. Why the nutritional payload? Wheat germ is the center part of the wheat kernel that feeds the growing plant. You see, sometimes germs are a good thing.

Check your grocer for either fresh or toasted wheat germ, which has a nuttier flavor. I’ve found that inexpensive wheat germ makes an excellent addition to oatmeal, pancakes, and baked goods in replace of a portion of the flour. You can also toss it into smoothies, oatmeal, casseroles and stuffings for a nutrition upgrade. 

Because of its delicate oils, wheat germ can be prone to rancidity. So it is best to store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or for a longer shelf-life the freezer to maintain freshness.

A little trick I learned while researching my book Muffin Tin Chef is that you can whip up quick mini cakes in the now ubiquitous microwave using silicon muffin cups. And these cakes (slash) muffins are a perfect opportunity to work more nutritious wheat germ into your diet. Just stir together the ingredients and zap for a couple minutes. It should go without saying that you don’t want to try this with metal muffin tins. If desired, you can replace the banana with about 1/3 cup applesauce and the currants with raisins.














As is the case on most Wednesday’s, it’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania product giveaway. The kind folks over at Kretschmer would like to award one of my readers with some of their wonderful wheat germ to work with in the kitchen. Kretschmer offers both toasted wheat germ and a honey crunch flavor that can gussy up any oatmeal.













To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “Bring on the Wheat Germ” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials, name or email address and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. I’ll announce the winner next Wednesday November 14th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize.

Good News Eve. You were selected the winner randomly. Enjoy your wheat germ. 

Microwave Wheat Germ Cakes

















1/3 cup toasted wheat germ
2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour or flour of choice
2 tablespoons dried currants
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium sized bowl, stir together wheat germ, flour, currants, sunflower seeds, baking powder, ginger and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs and stir in banana, molasses and vanilla. Divide mixture among 6 standard sized silicon (not metal!) muffin cups and microwave on high for 2 1/2 minutes, or until set. Let cool a few minutes before unmolding.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Almond Banana Pancakes


Featured Ingredient: Almond Flour + Bob’s Red Mill Giveaway

From previous recipe posts, you know I’m a vociferous fan of individual baked pancakes. No flipping required, reheat and eat, and so on. Even better is when you can just toss all of the batter ingredients into a blender and whirl together. If only all baking could be this simple.

In this installment of Muffin Tin Mania pancakes, I’m featuring almond flour. So essentially, these are flourless for those who are looking to avoid wheat or gluten in their baked goods. Where almond flour excels is its stellar amounts of heart-chummy monounsaturated fat, dietary fiber and vitamin E. Not surprising, it lends pancakes and other items a great nutty flavor.

The addition of banana and chocolate chips to these pancakes really make them feel like dessert for breakfast. And that is never a bad thing. Make sure to try and find chocolate chips that indicate a cocoa content of about 70% so you get more chocolate and less sugar. In the spirit of Halloween, I’ve include a pumpkin sauce that is a great side-kick. But a topping of berries and maple syrup will do the trick as well.

It’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania product giveaway. The kind folks over at Bob’s Red Mill would like to award one of my readers with some of their amazing almond flour to work with in the kitchen.














To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I’m going nuts for Bob’s Red Mill” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials, name or email address and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. I’ll announce the winner next Wednesday November 7th, so if you entered, write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize.

Congrats to the second Sarah listed in the comments section who was randomly selected as a winner of Bob's Red Mill almond flour. 

Almond Banana Pancakes with Pumpkin Sauce

















Pancakes:
3 large eggs
1/3 cup low-fat milk or non-dairy alternative
2 medium sized ripe bananas
2 cups almond flour
1/3 cup ground flaxseed
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Sauce:
1 cup pumpkin puree
Juice of 1/2 orange
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place all of the pancake ingredients in a blender container and blend until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips.

Divide matter among 12 standard sized greased or paper lined muffin cups. Bake until set and lightly browned on top, about 20 minutes. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.

To make the sauce, place pumpkin, orange juice, maple syrup, cloves, and vanilla in a blender container and blend until smooth.

Serve almond pancakes warmed and topped with pumpkin sauce. I prefer to warm the pumpkin sauce in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Black Quinoa Cakes and PaperChef Giveaway

Featured Ingredient: Black Quinoa














To say that quinoa is hot is an understatement. A slew of cookbooks devoted to the South American grain have recently come out speaking to its popularity. Just a mere decade ago, only hard-core grain lovers had even heard of it. The good news is that quinoa is now increasing the nutritional value of more and more diets.

Billed as a superfood, quinoa is laced with fiber, vitamins and protein. You probably have seen the beige grain in grocers, but now red and black hues are popping up in more shops. It’s believed that these cheery versions of quinoa contain an extra dose of antioxidants courtesy of their colored pigments. And they can really add wow appeal to meals such as these individual frittata style cakes made with black quinoa.

The quinoa adds a very interesting texture (and visual appeal!), while the mushrooms and Parmesan cheese deliver some umami flavor. If I worked away from home, I’d definitely pack these for lunch.

I think that fanciful recipes such as this deserve to be wrapped up in a fancy package. That is why I made them using the excellent lotus cups from PaperChef. If you’re preparing a muffin tin creation for a soiree, potluck or your local book club, the PaperChef lotus cups are sure to elevate the presentation. Made from parchment paper, they are completely non-stick and biodegradable.














It’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania product giveaway. The kind folks over at PaperChef would like to award one of my readers with a some of their parchment lotus cups to help show off your made with love muffins or other treats.

To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I want to be a chef using PaperChef” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials, name or email address and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. I’ll announce the winner next Wednesday October 31st, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize. This contest is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.

Congrats to Jenna Z who was randomly selected as the winner of the PaperChef contest. 


Quinoa Mushroom Cakes

















2/3 cup quinoa, preferably black
6 large eggs
2 cups finely chopped cremini mushrooms
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
3 tablespoons white wine (optional)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Place quinoa in a saucepan along with 1 1/2 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 12 minutes, or until tender and water has absorbed.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add in quinoa as well as the remaining ingredients and mix together.

Divide quinoa mixture among 12 standard sized paper lined or greased muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes, or until set. Let cool before unmolding.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sweet Potato Coconut Oatmeal Cups


Featured Ingredient: Coconut Butter

A couple weekends ago, I attended a big health food show up here in Toronto. Let me tell you, it was all things coconut. Coconut flour, coconut sugar, coconut water, etcetera, etcetera. Coconut is definitely is a hot food trend at the moment.

Generally, that is a good thing as it’s not nearly the health pariah once thought. Tabi and I spent several weeks in Sri Lanka this past winter and if the fat in coconut is bad for your ticker, the entire country should be keeling over from heart attacks. They eat prodigious amounts of the stuff, yet data indicates such coconut loving nations have lower rates of coronary woes.

For the time being, coconut also remains a sustainable crop. However, with so many products now on the North American market you hope that rainforests are not going to be felled to plant coconut trees.

One of my favorite whole food coconut products on the market is coconut butter. It’s made by pureeing coconut flesh and is ridiculously good when slathered on a piece of toast. It can also add richness to baked items such as these sweet potato oatmeal cups. These are a great alternative to a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. The sweet potato puree adds earthy sweetness, while the triple shot of coconut will give your morning a bit of tropical flare. Look for coconut flour to become increasingly popular as it’s low glycemic and laced with dietary fiber.  

To punch things up, I made a berry coulis (a fancy word for a sweet dessert sauce) to accompany them. IMO it’s a dynamic duo.

As is the case every Wednesday, it’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania product giveaway. The kind folks over at Nutiva would like to award one of my readers with a jar of their very own Coconut Manna coconut butter to try out in this recipe or other kitchen creations. This stuff is seriously awesome. They have a bunch of other coconut products such as oil, flour and sugar as well.














To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I’m going nuts for Nutiva coconut” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials, name or email address and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. I’ll announce the winner next Wednesday October 17th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize. This contest is open to U.S. residents only.

Congrats to Stephanie who was randomly selected as the winner of some of the Nutiva Coconut Manna. Stephanie, just send me your shipping details using the contact tab above and I'll get some coconut butter sent your way. 


Sweet Potato Coconut Oatmeal Cups with Berry Coulis

















1 lb. sweet potato, about 1 medium-large sized potato, peeled and chopped
1 1/4 cup large flake oats
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons coconut butter
1/2 cup coconut milk or other milk of choice
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Coulis:
1 cup berries of choice, chopped
2 tablespoons honey, agave syrup or sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Steam, boil or roast sweet potato until very tender. Remove from heat and let cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place oats in a large bowl along with coconut flour, dates, cinnamon, cloves and salt.

Place sweet potato, eggs, coconut butter, coconut milk, honey and vanilla in a blender container and blend until smooth.

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to combine.

Divide oat mixture among 10 standard sized greased or paper lined muffin cups. Cook for 20 minutes, or until set. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.

To make the coulis, combine berries, honey and lemon juice food processor or blender container and let sit 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water to berry mixture, and purée until completely smooth. Strain berry mixture through a fine mesh sieve, stirring and pressing with wooden spoon or spatula to remove seeds and any skins.

Serve oatmeal cups warm with berry sauce. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Feta Sage Muffins


Featured Ingredient: Olive oil + California Olive Ranch Giveaway

I think I may adore savory muffins just as much as sweet ones. There is just something about biting into a warmed savory muffin in the middle of the afternoon that lifts the spirits.

I’ve posted a few other savory morsels in the past such as these and these, so here is another version that is a winner. So moist and full of savory deliciousness, it’s really hard to eat just one of these feta infused muffins. Sage lends them a fall flavor, whereas I added the chickpea (garbanzo) puree to make the muffins more nutrient dense and a healthier snack overall. As does the extra virgin olive oil, which is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds.

As is the case on Wednesday, it’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania product giveaway. The kind folks over at California Olive Ranch would like to award one of my readers with a bottle of their wonderful extra virgin olive oil to try out in this recipe or other kitchen creations. What a prize! 















Through my research for magazine articles on culinary oils, I’ve really come to appreciate the quality of olive oils being produced in California. Generally, just as good as anything coming out of Europe and with stricter regulations.

To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says: “My muffins need an oil change” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials, name or email address and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. I’ll announce the winner next Wednesday October 10th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize.

Congrats to MamaMcf who was randomly selected as the winner of some great olive oil from California Olive Ranch. MamaMcf, just send me your shipping details using the contact tab above and I'll get some olive oil sent your way. 

Feta Sage Muffins
















1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoon coconut palm sugar or other granulated sugar of choice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup canned (drained and rinsed) or cooked dried chickpeas
3/4 cup low-fat milk
3/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup chopped fresh sage
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup diced feta cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a blender or food processor, whirl together chickpeas, milk, yogurt, oil, sage and garlic until smooth. Pour chickpea mixture into dry ingredients and mix gently. Fold in feta. Divide mixture among 12 standard sized greased or paper lined muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool several minutes before unmolding. Best served warmed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mango Black Rice Cakes


Featured Ingredient: Palm Sugar + Navitas Giveaway














Mango sticky rice is hands down my favorite sweet treat at the night street markets in Thailand. Silky mango placed on a bed of coconut soaked sticky rice – I think that alone is worth the airfare.

This fun muffin tin riff uses antioxidant packed whole-grain black rice to up the health ante and add a visual wow factor. Recent research suggests that black rice, also called Forbidden Rice by Lotus Foods, contains an antioxidant prowess on par with fruits like blueberries. Black rice is not the same as wild rice, which is a longer grain rice with a much different flavor.

Much of the sweet delights in Southeast Asia are sweetened with coconut palm sugar. To make this granulated sugar, nectar from coconut palm flowers is boiled into a thick syrup, then dried and ground to produce a granulated sweetener with a flavor reminiscent of caramel. Palm sugar has a lower glycemic index and more complex flavor than white sugar and may contain several nutrients found in coconut palms. You can use it a as measure for measure replacement for white sugar in almost any recipe. But to keep the coconut milk topping white for presentation purposes in this recipe, you may want to use a light colored natural cane sugar such as Florida Crystals instead of brown tinged coconut.

If possible, use the yellow skin Ataulfo mangos which have a stringless flesh that melts in your mouth. Even if working with silicon muffin cups, it’s a good idea to give them a light greasing or use paper liners so no rice is left behind at the bottom.

As is the case every Wednesday, it’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania product giveaway. The kind folks over at Navitas Naturals would like to award one of my readers with some of their excellent palm sugar to try out in this recipe or other baked goods.

















To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I’d climb a palm tree for mango sticky rice” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials, name or email address and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. I’ll announce the winner next Wednesday September 26th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize. This contest is only open to Canadian and U.S residents.

Thank you everyone for entering this contest. Congratulations to Susan S who was the random winner of this palm sugar giveaway. Susan, just send me your shipping details and I'll get some Navitas Coconut sugar sent your way. 

Mango Black Rice Cakes

















2/3 cup black rice
1 large egg
1 cup + 2/3 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
2 tablespoons light colored granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ripe mangos, peeled and diced

In a small saucepan, combine rice with 1 1/4 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduced heat and simmer covered for about 30 minutes, or until tender and most of the water has been absorbed. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, lightly beat egg. Stir in cooked rice, 1 cup coconut milk, coconut sugar, ginger and vanilla. Divide among 6 medium sized muffin cups and cook for 20 minutes, or until set. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.

When ready to serve, combine 2/3 cup coconut milk and 2 tablespoons sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until a slight simmer is reached and sugar has dissolved. Place black rice cakes on serving plates and serve with warm coconut milk and mango.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Strawberry Granola Muffins + Bear Naked Giveaway



Featured Ingredient: Granola














I’ve always had a soft spot for granola. It must be that lethal crunchy and sweet combination. I’ll admit that it’s a late night vice for me.

And for muffin lovers, stirring some into the batter results in an interesting textural contrast tht you don’t get with straight up flour. Case in point: These whole-grain strawberry delights are perfect when you only have time for a breakfast on the go. Or warm in the microwave and serve warm with a dollop of honey. Now that strawberry season is over, it’s a good opportunity to use the convenient frozen berries which can be tossed into the mix straight from the freezer.

Milled from the whole-grain quinoa, salubrious quinoa flour has soft texture and grassy flavor that mellows with cooking. If you don’t have it on hand, you can simply use straight up whole wheat pastry flour for these muffins or another flour combination of your choice.

As it the case every Wednesday, it’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania product giveaway. The kind folks over at Bear Naked would like to award one of my readers with some of their crunchy fruit infused granola to try out in this recipe or to simply spoon up with some milk. 














To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I’d get naked for granola” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials, name or email address and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. I’ll announce the winner next Wednesday September 19th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize. This contest is only open to U.S residents.

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest. Congrats to Sarah who was randomly selected as the winner. 

Strawberry Granola Muffins
















1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup palm sugar or other granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 large egg
1/3 cup melted coconut oil or other oil of choice
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 1/2 cups granola of choice
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh or frozen strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, flaxseed, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg. Stir in oil, sour cream and orange zest. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in 1 cup granola and all of the strawberries. Divide batter among 12 standard sized greased or paper lined muffin cups and sprinkle remaining granola on top of the batter. Bake for 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out nearly clean. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cheesy Beer Muffins + Bob’s Red Mill Giveaway


Featured Ingredient: Whole Wheat Pastry Flour 














I can’t believe I have not yet used whole wheat pastry flour as a featured ingredient. How I love WWPF.

Milled from lower gluten soft wheat, whole wheat pastry flour produces less “heavy” baked goods than regular whole wheat flour which is gleaned from hard wheat. This means that whenever a recipe calls for nutritionally inferior all-purpose flour (and there are still many that do), I almost always use whole wheat pastry as a 1-to-1 substitute with very good results. Case in point: These savory cheese beer muffins. The carbonation from the beer contributes to the leavening (i.e. rising) of muffins. Make sure not to use a beer with a lot of hops such as IPA when baking as it can impart a bitter flavor. Infused with cheesy goodness, they are a wonderful muffin to take to the office for a healthy snack.

Whole wheat pastry flour is popping up in more and more stores. But if you can’t find it and want to give this recipe a shot, I’ve got good news. It is time for another Muffin Tin Mania product giveaway. The kind folks over at Bob’s Red Mill would like to award one of my readers with some of their whole wheat pastry flour to try out in the kitchen. 
















To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “Bob, you are the man” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials, name or email address and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. I’ll announce the winner next Wednesday September 12th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize.

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest. Congrats to Katherine who was randomly selected as the winner. Katherine, just use the contact button above to send me your shipping details and I will get some of the good stuff from Bob's Red Mill sent to you.


Cheesy Beer Muffins














2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups wheat, lager or pilsner beer
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, thyme, and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg and whisk in beer, oil and garlic. Add wet ingredients to dry and fold in cheese. Divide among 12 standard sized greased or paper lined muffin tins. Bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out nearly clean. Let cool several minutes before unmolding. Serve warm. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cocoa Pistachio Cups and Probar Giveaway


Featured Ingredient: Pistachios











On any given day, I’m happy to go nuts for pistachios. Pistachios earthy flavor telegraphs its health benefits. It’s the only nut to deliver lutein, a carotenoid antioxidant often found in dark, leafy greens which is stored in the retina where it helps maintain good vision. The verdant nut also contains more blood-pressure lowering potassium than others and is rich in phytosterols, shown to chip away at high cholesterol numbers.

So for good reason, one of my favorite flavors of Probar is the Cocoa Pistachio in their Sweet & Savory line of bars. So chewy and delicious.

As I did in a previous post with their Maple Pecan flavor, I thought I would try to recreate the bar in the trusty muffin tin using many of the same ingredients found in the Cocoa Pistachio one. These no-bake cups of whole-grain nutty goodness are the perfect on-the-go snack or treat after a hard workout. I found rye flakes at my local health food store and I think many well-stocked bulk stores would have them as well. Packed with fiber and magnesium, cocoa nibs definitely add a nutritious punch to these. If desired, you could replace the brown rice syrup with honey or maple syrup.

No time to whip up a batch of these? Well, the kind folks over at Probar would like to award one of my readers with some of their amazing bars to nibble on. 














To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I want to refuel with Probar” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials or name and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. This contest is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only. I’ll announce the winner next Wednesday September 5th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize.

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest. Congrats to jlBarton who was randomly selected as the winner. jlBarton, just use the contact button above to send me your shipping details and I will get some of the good stuff from Probar sent to you. 

Cocoa Pistachio Cups
















1 cup rolled or quick-cook oats
1/2 cup rye flakes
1 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup unsalted cashews
¼ cup cocoa nibs
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
Couple pinches of salt
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup almond butter

Add all of the ingredients except the brown rice syrup and almond butter to a food processor container and process until oats and nuts are pulverized. Add brown rice syrup and almond butter and blend until the mixture clumps together.

Divide mixture among 12 to 16 lightly greased or paper lined standard sized muffin cups and press down to firmly pack contents. You don't need the grease if using silicon cups. Place tray in freezer for about 30 minutes to harden up.  Unmold and store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Chocolate Coffee Zucchini Muffins


Featured Ingredient: Hemp Protein

















This is the first year that Tabi and I have planted zucchini in our community garden and now like so many other vegetable gardeners, we’ve got squash coming out the ying-yang.

So of course, I had to make a batch of zucchini muffins with a few interesting additions. Though these don’t have a ton of coffee flavor, using it gives the muffins a really deep flavor and seems to amplify the chocolate goodness. The dairy-free cashew sauce really puts them over the top. I made them in jumbo sized muffin cups because this is a dessert that is best shared with a loved one. But you can use the standard sized cups as well. If doing so, simply decrease the cooking time by about 5 to 7 minutes. 

I also swapped out some of the flour for the chocolate hemp protein from Manitoba Harvest, which is made with organic fair-trade cocoa powder. I’ve always thought it’s a good idea to incorporate protein powder into baked goods since it reduces the glycemic index of them so you get less of a sugar spike. As far as vegetarian protein options go, hemp protein is one of the best since it’s considered a complete protein and originates from very sustainable hemp crops. Don’t worry, there is none of the psychoactive ingredient that is present in marijuana which is why you can find hemp foods in the supermarket. If you are making these using a protein powder that is not chocolate flavored, simply add in some cocoa powder.

If you want to try rustling up a batch of these but don’t have any hemp protein powder on hand, I’ve got good news: It’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania giveaway. The kind folks over at Manitoba Harvest would like to award one of my readers with a tub of their very own hemp protein to try out.

















To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “Hemp Protein is Groovy” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials or name and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. This contest is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only. I’ll announce the winner next Wednesday August 29th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize.

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest. Congrats to Heather who was randomly selected as the winner. Heather, just use the contact button above to send me your shipping details and I will get some of the good stuff from Manitoba Harvest sent to you. 

Coffee Chocolate Zucchini Muffins with Maple Cashew Sauce

















3/4 cup raw unsalted cashews
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup chocolate hemp protein powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup strongly brewed coffee, cooled
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar or other sugar of choice
1/4 cup melted coconut oil or other oil of choice
1 large ripe banana, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla or coffee extract
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Soak cashews in water for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, stir together flour, protein powder, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs. Whisk in coffee, sugar, oil, banana and extract. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix gently. Fold in zucchini and walnuts.

Divide mixture among 6 to 8 jumbo sized greased or paper lined muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick instered into the center of muffin comes out clean. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.

Meanwhile, drain cashews and add them to a blender container along with maple syrup and nutmeg. Blend until very smooth, about 1 minute.

Serve muffins warm and topped with cashew cream.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Coconut Mango Smoothie


Featured Ingredient: Coconut Water














These days, it seems coconut water is all the rage. Much of the praise is well deserved. Coconut water (not to be confused with coconut milk) is the slightly tangy liquid found in the center of a young, green coconut. It’s a good source of electrolytes, particularly potassium which plays a critical role in heart and muscle functioning.

Tabi and I guzzled copious amounts of the stuff while cycle touring in Sri Lanka last winter. There is no better thirst quencher after a sweaty workout. It’s also a really great addition to smoothies in lieu of plane-Jane water.

From past posts, you know I love my frozen smoothie cups as they provide a delicious drink without always needing to pull a dozen or so ingredients out of the fridge and pantry. Keeping with the tropical theme, I’ve paired up coconut water with mango and whirled in some cashews for a shot of healthy fats. If you’re a smoothie fan, these won’t disappoint.














And it’s time for the weekly Muffin Tin Mania giveaway. To help you get these smoothie cups into your freezer, the kind folks over at ZICO are happy to provide one of my readers with some their coconut water to enjoy. ZICO was one of the first companies to deliver coconut water to the North American masses and their range of flavors never disappoint.
















To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I’m Thirsty for ZICO” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials or name and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. This contest is open to U.S. residents only. I’ll announce the winner next Wednesday August 22th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize.

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest. Congrats to Sara S who was randomly selected as the winner. Sara, just use the contact button above to send me your shipping details and I will get some of the good stuff from ZICO sent to you. 

Coconut Mango Smoothie Cups

















1 cup coconut water
2 ripe mango, cubed
1 cup flaked dry coconut
1/2 cup unsalted cashews
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place all of the ingredients in a blender container in the order listed and blend until smooth. The mixture should be thick. 

Divide mixture among 12 medium sized muffin cups, place trays in freezer and freeze until solid, about 4 hours.  

Unmold smoothie cups, place them in an airtight container, and return to freezer until ready to use. If you did not use silicon muffin cups and are having trouble unmolding the frozen cups, try placing the bottom of the muffin tin in warm water for few seconds, being careful not to thaw the contents.

When ready to make a smoothie, place 1 cup coconut water and 2 mango smoothie cups into a blender container and blend until smooth. For most blenders, its best to carefully slice the smoothie cups into halves or quarters first before placing them in the blender container to help make blending easier. For a richer smoothie, try blending the smoothie cups with some coconut milk.

You'll get 6 smoothies out of 12 frozen smoothie cups.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tuna Salad Bean Cups


Featured Ingredient: Canned Tuna














The best thing to happen to the canned food aisle in recent years is the burgeoning number of companies offering up sustainable canned fish that actually tastes good.

Sure, you could spend 89 cents on a tin of soggy chunk light tuna from those mega sized canneries, but here are some really important reasons why you should splurge more often on canned tuna from smaller companies.

1) Better Nutrition: Because companies like Wild Planet only cook their tuna once when already in the can, the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids are preserved. The huge national brands will cook their catch first before canning it so much of the beneficial fats (and flavor) are lost overboard.

2) More Tuna: There is a reason why the big boys packed their tuna in water or low-grade vegetables oils. It lets them pack less fish. Better tuna brands won’t add any oil or water so you actually get more protein.

3) Ocean Friendly: The troll or pole and line methods employed to catch the tuna is considered much more sustainable with less opportunity for unwanted bycatch than the large nets or longlines employed most often by the large national brands. This is an interesting ranking of canned tuna based on sustainability from Greenpeace.  

4) Fewer Toxins: Mercury contamination in tuna has and continues to be a problem. In fact, studies suggest that canned tuna can be a major dietary source of mercury. That is why it helps to source canned tuna from companies which harvest smaller fish which have had less of an opportunity to accumulate mercury.

White bean and tuna salad is a common recipe, so this is my twist on a classic. The white bean cups stuffed with a simple and flavorful Mediterranean style tuna salad makes for a great presentation and fun hand to mouth meal.

And if you want to use the good stuff to try out this recipe, I’ve got good news for you. It’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania giveaway. Wild Planet would like to award one lucky reader with a selection of their tasty tuna. 

















To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I go wild for Wild Planet tuna” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials or name and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. This contest is open to U.S. residents only. I’ll announce the winner next Wednesday August 15th, so if you entered check back in then for a chance to reel-in your prize.

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest. Congrats to Heather760 who was randomly selected as the winner. Heather760 just use the contact button above to send me your shipping details and I will get some of the good stuff from Wild Planet out to you. 

Tuna Salad Bean Cups















Bean cups:
1 15-ounce can white navy beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup flour of choice
1/3 cup chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Tuna salad:
2 5-ounce cans albacore tuna
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 green onions, green and white parts, thinly sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place beans, flour, parsley, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper and olive oil in a food processor container and blend until a paste forms. Divide mixture among 12 standard sized greased muffin cups and form each into a cup with the bean paste coming up the sides. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cups have set but are still slightly moist. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.

Meanwhile, add tuna to a large bowl and using a fork break it up into small pieces. Toss together with remaining salad ingredients.

To serve, spoon tuna salad into bean bowls.