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.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Yogurt Cups with Chia Blueberry Jelly


Featured Ingredient: Chia Seeds














Once widely consumed by the Aztecs and then famously hawked to the tune of ch-ch-ch-chia, tiny chia seeds are a fiber powerhouse with 11 grams in a single ounce serving. Eating more dietary fiber can slash the risk of death from cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases, according to a 2011 Archives of Internal Medicine study. Like hemp and flax, chia also provides a very healthy dose of essential omega fatty acids and are a source of age-avenging antioxidants.

Indeed, they are the little seed that could. I’ll add them to oatmeal, smoothies, granola and yogurt to sneak more into my diet. When soaked in water, the abundance of soluble fiber in chia forms a tapioca-like gel making this salubrious seed especially good for making healthy puddings and fruit toppings such as the blueberry mixture that is strewn over these yogurt stuffed cups. This is a really nice crunchy treat on a hot summer day or an ideal item to serve at a backyard party. And very simple to put together! You’ll need to arm yourself with the mini sized muffin cups and the small square wonton cups, the latter of which are available at most grocery stores.

To save on sugar calories, its best to flavor plain yogurt with vanilla extract instead of buying vanilla yogurt. Other berries like raspberries and strawberries will work in lieu of blueberries. You can also cut this recipe in half to make just a dozen cups.

Chia Contest!
















So you wanna try some chia seeds? Good news, it’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania giveway. One of my favorite food companies out there Navitas Naturals would be happy to award one of my readers with there very own bag of chia seeds to try out in their kitchen. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I’m Hungry for Chia” 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 both U.S. and Canadian citizens. I’ll announce the winner next Thursday August 9th, so if you entered check back in then for a chance to claim your prize.

Congrats to Natalie who was randomly selected to win a bag of Navitas chia seeds. Natalie, just fire me your shipping info using the contact button above and I'll get them off to you. 

Yogurt Cups with Blueberry Chia Jelly
















1 1/2 cups blueberries
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
24 square wonton cups
1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place blueberries, chia seeds, maple syrup and cinnamon in a blender container and blend until almost smooth. It’s best to turn up the speed gradually. Place in the refrigerator a few hours before serving.

To make the wonton cups, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat both sides of wonton wrappers with oil. Press each into the wells of 24 mini sized muffin cups, making sure the bottoms lie as flat as possible. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until they are a golden and crisp. Rotate the muffin tray halfway through cooking if they are browning unevenly. Remove crisp cups carefully from the muffin cups and cool completely on a wire rack.

In a bowl, stir together yogurt and vanilla. When ready to serve, place vanilla yogurt into the wonton cups and top with blueberry chia sauce.