Thursday, December 19, 2013

Oatmeal Bacon Cups



Featured Ingredient: Oats














Bacon and oats may seem like an odd couple, but I’ve seen several oatmeal recipes floating around that are topped with crispy bacon and it’s a pairing that has always caught my interest. Considering they are both awesome when accompanied by maple syrup, it makes sense that they could work together in a breakfast bowl. Or even better, ready-to-go baked oatmeal cups.

These are bundles of sweet, savory and salty goodness that are worth jumping out of bed for. It’s always a good idea to start your day with oatmeal as it’s laced with ticker-friendly soluble fiber. I’m not saying that bacon should be a morning staple, however, but once and a while I have an urge for a kitchen that is redolent of sizzling strips of pork. Of course, it’s always better to purchase bacon from local producers than the mysterious shrink wrap stuff in the supermarket.

If you like (and we do!), you can serve these with a light drizzle of extra maple syrup. They are best served warm and tend to be on the moist side so store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

It’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania contest that is sure to bring some holiday cheer to any oat lover. The fine folks at Bob’s Red Mill would like to award one of my readers with some of their amazing oat products including Scottish oats, oat bran and rolled oats. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I’d love to eat oatmeal with Bob” 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 on Friday December 27th, 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 Linda B, you were randomly selected a winner of a Bob's Red Mill oat package. Just use the contact tab above to sending me your shipping details and I'll get some out to you. 














Oatmeal Bacon Cups

















1 cup steel-cut oats
1/2 pound bacon
1/2 cup oat flour
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 large apple, grated
1/2 cup milk or unsweetened non-dairy alternative  
1/4 cup maple syrup, preferably a darker grade

Place oats in a bowl cover with water and let soak for at least 2 hours.

Cook bacon in a skillet over medium low heat until crispy. Transfer to a paper towel lined cutting board and let drain. Once cool, chop bacon into 1/2-inch pieces.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Drain oats and combine with bacon, oat flour, almonds, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs and stir in apple, milk and maple syrup.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Divide oat mixture among 10 standard sized greased or paper lined muffin cups. Cook for 25 minutes, or until set. They will still be generally moist. Let cool for a few minutes before unmolding and cool completely on wire racks.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Chai Banana Protein Muffins



Featured Ingredient: Whey Protein


As the bio picture at the top right of this blogsite proves, I’m far from a bodybuilder. But I still regularly use whey protein powder. Most often in my post-exercise smoothies as the protein quality of whey is nearly unmatched making it superb at hastening muscle recovery. The bioactive peptides in whey have also been shown to help rev up the immune system.

I’ve also been experimenting using it in my desserts such as these banana muffins. The main benefit of including extra protein in such items is that it reduces their glycemic index so you get less of a spike in blood sugar caused by items like sugars and flours. The perk of this is a dessert that is more satiating. Using whey in this application is also a great idea for those with blood sugar control problems, which includes millions of North Americans.

The whey protein that I use and trust most is BiPro whey protein isolate. It blends beautifully and is just pure protein – no sweeteners, fillers or other whatchamacallits. I’ve even blended into hot chocolate with great results.   



The food lab at Cook’s Illustrated came up with this method of nuking bananas to release their liquid and then boiling it down. I thought I would try it out as they promised it would allow for heightened banana flavor. I believe it worked as these muffins were really full of banana goodness, but I’d have to compare them to a batch where the bananas are just mashed straight from the peel. 

If you’re going to top these chai spiced muffins off with some dried banana be sure to only use the higher quality dried bananas such as those from Made in Nature that are still moist. Not those lackluster hard banana chips.

Do you want to experiment with whey protein in the kitchen? Well, I’ve got good news as it’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania giveaway. The fine folks at BiPro have agreed to award one of my readers with some of their great protein. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “Whey protein is way cool” 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 on Thursday December 19th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize. 

Congrats Bridge, you were randomly selected the winner of some whey protein. Just let me now your shipping address using the contact button above and I'll have BiPro send you some.

Chai Banana Protein Muffins














4 very ripe bananas
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/3 cup melted coconut oil or unsalted butter
1/2 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup unflavored whey protein powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup finely chopped dried banana (optional)

Peel bananas and place them in a microwave safe bowl. Cover with paper towel and microwave 5 minutes, or until they have released their liquid. Place bananas and liquid in a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Transfer strained banana liquid to a saucepan and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Stir together reduced banana liquid with bananas and mash until mostly smooth. Whisk in eggs, sour cream or yogurt, coconut oil or butter, sugar and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, protein powder, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir together gently. Fold in walnuts. Divide mixture among 12 standard sized greased or paper lined muffin cups. If using dried bananas, sprinkle them over top of batter and sprinkle some sugar over top.

Bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out mostly clean. Let cool several minutes before unmolding. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Coffee Cheesecake



Featured Ingredient: Coffee

It’s hard not to love cheesecake, but more often than not they provide an avalanche of calories. A bad news desert if you are trying to watch your waistline. So I’m happy to report that I may have created an ideal cheesecake that provides a perfect mix of great taste, nutritional benefits and portion control. Best of all, its no-bake!

These individual cheesecakes benefit from a nutrient dense base made up of oats, nuts, raisins (which act as a binder) and antioxidant packed cocao powder. Thick and velvety Greek yogurt is a wonderful alternative to some of the more calorie-laden cheese and/or cream. Plus, it is packed with protein to help make these individual cakes more satiating.

And not to be overlooked is the main flavoring: coffee. It gives these cheesecakes some sophisticated flavor and grown-up appeal. For this recipe, I used one of the new blend options from Doi Chaang. In past posts, I’ve praised this coffee company for their superior beans from Thailand and ethical practices. Their newest offerings include Hardwired, Social Medium and others blends which are a mélange of beans from Thailand and other coffee growing juggernauts such as Ethiopia, Nicaragua and Sumatra. As with their traditional offerings, all Doi Chaang Blends are fair trade and certified organic. 














Are you a java lover? Well, I’ve got good news as it’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania giveaway. The fine folks at Doi Chaang have agreed to award one of my readers with some of their new product. The bags may even make for a tasty Christmas gift. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I’m buzzing for Doi Chaang” 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 on Wednesday December 11th, 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 Susan, you won this contest. Just let me know your shipping address and I'll have some coffee sent your way.

Coffee Yogurt Cheesecakes



If possible, use silicon muffin cups for these as it makes it much easier to remove the cheesecakes once set. You can garnish with toasted coconut flakes, candied orange peel or shaved dark chocolate.

2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup unsalted almonds
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup natural or raw cacao powder
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
3 tablespoons honey
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon (1 pkg.) unflavored gelatin
1 cup strongly brewed coffee
1/3 cup coconut sugar or other sugar of choice
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
8 ounces cream cheese, reduced fat if desired

Place oats and almonds in a food processor container and process until pulverized. Add raisins, cacao powder, coconut oil, honey and lemon zest; process until the mixture sticks together when squeezed with your fingers.

Divide mixture among 12 standard sized muffin cups and press down firmly so each crust is well compacted and flat.  Place muffin tins in refrigerator while you prepare the topping.

Stir together gelatin and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl; let sit 5 minutes. Bring coffee, sugar, cardamom and vanilla to a gently simmer in a medium sized saucepan. Add gelatin and stir until gelatin has dissolved.

Puree together yogurt and cream cheese in a food processor. Add hot coffee mixture and blend until combined. Pour coffee-cheese mixture into muffin cups over crusts. Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours. 


Friday, November 22, 2013

Lentil Cakes



Featured Ingredient: Camelina Oil















I may have found my new favorite culinary oil. It’s called camelina oil and it’s pressed from an ancient oilseed hailing from Northern Europe. Let me tell you the reasons why I’m all aboard the camelina train these days.

It’s rich in ultra-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. I’ve been using grapeseed oil as an all-purpose cooking oil for a while but my concern with it is the very high omega-6 levels. Too much omega-6 to omega-3 can be pro-inflammatory. Camelina oil possesses a better balance of omega-3s to omega-6s. There is also healthy amounts of the antioxidant vitamin E contained within each bottle.

It’s got an awesome flavor reminiscent of asparagus. Truly delicious!

It’s not genetically modified making it a great alternative to canola oil, much of which grown up here in Canada is GMO.

It has a high smoke point so you can use it in the frying pan or for no-cook applications like salad dressings and dips.

The camelina oil I’ve been using lately is from Three Farmers. As the epithet indicates, it’s oil that is cold-pressed from seeds grown by three farmers on the Canadian prairies. One of the coolest things is that you can punch in the code on your bottle into their website and you’ll find out which farmer and which field it hailed from. In an era where food traceability is becoming obsolete, this is a wonderful perk.














My first muffin tin creation using camelina oil is these wholesome lentil cakes. They are bursting with a lot of great flavors and it’s a chance to work more fiber-packed lentils in your diet – something most of us should be aiming for. The oil and sun-dried tomatoes help keep them from becoming too dry. If you are using the packaged tomatoes that are not oil-packed be sure to soak them first before blending with the oil. These lentil cakes are best when some soft goat cheese, cream cheese or hummus is strewn over top. I used my Vita-mix dry container to blend up the lentils, but a food processor or spine grinder (in batches) should work too.

So have I convinced anyone to try camelina oil?

Lentil Carrot Cakes
















1 cup green or brown lentils
2 medium sized carrots, grated
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
2/3 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
1/3 cup camelina oil or extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Prheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grind lentils into a powder this is only slightly coarse. In a large bowl, combine lentil flower, carrot, cheese and egg.

Place sun-dried tomatoes, camelina oil, 1/4 cup water, mustard, thyme, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, salt and black pepper in a blender or food processor contain and blend until smooth. Add some additional water if needed to help with blending.

Divide mixture among 12 standard sized greased or paper lined muffin cups. Be sure to press down on the mixture so it is flat and compact. Bake for 18 minutes, or until they have firmed up but are still moist. Don’t over bake! Let cool for a few minutes before unmolding.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mango Coconut Muffins



Featured Ingredient: Coconut Oil

I recently wrote an article for Shape magazines website about coconut oil. You can find it here and it pretty much outlines my stance on it. Sure, it has plenty of saturated fat but even as a dietitian I’m not banishing it from my pantry. In fact, it’s probably my favourite oil to use for baking as I find it makes for “lighter” products than what you get with butter.

With the tropics in mind, these mango muffins are a perfect opportunity to add some coconut goodness to your diet. Both the mango puree and the dried mango cuts down on the need for much added sugar and keeps the muffins crazy moist. Tabi says these are even better with honey. I have to agree!

These days there are a lot of great coconut oil products out there. Case in point: Kelapo. Perhaps I am biased because they source their coconut oil from Sri Lanka where Tabi and I spent a glorious winter recently cycling, but their organic, fair trade coconut oil really does rock. And in a food world increasingly dominated by big corporations, I’m always ready to give a shout out to the small guys like Kelapo. 

















So here is the good news. Kelapo has agreed to award one of my readers with some of their coconut oil. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I go cuckoo for coconut oil” 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 on Thursday 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 Julie, you were randomly selected the winner. Thanks to everyone who entered. 

Mango Muffins


















Adapted from Whole Foods

3 oz. dried mango
1 1/2 cup cubed mango, thawed if frozen
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/3 cup coconut sugar or other sugar of choice
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Place dried mango in a bowl, cover with boiling water and let soak 30 minutes. Drain well in a colander, pressing to squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible. Chop and set aside.

Prheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place mango and coconut milk in a blender container and blend until smooth.

In a large bowl, stir together whole wheat pastry flour, almond flour, allspice, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg. Stir in mango-coconut liquid, coconut oil, sugar and almond extract if using. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix gently until everything is moist. Stir in chopped dried mango.

Divide 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 mostly clean. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Apple Cheddar Muffins



Featured Ingredient: Apples

When life gives you apples make apple cheddar muffins. Tabi and I are still working through our bounty of apples we plucked from wild apple trees this fall. It's been an apple bumper crop this year. I also had a bunch of leftover old cheddar cheese from a pizza feature article I recently completed. So when I came across this recipe for apple cheddar quick bread in Canadian Living magazine, it was clear it was something that needed to be muffinized.

A little bit sweet and a tad savory, these muffins really hit the spot as a mid-day healthy snack or even a guilt-free dessert. It seems like the apple flavor comes through even more after a day or two.

It turns out that an apple a day can keep the coronary woes at bay. A recent study in the Journal of Functional Foods found that noshing on apples daily can significantly lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol numbers. Antioxidants and fiber in the orbs are likely behind the benefit.

Apple Cheddar Muffins














Adapted from Canadian Living

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup low-fat milk
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup oil of choice
1 cup diced apple
3/4 cup grated apple
1 1/3 cup grated old cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs and stir in milk, honey, oil, diced apple, grated apple and 1 cup of cheese.

Divide mixture among 12 standard sized greased or paper lined muffin cups. Sprinkle tops with remaining cheese. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out mostly clean. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Blueberry Granola Muffins

Featured Ingredient: Granola














Crunchy and sweet, what’s not to love about granola. Which is why I like to take granola outside of the bowl and infuse it into muffins. With the onslaught of recipes I have had to develop lately for my magazine writing, it had been much too long since I had the chance to bake up a batch of wholesome muffins. I think muffins are one of my top comfort foods. Well, at least homemade ones and not the store-bought versions that are pumped full of white flour and heavily processed sweeteners. Blah!!

These moist blueberry muffins have a perfect mixture of lemon tang, nutty nuances from almond flour and granola crunch. I guess you could make an argument that they could be used as a somewhat healthy breakfast on-the-go. So if you’re muffin crazy like me, give these a shot and let me know how you like them.

For this recipe, I made good use of one of my favorite store-bought granola items: KIND Grain Clusters. They are gluten-free and come in a range of tasty flavors such as Dark Chocolate Cranberry and Oats & Honey. Best of all, they aren’t overloaded in sugar and come minus the off-flavors that some packaged granola has. KIND also makes some of the most wholesome, delicious bars on the market. So save for homemade granola, which is always awesome, KIND is one of the best options out there.














The great news is that KIND has agreed to award one of my readers with an assortment of their grain clusters. It’s an awesome prize. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “How kind of KIND” 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 on Friday October 25th, 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 Suzanne, you were randomly selected the winner of the KIND giveaway. Just use the contact button above to send me your shipping details and I'll get them to send some goodies your way. 

Blueberry Lemon Granola Muffins














1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup sugar of choice
1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1/3 cup melted coconut oil or other oil of choice
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups granola of choice
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg. Stir in oil, sugar, yogurt, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in 1 cup granola and blueberries.

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.

Switch hits:

  • Replace the lemon with orange
  • Use spelt or kamut flour instead of whole wheat pastry
  • Swap out yogurt for low-fat sour cream 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Beet Pistachio Cakes

Featured Ingredient: Pistachios










I’m most definitely willing to go nuts for pistachios. They are likely my favorite nut. If they weren’t a little pricy, I’d have a bowlful beside my computer everyday. An indulgence that would bring many nutritional perks.

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.

When it comes to muffin tin creations, it’s understandable that you would like more sweet than savory when it comes to pistachios. But they are the perfect crunchy topping for these fetching beet cakes. Managing to be both homey and sophisticated, these vibrant cakes are sure to convert beet bashers. The tangy goat cheese adds creamy goodness while fennel provides a slight hint of licorice flavor that works well with the earthy beet sweetness.

Speaking of pistachios, it’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania giveaway. The kind folks at Setton Farms (a major pistachio grower in the U.S.) have come up with some amazing pistachio-cranberry bites that they would like to award to one of my readers. They have minimal ingredients and I’ve been grabbing them as a healthy nibble come mid-afternoon.













To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I Go Nuts for Pistachios” 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 of the Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites on Wednesday October 9th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize.

Beet Cakes















1 pound beets, grated (about 4 medium sized)
1 large egg
3 tablespoons flour of choice
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoon horseradish (optional)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 ounces semi-soft goat cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup pistachios, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large bowl, combine beats, egg, flour, chives, vinegar, garlic, horseradish if using, fennel, and salt and pepper to taste. Divide mixture among 10 standard sized silicon or greased muffin cups making sure to tightly pack in the beets to help keep them together during cooking.


Bake for 20 minutes and let cool for several minutes before unmolding. To unmold, run a butter knife around the edges of the beet cakes, place a flat object over top of the muffin tin such as a cutting board and turn the tin upside down. Sometimes it helps to tap the tops to dislodge the contents. Serve topped with goat cheese and pistachios.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Oat Wheat Germ Breakfast Cakes

Featured Ingredient: Wheat Germ

Wheat germ is what I like to consider one of the great stealth health foods. You see, grains like wheat are composed of three parts: endosperm, bran and germ. The endosperm is mostly just starch and what is left when grains are refined and why items like white bread and white rice are far from nutritional bell ringers. The bran is rich in fiber hence its association with keeping you, well, regular. As for the germ, this is where the lion share of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants contained within a whole grain are found. This means the isolated wheat germ you can buy at the store is an impressive source of nutrients such as B vitamins, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. It is also a surprising source of protein.

There are plenty of ways to sneak some into your diet including in oatmeal, smoothies, coatings for meats, and of course baked goods. Case in point: these wheat germ infused breakfast cakes are a nutritionally charged way to start the day. Kind of like a bowl of oatmeal in muffin form.

I like that I can just blitz all the ingredients in the blender and pour the batter straight into muffin cups. The cakes themselves are not sweetened because I top them with this richly flavored apple chutney. We have an abundance of wild apple trees in our area that are packed with fruit this season so I’m enjoying working apples into all sorts of recipes. I used a jumbo sized muffin tin for this recipe to give the cakes a more substantial presentation but you could also use the regular sized muffin cups. But if you do, be sure to reduce the baking time a few minutes.

The wheat germ that I made the cakes with was Kretschmer Wheat Germ. They have been bottling up the flaky stuff for a long time and still have the best product out there. It’s worthwhile checking out their website for a bunch of recipe ideas using wheat germ.














Now for the important stuff. It’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania giveaway? The fine folks at Kretschmer would like to award one of my readers with some of their wheat germ to try out. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I Brake for Germs” 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 Thursday 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.

Oat Wheat Germ Breakfast Cakes with Apple Chutney

















Cakes:
3 large eggs
3/4 cup low-fat milk or non-dairy alternative
1 1/2 cups oat flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter, melted coconut oil or other oil of choice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Chutney:
4 medium sized apples, finely chopped
1/3 cup dried currants
¼ cup maple syrup
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place all of the pancake ingredients in a blender or food processor container and blend until smooth. Stir in walnuts.

Divide matter among 6 jumbo 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 chutney, place all of the chutney ingredients in a medium sized saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat until apples are very soft, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.


Serve pancake muffins with chutney. Both should be warm. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Blueberry Maqui Smoothies

Featured Ingredient: Maqui Powder














I was meaning to put up this recipe last week but my computer crashed. Like taxes and death, I guess that is inevitable at some point nowadays.

Anyways, it’s still prime smoothie weather here and I am now the lucky owner of Superfood Smoothies by Julie Morris. It’s packed with so many thirst inducing smoothie ideas that it is sure to keep my blender humming along on a regular basis. I am intrigued by the idea of whirling together cauliflower and cocoa nibs or organizing a play date with cashews and frozen peas.














So I thought I would adapt one of the recipes to my regular rotation of smoothie cups. Blueberries, tofu (yes, tofu!) and maqui powder team up to create a power packed drink. Silky soft tofu really works well in smoothies as it provides some creamy texture and vegetarian protein. If you have not heard of it yet, maqui powder is gleaned from the namesake berries which are indigenous to southern Chile. The berries are tinted with a very deep purple color which is a tip-off that they are laced with the same anthocyanin antioxidants found in blueberries and blackberries. A number of studies suggests that diets rich in anthoycanins can help improve brain functioning. Which I guess is why I'm such an Einstein :) The powder is also a stellar addition to yogurt or chocolate baked goods. So is maqui the new acai?














These smoothie cups can be blended up with any guise of milk, but I really like them with almond milk or coconut milk beverage. I’ll even toss in some more fresh blueberries for an added punch.  

Wanna blend up these smoothie cups? Well, it’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania giveaway? The fine folks at NavitasNaturals would like to award one of my readers with some of their very own antioxidant plush maqui powder. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “Maqui is berry good” 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 Tuesday September 10th, 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 Suzan E, you were randomly selected the winner of your very own Maqui. Just pass along your shipping details using my contact button above and I'll get some sent your way.

Blueberry Smoothie Cups
















2 (300 gram) packages soft tofu
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons maqui powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon

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

Divide the mixture among 12 standard sized muffin cups 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 or liners 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 liquid of choice and 2 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. 




Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Zucchini Frittatas with Tomato Jam

Featured Ingredient: Zucchini














We have a serious zucchini problem! Our gardens have been so-so this year, but one thing that is growing in copious amounts is zucchini. The fridge is packed with elephantine sized squash, so I’ve been adding zucchini to everything these days – gazpacho, muffins, salads, you name it. In my recent no-cook cookbook, I have a recipe that uses shaved zucchini in salads, which I’m finding is a great way to use it up.

Zucchini is also a stellar addition to these muffin sized frittatas. Because they reheat wonderfully, they are a perfect thing to have on hand for harried work-week dinners. In a recent issue of Bon Appetit magazine they had a killer sounding tomato jam that I really wanted to try out. Indeed, this is most flavorful topping imaginable. Particularly using ripe-this-very-minute local tomatoes.

If you try out this recipe, let me know how it goes.  

Zucchini Frittatas with Tomato Jam

Tomato jam adapted from Bon Appetit.














Frittatas:
2 cups grated zucchini
8 large eggs
1 cup fresh corn kernels, about 1 cob
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped dill
1 shallot, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Jam:
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or canola oil
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 large beefsteak tomatoes, coarsely chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Place zucchini in colander, toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and let sit 15 minutes. Place zucchini on a clean kitchen towel, roll tightly and wring out as much water as possible.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs and stir in zucchini, corn, Parmesan cheese, dill, shallot, paprika, salt and black pepper. Divide among 12 standard sized greased or paper lined muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes, or until eggs have set. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.   

To make the jam, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds, coriander, and cardamom. Cook, stirring often, until mustard seeds begin to pop, about 1 minute. Add shallots, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add fish sauce, sugar, turmeric, and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, until tomatoes are falling apart and mixture thickens, about 35 minutes. Mix in lime juice and black pepper.


Serve frittatas with tomato jam. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Peanut Butter and Jam Cups

Featured Ingredient: Peanut Butter

If tomatoes have basil and beets have goat cheese, jam has a special friend in the food word as well, and that’s peanut butter. It’s a dynamic duo indeed that has inspired many taste buds – both young and young at heart.

That’s why I am so happy to report that I’ve created a muffin tin version of the iconic peanut butter and jam sandwich. These little frosty treats are packed with all of the cherished PB&J flavors. I decided to make them with real berries instead of jarred jam to up the health ante, while whisking the nut butter with evaporated milk makes it easier to pour into muffin tin molds and improves its texture for freezing. If desired, you can use strawberries in lieu of raspberries.

I’ve also included a bonus recipe that replaces the raspberry topping with chocolate for a more decadent tasting treat. These are just as amazing! I like to include some chili powder for a little kick, but this is very much optional.














Many people are now savvy to the fact that high-calorie nut butters are not to be feared because they pack a legitimate nutritional punch. With good amounts of protein, unsaturated fats and assorted minerals, you certainly can make worse dietary choices.

For these recipes, I used the wonderful creamy nut butter from Nuttzo. They pack in seven different nuts and seeds including peanuts, almonds and flax. Plus it’s organic for bonus points. They also have peanut free nut butter options if peanut allergies are a concern for your household. The chocolate infused versions certaintly don't disappoint either. You can learn more about the story of Nuttzo by clicking here.














Ready for another Muffin Tin Mania giveaway? The fine folks at Nuttzo would like to award one of my readers with some of their tasty nut butter. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I’d go nuts for Nuttzo” 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 Tuesday August 20th, 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 Bridge who was randomly selected to win her very own Nuttzo butter. Bridge, just use the contact button above to send my your shipping details. 

PB&J Cups
















3 cups raspberries
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup evaporated milk
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add raspberries and honey to a food processor or blender container and blend until smooth. Pour raspberry puree into a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl and press down with a spatula or wooden spoon. Make sure to scrape the puree from the underside of the sieve into the bowl. Discard the seeds.

In a separate bowl, whisk milk into peanut butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, until silky smooth. Stir in vanilla.

Divide the peanut butter mixture among 10 to 12 standard sized muffin cups, making sure the bottoms are completely covered. Top each with raspberry puree. Place pan in freezer until solid, about 4 hours.

Unmold cups, place them in an airtight container, and return to freezer until ready to use. If you did not use silicon muffin cups or liners 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.

To serve, let each cup sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften.

PB & Chocolate Cups

















3/4 cup evaporated milk
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne or chili powder (optional)
Coarse salt such as Fleur de Sel (optional)

In a medium sized bowl, whisk milk into peanut butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, until silky smooth. Stir in vanilla.

To melt the chocolate, stir chocolate in metal or glass bowl over a saucepan of lightly simmering water until smooth. Or place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 25 second intervals until melted, stiring between each intervals. Stir in cinnamon and cayenne or chili powder if using.

Divide the peanut butter mixture among 10 to 12 standard sized muffin cups, making sure the bottoms are completely covered. Top each with melted chocolate. Sprinkle tops with salt if desired. Place pan in freezer until solid, about 4 hours.

Unmold cups, place them in an airtight container, and return to freezer until ready to use. If you did not use silicon muffin cups or liners 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.


To serve, let each cup sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften.