Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mint Chocolate Cups + PROBAR Giveaway

Featured Ingredient: Dates














Now with summer in full swing, more people are getting outside for a hike in the woods or a bike ride in the countryside. Activities that require energy to get those muscles moving. Energy bars are undeniably a convenient quick energy fix. And mercifully, the offerings have improved greatly with respect to taste and nutrition. One of my favorite store-bought options are the bars from PROBAR. They are packed with recognizable ingredients and have enough calories so I won’t be starving shortly after devouring one. We even took some with us on our most recent bike trip to Myanmar to beat the bonk.



As I did in a previous blog post, I thought it would be a fun to try and re-create another PROBAR flavor using my trusty muffin tin. This time I decided to go with one of their new great flavors: Mint Chocolate. A dynamic duo indeed.














These energy cups are definitely a winner. Being summer, I decided to use fresh mint so the minty flavor is fairly strong. But you can also use peppermint extract for a more traditional mint flavor that is usually found in bars. One of the backbone ingredients here are the dates, which are a source of natural energizing sugars as well as other essentials like fiber, potassium and magnesium. This week I am happy to have these at the ready in the fridge for a shot of energy before my bike rides. As a bonus, they are no-cook which is very much welcomed during the heat wave we are having up here in Ontario. Plus, it keeps with the theme of my new cookbook: The No-Cook, No-Bake Cookbook.

It’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania giveaway. This time, the fine folks at PROBAR would like to award one of my readers with some of their stellar bars. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “Probar raises the bar” 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 July 3rd, 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 everybody who entered the PROBAR giveaway. Judy was randomly selected the winner and will be receiving some tasty bars. 

Mint Chocolate Cups

















1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup unsalted shelled sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup cashew butter
1/3 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Place oats, dates, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, ground flax and cocoa powder in a food processor container and blend until dates and almonds have been broken down. Add honey, cashew butter, mint and vanilla and blend until the mixture sticks together when pressed between your fingers. Pulse in chocolate chips until they are well scattered in the mixture.


Divide mixture among 12 lightly greased or paper lined standard sized muffin cups and press down to firmly pack in the contents. You don’t need the grease or use paper liners if using silicon cups. Place tray in freezer for about 30 minutes to help set the cups.  Unmold and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Apricot Smoothie Cups + Giveaway

Featured Ingredient: Apricots














The mailman brought me a present today. A box full of my new cookbook. My second book The No-Cook, No-Bake Cookbook is all about feeding yourself without the need to fire up the stove. I think I have a pretty good collection of no-cook breakfast, sides, mains and dessert recipes to help people stay cool all summer long. I’m probably making the no-bake cheesecake tonight.



Now I have all the motivation I need to make a bunch of cook-free muffin tin creations this summer. A great start are these apricot smoothie cups. As you may know, I’m a huge fan of smoothie cups as they are a solution to a refreshing drink after a workout or when in need of a quick snack or breakfast.

Apricots are now showing up at our local farmer’s market and infuse smoothies with a surfeit of beta-carotene, a potent antioxidant that is also converted to vitamin A to bolster immune, eye and bone health.  If you have some extras on hand, I suggest blending in a couple fresh apricots when making the smoothies.

It’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania giveaway. This time I’d like to award a reader with a copy of my new cookbook. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I’m not cooking my apricots” 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 June 26th, 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 Suzan E who was randomly selected the winner of a copy of my new cookbook. Thank you to everyone who entered. Suzan, just pass along your shipping details using the contact tab above and I'll get a book out to you. 

Apricot Smoothie Cups




 1/3 cup water
10 apricots, sliced in half and pits removed
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese or plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup almonds
1-inch piece fresh ginger
2 tablespoons fresh mint
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon allspice

Place all of the ingredients in a blender container and blend until smooth. If needed, add a bit more water to help with blending. However, the mixture should be nice and 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 (I prefer coconut water) 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, June 11, 2013

Nori Salmon Cups + Giveaway

Featured Ingredient: Nori














I'd like to think that Tabi and I enjoy a fairly healthy diet. Generally, its full of whole grains, bright vegetables and healthy proteins. But there is one item we should eat more of: Seaweed.

Nori, wakame and the various other guises of dried seaweeds are among the healthiest foods on the planet, packed with a smorgasbord of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. That's because they soak up ocean-borne nutrients as they dance in the currents. Researchers at the University of California say a connection may exist between seaweed consumption and the lower than average cancer rates in Japan. Plus, seaweed contains plenty of iodine to promote healthy thyroid functioning. And what’s not to love about that distinctive salty, briny flavor?

One my favorite food companies Navitas Naturals has recently introduced an item that makes it that much easier for us to sneak more seaweed into an everyday diet. Nori powder is made simply by blitzing those nori sheets from sushi joints into a fine powder. It can be easily used to gussy up soups, a batch of kale chips or any Asian inspired stir-fry. I can also attest to its power to elevate a bowl of popcorn.














We love having these nori infused salmon rice cakes in the fridge for a quick snack. I guess they are kind of like sushi in muffin form. The sticky rice acts like a glue to bind all the ingredients together. If I had it on hand, I would have definitely included some picked ginger for extra kick. These are one of those recipes where bendable silicon cups help out a lot for easy intact extraction.  

So the good news is that 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 nori powder to try out.

To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I brake for seaweed” 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 June 18th, 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 Michelle who was randomly selected to receive her very own bag of Navitas nori powder. 

Nori Salmon Rice Cakes
















1 1/2 cups sticky rice such as Calrose
3 to 4 ounces smoked salmon, chopped
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
4 teaspoons nori powder
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon grated or finely minced ginger
1 teaspoon wasabi powder (optional)

Prepare sticky rice according to package directions. Remove from heat and set aside for 5 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Divide mixture among 12 standard sized greased or paper lined muffin cups. Make sure to pack down the contents firmly. Set aside for about 1 hour to set. Carefully unmold and store in the refrigerator for up to about 1 week.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Honey Granola Cups

Featured Ingredient: Honey

Stick me on a deserted island and as long as I’ve got a good supply of granola with me I’m good to go. That’s why I was thrilled to figure out a way to make it transportable. While most granola bars at the supermarket kind of suck, these nutrient-dense granola cups deliver authentic granola taste in a handy take-and-go form. I would think they would be a great energy supplying snack for a wide range of summer activities like hiking, camping or for a day at the beach.

My preferred sweetener for granola is often honey. University of Wyoming scientists determined that hunger-fighting hormones were elevated while blood sugar levels were lower in subjects who consumed meals with the same number of calories derived from honey and white sugar. While darker varieties such as buckwheat appear to contain a good amount of disease-thwarting antioxidants. For the biggest benefits, search out unpasteurized honey from local suppliers.

Granola Cups













Adapted from an article I wrote for Alive magazine.

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup pecans or almonds, chopped
1/4 cup hempseeds or sunflower seeds
1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large free-range egg
2/3 cup honey, preferably dark such as buckwheat
1/4 cup melted coconut oil or other oil of choice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In large bowl stir together oats, almond flour, wheat germ, nuts, seeds, dried cherries, apricots, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.

In separate bowl lightly beat egg and stir in honey, oil, and vanilla extract. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until everything is moist.


Divide mixture among 12 medium-sized greased or paper-lined muffin cups and pack down tightly with the back of a spoon so they stay together after baking. Bake 20 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Let cool several minutes before unmoulding.