Sunday, 7 April 2013

Chocolate Zucchini Loaf (New & Improved!)

So, as many of you may have noticed I had a recipe for a healthy Chocolate Zucchini loaf on my blog.  It was a great recipe (although, there was a typo in it that I never noticed til I read it over the other day).  However, I now have an EVEN BETTER recipe.  It's moist, it's a bit ooey-gooey, it's nutritious, and it has NO added fat whatsoever!  The only thing I haven't done is replace the all-purpose flour with whole grain - was worried to mess with perfection!  Perhaps next time I make it I will do so and report in.

Perfect Chocolate Zucchini Loaf

1/2 Cup Apple Sauce
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar | {Note: I used 1 cup of Palm Sugar (a low GI sugar made from coconut) and it worked beautifully, so I am guessing that any combination of sugars you desire will be fine.}
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs (or equivalent in egg substitute* to keep it vegan)
1 1/2 cups zucchini, grated.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
dash salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon.
3/4 cup chocolate chips (vegan, if that's what you're going for)

1. Combine the applesauce, sugar, and vanilla.  Add the eggs and zucchini.
2. In a separate bowl combine the flour, cocoa, soda, powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Add to the wet ingredients.
3. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Pour into a (parchment paper-lined) loaf pan.  Bake 60-70 minutes at 350'F

Note2** I am not a vegan but I made my loaves this week vegan because I had no eggs and my chocolate chips were vegan by coincidence (by the way, Kirkland Chocolate Chips from Costco are fantastic!).  One FAST and easy way to have an egg substitute (and what I used when I made this loaf) is:
1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water = 1 egg.  (Doubled in in this case as it calls for 2 eggs).
Combine the flax and water and let stand a few minutes until it gets gelatinous (similar to eggwhite).
Works like a dream!

Nutrition Info for 1/10 of the loaf (depends how thick or thin you slice the loaf):
(with egg substitute):
230 calories | 6g fat | 44g carbs (4g fiber, 24g sugar) | 8g protein
(with egg):              
240 calories | 6g fat | 44g carbs (4g fiber, 24g sugar) | 9g protein

Friday, 22 March 2013

Pad Thai Soup

This is a fantastic modification of a traditional Thai favourite.  As a bonus, it only takes about 15 minutes to whip up!!

Pad Thai Soup

3 tbsp oil
2 Cloves garlic, minced
4 oz diced extra firm tofu (for you non-veg types, can use chicken)
4 cups vegetable broth
4 oz rice noodles (aka Pad Thai Noodles)
1/4 tsp sriracha sauce (adjust to taste)
3 tbsp soya sauce
salt to taste
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, crushed
1/4 cup chopped green onions
Red pepper flakes for sprinking

In a large pot heat the oil and add the garlic.  
Add the chopped tofu and fry for 5 minutes (or until lightly browned).
Add the broth, noodles, sauces, salt, and peanuts. Cook until the noodles are soft (about 5-10 mins)
Serve with onions, extra peanuts, and pepper flakes sprinkled on top.

*NOTE: If you are someone who eats fish, adding about a tsp-tbsp (to taste) of fish sauce will add some authentic flavour, I would not add salt if doing so.
*NOTE 2: Serve immediately!  The noodles soak up the broth if left to sit and makes the soup thicker and less soupy. Still tastes fine, but texturally different.

EDIT (April 21, 2013):
Today I made this again and served it with a lime wedge for squeezing and a handful of fresh beansprouts to garnish. I also made it with 2 tbsp oil (instead of 3).  It was FABULOUS!!!  The fresh "zing" of the lime wedge brightened up the flavour amazingly!  Will make it like that from now on.  (By using 1 tbsp less, you save yourself 30cal and 3g fat per serving!)


Nutrition Info:
Per serving (1/4 of the batch)
341 Calories | 19g fat | 32g Carbs (3g fiber, 2g sugar) | 11g Protein
*The fat is high, I know that.  Mostly it comes from the peanuts - but also the oil and the tofu.  Next time I will try making this with less oil and see how it goes, I imagine you could make this with half the oil in the recipe.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Cranberry Walnut Dark Chocolate Cookies (Gluten Free, Vegan, Low GI)

Ok so I had a cookie similar to this at the [awesome] bakery in our natural food store in town.  It was midnight last night and I was craving it.  Crazy, I know.  I made these cookies - at about 12:30 this morning - and they are fantastic!  Not exactly like the ones I was wanting but still great.

Now I need to make mention of the fact that these are not low calorie in any sense of the imagination, they also aren't low fat - at all!  In fact, if you are really really watching what you eat - you should not make these (you won't be able to resist!!).  However, as an occasional treat they are fantastic.  How, you ask, are these appropriate for a Healthy Food blog?  These made the cut because they are made from 100% wholesome, unprocessed, natural, unrefined ingredients. 

Here's the recipe - don't have have a heart attack at the nutrition info afterwards - just eat them and enjoy their wholesome goodness!  
PS: I'm going to work on getting the fat lower, I don't think they need as much oil as I put in.

Cranberry Walnut Dark Chocolate Cookies (Vegan, GF)

1 1/4 cup finely ground almonds (almond meal, almond flour)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips/chunks/pieces (make sure they are vegan, if that's important to you)
1/4 cup dried cranberries

-Combine the almonds, salt & soda, in a medium bowl.
-In a second bowl combine the oil, syrup and vanilla.
-Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Combine well.
-Add the nuts, fruit, and chocolate. Combine.
(This dough will be fairly wet/gooey. That's ok.)
-Shape into 1/2 inch ball and press on parchment paper lined baking sheet.
-Bake 7-10 mins 350'F
(Makes about 14 cookies)

Nutrition info: (per cookie...don't look if you don't want to know):
170 Calories | 14g fat | 10g carbs (6g sugar, 2g fiber) | 4g protein
** Remember, that there is no wheat flour in this recipe.  The fat content seems high due to the use of almond meal instead of wheat flour.  Almonds are nutritious and their fats are healthy!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Bircher Muesli

Muesli was invented around the turn of the 20th century by a Swiss doctor named Maximilian Bircher-Benner. He created it for his patients due to the nutritious nature of fruits, nuts, and grains.  Now we can buy muesli in a box and we just pour milk over it (like any other cereal) and eat it straight away.  This was not the intention of the original Bircher muesli.  Muesli is actually designed to be soaked overnight (or for a few days) in milk, or juice (!).  Anyway, I first had "traditional" Bircher muesli at Wildflour Artisan Bakery Cafe in Banff, AB (one of my top favourite places to eat anywhere) and fell in love.  Here is my variation of this delicious and nutritious dish.  There is LOTS of room to modify to your own liking.  It can be different every time you make it!  Fun!

Bircher Muesli

2 Cups rolled oats (or any combination of uncooked rolled oats, steel cut oats, spelt flakes etc)
1 Apple, grated (skin on)
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup walnut crumbs/pieces
1/4 cup slivered almonds
(can use any combination of your fav nuts/seeds)
2 tbsp each chia seeds, hemp hearts,
1/2 cup diced prunes (or any other dried fruit)
Juice and zest of 1 orange
2 cups apple juice

Combine all in a large bowl.  Cover and store in fridge overnight.  Serve in the morning - will last about 3 days. Serve topped with yogurt (non-dairy if you want to keep it vegan) and fresh fruit.


Nutrition Info (for approx 1/2 cup serving)
241 Calories | 12g fat | 25g carbs (5g fiber, 12g sugar) | 13g protein.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Chole Palak (Chickpea Curry with Spinach)

WOW!  This is all I can say about this phenomenal dish.  I had some spinach that was going to go bad and needed something to do something with it. I wasn't overly inspired so I spent some time on the web searching for something new and exciting...the result was fabulous.  Hubby and I both absolutely LOVE Indian food and are always excited to try something new.

This recipe combined many healthy and delicious ingredients resulting in a spicy, flavourful, nutritious dish that  I will definitely make again and again.

Chole Palak 

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
3 cups spinach, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, cubed
1/2" piece of ginger root. cubed
1 green chili (deseeded if you want a milder dish)
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tbsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp garam masala (available in the spice aisle in most supermarkets)

-Drain and rinse the chickpeas, set aside.
-In a blender or magic bullet or similar, blend the tomatoes, green chili, and ginger to make a puree. Set aside.
-Heat the oil, over medium, in a large saucepan (with lid).
-Drop one cumin seed into the oil, the oil is hot enough if the seed sizzles.  Once pan is hot enough, add all the cumin seeds. Fry for a few seconds.
-Add the tomato puree, coriander, turmeric, chili powder.  Cook until the oil starts to separate and the mixture reduces by about half (about 4 minutes).
-Add spinach, salt, and 1/2 cup water.  Cover, cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
-Add chickpeas. Mash some chickpeas slightly - this will thicken the sauce.
-Reduce pan to low and cook an additional 8 minutes.  You may wish to add about another half cup water if it starts to get too dry.
-Add garam masala and cook for another 1 minute.
Serve with naan, roti, or other bread if desired.

This made about 4 smallish servings.  (But, the calories are low enough to have seconds! ;-) )

Nutrition Info for 1/4 of the batch:
223 Calories | 12g fat | 22g Carbs (5g fibre, 2g sugar) | 7g Protein

**I found that having everything ready before I started preparing this made it go very smoothly.  I had all the veggies chopped/pureed, the spices measured and the whole thing took just over 30 mins.  Really quick and super awesome.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Random Raspberry Ricotta Dessert

So, tonight after our dinner I was craving something sweet.  I wasn't terribly hungry and really didn't need a large rich dessert.  I perused the cupboards, freezers, fridge and came up with this AMAZING winner!
(No picture...are you shocked? You shouldn't be!  But, since this was such a hit I will definitely be making it again and will definitely take a photo)

To make ONE SERVING (can do this for as many as you like)

1/4 cup frozen raspberries
1/8 cup low fat ricotta
1 tbsp toasted almonds (slivered or sliced)
1 tsp pure maple syrup

-In a custard cup (or any small dish):
Warm berries in the microwave until they are melted, juicy, and warm (15-20 sec in my microwave, may differ with yours)
-Top the warm berries with the ricotta
-Top the ricotta with toasted almonds (can just toast them in a dry pan over med. heat in about 3 minutes)
-Drizzle maple syrup over everything
-Serve immediately

THIS WAS DIVINE!  Tasted sweet, rich, creamy, fruity.  The cool and creamy ricotta over the warm berries was a fabulous contrast.  The crunchy, toasty almonds were perfect and the maple syrup drizzle just cut the tartness of the raspberries perfectly!

This is a perfect dessert because there is nothing fake, processed, chemical-y, - just pure goodness!
(Also, this is extremely nutritious - raspberries are LOADED with vitamins and minerals and FIBER!, ricotta is a low cal/fat way to get lots of good protein, almonds are nutritional powerhouses, and maple syrup is an antioxidant superstar (not to mention a low GI sweetener).

Nutrition Info (per 1 serving):
123 Calories | 7g fat | 14g carbs (4g fiber, 8g sugar) | 6g protein

Tuesday, 31 July 2012


Any longtime readers of this blog know that my hubby and I have for some time been eating more and more vegetarian dishes.  What I neglected to tell you was that we actually decided to become full fledged vegetarians.

Personally I have always taken issue with the concept of eating meat.  But, like most of us, we are so socially conditioned to do so I never questioned it fully.

I was one of those kids that would find an injured insect and attempt to nurse it back to health.  When I first learned that grasshopper legs keep jumping when you tear them off I had to to try it to see if that REALLY is what happened - then I felt just awful!  I cried for a long time feeling guilty, knowing I had caused this insect pain just to appease my own curiosity.  I also did the same when I learned about burning ants through a magnifying glass.  I loved animals, kept many pets growing up, enjoyed nature, and respected all of these.
Now, as an adult I have a comprehension of biology and sentiency.  I know now that those bugs I injured  did not suffer as that they are too far down the evolutionary tree to be sentient.  However, I love that my childlike mind was so very concerned for their well beings.  Undoubtedly, it was experiences like those that have brought me to who I am today.

However, along with now knowing those bugs were not sentient - I know that all those cows, pigs, chickens etc. that I have eaten - were. I never liked seeing the whole chicken or turkey on Thanksgiving.  The gutbag, the odd stray feather, anything that reminded me of exactly what it was that we were going to be consuming. As an adult I've prepared more than a few turkeys and anytime I find a stray lung or kidney still attached inside, or the stray feather - I was unable to eat the meat when it was done.  When eating meat with the bone in: if my teeth touched the bone - I was done. Could not finish my meal. Too gross.  Noticing the pores on chicken skin...done. The odd artery or vein in meat - sickening. Over the years I always  said "I could easily be a vegetarian, I don't even like meat to begin with".  The issue was (and not a good one at that) that my husband was still a meatloving carnivore.  My husband cannot cook - and I was not going to be cooking two meals every day.  I work full time too - the extra kitchen work was enough already without an extra duty of creating two different meals. This was before I had strongly and deeply investigated my ethical questions about meat eating.  Without thinking about it I knew I didn't like the taste of meat or any of the things that made it seem like the animal.

Then about two years ago my husband began an in depth study (of his own volition) of science and philosophy.  Naturally amongst those communities you find many current and historical figures who have decided that meat eating is wrong.  Never one to back down from a good argument my husband began to research this in depth.  Much to my glee, he was unable to find any good argument FOR eating meat and many good ones against.  Being a rational and logical person he concluded that, even though he still enjoyed meat, he knew that it was irrational to continue to consume it.  The evidence for vegetarianism is many, the evidence against is few.  We looked at and researched the environmental impacts, the health impacts, the cruelty, the economics (personally and globally) and decided that without a shadow of a doubt that vegetarianism was the way to go for us.  This was approximately 8 months ago.

At first we thought we'd be vegetarians most of the time.  That in those awkward family dinner situations we might still eat meat.  This was a short-lived idea because being rational people we could not rationalize such hypocrisy. It was either all or nothing and we opted for all.

There have been a few awkward moments. Having to tell people who have invited us for dinner that we no longer eat meat and having to bring our own dish (something I don't mind doing). Learning the etiquette has been one of the toughest parts.  I don't miss meat and surprisingly neither does my hubby!  We both missed bacon for some time but that has passed. We just remember that the meal we are eating was not borne of cruelty - no animal suffered so I could eat my beans!; and that my meal was cheaper, has more fiber, and less fat (and almost no saturated fats) than its meat-laden counterpart.

Being a good cook has also helped in this journey. I am able to modify our old favourites into new vegetarian favourites and I'm able to identify possible winners just from reading recipes.  My blog has long contained many vegetarian recipes (even before we were vegetarians) because they are just plain healthier.  My blog will continue to contain vegetarian recipes.  If you want to add meat then by all means do so.  Just note that it will change included nutritional information.

If you have any questions about vegetarianism, want to know more about my story, are interested in some excellent resources then please feel free to contact me anytime. I will answer every email!