Monday, 29 September 2014

Healthy Pumpkin Spice and Peanut Butter Cookies - Gluten Free & Sugarless!


It just isn't the fall without pumpkin treats, and I was determined to cut my sugar intake and have my pumpkin too! Inspired by this recipe I whipped-up these easy and healthy pumpkin cookies. Without sugar or sweetener, I upped all the spices and added cocoa powder and pure vanilla extract for a little extra sweetness. They are indeed not very sweet, but if you let them sit in the fridge for a day, the spices start to become more pronounced.

Ingredients (makes 15):
  • 1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 Cup All-Natural Peanut Butter
  • 3 tsp Cinnamon
  • 3 tsp Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin puree and peanut butter, then stir in the rest of the ingredients until well combined.
  3. Cover the mixture, and place in the fridge for 20 minutes so that the batter can firm-up (this will help you to better form the cookies).
  4. After the batter has firmed up, evenly scoop 15 balls onto a wax-paper lined baking sheet, and flatten slightly
  5. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, then once baked, let fully cool on the sheet.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

7 Ingredient Spicy Kale Soup (Healthy & Easy)


Time to dig-out those scarves and sweaters, because it's officially fall! Problem is, while many of my friends and coworkers are high-fiving to no longer having to keep the AC cranked up, I'm grumpily huddled at my desk, wishing it'd be social acceptable to wear a giant blanket at work.

While I'm mostly a proud, typical Canadian, there's one area of Canadiana that I fail miserably at: acceptance of the cold. I'm one of those lucky people who barely sweats, and loves being extra-warm. I'd choose a sun burn over a wind burn any day. So while some people can't wait to take a stroll in the cool, autumn air, I much rather be cozily indoors, huddled over a hot bowl of soup.

So if you're a cold-weather grump like me, you'll real love this super easy to make soup. It's loaded with healthy kale, and has a sriracha kick to remind of the heat you miss so dearly.

Ingredients (makes 5 big servings):
  • 1 Large head of kale
  • 6 Cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Medium Onion
  • 1 Medium Tomato
  • 1 Medium Potato
  • 2 Tbsp Sriracha 
  • 1 lb (454g) Lean Meat: lean breakfast ham, or lean ground pork or turkey is best
Instructions:
  1. Fully cook the meat, and set aside
  2. Bring broth to a boil, and add the meat and sriracha
  3. Stir in chopped vegetables in the following order:
    • Potato
    • Onion
    • Tomato
    • Kale
      4. Once all ingredient are in the pot, let simmer for 30 to 40 minutes (the kale should turn a darker green, but not turn brownish.

Enjoy!

Monday, 11 August 2014

7 Sugar Hacks - Up Your Treat Game!


Even though I'm currently trying to cut-back on sugar, I still appreciate a good dessert hack. For the next event which requires some treats, I'll be sure to use one of these simple tricks:

1) Making marshmallow flowers, by simply cutting marshmallows on a diagonal, and dipping in coloured sugar.

Source: iVillage

2) Dip-dyed marshmallows made by dipping marshmallows in food colouring.

Source: Idlewife

3) Make cupcakes "fluffy" with cotton candy.

Source: Martha Stewart
4) Oreos + smarties = owl faces!

Source: Chocolate for Breakfast

5) Classic rice crispies? Expected. Trix crispies? A colourful surprise!

Source: Cravings of a Lunatic

6) Ditch sprinkles for a colourful cereal topping (then proceed to be naughty, and have cupcakes for breakfast ... )

Source: The Cupcake Daily Blog

7) Get your glitz on - top cupcakes with rock candy!

Source: Dip it in Chocolate

Enjoy!

Monday, 28 July 2014

G-Free Almond Muffins



Aside from trying to cut sugar, I've also started to cut my processed carb intake. Although I still keep my whole-grains at breakfast and lunch, as well as unlimited fruit and veg, I need to manage my stress-eating habit of shoveling my face full of empty carbs.

Since I find that simply ignoring cravings ends in an eventual binge, I thought that swapping flour-based muffins with almond-based muffins, would be a good way to satisfy my cravings. After reading through some recipes online, I came up with a VERY successful mix of ingredients. The recipe I developed is below, AND
it's gluten free, for all my g-free friends! My only caveat, is that you need to choose a protein powder you love the taste of, because the flavour of the powder will really be pronounced.

Ingredients (makes 12 muffins):
  • 1 & 1/3 Cups almond meal (also sold as ground almonds, or almond flour)
  • 5 Scoops white chocolate or vanilla protein powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/3 coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Melt coconut oil in the microwave, in 10 second increments until mostly liquid
  3. In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients until mixed well
  4. Line a standard muffin tin with liners, and evenly distribute the batter among 12 liners
  5. Place in the oven, and bake for 12 minutes
Enjoy!


Monday, 9 June 2014

Caramel & Cookie Brownies

 
As you've seen in one of my previous posts, I'm going through a phase in which I love combining desserts. With there being a bake sale at my office last week, I was given the perfect opportunity for some sweet experimentation.

Now, this being a bakesale, I wanted to go with a base that's a known crowd pleaser. Going with the "you can never fail with chocolate" rule, brownie seemed like the way to go. Also, I had some leftover chocolate chip cookie chunks hanging-around in my freezer, that I figured would add a nice bit of texture. My only concern though, was that cookie and brownie alone would get too dry. After a bit of pondering, I figured that a nice homemade caramel would be the perfect glue to bring this all together. 


After combining the brownie batter and cookie chunks, I laid broken chunks of caramel on top, which seeped-in to the brownies while baking.






The final result, as seen up top, were rich and super moist brownies that were indeed a crowd pleaser at the office.

Ingredients (makes 21 bars):

  • 1 Cup white sugar
  • 1/2 Cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 Cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp instant coffee
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 Cup cookie chunks (store-bought cookies should be fine)
  • 1 serving homemade caramel, from this recipe
Instructions
  • Make the caramel as per the recipe in the link, and leave to harden in the freezer
  • Once the caramel has hardened, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and mix all the brownie ingredients together, adding the cookie chunks last
  • Spread batter in a greased 13"x9" pan, and lay broken caramel chunks on to the batter, just like in the picture above
  • Bake for 25 minutes, the let fully cool at room temperature

Enjoy!



Monday, 2 June 2014

Quick-Prep Turkey Meatloaf



Although I used to think that meatloaf was a tacky dish from the era of 70's housewives, in the past year I've come to appreciate how loafin' turns budget-friendly ground meat, into something compact and flavourful. Also, being one of those Monday's where I had a big, long to-do list to tackle, I really needed something I could prep in a flash, then shove in the oven to enjoy later.

Adapting my previous favourite meatloaf recipe, I went for turkey this time, and came-up with this 5-minute prep combo:

Ingredients:
  • 1kg/2lbs of lean ground turkey
  • 1 box of Stove Top Stuffing, turkey flavour
  • 1/2 cup calorie-wise BBQ sauce (*This is much lower in sugar than both regular BBQ sauce, and ketchup)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 Tbsp each, water and unsweeted almond milk
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
Directions:


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) To make this a one-dish recipe, grease a casserole dish and mix all ingredients except for half of the BBQ sauce, directly in the pan.

3) Once well-mixed, coat the loaf with the other half of the BBQ sauce and sprinkle with chili powder, and pop into the oven for 1 hour.


Enjoy!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

My Smoothie Addiction + Favourite Flavour Combos


Although I don't count calories, I do count my daily servings of fruits and veg. However, like most busy folks, sometimes getting those 6 to 10 servings is a challenge. What I started to find, was that blending my fruits and greens the night before, and sipping my servings throughout the day was perfect for getting a servings boost. The only downside, is that I've developed a reputation for showing-up to work meetings, sipping weird concoctions out of mason jars. Oh well ... At least it's a conversation starter!

That being said, here are some of my favourite smoothie blends:





Enjoy!


- LC